HRH Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn presides over opening
of Royal Project Fair 2007
On December 13, at Chiang Mai University Convention Hall, Her Royal Highness
Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn graciously presided over the opening
ceremony of the Royal Project Fair 2007, in honor of His Majesty the King’s
80th birthday celebrations this year.
Attending the ceremony was His Serene Highness Prince Bhisatej Rajani,
chairman of the Royal Project Foundation and Prof. Dr. Pongsak Angkhasit,
the president of Chiang Mai University, as the organizing committee
The fair was held during December 13-16 to honor His Majesty The King, as
well as display the Royal Project’s activities, sales of the Royal Project’s
new products, under the Doi Kham Royal Project brand name, as well as
exhibiting other academic and research works.
The Royal Project
By Peter Cummins
It was in 1969 that HM the King, vitally concerned about the Hill
Tribes’ cultivation of and addiction to opium, established the Royal
Project, the first manifestation being a Hmong village on Doi Pui in Chiang
Mai Province. Development has now spread to Chiang Rai, Lamphun and Mae Hong
Over the years, the Projects have been instrumental in the conversion of the
poppy fields being turned into groves of temperate fruits and vegetables. It
is under the dynamic direction of HM the King’s close colleague, friend and
confidant, Prince Bhisadej Rajanee who manages the projects from his base at
Chiang Mai University, that there are now five research stations and 35
Royal Project Development Centres which incorporate some 300 villages,
comprising 14,000 households and approximately 90,000 farmers.
The Royal Development Projects Board, under the Office of the Prime
Minister, also serves as the secretariat for the Chai Pattana Foundation
which is directly responsible for the work related to the Royal Development
Thus, more than three decades later, the results can be seen in the new life
that has come to many of the mountain villages. Greenery has returned to
areas once denuded of forest cover through the highly-destructive
slash-and-burn agriculture, leaving only barren hills in its wake, and opium
cultivation, a cause of extreme national concern, is relegated to the
dust-bin of history.
“The key to the success of the Project lies in His Majesty’s guidelines,”
explains Prince Bhisadej. “They focus on obtaining knowledge, through
research, avoiding bureaucratic entanglements and swift action to respond to
the villagers’ needs, while promoting self-reliance,” he adds.
Merry Christmas and Happy Chanukah
Peace on Earth, goodwill towards all
As if out of a Cecil B.
Demille biblical epic movie, children in their period costumes representing
shepherds, angels, the three wise men and not forgetting the giant-sized
Roman centurions, re-enacted the Nativity Play at the Gymkhana Club last
week. At this holiday time of warmth and happiness, the Chiang Mai Mail team
wishes everyone a Merry Christmas and Happy Chanukah. May there be peace on
earth and goodwill towards all.
By B. Phillip Webb Jr.
The frost of forty winters had etched deep lines into the shepherd’s
face. Having spent his entire life outdoors on Bethlehem’s hills, he was old
at forty - and cold. The hillside where he sat this day was cold, too, and
he pulled his mantle close about him to block the wind.
Every so often he would shift position, not out of discomfort so much, but
from a sense of unease, anxiety, crowdedness. Instead of hundreds of sheep
with whom he felt quite at home, this hillside was flooded with
people-thousands of them-listening attentively to the Teacher. They could
hear him fairly well, except when the wind would whisked away the words.
Tobias Ben David (pronounced Da-Veed) was the shepherd’s name, though people
called him Toby. His flocks were in good hands this week, cared for by his
grown sons, but Toby had left them to listen to Jesus of Nazareth. Today the
Teacher was talking about salvation, how God will save his people from their
waywardness and sins, to rescue them and gather them close.
Now Jesus’ illustration turned to sheep. Toby felt a lot better. He knew a
lot more about sheep than people.
“The good shepherd,” Jesus was saying, “lays down his life for his sheep.
