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HEADLINES [click on headline to view story]:

City officials take the lead as clean up campaign begins

Let the Loy Krathong festivities begin

Vehicles to be tested for emission levels

Cold spells in Mae Hong Son bring worries

Grenade thrown at business fails to explode

Thai News owner and editor dies of heart failure

Team of wandering Long Necks detained in Chiang Dao

Cabinet declares Dec 24 national holiday

Drivers caught off guard as intersection opens

Two million baht heist at local golf club

Local candidate pulls stunt during registration

Local Democratic Party announces candidates

 

City officials take the lead as clean up campaign begins

Leading by example – the Mayor of Chiang Mai (right); Mr. Thawatwong na Chiengmai (left) President of Chiang Mai Provincial Administration Organization (PAO); and Dr Ken Santitham (center) permanent secretary for city Municipality sweep away the streets to beautify Chiang Mai.

Saksit Meesubkwang
With broom in hand the Mayor of Chiang Mai along with other city and provincial officials took to the streets of the city to begin a clean up campaign, part of her initiative to beautify Chiang Mai.
Madame Mayor Pang was joined on Charoen Muang road by Mr. Thawatwong na Chiengmai, the President of Chiang Mai Provincial Administration Organization (PAO), Dr. Ken Santitham, permanent secretary for city Municipality, representatives of several environmental organizations, students, police, military personnel who in a short period collected some 2000 bags of garbage off the streets.
A determined Mayor said this pilot project will help educate residents and minimize the refuse and pollution which has become one of the main concerns for Chiang Mai residents.
Garbage collection and keeping the front entrances of homes should be everyone’s responsibility added the Mayor.
Water trucks will now comb the city streets and public parks three days a week in an attempt to wash away dust and air pollution emitted from cars, trucks and buses to keep the city beautiful.
As high season brings in tens of thousands of tourists into Chiang Mai it is hoped that most of them will notice the improvements being made by the local government and residents.
The work on the walk ways along the moat and the landscaping that will add more greenery in the city is still underway as laborers rush to have most of it completed by the beginning of the Loy Krathong festivities.

 

Let the Loy Krathong festivities begin

You may have heard the fireworks already or even lanterns reaching for the skies. Some residents just can’t wait for the beginning of one of Chiang Mai’s most beautiful festivities.

This giant Krathong decorated with lights at Khatum Corner attracted many tourists.
Loy Krathong kicks off this week and the entire city will be abuzz with dozens of officially sanctioned events and even more spontaneous gatherings.
Just some of the highlights include the Yipeng lantern procession, the Lanna Thai cultural presentations and performances, the bamboo raft races and boat races on the Mae Ping River, the spectacular release of thousands of Lanna-style floating lanterns (khome loi or khome yipeng) that cover the sky as far as the eye can see. Traditional belief has it that when these huge lanterns are set adrift and float away, so do the troubles of the residents in the city.
‘Yipeng’ literally means the full moon night of the twelfth lunar month and the Chiang Mai ‘Yipeng’ and ‘Loy Krathong’ Festival of Lights is organized annually by the Chiang Mai Municipality. During the festival, the entire city of Chiang Mai, its houses, streets, canals, moats and the Ping river are decorated with lights and beautiful lanterns, making these festivities a most beautiful and memorable experience for visitors and residents alike.
The practice of setting adrift traditional krathong floats in rivers, canals, waterways, lakes and ponds is also part of the festivities. While traditional krathongs were made exclusively from banana leaves, today the krathong come in all shapes and sizes and are made from a broad range of materials. Following the contest, the krathongs are set afloat on the Mae Ping River.
The final night of the celebration is the most important. A procession of spectacular “Krathong Yai” or giant krathong floats will make their way through the streets of Chiang Mai. The giant krathong feature elaborate decorations depicting the story of the life of Buddha, Thai literature, history and art. CMM Reporters


Vehicles to be tested for emission levels

City officials inspect a vehicle being tested for emission levels as preparations to reduce polluting cars and trucks go into effect.

Saksit Meesubkwang
The Chiang Mai Municipality and the Chiang Mai Provincial Police are preparing a plan to control vehicle emissions as part of a preventative measure to combat air pollution in the city.
At a recent demonstration officials from the city including the Mayor of Chiang Mai were present when several vehicles were tested to determine the levels of contaminating emissions set by the Chiang Mai Air Quality and Noise Information Section.
Based on information from the Pollution Control Department, the emissions released from vehicles during the month of March exceeded normal levels therefore contributing to the blanket of smog that covered the city earlier in the year.
On the same subject, the Governor of Chiang Mai, Mr. Wibun Sa-nguanpong assigned a task force comprised of 24 District Chiefs, Village Headsmen, and the President of the sub-district Administrative Organization to educate villagers on the dangers of clearing their fields by setting them on fire.


