Vol. VI No. 34 - Tuesday
October 16, - October 22, 2007



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by Saichon Paewsoongnern


NEWS
HEADLINES [click on headline to view story]:

His Majesty the King recovering

Tragedy at the Night Safari

Chiang Mai ranks 3rd as top Asian destination

Pedestrian friendly sidewalks coming soon

Governor honors anti-drug campaigners

Is your meter running?

Chiang Mai prepares for winter season

High hopes for Korean tourists

“No belly for Thais” campaign launched

Wind shear caused Phuket air crash

Protests against Myanmar continue

Stolen vehicles make their way North

Mae Hong Son Gov. promotes Long Neck tribe

 

His Majesty the King recovering

His Majesty the King was expected to remain hospitalized for “a certain period,” the royal palace said Sunday, a day after he was admitted with what doctors called inadequate blood supply to the brain.
HM the King was hospitalized Saturday after reportedly feeling weakness on the right side of his body.
“Some eight hours of treatment alleviated the weakness in the right leg. The team of physicians then recommended hospitalization for treatment and observation,” the statement said.
Cerebral ischemia means that the brain or parts of the brain are not receiving sufficient blood to maintain normal thinking and bodily functions. It can result from various diseases and obstruction of arteries such as by the blood clot removed from the monarch’s leg.
His condition improved after about eight hours of treatment, the statement said.
“The condition of His Majesty the King is improving,” the statement said. “The right side of his body is regaining some strength.”
The statement said doctors will be treating the king with rehabilitative medicine at the hospital, “and will continue to treat him for a certain period.” It did not specify how long.
The palace said Saturday that an MRI showed the king had “a slightly inadequate blood flow to the brain.”
Hundreds of well-wishers crowded outside Bangkok’s Siriraj Hospital on Sunday, shouting “Long Live the King!”
Many wore yellow shirts and carried yellow flags. In Buddhist tradition, yellow represents the day of the week on which His Majesty was born.
Her Majesty the Queen thanked the crowd for its support as she entered the hospital to visit the king.
“His majesty is fine and getting better,” she told the crowd.
Privy Council members led by President Gen. Prem Tinsulanonda also visited His Majesty the King, who will celebrate his 80th birthday December 5. AP and TNA

 

Tragedy at the Night Safari

Saksit Meesubkwang
Two elephants at the Night Safari died on October 5th after apparently eating contaminated grass. Five other elephants became serious ill and suffering from stomach cramps and constipation. They are being cared for by veterinarians from Lampang and Chiang Mai University.
It took the management of the Night Safari five days to notify the media of the deaths which may have gone unnoticed had it not been for local residents who witnessed staffers using cranes to move the giants and then bury them in the park.
The dead elephants, 12 year old Phang Joy and 60 year old Phang Khun Yai were part of the animal attractions as the Night Safari which has been plagued with problems since its opening.
From a herd of 11, the Night Safari now has 9 elephants.
According to Mr. Suphot Mathaphiwat, Director of Animal Management at the Night Safari, when the first two elephants became ill experts from the National Kachaba Institute and vets from Chiang Mai University were summoned.
Despite the attempts to save their lives the two elephants died from what is believed to be ingestion of contaminated grass - possibly insecticides - which led to an obstruction in their digestive system.
Five other elephants also fell ill but veterinarians were able to unblock the intestinal tract to relieve the animals. They have recovered but are still being treated according to the Night Safari management.
Investigators are looking into three sub-districts in the area who were responsible for growing and providing grass as feed for the elephants at the park.
Apparently the staff responsible for feeding the elephants had not been instructed properly on screening for contaminated grass and policy changes have now taken place. Mahouts have also been instructed to provide more water for the elephants.
The dead elephants were buried and funeral rights were provided by four monks.