The hired hand who doesn’t own the flock runs away when he sees the wolf
coming. But not the good shepherd...”One night, years ago the men Toby hired
to watch the flock with him fled when they saw a mountain lion roaming the
hills. But Toby had stayed. Shepherding was his livelihood. He knew the
sacrifices that good shepherding required. He knew about defending
defenceless lambs. He knew about putting his life on the line for sheep.
That’s what good shepherds did.
Jesus continued, “Suppose you have 100 sheep and when night comes one is
missing. What do you do? You leave the 99 sheep all together and then climb
the hills, looking, searching until you find the lost sheep. Then you pick
him up, put him on your shoulders, bring him down the hill to the camp, and
ask your fellow shepherds to rejoice with you.”
Tighter security measures in place
after unrest in refugee camp
and staff reporters
Mae Hong Son Governor Thongchai Wongrianthong, launched three measures
following the recent riot caused by a group of refugees at Baan Pang Tractor
refugee camp in Tambon Pang Moo, Mae Hong Son’s Muang district. The riot,
which occurred on 16th December, caused one refugee to lose his life and
official and voluntary soldiers’ assets to be damaged.
motocycles lay strewn over the courtyard in the aftermath of the refugee
The governor has been waiting for inspection and investigation report from
officials. The three measures launched include: 1) doctors and prosecutors
were assigned to perform the forensic inspection of the dead body and
inspect the damaged assets respectively, 2) substitute the present volunteer
soldiers, who are positioned at the refugee camp, with a new group of
volunteer soldiers from the 17th Infantry Special Task Force and the 336th
Border Patrol Police Camp and, 3) the security officers to retain their
control in the refugee area and enforce Thai laws to control these refugees
based on the strict human rights practices. A special committee has been
formed including the district’s administrative officer, tambon and village
heads, head of Karen refugees and an officer from the United Nations High
Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), Mae Hong Son office. The committee’s
meeting is scheduled once a month and the three measures were implemented
The governor said that an investigation on damaged assets belonging to
government and voluntary soldiers would be carried out as soon as possible.
So far, the UN has accepted the three measures.
The Decision as to whether the refugees would be deported home belongs to
the UNHCR, Mae Hong Son office.
14 kg heroin confiscated
The two suspected heroin traffickers being
by narcotics suppression officers after their arrest.
Two drug dealers were arrested by soldiers from the Pa Muang Task Force in
joint force with the police team from Denchai District Police Station,
Phrae. Confiscated were 40 bars of heroin, weighing altogether 14 kilograms.
The two dealers are reported to be residents of Chiang Rai’s Wiang Kaen
district, named Pinyo, 27, and Wichit, 38.
The press conference to announce the arrests was held on 16th December at
the task force office and presided over by Maj. Gen. Chaovalit Sirikit, Pa
Muang’s Task Force commander, Pol. Lt. Gen. Theerasak Chukitkhun, the
commission of the Provincial Police Bureau Region 5.
The two dealers alleged they were paid 19,000 baht for transporting the
drugs and hired by an anonymous businessman in Chiang Rai. However, the
police team assumed that they were members of a big drug network rather than
just typical transporters.
The military source reported that the drugs would be transported from the
border through Phrae, and handed to a dealer in Bangkok. The dealers used
the pre-election period to smuggle the heroine into the Kingdom.
A Phrae investigation police team has been investigating for further gang
members who might have been involved in this trade.
Royal pardon for 227 inmates
of Chiang Mai Central Prison
In keeping with His majesty’s wishes in celebration of his 80th birthday
At 15.00 on 12 December 2007, Chuchart Chailert, director of Chiang
Mai Central Prison, presided over a male prisoners release ceremony for
those who were pardoned on His Majesty the King’s 80th birthday on 5
December 2007. Each of the prisoners were moved by His Majesty’s grace and
vowed that they will be good citizens.