Cold spells in Mae Hong Son bring worries

Temperatures in Mae Hong Song province have been dropping steadily and officials and charitable organizations are concerned many residents may not have enough blankets and warm clothing to keep safe.
Hill tribes in mountainous areas of Mae Hon Son are lacking warm clothes and blankets to encounter cold weather and have resorted to wood fires to stay warm.
Decha Sathaphol, the Mae Sariang district chief officer, said his team was surveying the need for warm blankets and donations and financial support from the public is welcome.
The Chao Nue (Northern People) Club recently donated 1000 blankets to residents in Mae Sariang, Mae Lanoi and Sob Moei districts through the project entitled “The 10th Giving Back to the North.” The donations were held at the field in front of the Mae Sariang district office and presided by the club’s president ACM Jirasak Puwanartnurak.


Grenade thrown at business fails to explode

Police were alerted by an early morning anonymous phone caller who told them a grenada had been found at Ruamtun Kapleak Co. Ltd. in Tambon Chang Puak.
The M26 grenade was thrown in front of the business but failed to detonate.
Police suspect one of the investors who may have been cheated in an apparent pyramid or ponzi scheme may be to blame.
The authorities said that a number of people, including monks and hill tribe people had accused the owner of Ruamtun Kapleak of luring investors with the promise of a quick profit through sales of rice grain. The owner is alleged to have made off with about 100 million baht and has disappeared.
Police Major Somyod Wangwiang, said that officers have already questioned 200-300 alleged victims.
Rueangwan Buanuch, Deputy Chiang Mai Governor, said that many ponzi schemes have been found operating in Chiang Mai. Many of them establish a rice grain retail company to lure people into investing with promises of doubling their money. Some who were duped took out bank loans to invest in the get rich quick schemes.


Thai News owner and editor dies of heart failure

On behalf of the Chiang Mai Mail, reporter Saksit Meesubkwang, right, presented a flower wreath to pay respects and condolences to the family of Chiang Mai’s Thai News daily newspapers owner and editor Mr. Monchai Tesapaet, who passed away last Saturday of the heart failure. Mr. Monchai was 50 years old.


Team of wandering Long Necks detained in Chiang Dao

Six members of a long neck tribe in Mae Hong Son were detained by police in Chiang Mai’s Mae Tang district after they were discovered working at a resort hotel in the Chiang Dao area.

One of the detained members of a Long Neck tribe in Mae Hong Son has here photo taken at the Chiang Dao police station after they were discovered working at a nearby resort.

The Karen tribe members in police custody were quoted saying they had been kidnapped by a tour company who wanted to display them for tourists in Chiang Dao. The police though are investigating whether they the long necks traveled out of Mae Hong Son by force or on their on accord.
Non-governmental groups (NGO’s) have long condemned tour group visits to Karen tribes calling them human zoos, yet the indigenous tribe benefits monetarily by charging for photographs and selling handicrafts.
The six members had been working at the Wang Namyad Resort when police discovered they did not possesses the proper working permits and had left the province of Mae Hong Son without the required documents.
One of the long neck women stated that about one month ago a group of investors had asked them to come to work at the Wang Nam Yad Resort for a salary of 2,000 baht a month for each of the six. The deal included food and board at the resort. They were to work distributing souvenirs to the guests at the resort.
The long neck members were transported back to Mae Hong Son and have been put under refugee protection by the United Nations.


Cabinet declares Dec 24 national holiday

Thailand’s cabinet decided to make the day following the December 23 general election a national public holiday, according to Deputy Interior Minister Pol. Lt-Gen. Teeravut Butsriphume.
Gen. Teeravut said the cabinet at its weekly meeting agreed with the Labor Ministry’s proposal to set December 24 as a national holiday to enable the public sufficient time to travel home and vote.
The move was in accord with the government’s target to have an over 70 per cent turnout of eligible voters, he said.
The deputy interior minister said the cabinet asked the Ministry of Finance to coordinate with the Bank of Thailand to consider whether the day should also be a bank holiday.
Registration of candidates for next month’s parliamentary election began Monday for a five-day period. It is unlikely that any party will emerge as frontrunner in the election. TNA


Drivers caught off guard as intersection opens

Friday’s surprise opening of the Kuang Singh-Chang Puak intersection caught Chiang Mai drivers off guard causing traffic jams for several kilometers in each direction of the Superhighway.
The unaccustomed drivers were forced to abandon the tricky and treacherous turns and u-turns and drive under or cross over directly through the newly opened intersection leading to confusion and bewilderment. The chaos led to a traffic jam from the newly opened site all the way to the Amari Rincome hotel.
For almost six years Chiang Mai residents have had to endure delay after delay as former private contractors failed to finish the Superhighway improvements.
The original contractor, Jirathep Partnership was awarded the task in 2002 and was obligated to complete the project by May of 2006. The contractor then claimed the company was adversely affected by higher fuel costs, construction materials causing cash flow difficulties and work on the Superhighway came to a halt in February of this year.
Deputy Transport Minister Sansern Wongchaum then announced the government would intervene and finish the project within six months – they did.
The Kuang Singh intersection was completed by the bridge construction unit from Phichit province and the San Dek intersection – expected to be completed by December 5th - by the bridge construction unit from Khon Kaen province.
An official opening of both intersections is to take place on December 5th in honor of His Majesty the King’s birthday celebrations.


