Vol. VI No. 35 - Tuesday
October 23, - October 29, 2007



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by Saichon Paewsoongnern


NEWS
HEADLINES [click on headline to view story]:

HM King Chulalongkorn the Great

Chiang Mai residents pay tribute to HM the King

HM the King regaining strength

Growing with Chiang Mai

Kicking and Screaming

City plans biggest ever Loy Krathong festival

A haven for pedophiles

Night Safari feed suppliers fight for land

HM the King endorses Election Day decree

Deputy PM and governors talk about poverty

Fake 100 dollar bill bust

Border crossing to be reopened soon

 

HM King Chulalongkorn the Great

Fond memories of a Great King

HM King Chulalongkorn the Great.

This Tuesday, October 23, the Kingdom of Thailand observes Chulalongkorn Day. It is a national holiday, and as such, all banks and most offices will be closed for the day.
His Majesty King Chulalongkorn the Great (Rama V) was born in 1853, the son of His Majesty King Mongkut (Rama IV) and Her Majesty Queen Thep Sirinthorn. In 1868, He was given the title Duke ‘Meun Phikhartnaresueansurasangkas.’
HM King Chulalongkorn ascended the throne in 1868, with the title ‘Phrabat Somdej Phra Paraminthra Maha Chulalongkorn Bodinthorn Thep Phaya Maha Mongkut Burutsaya Ratanaraj Rawiwong Warut-tapong Saboripatara Wora Khatiyaraj Nikarodom Jaturatana Borom Maha Chakarapaddiraj Sangart Boromtammika Maha Raja Thiraj Boromanat Bopitara Phra Chulachomklao Chao Yoo Hua’.
His Majesty King Chulalongkorn lived with one purpose in his mind and heart: the happiness and well-being of the Siamese people. His Majesty would often dress as a commoner and move among his people with only two or three advisors. In this way, he could find out how his subjects really felt and see what was happening in his Kingdom.
There is one famous story of His Majesty and two counselors who, after a hard day’s travel, stopped at a farmer’s house to ask for a drink of water. Rural hospitality being a hallmark of Thai people, the family asked the three strangers to stay and have food with them. Speaking freely, the farmer and his wife told the strangers of how their life was progressing and what they would like to see done for their village by the ‘Great King who lives in the Palace in Bangkok.’ The farmer’s son noticed that one of the strangers looked familiar. He went and looked at a daguerreotype the family had of the King. Running back to the group, the family learned that they were serving food to the ‘Lord of Life’ in Siam. HM King Chulalongkorn the Great did this often and thus became ‘in touch’ with the needs of the Siamese people.
Another story of the great love and respect happened in 1893. The territory hungry French had formulated a plan to take the Siamese territory of Laos and certain valuable territories on the Eastern Seaboard which produced precious rubies and sapphires.
In a carefully formulated plan, a French warship entered the Chao Phraya River. It was required by international law that all foreign ships fly their colors when entering the waters of another sovereign country. The French deliberately did not do this. When hailed by the river guard to fly their colors, the French ignored the guard. The guard fired a warning shot over the French ship’s bow.
The French Embassy in Bangkok was prepared in advance to carry out the plan. Bringing a letter sent from France months before the incident, it stated that Siam had performed an act of aggression on the French and must pay huge reparations.
The French were not prepared for what happened next. Hearing of the huge demands, Siamese both wealthy and poor brought cartloads of jewels, precious metals and every valuable possible to the Royal Palace and offered it to His Majesty to keep the French out of Siam.
The French had not imagined that Siam was so wealthy and the people so devoted to their King.
Siam was able to pay the reparations but the French, deciding this was not enough, took all Siamese territory east of the Mekong River.
His Majesty King Chulalongkorn was wise, knowing that Siam could not resist the French and British and held the motto of ‘giving up some so as not to lose all.’
Siam lost over 160,000 sq. kilometers of territory to the French and British.
His Majesty King Chulalongkorn was the first Siamese monarch to visit the West. He believed in adopting all things good from the West while Siam kept its culture. The wise King Chulalongkorn made Russia a strong ally of Siam to counteract the British and French influence in SE Asia. He followed the Chinese concept of ‘have strong allies but make sure their borders are far away.’
Many of the Royal Princes were sent to study in Russia. In His letters to His sons, HM King Chulalongkorn wisely warned them ‘do not feel that you are important because you are a prince. In Siam, there are many princes, whereas in Russia there are few. Do the best you can at your studies and that is enough.’
HM King Chulalongkorn’s most noteworthy achievement in Siam was the abolition of slavery. He did not do this in a haphazard manner as it was done in other countries. He devised a complex method of ‘freeing’ slaves so that older ones would not be left in poverty with no place to live. Younger slaves were to be released by ‘stages’, responsibility falling to the owner to see that they had a way of supporting themselves.
His Majesty King Chulalongkorn the Great is beloved of Thai people and considered a truly ‘enlightened’ ruler among historians. His Majesty died on October 23, 1910, after the second longest reign in the history of the Thai nation.
He is remembered and loved by the Thai people and the date of his death is commemorated every year. Ceremonies are held, offerings are made to his memory and the entire student body from the university that bears his name perform obeisance before his statue.
Locally, city officials, people from the business community, members from local charitable organizations, the private sector and many local residents will assemble in the morning in the field in front of Chiang Mai City Hall to celebrate this Remembrance Day for King Rama V, all paying homage to one of the greatest and most highly revered Kings of Thailand. Each organization and institute will present wreaths to the King Rama V statue.
Would that all countries were so lucky to have one such enlightened ruler in their collective histories.

