His Majesty the King calls for national unity
His Majesty King Bhumibol
Adulyadej, gives his annual birthday speech to senior government officials
led by Prime Minister Surayud Chulanont, 2nd from left, at Chitralada Palace
in Bangkok, Thailand Tuesday, Dec. 4, 2007.
(AP Photo/Bureau of the Royal Household) (AP/TNA/NNB)
His Majesty King Bhumibol Adulyadej called for the people
to be united to safeguard the nation in his annual birthday speech last
His Majesty likened the country’s situation to difficulties he has recently
had in walking.
“Whether soldiers or civilians, (we) must be united, like our legs that must
be united _ which means one goes forward and one pushes back before moving
forward,” he said. “This way, we could walk without falling. Without unity,
the country will face disaster.”
The King made his address to Cabinet members, privy councillors and
high-ranking officials at Dusidalai Pavilion in Chitralada Palace on the eve
of his 80th birthday. It was broadcast live on national radio, and later on
His Majesty King Bhumibol Adulyadej emphasised the country’s need to boost
its spending in light of the strengthened Thai currency.
“Now that the baht is exceedingly strong and the government has plenty of
cash, it should spend more. Sufficiency economy means those who have money
should spend. There is no need to be stingy,” His Majesty said.
He also seemed to encourage spending by the public at large, at the same
time cautioning people who cannot afford to.
Heightened uncertainty after the coup left consumers reluctant to spend and
businesses wary of making new investments, hurting economic growth despite a
series of interest rate cuts.
He noted that it might not be appropriate for the present government which
has only a few months in office to spend on arms and ammunition but the next
government should feel free to do so.
“I raise this issue because we must seriously consider how to purchase arms
and munitions which are necessary,” the monarch said. “These days the army
also must help the people when there are floods.”
“You have good ideas; so don’t feel inferior. If you want to buy ships,
aircraft or tanks, do it,” the King said.
The King also urged the Thai people to unite, otherwise the country would
collapse and “if that happens, many consequences will follow.”
His Majesty used his yearly address to ask that all Thai people work for the
security and betterment of the nation.
His Majesty also referred to the sufficiency economy philosophy stressing
for people not to forget the concept and also citing the use of bio-fuels as
in line with the ideology.
Comparing the nation to a body, he said if bones in the body were broken,
the person would need to be hospitalised.
“If we are not careful, the country will collapse. If the country collapses,
where shall we live?” the King added.
Touching on the construction of dams, King Bhumibol said the issue has
always been criticised due to misunderstanding, indicating that a dam must
be well managed after it is built.
“In order to operate a project, management is the key,” he said. “Everything
has to be well managed, be it the project itself or the financial aspects.”
Speaking with a mix of advice and humor His Majesty reassured the Thai
people of his health and concern for the forward movement of the nation away
from current political uncertainty.
His Majesty also addressed his recent penchant for wearing bright blazers.
He has stepped out in pink, baby blue, light green, lavender, red, and other
bright sport coats. Each outing has set instant color trends among his
“Wearing a uniform all the time is boring,” he said, adding that there was
no reason for an old man to dress in dark suits.
Hill tribes suffering winter ailments
Mae Hong Son Public Health Office warns its people, especially hill
tribes, to beware of winter ailments. So far, 150,000 people are suffering
respiratory diseases caused from smoke and cold weather.
Dr. Suwat Kittidilokkul, the head of Mae Hong Son Public Health Office, said
that the low temperature and cold weather could easily lead to sicknesses,
so people in mountainous areas should take great care of their health and
stay warm. This is especially important for the elderly and children.
Records of patients seeking medical treatment at health care centers and
hospitals in the province are reported below:
From October 2005 to September 2006, there were 153,198 people who suffered
From October 2006 to September 2007, the number decreased to 151,044 people
suffering respiratory diseases.
Between November 2005 and February 2006, 52,501 people were identified as
patients with respiratory problems, and from November 2006 to February 2007,
the number increased to 58,843.
A 62-year old Karen resident of Pakhalo village in Muang district, Mae Hong
Son, who goes by the name of Na Rue, said that the cold weather had caused
many elderly to suffer respiratory ailments and influenza. A high number of
children are also facing these health problems. Most residents are poor and
lack warm clothes and blankets. These people end up setting fires to give
themselves warmth and sleep around the fire. “All of these people still need
assistance from the government,” she said.
