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Their Majesties the King and Queen preside over bathing rites for HRH Princess Galyani Vadhana

Thailand mourns the passing of HRH Princess Galyani Vadhana

Chiang Mai citizens pay homage to HRH Princess Galyani

The Princess Mother’s Medical Volunteer Foundation mourns the loss of Princess Galyani Vadhana

Bus services increased to serve large influx of travellers during holiday period

Mae Hong Son’s Royal Palace opens to visitors-and sheep!

Road death and injury tolls in Chiang Mai rise over the festive season

Huge visitor influx to Mae Hong Son causes fuel crisis

401 dead in “seven high risk travel days” of New Year holiday

Retail oil prices likely to rise 40 satang a litre

Police arrest husband and wife for the 2006 murder of retired air force man

The war against drugs and guns-security tightened at Thai-Lao border crossing

Three men charged with drug smuggling and possession for sale

Illegal immigrant labourers from Burma arrested and repatriated

 

Their Majesties the King and Queen preside over bathing rites for HRH Princess Galyani Vadhana

Government announces 15 days of mourning

Their Majesties the King and Queen presided over the bathing rites for Her Royal Highness Princess Galyani Vadhana at the Grand Palace on Wednesday afternoon.
By Royal Command of His Majesty the King, the Bureau of the Royal Household was responsible for the Royal Rites in accordance with royal tradition and the Lying in State will be at a throne hall of the Grand Palace.
On Wednesday afternoon, thousands of people from all walks of life thronged to the Grand Palace where His Majesty the King had given permission for the general public to participate in bathing rites before a portrait of the late princess.
By Royal Command, the Court will be in mourning for 100 days. Likewise, the national flag will be flown at half mast for 15 days and government and state enterprise employees are instructed to be in mourning for 15 days.
The government also requested the cooperation of both private and public agencies to refrain from organising entertainment activities during the 15-day national mourning period.

 

Thailand mourns the passing of HRH Princess Galyani Vadhana

HRH Princess Galyani Vadhana
May 6, 1923 - January 2, 2008
(AP Photo/Buerau of the Royal Household)

Her Royal Highness Princess Galyani Vadhana, the elder sister of HM the King, died on Wednesday January 2. She was 84 years old.
HRH Princess Galyani Vadhana had been hospitalized since June last year, after doctors found she had abdominal cancer. In a statement issued hours before her passing, the palace said that Princess Galyani’s kidneys were not functioning and her breathing had weakened. According to the Royal Household Bureau’s 39th statement, even though all possible care had been given by the team of Royal Physicians, Princess Galyani’s condition gradually declined and she succumbed at 2:54 on the morning of Wednesday January 2.