 

Chiang Mai residents pay tribute to HM the King

Saksit Meesubkwang
Throngs of residents line up at City Hall to pay tribute to HM the King and wish him a speedy recovery.
A large sized portrait of His Majesty was placed in front of City Hall so residents could honor him while he recovers in hospital.
Two books were placed in front of his portrait and well wishers formed lines to sign the book and enter personal words of encouragement and thanks.
These tributes are being held around the country as hundreds of thousands of people gather to express their love and devotion to His Majesty the King.


HM the King regaining strength

His Majesty the King was making a gradual recovery from his illness, as doctors said his appetite last Friday was improving and he could perform more exercise to regain strength.
In its seventh statement on the King’s health, the Royal Household Bureau said the King’s body temperature had come down to a normal level and infection on his large intestines had improved.
The result of his blood test showed the inflammation of the small diverticulum of the colon had progressively decreased. The King could perform exercises to regain strength and was able to have more food, according to the statement.
Meanwhile, a huge throng of people from all walks of life continued to show up at Siriraj hospital to wish His Majesty a speedy recovery.
The King has been hospitalized since last Saturday, October 13. TNA


Growing with Chiang Mai

Roy Blom
Managing Editor

Translated literally, “Chiang Mai” means “New City” – and indeed with every passing week it seems that a slightly new Chiang Mai emerges – closer to the status of a great city and a great tourist attraction. Two weeks ago a highly respected travel magazine listed its choices for “top destinations.” Chiang Mai placed as the third favorite city in Asia. For those of us who make Chiang Mai our home, this selection is just a reinforcement of what we already know.
With this issue, the Chiang Mai Mail celebrates its fifth anniversary. We pledge to continue to provide our readers with coverage of local events, entertainment, social and/or political happenings, restaurant reviews and the writings of regular columnists who bring practical advice to those of us living away from our home country. We now print over 4000 copies per week that are distributed in more than 150 locations.
Two immediate changes are significant only as examples of things to come. We hope our new logo will give a fresh look to the cover page each week. With this issue we also say good bye to the out-dated spelling of “Chiangmai” and from now on will be known as The Chiang Mai Mail.
I have served as Managing Editor for only a short time. I have, however, lived in Chiang Mai for the past three years and have witnessed tremendous change. The city is growing both in population and in land mass as more and more housing developments appear within the city and on all sides of the official city limits. More international airlines are conveniently taking us to destinations considered impractical just a short time ago. More hotels and guest houses are opening – at all levels of service – from owner occupied venues to five star international hotels. Supermarkets now provide many of the products we were accustomed to in our home countries. Internet Service Providers are striving to provide better and faster service, and Cable companies are adding more and more channels.
With this change comes a need for long range planning. Our new Mayor and other elected officials seem determined to complete stalled projects from an earlier era and to introduce new projects which improve our infrastructure. Plans have been introduced to create new wider roads, to upgrade existing roads, to continue pursuing a flood management plan, and to change not only the look of public spaces with more trees and flowers, but to make those public spaces safer and more accessible to all.
We pledge to continue this spirit of growth and change within our own organization. Five years is a long life for a community newspaper. Most of our staff are volunteers who write as a service to their city—without any compensation other than the reward of a job well done. Publishing a weekly newspaper demands absolute dedication. Within the context of a bi-lingual operation, we are aware of the challenge to keep our newspaper relevant to the lives of our readers. We report not only past events, but what is happening now, and what is yet to come—and to some extent interpret the significance of that information to the life of a non-native reader.
The Chiang Mai Mail remains an important force in Chiang Mai and I am reminded of this every day through phone calls, emails and letters from readers—young and old. Our readers are intelligent, professional, cultured, and well-traveled. They demand useful information that is both timely and interesting. We owe our presence every week to our readers but also our loyal advertisers. Feedback from each of these sources keeps us humble and working harder.
I will continue to strengthen our editorial coverage by providing more local news, local sports, school news and more community events. We hear you and we agree! We always welcome your contribution of news tips, photos, and story ideas. As our city grows and our readership grows, the editorial staff faces many challenges. We are up to those challenges and thank you for your support.
I am grateful to our employees, our contributors, our readers and our advertisers. Change in our city and our newspaper are unstoppable. I look forward to the future of this newspaper and to the future of this important and dynamic city.
[email protected]


