Vol. VI No. 28 - Tuesday
September 4, - September 10, 2007



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by Saichon Paewsoongnern


NEWS
HEADLINES [click on headline to view story]:

Airbus A380 mishap delays Chiang Mai landing

Governor and Police Chief promoted

Sin taxes go up

Cloud cover obstructs eclipse viewing in Chiang Mai

Bird flu alert in Mae Hong Son

Breakthrough for stem cell researchers

Unpaid workers protest in Mae Sai

Alcohol and strangers don’t mix

Massive spraying to take place

Flash floods in Lampang province

Narcotics Control Office officials concerned about drug activities

Cookie shortage: Jatukam T-shirt, anyone?

 

Airbus A380 mishap delays Chiang Mai landing

Roy Blom
The eagerly anticipated arrival of the world’s largest passenger jet to Chiang Mai was delayed by almost 4 hours as the jet’s wing collided with a hanger door while backing out of its parking space at Bangkok’s Suvarnabhumi airport.
The Airbus A380, carrying VIP passengers including the President of Thai Airways was preparing to taxi to the runway and fly to Chiang Mai when the incident occurred.
No one onboard was injured but perhaps some egos were as this was supposed to be the
“smooth entry into service” demonstration tour as touted in their press releases.
The winglet on the plane’s left wing was damaged and removed. The undamaged winglet on the right wing was also removed so the super jumbo could continue on to Chiang Mai.
According to one Airbus official the winglets are not a necessary component for flight safety but a feature added to reduce air drag and turbulence.
The massive jet touched down at Chiang Mai airport just before 4pm on Saturday and only a few dozen onlookers gathered outside the airport to view it.
It did not taxi at a jetway, but instead parked in front of the Thai Airways cargo hangar.
The flight to Chiang Mai was planned to counter criticisms that the massive A380, with a wingspan of 79 meters, was too big for most airports.
‘We want to prove with the flight to Chiang Mai that the A380 is capable to operate also on so-called secondary airports,’ said Edouard Ullmo of Airbus.
Members of the Chiang Mai media were allowed to tour the interior of the massive jet which remained on the tarmac for several hours.
The spacious interiors provided a glimpse of what customers can expect in three different classes.
This jet was configured to carry 516 passengers but the interiors, number of seats, width and pitch are decisions that will be left up to each airline.
Thai Airways has ordered six of the planes with the first to be delivered in 2010.
Total orders and commitments for the A380 have reached 173 by 14 customers, according to Airbus.

 

Governor and Police Chief promoted

Outgoing Chiang Mai governor Withal Srikwan heads to Bangkok to oversee general elections.

Commissioner of Provincial Police Bureau, Region 5 Pol. Lt. Gen. Kittitach Ruangthip promoted to the National Police Office in Bangkok.

Saksit Meesubkwang
Chiang Mai governor Wichai Srikwan has been promoted to Director General of Local Administration Department (LAD) to help facilitate the upcoming general election which is expected to take place on December 23.
Meanwhile, the Commissioner of Provincial Police Bureau, region 5 Pol Lt Gen Kititach Runagthip was promoted to Assistant Police Chief of National Police Office.
Both positions take effect on October 1. Their replacements have not been announced.


Sin taxes go up

Cigarette prices have risen one to two baht per pack following a one per cent increase in the excise tax under the Thai government policy to curb smoking by up to 20 million packs a year.
The president of Phillip Morris in Thailand, Achoke Rammohan said the wholesale prices of imported cigarettes have risen two baht per pack due to the 1 per cent excise tax increase. However, he said it remains to be seen how much the retail price of cigarettes will be affected.
Thailand Tobacco Monopoly spokeswoman Praphatsorn Phongphanphisal confirmed the wholesale prices of the state firm’s cigarettes increased one to two baht a pack and said that cigarette dealers would likely observe trade ethics and not raise the retail prices disproportionately.
Excise Department chief Visut Srisuphan said the 1 per cent tax increase on cigarettes was designed to raise an additional three billion baht tax revenue per year, as well as to discourage smoking by 20 million packs annually. The latest excise tax increase was not in response to a shortfall in tax collections, the department chief said.
Legislation on cigarettes, which is yet to enter the National Legislative Assembly, seeks to have the Excise Department gradually raise cigarette taxes by up to 90 per cent, he added. TNA


Cloud cover obstructs eclipse viewing in Chiang Mai

Chiang Mai University students at the observation tower trying to get
a glimpse of the eclipse.

