People Power Party sweeps the board in Chiang Mai
9 Chiang Mai PPP candidates elected to Parliament
The electorate of Chiang Mai came out in force on Sunday to support the
People Power Party, resulting in 9 PPP candidates being elected to serve as
Members of Parliament. 2 further candidates were also elected from smaller
parties, one from the Ruam Chai Thai Chartpattana Party, and one from the
Pua Paen Din Party. No Democratic Party candidates were elected.
Turnout of voters surged to 83.2% of the electorate, much higher than the
predicted target figure. Eligible voters in the Chiang Mai area number
1,149,326; with 824,281 persons recorded as having cast their vote at the
numerous polling stations around the city. 26,418 ballots, approximately
8.36% of the vote, were reported as being cast wrongly, and 91,1155 people
failed to cast their vote.
Chiang Mai is the home town of former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra, and
a large number of local people had supported his Thai Rak Thai party in the
past. The People Power Party’s election manifesto contained similar populist
policies and supported the former Prime Minister, which led to its ultimate
success in the Chiang Mai area.
In Electoral Zone 1, the winners were Ms. Chinnicha Wongsawas, with 135,701
votes, Mr. Surapong Tereyapirom with 135,098 votes, and Mr. Krisadaporn
Siempakdee with 116,234 votes. All three were PPP candidates.
In Electoral Zone 2, the winners were Mr. Boonsong Tereyapirom with 135,098
votes, Mr. Wittay Songkham with 124,984 votes, and Mr. Nopakhun Ratphathai
with 118,848 votes. All three were PPP candidates.
In Electoral Zone 3, the winners were Mr. Chulaphan Amornwiwat with 75,716
votes, and Mr. Prasit Wuthichainan with 26,506 votes. Both these candidates
represented the PPP. Dr. Krai Dabtham, candidate for the Ruam Chai Thai
Chartpattana was also elected, gaining 68,792 votes.
In Electoral Zone 4, the winners were Mr. Suraphol Kiartchaiyakorn, the PPP
candidate, with 51,304 votes, and Mr. Noraphol Tantimontri, from the Pua
Pendin Party, with 55,538 votes.
The Director of the Chiang Mai Election Commission, Mr. Pongphan
Riewthongthatwee, congratulated the Election Commission members on a job
well done, although he noted that two cases had been submitted to the
Commission prior to the election itself. These cases were in the process of
World condemns Bhutto assassination
By Andrew O. Selsky
From Moscow to Washington to New Delhi and points in between, dismay
and condemnation poured forth over the assassination of Pakistani opposition
leader Benazir Bhutto, along with concern for the stability of the volatile
region. World leaders lauded her bravery and commitment to democratic
The U.N. Security Council voted Thursday unanimously to condemn the killing
and urged all nations to help bring those responsible for “this
reprehensible act” to justice.
In India, which has fought three wars against Pakistan, Prime Minister
Manmohan Singh said Bhutto is irreplaceable, and noted she had striven to
improve relations between the two nuclear-armed countries.
“I was deeply shocked and horrified to hear of the heinous assassination,”
Singh said. “In her death, the subcontinent has lost an outstanding leader
who worked for democracy and reconciliation in her country.”
In Texas, a tense-looking President George W. Bush demanded that those
responsible be tracked down and brought to justice.
“The United States strongly condemns this cowardly act by murderous
extremists who are trying to undermine Pakistan’s democracy,” Bush told
reporters at his ranch in Crawford. “We stand with the people of Pakistan in
their struggle against the forces of terror and extremism.”
He later spoke briefly by phone with Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf but
White House spokesman Scott Stanzel said he had no details.
Afghanistan’s President Hamid Karzai, who met Bhutto earlier on Thursday in
Islamabad, said he was “deeply pained” by the assassination of “this brave
sister of ours, a brave daughter of the Muslim world”
“She sacrificed her life, for the sake of Pakistan and for the sake of this
region,” he said. “I found in her this morning a lot of love and desire for
peace in Afghanistan, for prosperity in Afghanistan and ... Pakistan.”
From Iraq, a country that has struggled daily with terrorism and
assassinations since the 2003 ouster of Saddam Hussein, President Jalal
Talabani condemned Bhutto’s killing and said Pakistan had lost a courageous
politician who stood firm against “the forces of darkness and terror.”