Kicking and Screaming

Vol. 1 - Issue. No. 1
26 October 2002

Vol. VI - Issue. No. 35
23 October 2007

Dr. Iain Corness
Kicking and screaming. Does that describe the staff of the publishing company? Or the newspaper itself? Or perhaps the readership? Or perhaps all three?
After five years of association with your Chiang Mai newspaper I must honestly report that it is indeed all three, but for different reasons, and in different ways.
The first group, the publishing company, has had its fair amount of excitement, traumas, highs and lows. Nobody would deny that it has been a hard road from time to time. When management problems looked like bringing the whole company down, it certainly was a time when it appeared that kicking and screaming as the project looked like foundering was a possibility. However, some very clear and determined thinking in the publishing group managed to keep the project alive with a web version during the hiatus when the newspaper disappeared from the newsstands. But those days are now fortunately behind us. The publishers can see the way ahead. The screaming is over.
Kicking and screaming in the newspaper itself had also been noted. A failure to note and follow tell-tale signs that were being given, produced internal problems that affected both content and depth in the newspaper. But most reporters and writers stuck by the publication and new growth in the newspaper began again. The content is expanding. The depth is coming. The kicking is over.
What about our readership? It too has done its fair share of kicking and screaming at us, and at times we deserved it. Sure, there were extenuating circumstances, but Chiang Mai wanted a weekly newspaper, and we stumbled at times. Forgive us and help us as we go forward from our five year anniversary. We got this far, and we are firm in our resolve to see you through the next five, ten, twenty years, and even further. Chiang Mai Mail, its publishers and its staff promise you that the resolve that published the first edition of Chiang Mai Mail is still there. And it is stronger with the benefits of five years of hindsight and five years more experience.
The new Chiang Mai Mail is your weekly newspaper, published in the English language, and it is here in the North to stay. Thank you for your support.


City plans biggest ever Loy Krathong festival

Saksit Meesubkwang
Mark your calendars – Loy Krathong activities begin November 18th and run through the 25th. The official start date is November 22.

Chiang Mai’s Mayor Pang officially announces the biggest and grandest Loy Krathong the city has ever seen will kick off on November 18th.
The Municipality of Chiang Mai plans to hold the biggest ever Loy Krathong or Yee Peng festival this year, according to Madame Mayor Dr. Duentemduang na Chiengmai.
This year the Loy Krathong celebrations will honor the grand celebration of the 80th birthday of His Majesty the King on December 5.
Official celebrations will begin on November 22 at the Three Kings monument in the old town with Krathong floats making their way around the city. A contest will be held to select the most beautiful floats.
In addition, there will be a Miss Yee Peng beauty contest with the most beautiful girls from the North competing in traditional Thai costumes.
Special lighting and decorations will cover the city to celebrate the occasion and the Mayor said a “clean–up campaign” will be also launched to keep the city clean as thousands of tourists descend on the Chiang Mai for this yearly spectacle.
This year’s theme is the Lanna culture and it will be grandiose according to the Mayor.
Warnings will go out to residents regarding the ban on fireworks and alcohol during Loy Krathong. The Mayor added it was necessary to avoid people getting injured.