Chuchart said that Chiang Mai Central Prison has a total of 3,750 prisoners,
2,671 sentenced, 411 on appeal, awaiting sentence, 473 under investigation
and 11 children in custody. On the occasion of His Majesty the King’s 80th
birthday, a number of prisoners were pardoned in honor of His Majesty and to
give the prisoners a chance to become good citizens. To meet the wishes of
His Majesty, the Central Prison submitted names to the inspection committee
and applications submitted to the courts to request that the court free the
selected prisoners. Five prisoners were released under Article 5(1), 265 who
had less than a year to serve, were released under Article 6(1) and seven
prisoners were released un Article 6(2) for excellent behavior who had less
than two years to serve. The group of 277 prisoners to be released underwent
preparations and training for their release, which included ways to seek
employment, prepare them emotionally and providing them with social
Reporters said that after the names were announced, those pardoned displayed
their happiness at the news and were touched by the clemency shown by His
Majesty the King, some were even moved to tears. All promised to be good
citizens for the furtherance of society and promised to change their ways
and not to commit any more crimes.
Mae Kuang Dam may run out of water
The Provicial Waterworks Authority warned that the water level in the Mae
Kuang Dam is low and could lead to possible shortage of piped water. People
have been advised to save water. Anyone living in afflicted areas can
contact the Water Works Office for assistance.
Chawalit Saran, the PWA Governor, revealed that the shortage of water was
the result of long, discontinuous rainfall. The Mae Kuang dam, which has a
capacity of 260 million cubic meters, has declined to just 70 million cubic
The volume of water supplied from the dam to the Chiang Mai Waterworks
Office during September to December 2007 was reduced from 48000 to 43000
cubic meters a day and will be reduced even further to 33000 cubic meters a
day during January to March 2008 respectively.
50% of households have been affected by this shortage of water. Mae Rim
Water Works has to increase its capacity to generate piped water at 9600
cubic meters to supply to Chiang Mai Water Works. Construction of the water
works expansion will be finished in December 2007. The enhancement of water
generation and distribution of Patun Plant to increase its capacity to 19000
cubic meters a day will be completed in April 2008.
Chawalit said that in this coming drought, consumers would not be affected
by the shortage of piped water for sure, however, people suffering shortage
of piped water can contact the office of Chiang Mai Water Works at
North Koreans on watch list for illegal entry into the country
Using Thailand as a gateway to third countries
Korean immigrants were spotted entering the city and attempting to board a
bus before Thai authorities were able to apprehend and charge the
“tourists”. At the current state, more and more North Koreans are entering
Thailand illegally in hopes of being sent to a third country.
At 10.30 p.m. on December 11, Mae Ping Municipal Police, led by Pol. Capt.
Badin Phitsanuraksa, deputy inspector, and a team of officers were on patrol
near Charoen Muang Road at the front of Chiang Mai railway station when they
saw a group of men and women walking down the road carrying their
belongings. The group was attempting to flag down a bus and were acting in a
suspicious manner. The officers went to question them and found that they
were North Koreans and arrested all eight individuals. They were identified
as Han Un-Ching, 21, Jung Ha-Yong, 27, Hee Kun-Yong, 30, Chang Ngoen-Yang,
21, Dee Chum-Kun, 18, Dom Hin-Chong, 35, Chung Yae-Chaeng, 20, and Chang
Hang-Chu, 40. The group was handed over to Pol. Lt. Col. Ittiratt Saenpanya,
duty inspector of the Mae Ping Municipal Police, Chiang Mai and charged as
Official reported that many government agencies are watching the North
Korean illegal immigrant situation. The immigrants use Thailand as their
route to a third country. In the past they entered Thailand at Chiang Saen
from the Lao border and carry on their journey from there. If spotted, they
willingly submitted to arrest and ask the Thai authorities to extradite them
to a third country.
Land Transport Office issues
‘smart card’ drivers licenses
The Chiang Mai Land Transports Office issued Drivers License Smart Cards to
drivers, so they could further use them in neighboring pact countries
The Chiang Mai Land Transports Office held an activity to honor His Majesty
the King’s 80th Birthday by modifying drivers’ licenses to have Smart Cards
made from plastic with magnetic strips. This is being done so that it will
be more difficult to have counterfeit data, to increase the card life-span,
and they will be beautiful with the graphic design symbol of each province.