HRH the Princess Mother with her three young children, (l-r) Bhumibol Adulyadej, Ananda Mahidol and Princess Galyani Vadhana.
His Majesty the King, accompanied by his son HRH Crown Prince Maha Vajiralongkorn, the Royal Consort and their son, visited HRH Princess Galyani Vadhana at the hospital about 6pm Monday.
In his New Year address broadcast Monday night, HM the King thanked well-wishers who showed their heart-felt concern for his elder sister. People from all walks of life turned up at hospital to sign books wishing the princess well.
HRH Princess Galyani Vadhana was born on May 6, 1923 in London. She was the oldest child of Prince Mahidol - a son of King Chulalongkorn - and his commoner wife, Sangwal, later Somdej Phra Srinagarindra Baromarajajanani, lovingly known as the Princess Mother. All three of their children were born abroad, where Prince Mahidol traveled and studied medicine.
The family’s early life was difficult, with Prince Mahidol dying in 1929, leaving his wife to raise the three children alone.
After Thailand’s absolute monarchy was abolished following a 1932 coup d’etat, the Princess Mother and her children moved to Switzerland to be away from the maelstrom of politics.
In 1935, HRH princess Galyani’s other brother, Ananda, was named king, though he was to spend most of the next decade, including World War 2, in neutral Switzerland.
“We were in a small country and we were just monsieur, mademoiselle, not prince or princess,” she recalled in 2000. “Some people did not know we were a royal family. We were like Swiss children and we knew a simple life of ordinary people.” HRH Princess Galyani married Col. Aram Ratanakul Serireungriddhi, a royal aide but a commoner, in 1944, which meant she had to give up the royal title she was awarded in 1935. The couple had a daughter but were divorced in 1949. The royal title was later restored by HM King Bhumibol Adulyadej in 1950.
She married again in 1969 to Prince Varananda Dhavaj, a professional pilot, who passed away in 1990.
Perhaps the most cosmopolitan of her generation of royals, HRH Princess Galyani taught French language and literature at Thai universities after her post-war return from Switzerland, though she had graduated with a bachelor’s degree in chemistry from the University of Lausanne. A lifelong Francophile, she founded the Association of Teachers of French in Thailand, which she headed in 1977-81.
She also took up an intensive schedule of charity work, which is a mainstay of royal responsibility. She was a patron of at least five health-related foundations.
“My father was a doctor and my mother was a nurse. I suppose that has something to do with my work on charities,” she said. “I lived a long time in Switzerland and when I came back to Thailand I saw there was much to be done in every domain.”
While dedicated to teaching and the arts, Princess Galyani considered it important to continue the work begun by her mother, the Princess Mother, in supporting the activities of the Foundation of Voluntary Doctors under Royal Patronage of HRH the Princess Mother.
Alleviating the pain and suffering of ordinary folk who are suffering illness, especially those who could not afford normally available medical services, is a special concern of the voluntary doctors. The doctors particularly try to reach people in Thailand’s more remote areas.
The princess was heavily involved in projects under her royal patronage, especially traditional Thai arts, education, sports and social welfare. She was president and honorary president of organisations and foundations as diverse as the Cardiac Children’s Foundation, the Princess Mother’s Charity Fund and the Autistic Foundation of Thailand.
The late princess was noted for her interest in the arts, especially theater and classical music, a taste cultivated when she, like the king, was educated in Switzerland, where she spent much time until later life.
She spoke five languages, and loved to travel, documenting many of her journeys in books. Known to be modest and self-effacing, she told an interviewer in 2000 that: “I don’t like gala dinners. They’re boring.”
She created her own foundation for funding the studies of gifted young musicians, and she was the Royal Patron of the Bangkok Opera.
HRH Princess Galyani also traveled widely within Thailand and overseas to represent the Royal family and her country on missions and was a focus of affection of the Thai people.
HRH Princess Galyani is survived by her daughter and a grandson.
By Royal Command of His Majesty the King, the Bureau of the Royal Household is responsible for the Royal Rites in accordance with Royal tradition and the Lying in State will be at the Dusit Maha Prasat Throne Hall of the Grand Palace.
By Royal Command, the Court will observe a period of mourning of 100 days.
His Majesty the King gave Royal Permission for the general public to participate in bathing rites which were conducted before a portrait of the princess at the Sahathaisamakhom Hall of the Grand Palace on Wednesday afternoon.
The government has ordered flags to fly at half-mast at all government offices. Employees of State enterprises are to observe a 15-day mourning period. (AP, TNA)
Please visit: www.hrh84yrs.org for more stories and pictures of HRH Princess Galyani Vadhana.


Chiang Mai citizens pay homage to HRH Princess Galyani

Citizens sign condolence books placed in front of a portrait of HRH Princess Galyani Vadhana at City Hall.

Chiang Mai Provincial Authorities held the bathing rites ceremony in front of a portrait of Her Royal Highness Princess Galyani Vadhana at the City Hall on January 2.  Chiang Mai Governor Wiboon Sa-nguanphong has also advised all companies and entertainment venues to suspend festive activities.  He also has asked the public to sign condolence books at the appointed locations in the city to pay their respects to the princess.
Citizens all over the country are wearing black during the 15-day mourning period in honour of Her Royal Highness Princess Galyani Vadhana.