The lunar eclipse last week brought out hundreds of gazers in Chiang Mai who gathered on the deck of 9th floor of the Science Faculty building at Chiang Mai University to try and get a peek of the rare occurrence.
The unfortunate cloud cover over the city dampened the hopes of the students, teachers and residents who were invited by the National Astronomical Research Institute of Thailand to view the natural phenomenon.
The director of the institute, Assoc. Prof. Boonraksa Soonthrontham, did provide explanations and historical data of the eclipse, so all was not lost.
It wasn’t until 7:20pm when some parts of the moon could be seen through the clouds above Chiang Mai.
Around the world the eclipse was seen in East and Southeast Asia, Australia, New Zealand, the Pacific Ocean, North and South America.


Bird flu alert in Mae Hong Son

Two patients under observation

Public health authorities in Mae Hong Son are on alert following the discovery of more than 100 dead ducks and chickens in a refugee camp in Ban Mae Surin.
Two female residents of the refugee camp appear to have flu symptoms and are being closely watched in a hospital by doctors of the Public Health Ministry.
Authorities were called to the camp after receiving reports that chickens and ducks had suddenly perished at the Paki Ping Refugee Center.
Marut Panyabun, Deputy District Chief, border patrol volunteers, district public health and livestock officers went into the camp to cull all the remaining chickens out of fears that if the deaths of the other birds had been caused by the avian influenza, the disease could spread outside the camp. Health officials are conducting tests to determine if the dead livestock was infected with the avian virus.
The Paki Ping refugee camp is home to 3,808 refugees from Myanmar. CMM Reporters


Breakthrough for stem cell researchers

Thai medical researchers and physicians have achieved success in treating foot wounds of diabetes patients with their own stem cells, according to an announcement from Thailand’s National Innovation Agency chief Supachai Lorlowhakarn.
Several diabetes patients, aged from 50 to 72, with chronic wounds on their feet — especially difficult in the case of diabetics — were injected with stem cells extracted from their own blood and the wounds completely healed in a three to four month period.
The stem cell treatment of wounds of diabetes patients, which costs about 200,000 baht (US$5,880) per patient, can save a large sum of money, compared to perhaps one million baht in conventional treatment for a leg wound. In addition to the patient’s blood, stem cells may also be extracted from his bone marrow.
Each year, an estimated 40,000 diabetes patients had lacerations of their limbs.
Besides diabetes-related illnesses, stem cells may be used to cure thalassemia, leukemia and cardiac syndromes, according to the National Innovation Agency chief during a press conference attended by physicians of the Chulalongkorn University Faculty of Medicine, Samitivej Srinakharin Hospital and THAI StemLife Co. TNA


Unpaid workers protest in Mae Sai

Some 300 day laborers from Myanmar demonstrated in front of Mae Sai Bridge after their Thai employer had failed to pay them for three months of work, a total of more than 500,000 baht owed in back wages.
Thai officials contacted the Thai employer representatives who promised to pay them within a week and the demonstrators dispersed following the promise of payment.
Their Thai employer had claimed that he had been unable to collect payments for the construction work. The workers were unhappy and experiencing difficulties so they decided to gather at the bridge and protest after finishing work before crossing back over the border to their camp in Tachilek.
Mae Sai Police, Mae Immigration Police and military officers contacted the employment agency to come and resolve the matter.
Mr. Chuchai Udompoche, Head of the Mae Sai border customs checkpoint, said that the employer was in breach contract with the foreign workers. CMM Reporters


Alcohol and strangers don’t mix

Tourist may have been slipped a Mickey

Chiang Mai police paid a call on Kevin Michael’s hotel room, a tourist visiting from England, after being informed that he had been robbed.
Police arrived at the Thai Cool House and found 44 year old Mr. Michael in a less than sober condition.
According to the police, Mr. Michael invited two Thai ladies to his room and they partook of three bottles of an unknown spirit and a can of beer. After he apparently passed out he was stripped of his belongings including a digital camera, credit cards, a Rolex watch and 1000 dollars in cash.
The two women, whose nicknames are Som and Joy, had been staying in the same guesthouse and had befriended Mr. Michael.
After the theft occurred the women departed the guesthouse without checking out leading police to believe they are the culprits.
The victim was taken to Maharaj Nakorn Chiang Mai Hospital for a check up to determine if he had been slipped a Mickey. A Mickey is a term for a drink laced with chloral hydrate usually given to someone without their knowledge in order to incapacitate them.
The police are on the lookout for Som and Joy. CMM Reporters.