A haven for pedophiles

Corrupt law enforcement, sex networks provide cover for pedophiles in Asia

Michael Casey, Associated Press Writer
In an Internet exchange intercepted by Cambodian police, two teachers - apparently foreigners - discuss how easy it is to pick up mostly homeless boys between 10 and 14 years old and bring them to their apartments for sex.
“I am having a wonderful time with them sexually. Some of them are very interesting. There is never a dull moment,” one of the teachers wrote, according to a transcript published in 2004 by Beyond Borders, a Canadian organization combating sexual abuse of children. “Last night, four boys spent the night and I like all four of them.”
A high-profile manhunt in Thailand last week for a suspected pedophile highlights how Southeast Asia has become a magnet for pedophiles. Some commit their crimes with relative impunity, walking hand-in-hand with underage girls in Bangkok or with boys in a resort hotel on the Indonesian island of Bali. Some work as English teachers, giving them access to students.
Across the region, hundreds of thousands of children are believed to work in the sex trade, mostly in Cambodia, Indonesia, Thailand, Vietnam and the Philippines.
“Everything here makes the crime easy,” said Rosalind Prober, president of Beyond Borders, who is visiting Bangkok.
“This can be an open crime in Thailand when Western men are obviously in front of people carrying on in this way,” she said. “It becomes normalized so they don’t think they are doing anything wrong.”
Some pedophiles use secretive rings in cyberspace to find their victims. The networks offer tips on the best places to meet children or arrange sexual rendezvous in luxury condos or on private yachts.
To get access to such networks and earn credibility among their fellow pedophiles, individuals often must provide evidence of sex acts they have committed with children.
Others turn to jobs like teaching or tutoring that gives them ready access to youngsters. Teaching English is especially popular because jobs are easy to get and the position carries with it a level of authority that makes it difficult for the children and even their parents to question abuses.
“The children are sitting ducks. This is their teacher. This is someone you trust and tells you what to do,” Prober said. “You very quickly get trapped. There is such a level of control and power by a teacher. It’s multiplied when it comes to a foreign teacher.”
Poverty contributes to the problem. Many of the victims are the poorest children, including beggars, street children and the homeless.
“It’s all a manifestation of poverty that creates the vulnerabilities,” said Richard Bridle, UNICEF’s deputy regional director for East Asia and the Pacific.
Pedophiles also take advantage of Asian legal systems where cash bribes can lead to charges being dropped or victim’s relatives and other witnesses suddenly changing their stories.
Asian governments have begun to address the problem, enacting tough laws and moving to convict pedophiles in Cambodia, Thailand and Indonesia. Thailand, for example, has toughened its screening process for teachers since the high profile case of John Mark Karr last year.
Karr, who had worked as an English teacher in Bangkok and South Korea, made headlines when he claimed to have killed 6-year-old JonBenet Ramsey, a long unsolved murder in the United States. He was arrested in Bangkok and flown back to the United States, only to be freed when DNA tests failed to place him at the crime scene.
“It is very good now that we have the police help us screen teachers to make sure there is no previous (criminal) record,” said Poramit Srikureja, an assistant chairman of the Christian school in Bangkok where Neil taught. “It is a lot more difficult now to get teachers.”
The Neil case, experts said, shows that law enforcement agencies are better coordinating their activities and giving priority to pedophilia cases.
“We are beginning to see a trend going toward better laws, better policing and more awareness within public that this isn’t acceptable,” Bridle said. “I see this particular case as a great cause of optimism and great cause for redoubling efforts to both catch these people committing these crimes but also looking at vulnerabilities that underlie why children become victims.”


Night Safari feed suppliers fight for land

Dee Jantakalak (left), representing the farmers, hands over a petition to provincial official Chumporn Saengmanee.

Saksit Meesubkwang
A seven rai plot of land that is being used by villagers to grow feed for animals at the Night Safari has become the latest conflict in the problem plagued tourist attraction.
Last week some 30 farmers who formed the Animal Food Production enterprise were joined by farmers from neighboring Mae Hia, Nong Kwai and Suthep and showed up at Chiang Mai city hall to protest a move by the Agricultural Promotion and Development Office who wants to reclaim the land to build an office.
The farmers protest petition was handed over to provincial official Chumporn Saengmanee.
Dee Jantakalak, the enterprise’s president, said that the 7 rai of alleged public land had been deserted and used by the villagers in the three tambons to feed their animals for the past 30 years. Since the opening of the Night Safari was established, the group of farmers had been using the land to grow grass and sell it to the Night Safari.
Then came along the Agricultural Promotion and Development Office - Region 6 and asked the farmers to move out of the area citing that the land would be used for the construction of an office building even though there is no title deed for the piece of land.
The provincial government official informed the farmers that he will take up the matter with the Governor of Chiang Mai who may have the final decision on who gets to use the plot of land.