Prof Dr Pongsak Angkasit, president of Chiang Mai University along
with the institute’s administrators perform bathing rites at City Hall.


The Princess Mother’s Medical Volunteer Foundation mourns the loss of Princess Galyani Vadhana

The Princess Mother’s ideology to be continued at full capacity in Mae Hong Son

Khajohn Boonpath
Mae Hong Son government offices and the offices of the Princess Mother’s Medical Volunteer Foundation were awash with sorrow and black clothing as all mourned the death on January 2nd of the highly respected and loved Princess Galyani Vadhana.
The Medical Physician at Mae Hong Son’s Public Health Department, Dr.Suwat Kittidilokkul, spoke with great sadness about her passing away, and announced that Mae Hong Son Public Health will join with The Princess Mother’s Medical Volunteer Foundation at full capacity in order to follow and promote her ideology.
    The Princess Mother’s Medical Volunteer Foundation was created in 1969, and has as its roots Princess Galyani Vadhana’s concern about the lack of medical care amongst impoverished people in country areas far removed from adequate medical facilities. The Foundation in Mae Hong Son is one of the beneficiaries of the princess’s compassion, who visited the area on numerous occasions.
In 2007, a total of 2,218 sick people were treated by volunteer doctors from the Foundation, involving 25 visits to 19 far flung villages. At 21 Health Centres in the area, an innovative project involving the use of mobile phones was begun, thus enabling medical assistance to be given from far.
On the afternoon of January 2nd, the Governor of Mai Hong Son, Mr. Thongchai Wongreangtong, joined with 150 people by sigining the condolence book at the Community Hall to honour the Princess and to celebrate her life. After the ceremony, all present sang one of the Princess’s favourite songs from the area, in loving memory of her life and her kindness to them. Later, in the evening, officials from the Princess Mother’s Medical Volunteer Foundation and Mae Hong Son Public Health came together at Srisangwarn Hospital to hold a funeral prayer in the Princess’s honour. She will be greatly missed by all.


Bus services increased to serve large influx of travellers during holiday period

Holidaymakers leave the city while students and workers return

Chiang Mai Arcade Bus Terminal was busier than ever during the holidays.

Staff reporters
Tourists began to leave Chiang Mai after celebrating the New Year. To cope with the extra demand, the Land Transport Department provided extra buses on popular routes, and were confident that no passengers would be left stranded.
Since 1st January, the Nong Pa Khrang Bus Terminal was crowded with people either leaving or returning after the celebrations. On the Chiang Mai – Bangkok route, the usual 80 trips had been increased to 140, and all seats had been reserved. A number of buses were also held in reserve in case of extra demand.


Mae Hong Son’s Royal Palace opens to visitors-and sheep!

Sheep, lamb and woolly goodies much appreciated!

Khajohn Boonpath
The latest tourist attraction at Pangtong Palace in Mae Hong Son, devised and arranged by the Livestock Nurture Section of the Department of Livestock Development, was a great success with visitors when it opened recently. Surprised visitors to the palace found that they were able to feed the specially introduced sheep, (after appropriate instruction!), and were delighted to discover that photo opportunities involving lots of woolly lambs were also being provided. Tourists, (possibly “dyed in the wool” at this point.), were also able to purchase a variety of woollen products from the Royal-Initiated Project, which is supported and encouraged by Her Majesty the Queen. A large proportion of the 2000 plus visitors per day did just that, ensuring that a great idea was also a financial success!
The spectacular scenery and beauty of the area drew more than 60,000 visitors to Mae Hong Son, the tiny town in the mist, during the New Year’s festivities. Ban Rak Thai at Kuomintang Village, Tham Pla, Tham Kaewkomoi and the popular Pai district were all favoured locations with the tourists, and all accommodations in the town itself were fully booked. Hastily erected tents in the parks provided basic shelter for many; the forest and the roadside took care of the rest!  More than 90 million baht was spent in the town and surrounding countryside during the holiday period, giving “Happy New Year” an entirely new meaning for the many businesses and service providers in the area.