Chiang Mai province lisences will have a Borsang umbrella, a Panda, and Huay
Namdang National Park.
Chiang Mai and Chiang Rai were the first provinces in the North apart from
Bangkok to do this. Mr. Chanchai Keelapaeng, Chief of the Chiang Mai Land
Transports Office, said that the Smart Card drivers’ licenses could be used
in neighboring conventions between countries because they have both Thai and
English writing. On the first opening day of service more than 500 people
applied for the Smart Cards.
Interested people can apply with an ID Card, a Medical Certificate, house
registration, and the 200 Baht fee. It’s free, considering that the entire
public doesn’t come all at the same time. However, it can be used for
private vehicles only. Trucks and larger vehicles must still use their
Complaint filed with the
Lawyers’ Council concerning
the release of toxic substances
Cadmium poisoning and pollution of agricultural land
On December 16th, a meeting was held at the Sansai Training Centre,
Sansai District, Chiang Mai, comprising Mr. Pongsakorn Sribunmee together
with Mr. Parat Yatheon, the chairman of a group of victims of cadmium
poisoning, and 100 member of the group. The toxic substances were released
30 years ago in the Maeku and Prathadphadang sub-districts of Maesod by 2
well-known companies licensed for zinc and smelt concessions in that area.
The purpose of the meeting was to submit a complaint to Mr. Ratsada
Manoorratsada of the Lawyers’ Council concerning the fact that although
several previous complaints against the companies concerned had been made,
very little action had been taken or concern shown for the victims of the
companies’ neglect of duty of care.
The release of the toxic substances had damaged the lives, livelihoods and
property of the inhabitants of two sub-districts, and resulted in 13,000 rai
of land becoming contaminated and unable to be used for agricultural
purposes. The previously submitted complaints had been sent to the relevant
government offices, and to the Prime Minister’s office, but nothing had been
done to alleviate the victims’ distress and inconvenience. A solution to
their problems had not been offered, nor had reimbursement for the damage
In 2004, cadmium was found both in the sediment of the river, in
agricultural products and more seriously, traces were found in the residents
themselves. 6,000 people were affected. Officers destroyed and buried the
agricultural products, and farmers were banned from planting or working the
land. Previously, rice, soy beans, garlic and vegetables had been cultivated
on the contaminated land; as a result of the ban inhabitants were forced to
buy rice and food, although they were short of the income from the use of
the contaminated areas. Government officials suggested planting alternative
crops, these also did not succeed because of the high levels of cadmium in
Since 2004, the government had provided reimbursements of 4,220 baht per rai
for the contamination of the now useless land, and other reimbursements were
made in 2006. However, neither those people who had fallen sick nor
relatives of those who had died due to the toxic effects of the cadmium, had
never received any compensation, nor any explanation as to how the
contamination had occurred.
The companies responsible for the contamination expected to have their
concessions extended for another 20 years, and as a result the people
affected stated that they need to know, both from the state itself and from
the licensing office, how the state plans to deal with this problem in the
long run, and who will take responsibility.
Mr. Ratsada told the suffering people that he would submit their complaint
to the Lawyers’ Council at their meeting in Bangkok, and that he would
arrange and lead a group who would survey the area in order to gain
knowledge regarding the best manner in which to track down the source of the
problem and to help the victims.