HM the King endorses Election Day decree

His Majesty the King has endorsed a Royal Decree determining Thailand’s next general election be held on December 23rd of this year.
HM the King signed the Royal Command endorsing the decree last Thursday, according to Cabinet Secretary-General Surachai Phuprasert, giving the royal seal of approval to the current election process.
The Office of His Majesty’s Principal Private Secretary has already returned the decree to the Cabinet Secretariat and it is expected the decree will be published in the Royal Gazette on October 24 and take effect on the following day, said Mr. Surachai.
The planned December 23 general election is seen as a solid move towards democracy by Thailand after the kingdom has been under the military rule for over one year since a bloodless coup on September 19, 2006.
The upcoming poll is being seen as evidence proving that a full restoration of the Thai democracy is ready to proceed and the current leaders are committed to their promise to return sovereignty to the people by holding the poll within a year after the coup. TNA


Deputy PM and governors talk about poverty

Saksit Meesubkwang
Deputy Prime Minister Kosit Panpiamrat held a meeting at Chiang Mai city hall last week to discuss the ongoing rural development and poverty eradication projects that are taking place in eight Northern provinces.
The governors from the provinces of Chiang Mai, Chiang Rai, Lamphun, Lampang, Phrae, Nan, Phayao and Mae Hong Son met with the deputy PM to review the progress being made in each state and to inform the deputy PM on the current situation.
The rural development and poverty eradication projects were initiated by the current government to provide assistance to those in need.
The deputy PM said that some of the older projects which began under the Thaksin government may be revised to better suit the needs of the people.
He added that he expected the next government to follow through on these programs.


Fake 100 dollar bill bust

Saksit Meesubkwang
The chief of security at a casino in Tachilek, Myanmar and two others were detained by police in Chiang Rai and charged with smuggling fake US bank notes.

The bundle of counterfeit 100 dollar bills seized by police in Chiang Rai. Courtesy of Chiang Rai’s Provincial Police Division Investigation Unit.
The three suspects were identified by police as Charoen Wannawong, 60, a resident of Fang district, Chiang Mai who works as chief of the security at a casino, Vichien Boonket, 63, a resident of Chiang Rai and Vinai Serncheep, 43, a resident of Bangkok.
Police were tipped off that the three men were transporting and attempting to sell counterfeit US 100 dollar notes. As police approached the suspects gathered in the parking lot of the Big C store in Chiang Rai, the alleged smugglers tried to escape and struggled with police when they were detained.
A search of their belongings produced 180 fake 100 dollar bills that are re-sold on the black market at 800 baht a piece according to the police.

One of the suspects puts up a struggle as undercover police in Chiang Rai take him into custody. Courtesy of Chiang Rai’s Provincial Police Division Investigation Unit.
The suspects claimed that foreigners playing in the casino in Tachilek gave the suspects the counterfeit bills.
The police believe the suspects are part of a bigger smuggling ring and expect more arrests to take place.
Police Major General Songtham Artchapat, the commander of Chiang Rai Provincial Division said one of his officials had received a tip-off and an investigation ensued leading to the arrest of the three men.
Suspect Charoen admitted to police that they were transporting the fake dollar bills to hand over to someone from Bangkok.
According to the police currency smuggling is common in the border towns of Mae Sai, Chiang Saen, and Chiang Khong.


Border crossing to be reopened soon

Chiang Mai province is preparing to reopen Kiw Phawok border pass for trade between Thailand and Myanmar. It is anticipated that more than 50 million baht per month of trade will be generated with this border crossing that connects Kiw Phawok with Pong Pakhem, a mostly Shan village in Myanmar.
Chiang Mai governor Wiboon Sa-nguanphong and his team held a meeting at the Border Operations Center in Chiang Dao to promote the opening of Kiw Phawok Border Pass as soon as possible to facilitate cross border trade and investment between the two countries.
The unrest in Myanmar is now under control said the Governor and they have received requests from local business operators and locals.
The Thai military have submitted proposals to their counterparts in Myanmar and anticipate that there will be no problems.
The opening of the border post is expected to generate more than 50 million baht in trade per month principally through consumer goods, buffalo imports and agricultural products.
The government agencies involved includes the Chiang Mai Trade Organization, Immigration, Customs, Public Health, Police, Military and local volunteers. The Livestock Department will set up a quarantine zone for animals on a 5 rai plot of land and a border market will also be opened. Officials stated that these facilities will be opened as soon as possible. CMM Reporters



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