“We in Iraq know (the impact) of the blind terror that has become a global
plague, killing innocents and shaking the foundations of stability” in
nations, Talabani said in a statement released by his office.
In a letter to Musharraf, French President Nicolas Sarkozy called the attack
an “odious act” and said “terrorism and violence have no place in the
democratic debate and the combat of ideas and programs.”
Sarkozy said Bhutto had paid “with her life her commitment to the service of
her fellow citizens and to Pakistan’s political life” and urged Pakistan’s
elections be held as scheduled on Jan. 8.
Bhutto, a former two-time prime minister of Pakistan, was killed in a
suicide attack in Rawalpindi just 10 weeks after she returned to her
homeland from eight years in exile. A suicide attack on her homecoming
parade killed more than 140 people. The articulate, poised 54-year-old had
lashed out at the spread of Islamic extremism as she campaigned for next
month’s parliamentary elections.
The United States had been at the forefront of foreign powers trying to
arrange reconciliation between Bhutto and Musharraf, who under heavy U.S.
pressure resigned as army chief and earlier this month lifted a state of
emergency, in the hope it would put Pakistan back on the road to democracy.
U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon called for “all Pakistanis to work
together for peace and national unity.”
The Vatican spokesman, the Rev. Federico Lombardi, said Pope Benedict XVI
was immediately informed of the “terrible news.”
“One cannot see signs of peace in this tormented region,” Lombardi said.
In Britain, where Bhutto had attended Oxford University, Prime Minister
Gordon Brown said she “risked everything in her attempt to win democracy in
Pakistan and she has been assassinated by cowards who are afraid of
“The terrorists must not be allowed to kill democracy in Pakistan, and this
atrocity strengthens our resolve that the terrorists will not win there,
here, or anywhere in the world,” Brown said.
EU foreign policy chief Javier Solana said the attack “is clearly aimed at
destabilizing the country.” He beseeched Pakistanis to refrain from
Malaysian Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi extended his condolences and
urged the people of Pakistan to remain calm. “I pray that the situation in
Pakistan will soon stabilize,” he said.
U.S. Congressman Patrick Kennedy was in Pakistan and on his way to dinner
with Bhutto when he heard about the attack. Kennedy told The Associated
Press in a telephone interview that Pakistanis are setting fires in the
countryside “that are lighting up the sky tonight.”
Italian Premier Romano Prodi said he was filled with grief and called Bhutto
“a woman who chose to fight her battle until the end with a single weapon _
the one of dialogue and political debate.”
“The difficult path toward peace and democracy in that region must not be
stopped, and Bhutto’s sacrifice will serve as the strongest example for
those who do not surrender to terrorism,” Prodi said.
New Zealand Prime Minister Helen Clark said Friday she was deeply shocked
and saddened at the news of the “cowardly assassination.” Clark, in a
statement, said Bhutto’s death “is a great loss to Pakistan and to the
Chilean President Michelle Bachelet, during a speech south of Santiago, paid
“sincere tribute to a woman ... who fought her entire life for a better
Pakistan.” President Cristina Fernandez of Argentina called the
assassination “an abominable act,” while Venezuela’s government condemned
what it called an “act of blind violence.”
German Chancellor Angela Merkel said the “cowardly terrorist attack ... also
targets the stability and democratic process of Pakistan.”
Philippine President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo called the attack “an assault
“The Philippines joins hands with the entire civilized world in solidarity
against such mindless barbarity and in unwavering defense of peace, freedom,
law and order,” Arroyo said.
In Moscow, Russian President Vladimir Putin sent a telegram to Musharraf
saying Bhutto’s murder is “a challenge thrown down by forces of terrorism
not only to Pakistan but also to the entire international community,”
Russian news reports said.
Anatoly Safonov, Putin’s envoy on international cooperation against
terrorism, expressed fears the assassination would trigger violent
“The already unstable situation in Pakistan will be further exacerbated by
this powerful factor,” Safonov said, according to the Interfax news agency.
French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner, who personally knew Bhutto, said
he hails her memory and called on the international community to support
Pakistan and its democracy.
Sweden’s Foreign Minister Carl Bildt said he had felt disgust when receiving
the news of Bhutto’s murder, which he called “bestial.”
“I feel a strong worry for the consequences this will have for Pakistan,” he
Japan’s government “strongly condemns these cowardly and unforgivable acts
of terrorism, which aim to destroy Pakistan’s efforts to instill democracy
through fair elections,” according to a statement from the country’s Foreign
Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Qin Gang said in a statement Thursday
that China was shocked and strongly condemns the terrorist attack, the
government’s Xinhua News Agency said.