Road death and injury tolls in Chiang Mai rise over the festive season

Majority of accidents caused by drink driving

Staff reporters
Over the 5 day Christmas and New Year holiday period the total number of accidents on the roads increased from that of the previous year, leaving 8 dead and 115 injured. Accidents mainly involved motorcycles; on New Year’s Day alone when three people died.

Picture shows a luxury tourist bus narrowly missing homes, electric poles and a phone booth. The number of road accidents with casualties was high during the 5 day Christmas and New Year holiday period.
The fatal accidents occurred in Ban Thung Daeng, (Phrao district), Ban Muu, (San Kampaeng), and on Highway 118 between Chiang Mai and Doi Saket.
A major cause, as in past years, was a general disregard of the effect excess alcohol has on driving abilities. Drink driving is a year round problem in Chiang Mai, exacerbated by the increase of alcohol consumption during festivities. The majority of accidents occurred on municipal and village roads, and were the result of reckless driving and speeding resulting in loss of control.

The occupants of this car had a narrow escape as their car burst into flames on a busy street.

Chiang Mai’s Centre for Accident Prevention extended their preventative measures by two days this year, and implemented stricter measures at an increased number of checkpoints throughout the city, outer areas and surrounding villages, unfortunately with little effect.
On 2nd January, the Deputy Governor of Chiang Mai chaired a meeting at the Centre for Accident Prevention, called to assess and summarise the situation. The Deputy Governor stated his distress about the loss of life on the roads, and emphasised the preventative importance of village checkpoints. He requested a stricter approach and more co-operation between the district Centres and local authorities, commenting that the high risk city areas were not experiencing as severe a problem as the outer areas. All in attendance were concerned and distressed about the worrying trends.


Huge visitor influx to Mae Hong Son causes fuel crisis

Holiday period problems for gas station owners

Khajohn Boonpath
Gas station owners in Mae Hong Son district found themselves in a quandary during the recent festive season due to a much larger than expected influx of tourists, mainly from Bangkok. Having ordered, as they thought, enough to cope with anticipated demand, many found themselves with empty pumps and inconvenienced customers, resulting in emergency supplies having to be ordered at from the nearby Saraburi province. Gas stations all over the area were affected, and many ran dry by 31st. December, resulting in a total of 75,000 litres of fuel, approximately three days’ supply, being trucked at great speed from Saraburi. The emergency supplies finally arrived in Mae Hong Son at 7 p.m. the same evening. Later, the Mai Hong Son’s Tourism Authority Chief, Mr. Wisut Buachum, announced that the crisis had been caused by more visitors deciding to visit the Mae Hong Son area than had attended even the Thai Royal Flora Exhibition. The economic benefits to the Mae Hong Son area had, as a result, been considerable, in spite of the problems caused by the fuel shortage.