Massive spraying to take place

The Livestock Development Department is scheduled to kick off a campaign to spray disinfectants across the country within the next week. The campaign is aimed at preventing bird flu pandemic in high risk areas.
Deputy Director-General of Livestock Development, Chaweewan Liewwichak, reported that the department will arrange the campaign from September 3rd – 9th. Disinfectant will be sprayed at areas which repeatedly have had sick and dying poultry especially those in the upper central and the lower northern provinces.
Other high risk areas which will be inspected for bird flu viruses include poultry stalls in markets and border zones adjacent to Vietnam and Myanmar. The department has instructed the provincial livestock development officials to step up measures inspecting all kinds of poultry transport.
The director-general also suggests poultry butchers to avoid buying poultry with suspicious symptoms of bird flu including drowsiness and swollen combs. They should also avoid directly contacting the poultry by wearing gloves and face masks to prevent themselves from contracting the viruses. NNB


Flash floods in Lampang province

Floodwaters in Lampang have receded, while highway workers proceed with clearing a provincial road blocked by a landslide.
Flash floods struck five villages in Lampang last Wednesday, triggering at least one local landslide and forcing the closing of a road.
Local disaster prevention and mitigation chief Sanlek Kamjai said that forest run-off from the Wiengkosai National Park in Phrae rapidly flowed into mountain streams and caused sudden flooding in five villages downstream in Lampang’s Maetha district.
A landslide of topsoil, rocks and forest cover slipped down the mountainside, blocking some portions of the Lampang-Denchai highway, but the roadway remained passable.
Highway workers had cleared the road last Thursday evening.
The Maetha district chief said that he would talk to national park officials to maintain surveillance of possible floods to warn local residents in advance. The local authorities will also inspect reservoirs and waterways in the national park to determine the cause of the flood, which occurred without apparent warning. TNA


Narcotics Control Office officials concerned about drug activities

The Director of the Office of the Narcotics Control Office Region 5, Mr. Chanya Samatcha, said drug activities are still rampant throughout the eight upper northern region provinces.
Authorities have seized several drug consignments, comprised of heroin, and amphetamines. Opium production in neighboring countries is estimated at 90 tons, with the majority of drugs being smuggled into Thailand to be sold.
Mr. Chanya said major drug trafficking routes are in international waters in the Gulf of Thailand, through the Lao People’s Democratic Republic and through regions of Thailand for sale in third nations.
The Director of the Office of the Narcotics Control Office said several nations are cooperating closely in order to suppress drug trafficking, although the United States has decreased funding for drug suppression in Thailand and has shifted its focus to the opium fields of Afghanistan. Mr. Chanya affirmed that officials nonetheless remain dedicated in their drug control efforts. NNB


Cookie shortage: Jatukam T-shirt, anyone?

The overwhelming success of the Jatukam cookies as an antidote to amulet fever has resulted in the outspoken Buddhist monk Phra Payom Kalyano to extend his production line to Jatukam T-shirts to combat superstition and magical thinking about money with clothing instead of munchies.
Indicating that orders for Jatukam cookies had exceeded his production capacity, Phra Payorm, abbot of Wat Suan Kaew in Bangkok’s north suburban province of Nonthaburi, said the pure reason behind the distribution of Jatukam cookies was to urge people to stick to good deeds and hold on to the Lord Buddha’s teachings.
The cookies were made almost the same shape and design as Jatukarm amulets which have been produced in mass and sold in great volumes. The nationwide marketing of Jatukarm amulets has sparked off criticism among some people who strongly disagreed with what they termed “Buddhist commercialism.”
Phra Payorm said a limited collector’s edition of 999 Jatukam T-shirts will be produced and sold for 180 baht each. The front of the T-shirt is printed with a Jatukam logo and carries a short statement encouraging people to work hard and save money.
Wearing the Jatukam T-shirt is almost equivalent to possessing the Lord Buddha’s teachings, according to the renowned abbot. He did not deny that the sale of the T-shirt was more or less “Buddhist commercialism” but he asserted that the “revenue from the sales will go to help the poor and develop temples.” TNA



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