Israeli President Shimon Peres said Bhutto “feared nothing and served her
country with valor.”
AP writers Fisnik Abrashi in Kabul, Afghanistan; Jenny Barchfield in
Paris; Matthew Rosenberg in New Delhi; Jill Lawless in London; Marta Falconi
in Rome; Matthew Lee and John Henry in Washington; John Heilprin at the
United Nations; Eduardo Gallardo in Santiago, Chile; and Vladimir Isachenkov
in Moscow contributed to this report.
Three years on, victims of the
devastating tsunami remembered
A foreign couple and their
child lay roses in remembrance, Wednesday, Dec. 26, 2007, in Khao Lak, on
the third anniversary of the Asian tsunami.
By Fakhurradzie Gade
AP Photos by David Longstreath
Calang, Indonesia (AP) Survivors prayed at mass graves and mosques last
Wednesday to mark the third anniversary of the Asian tsunami, while warning
sirens sent hundreds fleeing beaches during a drill to test an alert network
established since the disaster.
The waves on Dec. 26, 2004, spawned by the mightiest earthquake in 40 years,
killed around 230,000 people in 12 Indian Ocean nations, just under half of
them in the Indonesian province of Aceh on Sumatra island.
Coastal communities in Sri Lanka and India lost some 45,000 people between
them. The waves also crashed into tourist resorts in southern Thailand,
killing more than 5,000, half of them foreign vacationers.
The disaster overwhelmed authorities in Aceh, where bodies littered
devastated neighborhoods for weeks. Most victims were never formally
identified and tens of thousands were buried in mass graves.
Nur Aini lost her husband and one of her two children to the waves.
“We are praying for them today even though I don’t know where they are
buried,” she said. “My remaining child still calls out for his father.”
The disaster, one of the deadliest of the modern age, promoted a global
outpouring of sympathy, with governments, individuals and corporations
pledging more than U$13 billion in aid.
In Aceh, more than 100,000 houses, scores of schools and hospitals and
kilometers (miles) of roads have been rebuilt. Whilst there have been
complaints of corruption and waste, most people involved in the
reconstruction process say it has gone well.
“I hope we can turn a new page now and leave sadness, cries and tears behind
us,” Aceh Governor Irwandi Yusuf told hundreds gathered at a prayer ceremony
in the hard-hit town of Calang. “I hope one day we can pay our debt to the
world by becoming a donor to other countries hit by disasters.”
Thailand held ceremonies throughout the day along its white-sand southern
Survivors and families of victims were invited to Phuket’s Patong beach, a
popular strip of hotels and restaurants, to lay flowers in the sand.
Chanting Buddhist monks were to light incense and lead an ecumenical prayer
The tsunami drill in Indonesia took place on the western tip of Java island
close to the capital, Jakarta. It was attended by President Susilo Bambang
Yudhoyono and other top government officials.
Those taking part ran or walked around two kilometers (a mile) inland after
the siren sounded.
Foreign governments are helping Indonesia establish a nationwide network of
buoys and high-tech communications equipment that would give coastal
communities warning if there is a tsunami. The network is up and running in
several regions of the country, but 20 more buoys are due to be launched in
Indonesia is frequently rocked by powerful earthquakes because of its
position on the “Pacific Ring of Fire,” an arc of volcanoes and tectonic
fault lines encircling the Pacific Basin.
The observances came amid widespread flooding in parts of Indonesia. Heavy
rains triggered landslides that killed dozens of people on Java island,
though far from the scene of the tsunami and last Wednesday’s drill.
Former US Ambassador Ralph Boyce returns to Chiang Mai
Plans to enjoy his retirement in Thailand
Former US Ambassador Ralph Boyce receives a
token of appreciation from senior members of the media in Chiang Mai.
On December 19th, the US Consul General in Chiang Mai invited
representatives of the Northern mass media to meet with the recently retired
US Ambassador, Mr. Ralph L. Boyce.
Mr. Boyce remarked that he had lived in Asia for more than 20 years, and
that he had gained a great deal of experience during that time. He intended
to stay in Thailand to enjoy his retirement, and would be acting as an
advisor to a large company based in the USA. He thanked the Thai authorities
for their efficient co-operation in suppressing narcotics, particularly
heroin, and mentioned his admiration of the special democratic process
inaugurated and supported by His Majesty the King.