Chiang Mai ranks 3rd as top Asian destination

The November 2007 issue of Conde Nast Traveler magazine released its 20th annual Readers’ Choice Awards and the city of Chiang Mai placed third in the list of top Asian cities. (No real surprise for those of us who live here).
The results are derived from the largest independent poll of consumers’ preferences, the
Readers’ Choice Survey, second in size only to the U.S. Census. A record number of travelers, over 28,000, voted this year.
The winning Asian city is Bangkok followed by Hong Kong in second place and Chiang Mai in third.
Other notables on the popular readers choice is top airline. Singapore Airlines is again the #1 International Route Airline, and has led this category for 19 of the past 20 years (in 1994 Swissair took the top spot) and remains the only carrier ever to earn an overall score above 90.0.
San Francisco, the #1 U.S. City, has also been #1 for 17 of the past 18 years (in 1992 Santa Fe in the State of New Mexico won the honor).
For only the second time in Reader’s Choice history, there’s a perfect 100 score. The honor went to the La Scalinatella Hotel on the island of Capri. CMM Reporters


Pedestrian friendly sidewalks coming soon

The footpaths around the moat seen here, being torn up and remodeled
to make them more pedestrian friendly. Work is expected to be completed
by the end of the year.

Saksit Meesubkwang
The Mayor of Chiang Mai, Dr Duentemduang na Chiang Mai, has expressed her concern about complaints regarding the ongoing improvement work being made along the moat.
Sidewalks and footpaths have been obstructed for the past several weeks as workers have torn up the old tiles and have begun to pour concrete in an effort to make them more pedestrian friendly. The work though has led to a series of complaints from tourists, residents and business owners.
The Mayor added that the repaving of the sidewalks and footpaths was approved in August of 2006 by the former city administration and the work had been slated prior to her becoming the city leader. She stated that the remodeling of the sidewalks has enabled city workers to remove numerous illegal billboards that won’t be returning once the construction is finalized.
The Mayor told the Chiangmai Mail that she realizes the importance of public input and therefore will create a working committee comprised of residents and business owners who will take part in future decision making regarding improvements in the city.
The remodeling of the sidewalks and footpaths is expected to be completed by the end of the year said the Mayor.


Governor honors anti-drug campaigners

Recipients to meet HRH Princess Ubolratana

The Governor of Chiang Mai, Mr. Wiboon Sa-nguanphong presided
over the honors award ceremony entitled “Example Communities and Individuals” seen here presenting plaques at the Green Lake Resort Hotel Conference Room, Chiang Mai.

Saksit Meesubkwang
Wiboon Sa-nguanphong, Governor of Chiang Mai presided over a ceremony to award residents of Chiang Mai who have set good examples in their drive to campaign against drug use in Chiang Mai.
The recipients were honored at a ceremony at the Green Lake Resort hotel under the program known as “To be number One,” that was founded by Her Royal Highness Princess Ubolratana.
The program is being held nationwide in which 10 individuals are being highlighted for their work to campaign against drug use.
The honorees include monks, youths, local government officials and civil servants.
Nationwide 90 individuals will then travel to Bangkok to attend the “Example Communities and Individuals” where they will meet HRH Princess Ubolratana who will honor their work in the community during an awards ceremony.
The Governor congratulated the recipients and asked that they maintain their love and goodness and set an example to those around them who have erred and encourage them to mend their errors for which they will redeem great merit. He added that it will be the greatest honor for their families as they are presented before HRH Princess Ubolratana.


Is your meter running?

Saksit Meesubkwang
When the yellow and blue metered taxis appeared on the roads in Chiang Mai many residents were pleased to have an alternate source of inexpensive transportation.