Phrae schools receive 7 million baht in
development grants from Japanese Government
Human Security Project endowments include constructions, vehicles and school equipment
As part of the Grassroots Human Security Project, requests for
grants to assist in construction projects, the purchase of school equipment
and the purchase of a vehicle were recently presented for consideration to
the Japanese Government through the Consulate-General of Japan in Chiang
Mai. Ban Naluang School in Sa-iab sub-district, Song, requested 3,594,100
baht to develop two dormitories for their boarding pupils, and the
Santijintana Blind School in Denchai, Phrae, requested 3,593,400 baht to
construct a cafeteria and to purchase school equipment and a vehicle. Both
projects were approved. Subsequently, on December 17th, Mrs. Junko Yokota,
the Consul-General of Japan in Chiang Mai, presented the now completed
dormitory buildings at Ban Naluang School to Sec. Lt. Pongsak Plaiwet, the
Governor of Phrae, acting on behalf of the school, and on 18th December she
presented to him the completed cafeteria, the vehicle and the school
equipment requested by the Santijintana Blind School. Both grants were used
according to the tenets of the projects, and have provided assets which will
belong to the schools and to the community. This will both benefit the
students and provide educational opportunities. The vehicle which has been
provided for the Santijintana Blind School is more than welcome, as it will
enable pupils to be taken for treatment in the case of illness, and will
also allow them to attend outside activities.
Restaurants breach law prohibiting
alcohol sales on election day
Two restaurant owners arrested on Saturday Dec. 15
Predictably, the recently announced law preventing sales of
alcoholic drinks on parliamentary election days was disregarded at various
entertainment venues in the Chiang Mai area. During inspections on 15th
December authorised by the commander of San Kamphaeng Municipal Police
Station, a team of officers led by Police Captain Phakhorn Suravichai
visited a number of venues, and arrested two persons who were found to be in
breach of the law. Mr. Nakharin Faknak, the owner of the Rainbow at Moo 3,
San Kamphaeng, and Mrs Sompopng Khonlasit, the owner of Kuk Kai Karaoke at
Moo 1, Tan Pao, also in San Kamphaeng district, were taken to San Kamphaeng
Police Station and charged. They will both be prosecuted for illegally
selling alcohol inside designated election zones.
Mystery disappearance of two
victims of Mekong River collision
Two men missing, presumed drowned
At 6 p.m. on 14th December, Police Captain Somrit Sibnha, the duty
inspector at Chiang Saen Municipal Police Station, received notification of
a collision between two boats on the Mekong River, near the Golden Triangle.
A team of officers immediately attended the site of the accident, and found
the “Siriwatt Man Choke”, a large tour boat with seating for 40 passengers
which runs from Ban Sobruak to Koh Don Saow in Laos, moored at the river
bank. The pilot, Mr. Suwan Phrompanya, reported that his craft had collided
with a long-tailed boat, the “Sri Chiang Saen”, which had sunk in the middle
of the river immediately following the impact. The pilot of the long-tailed
boat, Mr. Manas Sutwong, had survived with just a cut to his face and had
swum to shore, but his two passengers, who had also been thrown into the
river, had disappeared. The two missing persons were identified as Mr
Prasong Phongpanyayuen, husband of Mrs Aphorn Khamngoen, Chairwoman of Mae
Chan District Administration, and himself a former village elder of Sansay,
Mae Chan, Chiang Rai, and Mr A-Liw, the owner of A-Liw Restaurant in Mae
Sai. It transpired that the pilot of the long-tailed boat had collected his
two passengers earlier from the Lao side of the Mekong. Whilst returning to
the Thai side of the river, the boat was struck by the larger craft, and
sank immediately. Mr. Prasong was well known in the district, having worked
with many politicians, and had recently entered the construction business.
His trip to Lao was in order to visit a site leased by Chinese investors in
Muong Ton Phang, Bo Keo province, where his company was building a hotel, a
casino and a duty-free market.
Police are at present searching the area in order to determine whether the
two missing persons have drowned, or may have managed to swim to either bank
of the river.. Their fate is at present unknown.
65,101 votes cast at the two day advance voting period
31,220 temporary residents make use
of the “advance voting” facility
A strong response was noted during the two day “advance voting”
period last weekend, when 31,220 previously registered temporary residents
and 33,881 previously registered permanent residents cast their votes.
strong response was noted during the two-day “advance voting” period last
weekend, when 31,220 previously registered temporary residents and 33,881
previously registered permanent residents cast their votes.