When he had first arrived in Asia, he had supposed that the economies of
both Myanmar and the Philippines would develop more quickly than that of
Thailand; however, he admitted that he had been wrong, as the Thai economy
had grown much faster than that of the two other countries. In his opinion,
the mass media within Thailand enjoys more freedom that its counterparts in
many other S.E. Asian countries, although the previous government led by ex-
Prime Minister Thaksin had interfered more with the media than had the
current government. It had, however, publicised more information than the
present government, as the Council for National Security had not utilised
the mass media to full advantage to disseminate information about its
As regards the situation in Myanmar, Mr. Boyce assured his listeners that
the USA would continue to impose sanctions in the field of business, and
also by refusing support to exporters of gemstones, teak and other
materials. Companies in the US would continue to be forbidden to undertake
investments in Myanmar. These sanctions will, Mr. Boyce hopes, encourage the
regime in Myanmar to move more swiftly towards a true democracy in its
country, and will continue to be applied despite any opposition, which may
arise from other countries.
“What I think is that our policy is important for the people who are
struggling inside Burma. We don’t follow policy necessarily to try to impact
the generals; they are fairly impervious-impermeable even- to outside
pressure, for good or bad, it seems.
“Even some of the countries that people call ‘enablers’ or their ‘closest
protectors’ or whatever-it’s unclear, at the end of the day, just how much
influence even they can have.”
The Martians are coming
Mars, the fourth planet from the Sun in the Solar System and the
closest to earth, comes even closer to us every 26 months.
December 18 this year earthlings had the opportunity to take a close look at
our neighbour, which came to within 88 million kilometres of our planet.
Dr Sarun Posayajinda, the deputy director of the National Astronomy Research
Institute of Thailand (NARIT), Thai Ministry of Science and Technology,
said, that the closest that mars has ever come to us was in 2003 when it was
only 55 million kilometres away.
Dr. Sarun said its location is only 15.9 degrees to the Earth’s surface this
year, and will remain closest to Earth until 2016. During this period
astronomers could study the planet through small sized telescopes to get a
better knowledge of the Red Planet.
Three restaurant owners charged with violating law prohibiting sales
of alcohol on Election day
On 23rd, December, three restaurant owners were arrested and charged
with violating the law prohibiting the sale of alcohol on Election day.
During a night patrol, an investigative team from Muang Police Station,
commanded by Superintendent Pol. Col. Prachuab Wongsuk, discovered alcohol
being sold at the premises known as the Babilon Restaurant ,situated in
Boonyoo market, and arrested the owner, Mr.Peeraol Mekmethanond. In the same
area, Larb Isaan Restaurant’s owner, Mr. Sakda Suwannamano and the owner of
the Used Pear Restaurant, Mr. Sornchai Hiranpot, were also arrested on the
same evening. All three owners will be prosecuted for illegally selling
alcohol inside designated election zones.
Convoy laden with warm clothing dispatched to help villagers
hit by severe cold weather
Phairoj Saengphuwong, Chiang
Mai Deputy Governor and government officials watch as the convoy of mercy
prepares to leave city hall bringing relief to the to the rural people
afflicted by the severe cold weather.
On December 25 at Chiang Mai City Hall, Phairoj Saengphuwong, Chiang
Mai Deputy Governor, presided over a ceremony to release a convoy of cars
and trucks laden with blankets, warm clothing, sweaters and other amenities
for delivery to the villagers in the 9 districts, which have declared as
severely hit areas.
The afflicted areas are Mae Ai, Fang, Chai Prakarn, Chiang Dao, Mae Taeng,
Wiang Haeng, and Phrao districts. Chiang Mai Deputy Governor Phairoj noted
that those areas were the hardest hit and make up 10 % of the province’s
The 146,105 items consisting of blankets, clothes and sweaters will be
further allocated to the villagers by the Chiang Mai Provincial Office of
Public Relief and Prevention together with the 33rd Military Circle of
Another 100,000 articles of clothing are expected to be purchased with funds
from donations made by local administration organizations, the general
public and representatives from the private and public sectors.