401 dead in “seven high risk travel days” of New Year holiday

The overall death toll from road accidents throughout Thailand reached 401 on Thursday, the last day of the “seven high risk travel days” of the New Year’s holiday, a senior official said on Friday.
Deputy Interior Minister Bunyat Junsena, in his capacity as deputy director of the government-initiated Road Safety Centre (RSC) said that 354 road accidents took place nationwide on Thursday, causing 32 deaths and 389 injuries.
 Drink driving was a factor in most accidents and most accidents involved motorcycles, he said.
Total road accidents during the so-called “seven high risk travel days” from December 28 through January 3 reached 4,475, up 19 from last year, while the number of people killed was 401, 48 victims less than 2006, while the total number injured was 4,903, down 40 from last year.
The northern province of Chiang Rai had the most accidents (157) and most injured (169) , while Bangkok had 24 fatalities, highest among the country’s 76 provinces.
The north eastern province of Yasothorn recorded the fewest accidents (3).
However, provinces that were fatality-free were Mae Hong Son, Pattani, and Narathiwat.
In an attempt to reduce both road accidents and the number of casualties during the New Year celebrations by at least 10 per cent from last year, the government established the RSC.
In operation through January 3, the centre aimed to reduce road accidents to 4,133 at most and the death toll to not more than 413, while the number of injuries was projected to reach 4,568 nationwide by the end of the seven-day holiday period. 
After the press conference, Mr. Banyat officially closed the RSC. Thanking all those involved in ensuring the safety of the public during the holiday, the deputy minister said he would apply the lessons learned from operating the centre this year to make more effective measures in the future. (TNA)


Retail oil prices likely to rise 40 satang a litre

Retail oil prices in Thailand were expected to increase by 40 satang per litre today on the back of declining market margin following the sharp rise in global crude oil price to US$100 a barrel, oil traders said.
An increase would see diesel oil and gasoline 95 prices hit record highs at Baht 30.14 and Baht 33.69 per litre respectively.
Meanwhile, Apinan Sumanaseni, president of Thai Airways International Public Co., Ltd. (THAI), said the national flag carrier planned to increase the fuel surcharge fee on long distance overseas routes, probably in the next one or two months.
Concerned officials at THAI were now conducting a study and a conclusion was expected later this month, Mr. Apinan said, adding the fuel surcharge fee for THAI’s domestic flights would remain unchanged because of an increasing number of passengers.
Board members of both the government-run Transport Co., Ltd. and the Bangkok Mass Transit Authority were scheduled to meet on January 14 and discuss whether it was necessary for both agencies to raise fares after these had been frozen for three months.
Sources close to the issue said it was quite possible the boards would freeze fares for another three months, in line with Transport Minister Admiral Thira Haocharoen’s policy to help the traveling public in light of increased cost of living.
An earlier proposal by inter provincial bus operators meanwhile to increase fares by 6 satang per kilometre was being studied. (TNA)


Police arrest husband and wife for the 2006 murder of retired air force man

Couple had been under suspicion and on the run for two years

Saksit Meesubkwang
Pol. Col. Thanaratt Khumsawat, Superintendent of  Investigations Region 5 held a Press Conference on 3 January. He announced the arrest of Narong Wonghom, 48, of Phathumthani and his wife Boonhom Oubalee, 37, of Lampang, long term suspects in the murder of retired  Group Captain  Rachen Panprung, 74.  The couple had also stolen a large amount of valuable personal property, including a Rolex watch, from the victim. The murder was committed in 2006 in Nong Tong sub-district, Chiang Mai. After the killing, police ‘arrested’ Ard (surname unknown), an illegal Cambodian immigrant, who was the deceased’s servant.  During questioning, Ard admitted to the killing and the Courts sentenced him to life imprisonment.  Narong and Boonhom also participated in the killing and made off with the valuables.  Police came close to arresting the couple on numerous occasions, but they managed to evade arrest each time.
On 2 January 2008 Pol. Col. Thanaratt Superintendent of Region 5 Investigations, discovered that the couple were hiding in Kho Kha District, Lamphang and coordinated with local police to finally carry out the arrest and prosecute the killers.


The war against drugs and guns-security tightened at Thai-Lao border crossing

New high-tech scanners will be installed

Staff reporters
Security at the Thai-Lao border check point on the Mekong River at the Buck Ferry Landing, Tambon Wiang, Chiang Kong, Chiang Rai, will be tightened by the installation of a new high-tech scanner. The new equipment, sponsored by the Thai government and installed by the Marine Unit based in the area, will considerably improve detection rates of drugs, explosives, weapons, and other illegal items being smuggled into the Kingdom. Scanners will also be installed in popular tourist areas, parking places, and other river landings.
Immigration Police at Chiang Khong District headquarters expect an increased number of tourists and visitors to arrive during 2008, using the border crossing from Huay Sai in Lao to Chiang Khong. The installation of the new scanner at the border crossing is crucial, as its use will ensure that illegal items of any type are not brought into Thailand during the tourist high season and the remainder of the year.