Two million baht heist at local golf club

Detectives don’t have much to go on except for two empty safes and some empty beverage bottles from some apparent thirsty thieves who made off with cash, gold and some priceless Buddhist amulets in burglary at the Chiang Mai Highland golf club and spa resort.
On November 13 Police Lieutenant Colonel Suthin Saenpaeng, duty inspector Mae- On police station and his team were called to the golf resort to investigate a break-in.
When they arrived they discovered two large safes had been cracked open and the contents including 520,000 baht in cash, gold and priceless amulets had disappeared.
The two safes weighing about 160 kilos each had apparently been opened by a crowbar and screwdriver that were found at the crime scene. A refrigerator had also been raided and apparently the burglars helped themselves to some refreshments before carrying off the loot.
Seven security guards who were on duty at the time of the robbery were questioned by the police.
Besides the crowbar, the screwdriver and two empty refreshment bottles, the police apparently uncovered a solid piece of evidence and expect to make some arrests very soon. Courtesy Thai News


Local candidate pulls stunt during registration

Saksit Meesubkwang
The first day of local proportional zoning for Minister of Parliament candidates produced an overwhelming number of hopefuls who showed up at the Chiang Mai Municipal stadium.

Surapong Tovichakchaikul, right, a candidate of People Power party for Chiang Mai constituency walks with his supporter wearing a mask of ex-Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra as he arrives to register for the general election in Chiang Mai. (CMM Photo)

The candidates began arriving in the early morning hours of Nov. 12 to draw numbers and begin their candidacy requirements for the general election that will take place on December 23.
Enthusiastic supporters from each party also showed up to cheer on their favored candidates.
When Suraphong Towijackchaikul registered to his name, he concealed his face but not his loyalties by wearing a huge mask bearing the face of former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra.
The publicity stunt by Suraphong, of the newly established People’s Power Party, was a reminder of Thaksin’s enduring effect on Thai politics more than a year after he was deposed in September 2006.
A more significant reminder came with the release of a poll showing that the People’s Power Party - comprised of major remnants of Thaksin’s Thai Rak Thai Party, which was disbanded by court order - is the most popular among would-be voters.
A survey of 4,410 people conducted Nov. 1-10 by Suan Dusit Rajabhat University in Bangkok showed the PPP had a 38.6 percent popularity rating, while its main rival, the Democrat Party, had 32.3 percent. The poll didn’t give a margin of error.
“I am wearing the mask of former Prime Minister Thaksin to register for my candidacy because Thaksin assigned me to run in this constituency,” Suraphong told reporters, acknowledging what is an open secret - that Thaksin is the party’s patron. Chiang Mai, is Thaksin’s home turf, and along with the rural northeast, one of Thaksin’s political strongholds.
The Suan Dusit poll confirmed the split between the capital city and the countryside.
The poll showed the Democrats, Thailand’s oldest political party, with a 46.2 percent popularity rating in Bangkok against 30.8 percent for the PPP.
But outside of the capital, the PPP had a commanding lead over its rival, reflecting Thaksin’s continued popularity in the populous north and northeast of the country.
The Election Commission has divided the country into eight zones for the party-list system. Each will have 10 representatives in the House.
Zones 3 and 4 include the Northeastern provinces. Khon Kaen and Chaiyaphum are in the group of Central and Northern provinces in Zone 2, while Nakhon Ratchasima is in Zone 5 along with other Central and Eastern provinces.
There are 480 seats in the lower house at stake in the upcoming elections - 80 party list seats assigned according to a formula based on the total vote received by each party and 400 directly elected seats. (The AP contributed to this story)


Local Democratic Party announces candidates

The Democratic Party held a press conference to announce their nominees for the upcoming elections. (l/r) General Pichanmet Muangmanee, Surapong Pongdejkhajorn, Chackawan Wannawong and Preecha Pongcharoenkul - on the party list for the next election Preecha, Surapong and Chackawan will stand in the election and providing they get enough votes - General Pichanment will be offered a party seat in the next Parliament. The General Election is scheduled for the 23 December, with the Democratic Party being the oldest of the political groups established 61 years ago. (CMM Photo)