However, officials said that this year there had been a delay in the
purchasing of blankets, clothes, and sweaters. He went on to explain that
the reason for this was because the Ministry of Interior refused to buy from
garment manufacturers, preferring instead to buy from village laborers,
housewife groups, and other local groups in the rural areas, so as to help
them earn more money to sustain their livelihoods.
Exit poll shows massive support for People Power Party
Grassroots voters continue to support the party’s populist policies
The exit poll conducted by the Political Sceince and Public Administration
Faculties of Chiang Mai University showed that the vast majority of voters
nominated candidates from the People Power Party as their preferred choice
of MP for Chiang Mai.
Professor Pairat Trakarnsirind, and the Chairperson of the Political Science
faculty, Dr. Chantra Suthicharee, both stated that the reason for the
party’s high level of support was that there still existed a great deal of
belief and faith in the populist policies.
The Dean of the Public Administration Faculty, Associate Professor Pairat
Trakarnsirind, and the Chairperson of the Political Science faculty, Dr.
Chantra Suthicharee, both stated that the reason for the party’s high level
of support was that there still existed a great deal of belief and faith in
the populist policies of the former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra’s Thai
Rak Thai party, on which the PPP’s election manifesto was based.
These policies included the “30 baht medical scheme” and the “one million
baht per village scheme”, both of which were highly appreciated by
residents, including farmers and labourers, in the Chiang Mai area. During
the run-up to the election, it was obvious that the electorate as a whole
believed that, if the PPP were elected to form the next government, they
would provide a better standard of living and more benefits at the
grassroots level than would the rival political parties.
Lecturers in political science at Chiang Mai University also commented that,
as a result of the Thaksin administration’s policy of placing Thai Rak Thai
supporters in positions within the local, district and provincial
administration structure, the PPP was able to successfully reassure the
electorate that it would continue with the populist policies of the former
Thai Rak Thai party.
The overwhelming support by local voters for the PPP was also seen as
a confirmation of loyalty to Mr.Thaksin, who was born in Chiang Mai and has
always been highly regarded in his home town.
Newly installed LPG gas
tank in car explodes
Garage admits faulty workmanship, agrees to compensate
With the soaring price of gasoline, which seems to go up all the
time, Kasemsarn Kantala of Hang Dong decide that it was time to switch from
using expensive gasoline to the more economical LPG.
Having had the new fuel system installed, Kasemsarn happily drove to a gas
station to fill up his brand new LPG tank. As the attendants went about
their business of filling the tank, there was a loud explosion at the rear
of the car. The shocked owner of the vehicle watched in horror as his car
went up in flames.
Frantically, he tried to put out the fire before the flames could engulf his
beloved car, burning his left hand in the process. Quick thinking station
attendants ran to the rescue and the fire was put out quickly.
Fortunately, damage to the car was estimated at only 10,000 baht, for which
the embarrassed LPG shop owner who installed the system, agreed to pay for.
He said that he would re-install the LPG tank, but this time he assured
Kasemsarn that the work would be done properly.
Police report crime on the rise in the north
Chiang Mai has highest number of llegal alien workers
On December 16, 2007 at the Provincial Police Bureau, Region 5 in
Muang Chiang Mai, Pol. Lt. Gen. Theerasak Chookitkhun, commissioner of the
Provincial Police Bureau, Region 5, confirmed that 26 illegal alien workers
had been arrested, and 150 motorcycles were confiscated as evidence.
The Commissioner said that the number of criminal cases in Chiang Mai and in
the Northern provinces involving crimes such as snatching, stealing,
breaking and entering, and motorbike thefts was steadily increasing.
A crackdown of illegal aliens, showed that most of them owned motorbikes,
but admitted to the fact that they had very little knowledge of traffic
regulations and that accidents were subsequently caused.
Police said that they are checking to see if the motorbikes had been
But if the bikes are found to belong to their employers then the owners will
be fined 2,000 baht for allowing the alien to use them. If the offence was
committed again then the bikes would be confiscated.
Chiang Mai has the highest number of illegal alien workers in Thailand, as
it is the first large city that they arrive at, before continuing on to work
in other provinces.
The three main routes used by illegal aliens are, Mae Hong Son to Chiang
Mai, Mae Sai in Chiang Rai to Chiang Mai and from Chiang Dao district to
Illegal entry is made easier by dishonest officers who charge between 5,000
and 8,000 baht each who help them from being detected and arrested by the
Police in Region 5 look over
more than 150 motorbikes
confiscated from illegal aliens.