Three men charged with drug smuggling and possession for sale

Ya Ba (amphetamine) smugglers linked with Hmong drugs ring

The three suspects were intercepted and detained
for further questioning and charging.

Saksit Meesubkwang
On January 3rd, a combined operation between the Special Investigation Police Unit and the Office of Narcotics Control Board resulted in the arrest of three men, who were charged with drug smuggling and possession with intent to sell. The three men, Mr. Saksit Netheepraiwal, 33, from Mae Sot district in Tak province, Mr. Vichai Saekue, 27, also from Mae Sot, and Mr. Nathasit Arkararungroj, 31, from Phobphra district in Tak, all deny the charges.
As a result of a tip-off, plain clothes police became aware that a drugs run was being planned. It was intended to take place from the Thai – Burma border through to the Fang and Chai Prakarn districts. Plain clothes police subsequently planned to contact a Lisu drug dealer to order the purchase and delivery of 100,000 ya ba tablets at a cost of 200,000 baht. The dealer demanded 300,000 baht – this price was agreed and delivery was promised, to take place at a soi on the Ban San Makokkwan Road, Tambon Mae Ngorn, Fang district. Extensive surveillance was planned to cover the entire area.
At 5.30 p.m.on January 3rd, a car containing three men was observed coming from Ban San Makokwan, heading towards Ban Huay Jo in Fang. It was followed by plain clothes police. On arrival, the three men began to unload both their belongings and the suspected packages into an orange truck, later found to be bound for Bangkok. Police swooped on the gang, finding the 100,000 yaba tablets. At this point, the three men escaped, got into their car, and fled in the direction of Chai Prakarn district. After a radio call from the police at the scene, a road block was set up at Ban Hua Fai by the Military Rangers, Third Army Region, at which the suspects were intercepted and detained for further questioning and charging. Further investigation of this case will take place regarding links with major players in the drug smuggling field in the hope that arrests may follow.
The drug suppression police teams are fully aware of drug trafficking routes between the border areas down as far as Bangkok, and are determined to continue surveillance if these areas.


Illegal immigrant labourers from Burma arrested and repatriated

Employers will be charged if found to be at fault

Saksit Meesubkwang
Following the orders of the Commissioner of the Provincial Police Bureau, Region 5, more than 60 illegal immigrant labourers from Burma were recently arrested in Muang, Chiang Mai. They were subsequently charged with offences including illegal entry into the Kingdom, and being in possession of invalid work permits. They will all be subject to repatriation to their home country. If any employer is found to be guilty of violating Thai law concerning this issue, charges will also be brought. Instructions have been given to the Special Investigation Police to concentrate on making more arrests of illegal immigrants, mostly from Burma, who attempt to find labouring work in the Kingdom. A stricter policy on this issue is to be pursued.
The vast majority of illegal immigrants seeking labouring work are coming from Burma in increasing numbers since the unrest in their home country last summer. The northern region of Thailand contains the main transit routes from the border; this area is a focus for temporary residences for men, women and children before they move on to other parts of the country.
There have been claims that illegal immigrants are responsible for social problems, crimes, chaos and causing suffering to local residents. Some reports even claim that they have caused problems to foreign tourists in the region. The Commissioner stated that Thailand is fully conscious of the present humanitarian issues concerning Burma; however, caring for a much larger influx of immigrants than is usual may well cause difficulties.
Local police are inviting information regarding the location of illegal immigrants in order that they may arrest and repatriate them.

Police interrogate the arrested illegal immigrants before deporting them.