Taxi drivers who refuse to turn on their meters or attempt to overcharge passengers face loosing their license.
Months later that welcoming has soured due to numerous complaints from passengers who have been overcharged by unscrupulous taxi drivers who tack on additional charges or refuse to turn on their meters as required by law.
Mr. Charnchai Kilapaeng, head of the Chiang Mai Land Transport office, said that the minimum service charge for boarding a metered taxi in the city starts at 40 baht for the first 2 kilometers followed by a 5 baht per kilometer charge after the first 2 kms. The charge for a full day costs 1,700 baht. These rates apply to trips within the city limits and inside the third ring road.
The land transport official announced that every metered taxi must abide by these rates and regulations or face losing their license if found overcharging a customer.
If you feel you have been overcharged or if the taxi driver refuses to turn on his meter, you may contact telephone number 1584 - available 24 hours - to file a complaint or 053–270411 and 053–270409 during office hours to initiate an investigation. Please provide the taxi number when filing the complaint.
Meanwhile, Mr. Ton Wongkaeng, president of Lanna Transport Cooperatives, which controls the red mini-buses and metered taxi operations in Chiang Mai, added that his office will also investigate complaints of overcharging. The Cooperative office can be reached at 053-279193 or 053–271242.


Chiang Mai prepares for winter season

Saksit Meesubkwang
The Northern Meteorological Center has issued a warning to residents in the Northern provinces, including Chiang Mai to prepare for the upcoming winter season.
“Cold wind from China is approaching the country and this year’s winter is expected to be more severe than last year,” said the statement from the Northern Meteorological Center.
Phajon Prabsakul, head of the Disaster Prevention and Relieve Center, said that the province has begun preparations to provide necessities to all people when the cold weather starts, expected to hit our area in mid October. However, the budget for the purchase of blankets and warm clothes for needy people is being revised for approval by the Governor of Chiang Mai.
Last year the center spent 20 million baht to provide blankets and warm clothes to needy people and residents in the mountainous regions.
Local administration organizations have also allocated parts of their budget to cover this expense.


High hopes for Korean tourists

Seoul-Chiang Mai flights begin Oct. 29

Saksit Meesubkwang
On October 29th Korean Airlines begins flying non-stop from Seoul to Chiang Mai four times a week. This additional international air-link is expected to draw thousands of Korean tourists to Chiang Mai.
In preparation for the influx of Koreans, the Thai Ambassador in Seoul, Wasin Theerawechayarn met with the Governor and tourism leaders of the city at the Sofitel hotel where they discussed ways to welcome the tourists.
According to the director of the Tourism Authority of Thailand Northern Region 1, Junnapong Saranak, 29,593 Korean tourists visited Chiang Mai last year, a 0.43% increase from previous year. This number is expected to increase with the addition of the non-stop flight. He added that businesses in the golf, spa and Thai massage sectors were expected to see a rise in business. However, the main obstacle is language since Chiang Mai has a shortage of Korean speaking guides.
Songwit Ittipattanakul, President of Chiang Mai Tourism Business Association, said that the city has a capacity to accommodate 50,000 tourists a day. Though many residents of Chiang Mai could not afford to travel to Korea he believes Korean Airlines will profit by maximizing their cargo shipments. He said studies of exporting Chiang Mai products should be implemented.
The Thai Ambassador said that currently only a few Thai products make it into the Korean market but studies should be made to better understand their needs.
He added that the major attraction for Korean tourists include the Thai elephants and temples but tourism businesses should also focus on marketing security, satisfaction and stable pricing to attract the tourists to the city.
Other areas that should be profitable are family travel, honeymoon packages, golf and meetings, incentives, conventions and exhibitions (MICE), said the ambassador.


“No belly for Thais” campaign launched

The Public Health Ministry in cooperation with other eight organizations has launched ‘No Belly’ campaigns after Thailand ranked fifth among the Asia-Pacific countries where the citizenry is defined as being overweight.
“Globally, more than one billion adults are overweight, and at least 300 million are clinically obese. In the next eight years, the number of overweight people will increase up to 1,500 million,” according to Dr. Narongsakdi Aungkasuvapala, director-general of the Department of Health.
In a 2004 study of obesity in Asia Pacific region, Thailand also ranked fifth among the countries with the most obese population, following Australia, Mongolia, Vanuatu and Hong Kong.”, Dr. Narongsakdi stated.
Dr. Narongsakdi expressed concern over the ten million Thais are obese. Among them are middle-aged women and urban residents. In the last five years, cardiovascular diseases and diabetes patients have doubled, while those suffering from cancers have increased by 1.5 times, a result of the growing trend of overweight men, women, and children.
Therefore, he said, some eight well-known public and private agencies concerned with obesity have launched campaigns with the Public Health Ministry to encourage their employees to reduce their weight and related fat-conditions for their good health and efficiency of work.
Organizations interested in joining the campaign can browse to www.raipoong.com for more information.
The prevalence of being overweight and obese is assessed by using body mass index (BMI). The weight in kilos divided by the square of the height in meters (kg/m2).
Persons with a BMI over 25 kg/m2 are defined as overweight, and a BMI over 30 kg/m2 are considered obese. TNA