Pongpan Rewthongtawee, the director of the Election Command Centre, noted
that 2825 voters who had registered to use the advance voting facility had
not cast their vote, and had lost their right to vote as a result.
Ballots cast by temporary residents are being sent to the voters’ home
districts by the Thai postal service, whilst ballots cast by permanent
residents in Chiang Mai are being kept in secure storage at locations within
police stations designated by the Election Commission.
In response to the former Thai Rak Thai Party’s leader Jaturon Chaiseang’s
expressed concerns about swapped ballots, Pongpan Rewthongtawee stated that
the operations of the Election Committee were transparent, and can be
checked and verified by any member of the public.
Blitz on illegal aliens in Chiang Rai
Employers and illegal immigrant workers arrested and charged
Recently, Provincial Labour Officers led by Mr. Chalermsak Utoksin
co-operated with Pol. Lt. Col. Nitinat Wittayawutticul and his investigating
officers in organising a raid on shops and premises in Chiang Rai in order
to search for illegal immigrant workers. The search took place at the Night
Bazaar adjacent to Chiang Rai Bus Station, Inner Paholyothin Road. Officers
were divided into three groups in order to conduct operations. The first
group searched the “ Jaew Hon” food shop located behind the Night Bazaar,
owned by Mrs. Kanika Ardla. There they found illegal immigrants working as
waiters. The second group searched the Pilzaria Restaurant located on Inner
Paholyothin Road, owned by Mrs. Somkhuan Chanpao, where an Italian man
without a work permit was found working as a cook. Mrs. Somkhuan stated that
the man was her husband, and was told by officers that all alien workers
were required to have a work permit. The third group searched the Malangpor
Restaurant, located behind the Night Bazaar, owned by Mr.Saengchom Jitmetta,
finding an alien woman working illegally as a waitress. When asked her name,
she gave an alias, Miss Meenae..
All those arrested were taken to the Provincial Labour Office. The inspector
on duty charged the owners with employing illegal alien workers, and the
alien workers themselves were charged with illegally working without a work
81 pretty women from the Northern
provinces to compete in the
Miss Chiang Mai Pageant
Grand prize of 300,000 baht to be awarded to the winner
The Miss Chiang Mai Pageant and the Red Cross Winter Fair, 2007,
will be held from December 28th to 30th at the Sports Field behind the
Chiang Mai Government Office Centre. A record 81 beauties from the northern
provinces applied to compete, perhaps because the grand prize had reached
the 300,000 baht mark for the first time ever! The selection of 60
contestants to go forward to the first round was held on 20th December at
the Chiang Mai Ratanakosin Hotel. The first round pageant will be held on
.28th December, with the final contest taking place on the 30th.
Amongst the lovely ladies was Miss Natahakhan Kiatinmaetha, (Look Kaew), a
23 year old Masters’ Degree student from Mae Jo University, who had
previously won second place in the Miss Yipeng Chiang Mai 2005 Pageant. Many
of the contestants hoping to be chosen for the final round, (and perhaps
even for the title!!, had been successful in previous competition pageants,
including Miss Wilawan Pengwan, (Miss Yipeng 2006 and Miss Motor Show 2006),
Miss Thanyarak Thabuakam (Miss Glutinous Rice, Sampatong District), Miss
Saowalak Promsorn, who is also a nurse at Maharat Nakhin, Chiang Mai, ( Miss
Mae Ying Kee Rottheep Kang Jong 2007, Miss Flowers 2006 and Miss Noppama
2007), Miss Kritchakorn Hormboonyasak, (Miss Sansrai 2007, Miss Teest Chiang
Mai 2006, 4 Religions Beauty Queen 2006), and Miss Nipawan Pungpak, (Miss
Sngkran Sukothai Province 2007). So many beautiful women a true feast for
the eye, and we wish them all the best of luck!