Thada Sattha, the head of Meteorological Station, Mae Hong Son reported that
the lowest temperature recently measured at Kew Lom Mountain in Pangmapha
district was 10.2 degrees Celsius. He mentioned that the temperatures on
other mountains could be lower than the reported point but since temperature
monitoring equipment is not installed on these mountains, the station can’t
report the temperature at other locations. The station is considering
providing more temperature sensors at more locations in order to report the
temperature from various areas of assessment.
Visitors encouraged to
view sunflowers in the hills
At the end of November an event was held to mark the opening of a
programme of tours in Pang Ma Pha district, Mae Hong Son, to include
sunflower viewing, visits to local hill tribe villages, and tours of the
many interesting caves in the area.
to local hill tribe villages can see fascinating demonstrations of this
indigenous arts and culture.
At the event, representatives of the local hill tribes, including the Lisu,
Hmong, Lua, Muser Dam, Muser Daeng, and Tai Yai, gave fascinating
demonstrations of their indigenous arts and culture, after which the
Governor of Mae Hong Son, Thongchai Wongrianthong the honoured guests and
the hill tribe people themselves released many floating lanterns to
This was the second event of its kind held in the area in order to encourage
tourists to visit the local attractions and places of interest. The tour
will cover a total distance of 26 kilometers, and, in addition to the hill
tribe village visits will include stops at Pang Ma Pha, Mae Lana Cave, Nam
Bo Phii Luk Khaw Lam, and Phii Maen Cave. This last is of particular
interest since it holds ancient burial grounds in good condition. Situated
50 kilometers north of Mae Hong Son, the area also has a hill tribe
handicrafts centre and a local organic food market. On weekends local hill
tribe customs and activities are on display.
It is hoped that the tour will encourage many visitors to the area, which
will result in much-needed income for the local hill tribe communities.
Tourists flock to Doi Angkhang
and Doi Inthanon
A record number of tourists are planning to visit Doi Angkhang to
view the sakura (cherry blossoms) and other flowers which are blooming
spectacularly on the mountain as the temperature drops and the Mae Kaning
(frozen dew) becomes visible.
Mae Kaning (frozen dew) phenomenon on Doi Angkhang.
As a result, all accommodation at the Doi Angkhang Agricultural Station
Project is fully booked, although rooms and facilities are still available
at nearby resorts and attractions.
At a meeting held earlier in Fang District, all businesses serving tourists
were specifically requested not to overcharge visitors during the high
season. Two main routes, the Chiang Mai-Chaiprakarn and the Chiang
Mai-Chiang Dao-Chaiprakarn-Fang roads, provide access to the Doi Angkhang
area, but visitors who are not familiar with the roads are advised to use
the frequent and comfortable bus services.
On arrival at their destination, tourists can enjoy a visit to local Palong
villages, shop at the Doi Angkhang Royal Project for locally grown fruits,
and experience the beautiful sunrise at the Baan Khob Dong viewing station.
Other famous tourist destinations such as Doi Inthanon itself, together with
Huay Nam Dang National Park in Mae Hong Son are also reporting record
The Northern Meteorological Centre reported that morning temperatures in the
area would gradually decrease in mountainous areas to a low of between 1-2
degrees Celsius, with a range of between 2 and 10 degrees.
“We can not forbid them
from crossing borders”
Mekong Institute, International Cooperation
and Communications staff
Dr. Suchat Katima, Mekong Institute director, believes that it is difficult
to prohibit migrants from crossing borders. Meanwhile, Consul General
Sisavath Donlavandy of the General Consulate of Lao PDR in Khon Kaen,
Thailand also said in a separate interview that, “We can not forbid them
(migrants) from crossing borders.”
“Trans-border migration cannot be avoided in the Greater Mekong Sub region
(GMS) and the Thai government recognizes this as well,” MI director Dr
Suchat noted in an interview with the “Manager”, a Thai national newspaper
following the policy dialogue on migration.
Suchat Katima, Mekong Institute director, believes that it is difficult to
prohibit migrants from crossing borders.
The policy dialogue on “Trans-border Migration Policy Implementation and
Monitoring: Its Effectiveness and Current Policy Gaps in the Greater Mekong
Sub-region” was organized by MI with the support of the Rockefeller
Foundation late November in Khon Kaen. The meeting was attended by 52
delegates composed of policy makers from the GMS governments,
representatives of NGOs and INGOs, and academic and research institutions in
Dr. Katima said after he delivered the welcome speech during the opening
ceremony of the policy meeting, that certain GMS governments have agreed in
principle to open border checkpoints for inbound and outbound movements of
goods and people.