Wind shear caused Phuket air crash

Analysis of flight and data recorders from the passenger jet operated by Thai budget carrier One-Two-Go which crashed at Phuket last month found that wind shear was the main culprit that caused Thailand’s worst air disaster in ten years, according to the country’s top investigator.
The budget airline’s ill-fated flight OG 268 veered off a runway at Phuket International Airport amid heavy rain and strong crosswinds on September 16. The MD 82 model aircraft broke into two sections before bursting into flames, killing 90 people on board, including 53 foreigners.
Chaisawat Kittipornpaiboon, Permanent Secretary for Transport, in his capacity as head of the fact-finding committee, told reporters last Friday that US experts concluded after thorough analysis of the data retained in two flight and data recorders and circumstantial witnesses that the wind shear presence at the time forced the pilot to pull up the plane before it lost balance and skidded off the runway.
Wind shear is the severe movement of winds at different altitudes blowing forcefully in different directions, which causes erratic movement of an aircraft attempting to navigate a direct path.
The air disaster is Thailand’s worst since a Thai Airways Airbus A310-200 crashed during an attempted landing at Surat Thani in December 1998, killing 101 of the 146 people on board. TNA


Protests against Myanmar continue

A peaceful march of several dozens demonstrators gathered last week at Buak Hard public park in Chiang Mai to protest against the Myanmar government. A number of rallies have taken place around the city as activists condemn the brutal actions of the ruling generals.


Stolen vehicles make their way North

Chiang Saen marine police fired shots in the air to stop attempted car smugglers who were seen transporting a Toyota Vigo into Laos across the Mekong river.
The Marine Police on routine patrol spotted a group a five men attempting to load a brand new Vigo Free Runner on a barge and transport across the river. As the police ordered the men to stop the gang dove into the river and escaped from the authorities.
Officers, led by Pol. Col. Saksira Phuok-am, Superintendent, Pol. Lt. Col and Phirawat Natibutr gave chase but the suspects were able to swim across in Laos.
The confrontation took place in the Tha Laem Thong, Ban Chiang Saen Thong, Viang Sub-district of Chiang Rai province.
Police confiscated the stolen vehicle and transported it to the police station to investigate the whereabouts of the true owner who is believed to be from one of the central provinces.
According to the police, car smugglers purchase stolen vehicles for an average of 500,000 baht and then attempt to re-sell them in China after driving them across Laos.


Mae Hong Son Gov. promotes Long Neck tribe

Khajohn Boonpath
Mae Hong Son Governor Thongchai Wongrianthong, accompanied by several provincial officials paid tribute to the Long Neck Karen tribe in the province by providing them with baskets of food.
The 34 families that make up the Karen tribe in Baan Huay Pu Kaeng has become the provinces major tourist attraction where the villagers are said to conserve their typical way of life.
The visit by the government officials prompted the villagers to perform a tribal show for the guests.
The governor admitted that the Long Neck Karen tribe served as the unique attraction of the province where tourists visit to experience their tribal lifestyle.
“Mae Hong Son is now ready to welcome tourists at the start of this high season. To ensure security for all visitors, police officers from the Muang District Police Station along with a group of territory volunteer soldiers have been assigned at the village,” said the Governor.
One of the female Karen villagers said that they their survival is due to tourism. “The more tourists visit the village, the more income is generated for us. Conversely, less number of tourists also leads to our hardship and poverty.”



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