“They can go in and out of these countries without obstruction, although
conditions for cross border travel vary in each country,” he stated. For
example, Thai and Lao people can go through Savannakhet on the Lao side and
Mudahan in Thailand, or the Vietnamese can get into Laos through the Lobo
“However, border crossing also brings such problems as the trafficking of
humans and drugs,” he added.
General Sisavath Donlavandy of the General Consulate of Lao PDR in Khon Kaen
says, “We can not forbid them (migrants) from crossing borders.”
He noted that the increase in trans-border migration is due to a higher
demand for migrant labor abroad, as well as the lack of livelihood and
employment opportunities in the home countries. However, unscrupulous
persons take advantage of the situation and victimize the migrants, who
become prey to human trafficking and illicit trade of drugs.
Dr. Katima added that, “Without effective border control mechanisms and
pro-active preventive measures for illegal migration, the problems of human
trafficking and illicit drug smuggling is exacerbated.”
“Today’s meeting does not intend to prevent the trans-border crossing. We
are here to discuss with representatives of GMS government decision makers
on polices that will hopefully affect and improve trans-border migration
management. Thailand and Lao PDR have an existing, bi-lateral agreement on
migrants. There are some problems concerning migrants from Myanmar and
Cambodia that should be considered at the policy level,” Dr. Katima
According to Dr. Katima, Thailand accommodates about 1.2 million immigrants,
of which about 71% are from Myanmar, 14% are Cambodian, and the rest Lao
He said after his opening remarks that the GMS governments are concerned
about the escalation of transnational crimes such as drug smuggling and
human trafficking as trans-border crossing becomes easier.
“A number of Thais and Laotians go through the borders, sometimes illegally.
Some enter the country because their relatives, who have previously
migrated, pick them up from the border,” Consul Donlavandy indicated.
According to the consul, Thai and Lao immigration offices have recorded
about 90,000 persons who have legal permits to cross the Lao-Thai borders.
However, they represent a little less than half of the people who cross the
borders, with the volume of cross border movement estimated to be up to
Consul Donlavandy mentioned several measures to counter migration-related
problems. These measures include bi-lateral or multi-lateral cooperation,
community education or awareness raising and implementation of
national-level migration management systems.
He informed that the Labor Ministries of the both Thai and Laotian
governments have permitted private recruitment agencies in their respective
countries to run labor and employment business services. Moreover, in Laos,
two ministries, one of which is the National Police, are responsible for
migration management at the national level.
The consul general also noted that the possibility of developing and
implementing a GMS-wide migration management standard should be explored.
There are existing bi and multi lateral agreements, and practical mechanisms
that are currently operating in the region. Experiences from these
country-to-country agreements and systems provide rich material for
designing a region-wide migration management system.
“Representatives from Cambodia, China, Laos, Myanmar, Thailand and Vietnam
should sit and talk so that they can recommend good policy responses to
migration problems to their respective governments,” he remarked.
In response, Dr. Suchat said that a high-level GMS Summit will be held in
March 2008 in Vientiane, wherein the outcomes of the MI policy dialogue
series, including trans-border migration issue, will be presented to senior
level policy makers from the six GMS government countries. There is a
likelihood that the GMS Summit will be held every four years to serve as a
platform for the leaders of GMS governments to listen and respond to policy
proposals from various stakeholders, as well as to engage with counterparts
from the GMS governments on the issues at hand.
Chiang Mai Immigration disputes
recent “Immigration Requirements For Retirement Visa” story
A recent Chiang Mai Mail issue contained an article stating that
“The Immigration authorities have issued new requirements for foreigners
wishing to apply for a retirement visa, including the need to have an ATM
card and a credit card.” A representative of Chiang Mai Immigration has
stated that it is not necessary to hold a credit card in order to obtain a
retirement extension, nor is it necessary to present a copy of the details
of any cards you may hold. Current requirements for the issuing of a
retirement extension have not changed. As the remainder of the article may
possibly cause confusion, current requirements are as follows:
The applicant must be aged 50 years or over, and must hold a Non-Immigrant
Proof of income of not less than 65,000 baht per month, or, 800,000 baht
held in a Thai bank account for the past three months, or, annual income
plus Thai bank account deposit totalling not less than 800,000 baht at the
date of application. Letter from Thai bank confirming amount in account,
bank pass book plus copies of all pages. Letter from consulate or embassy
stating confirmation of income if applicable. Proof of residential address,
rent book, or letter from consulate or embassy. Completed form TM7, passport
and copies of passport visa and ID pages, plus 4 x 6 cm photos as required.
Thailand OKs building 3rd Thai-Laos bridge
The Thai Cabinet last Tuesday gave a green light to a
draft agreement on the construction of the third Thai-Laos Friendship Bridge
across the Mekong River, connecting Thailand’s Nakhon Phanom and the Lao
province of Khammoune.
The pact between the two countries is expected to be signed by the end of
December 2007, with financing to be provided by the Thai government.
The two parties will set up a committee to coordinate the planning, policies
and project administration.
According to Thai Ministry of Commerce’s figures of the two countries’
border trade, from January through September 2007, Thailand’s imported goods
from Laos was worth almost Bt1.5 billion and Thailand’s exports to Laos
valued at more than Bt30 billion.
The second Friendship Bridge between Thailand and the Lao PDR was opened in
December last year.
Linking the Lao province of Savannakhet with northeastern Thailand’s
Mukdahan province, the second Thai-Lao Friendship Bridge is boosting
economic development and to facilitate transportation, trade, investment,
and tourism, not only between Thailand and Laos, but facilitating trade and
tourism with central Vietnam.
The first Thai-Lao Friendship Bridge over the Mekong linking the Thai
province of Nong Khai and the Lao PDR capital of Vientiane was opened in
Police carefully monitoring
lead-up to elections
The Commissioner of the Provincial Police Bureau, Region 5, Pol Lt
Gen Theerasak Chukitchkhun has stated recently that a meeting was held to
implement policies determined to be of use before, during and after the
Police officers were instructed to carry out their duties with understanding
and neutrality towards candidates. They were also instructed to offer the
services of a specially trained group of officers should any candidate
request police protection at any time during the election process. Although
at the present time no candidate has actually applied for police protection,
it is known that at least four groups comprising more than 100 individuals
are at this moment providing protection to certain candidates.
The groups include plain clothes and uniformed police, all of whom have now
been recalled to duty, military personnel, former uniformed government
personnel, men who are impersonating uniformed personnel, and gunmen. It
would appear that the police are closely watching these groups. Region 5
police have apparently determined the identity of those in the group of
gunmen, and would appreciate being informed if any other persons of that ilk
arrive in their area of jurisdiction.
Mae Jo University rector awarded with Gusi Peace Prize 2007
Assoc. Prof. Dr. Thep
Pongpanich attended the Gusi Peace Prize Award presentation 2007 which was
held at Manila, Philippines on 21 November 2007.
Assoc. Prof. Dr. Thep Pongpanich, Mae Jo University’s
rector, attended the Gusi Peace Prize Award presentation 2007 which was held
at the Meralco Theatre, Pasig City, Philippines from 19 to 22 November 2007.
The rector was awarded the Gusi Peace Prize 2007 for his outstanding and
widely accepted agricultural research and study. The Gusi Peace Prize
Foundation’s headquarters is situated in Manila and the award was initiated
to honor people with outstanding social activities that promote peace and
respect in humanity. The prize is comparable to the Nobel Peace Prize of
Norway and Pulitzer of the United States..
15 honored people from 11 countries were awarded with the Gusi Prize this
year. Those people are from the United States, Brazil, Micronesia, Republic
of Palau, Japan, Korea, China, Hong Kong, Greece, Philippines and Thailand.
Assoc. Prof. Dr. Thep is the only candidate from Thailand who was awarded
The Vice President of the Philippines, Noli De Castro who represented
President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, presented the award to the 15 honored
people. Former president Fidel V. Ramos also gave a congratulatory speech at
Three drug dealers arrested
Police officer alleged as a gang member
Ms Wethanee Charuengdech, 33, a resident of Chiang Mai’s Hang Dong
district, Ms Yuwathida Kanay, 19, a resident of Wiangsra, Surat Thani and Mr
Wichet Komjit, 19, who is a resident of Songkla’s Hat Yai district, were
arrested with 9000 tablets of ya ba and 3 grams of ice (methamphetamine) on
The first two women were arrested while they were about to send a postal
parcel consisting of those drugs at the Chang Puak Post Office. The parcel
would be delivered to a receiver named Aksornnee Kanay in Surat Thani
The arrest was carried out and led by Pol Col Thanaratch Chumsawas, the
superintendent of the Provincial Police Bureau Region 5’s investigation
team, and the Narcotic Control police team.
The three dealers, two women and one man, admitted to the charges and
informed the police team that a 29-year-old police officer at the
Chaiprakarn Police Station, Chiang Mai supported the gang. The police
officer was identified as Pol Sgt Sutthipong Kaewta, a suppression police
The three arrested were held at the Chang Puak Police Station. The police
team requested an arrest warrant from the Chiang Mai Court to charge the
alleged police officer, after which Pol Sgt Sutthipong was arrested.
Possessions of the arrested were also confiscated, including 2 two-storey
houses in the Regent Housing Estate Project in San Sai district, a Toyota
Wish car, cash in the amount of 579,300 baht and some gold. These
possessions are worth approximately 10 million baht. The houses belong to
Wethanee and Yuwathida respectively.
The investigations are ongoing.
Convention hall project delayed
Cancellation of the national convention hall in Nong Hor would cause
at least 2 billion baht loss to the city’s tourism industry, says Vorapong
Muchaotai, secretary of the Chiang Mai Tourism Business Association. He
added that some Chiang Mai hotels have ended up investing in conference
rooms to serve the Meeting, Incentives, and Exhibitions market demand.
Vorapong indicated the postponement of the project to construct the national
convention hall at the military premises, located along the Irrigation Canal
road, tambon Chang Puak. Chiang Mai’s Muang district would incur a minimum
loss of 2 billion baht to the city’s tourism industry.
The mega project had earlier been included as part of the agenda for the
city’s development and latterly halted by the government. “The MICE market
is highly productive and has great potential as the market can generate
tourism income three times greater than other sections,” explained Vorapong.
Since the construction project was postponed, many seminars and conferences
scheduled ahead to use this brand new convention hall needed to find new
locations such as the association’s conference and exhibitions and the ASEAN
Tourism Forum 2008 in January next year.
While the convention hall project was brought to a standstill, the relevant
private sectors were unable to launch the promotion plan of domestic
tourism. This will affect the promotion of the city as an aviation hub.
Seminars and conferences are another magnet that could draw more tourists to
Sangvorn Santisuk, the president of the Thai Hotel Association, Northern
Region, said that the uncertainty of the convention hall had inspired many
hotels to invest in building their own convention halls to satisfy the
demand. Recently, the Empress Hotel constructed a 2000 seat conference room
because its management felt insecure and unconfident about the unscheduled
resumption of the construction project.
“Tour agents have also not targeted the MICE customers due to this
uncertainty and they were afraid that they would bear compensation costs if
the project was not completed in time after they included the convention
hall in their programs,” explained Sangvorn.
32 provinces declared as disaster areas due to cold weather
The Department of Disaster Prevention and Mitigation
reports that 32 provinces affected by cold weather have been declared as
The Director-General of Disaster Prevention and Mitigation, Mr. Anucha
Mokkhavesa says more than three million people are suffering from the cold
weather and most of them are in the North and the Northeast. The department
has set up a center to assist them and provided more than 16 million baht
for 46 provinces to buy warm clothes for them.
He also encourages people to contact the disaster hotline (#1784) around the
clock for immediate assistance. (NNB)
7-Eleven to raise retail prices
of over 500 products
7-Eleven, one of the largest chain of convenience stores
in Thailand, announced it would raise the retail prices of over 500 consumer
products next year, due to higher transportation costs, according to a
senior executive of CP All, which operates the stores.
CP All managing director, Piyawat Thitasatthaworakun said the producers and
wholesalers of consumer products for 7-Eleven had requested to adjust
product prices, because of the higher price of goods mainly resulting from
rising oil prices.
“Transportation costs have increased 30-50 percent because of the
skyrocketing oil price. CP All has asked the traders to delay the product
prices rise until Jan 1,” said Piyawat.
Piyawat said the price adjustment would not have any impact on the sales
performance of the stores, as the products available at 7-Eleven are
He said the price rise would not affect the target the company had to expand
at the amount of 450-500 branches annually.
There are now 4,300 7-Eleven branches nationwide. (TNA)
Foreigners showing interest in Thai elections
Phongphan Riewthongthavee, director of the Chiang Mai
Election Commission said that the parliamentary elections are drawing a lot
of attention from foreign countries. Consular officials from numerous
countries such as the United Kingdom, the United States of America and Japan
have asked for information about the election in order to understand the
work of the Election Commission.
The Chiang Mai Election Commission has explained the processes in the past.
Most recently, students from Singapore have contacted the Commission
requesting information about the elections and have asked to meet with the
Chiang Mai Election Commission director this month.
Along with helping foreigners understand, one of the major duties of the
Election Commission is to help Thai nationals living in Thailand who don’t
understand the Thai language, such as hill tribes, because materials and CDs
in forms of video, text, pictures or brochures explaining the elections are
all in Thai, Central Thai and local dialects.
The Election Commission arranged training for hill tribe leaders and
announcers on the National Broadcasting Association Chiang Mai and local
radio stations which took place on December 4. (PRD)