His Majesty the King grants
highest honour to late
HRH Princess Galyani Vadhana
Messages of condolence received from leaders
and royalty worldwide
His Majesty King Bhumibol Adulyadej has bestowed, by
Royal Command, the country’s highest honour on his elder sister, the late
HRH Princess Galyani Vadhana. The honour permits a seven tier white umbrella
to be raised over HRH the Princess’s funeral urn during the proscribed
funeral rites. The Royal Command stated that HM the King considered HRH
Princess Galyani Vadhana as his most honourable elder sister as they had
been very close. HRH the Princess had always favoured him when they were
The late Princess had, during her lifetime, devoted herself tirelessly to
helping underprivileged and poverty-stricken Thai citizens through a variety
of foundations and institutions. Her subjects realised her dedication, and
her death has brought distress and sadness to people from all walks of life.
52 messages of condolence have been received from world leaders and royalty
in 39 countries worldwide, and last Wednesday a message was received from
the Secretary of State for the Vatican, Cardinal Tarciso Bertone on behalf
of Pope Benedict XVI. The pontiff was quoted in the message as saying that
he would remember the great merits of the late Princess and her efforts to
improve the quality of life of the poor. He sent condolences to HM the King
on the loss of his elder sister, and promised to pray for her to rest in
Princess Galyani Vadhana passed away on January 2nd at the age of 84 after a
long battle with abdominal cancer. (TNA)
Chiang Mai Governor issues
public order prohibiting burning
Rubbish incineration and deforestation also prohibited
As a result of increasing public concern about pollution in the
city, its surrounding areas, and the province itself, the Governor of Chiang
Mai, Viboon Sanguanphongs, has issued a public order prohibiting burning of
all kinds in open areas. Rubbish incineration and the cutting down of trees
are also prohibited. The order is highly specific, and is being sent out to
all local administration organisations, and also to government agencies in
Prohibited activities include waste incineration, the burning of twigs,
leaves, agricultural residue and the burning of areas of forest. Officers
are being sent out to instruct the public in alternative ways of eradicating
or recycling waste, as recommended by the governor. The province has also
designated certain areas as forest fire protection zones. It is hoped that
officers will be able to persuade local people to abandon their traditional
burning practices and replace them with new methods of waste management in
order to produce fertilizer. Any breaches of the new public order will be
severely dealt with under the law.
Pollution is caused by incomplete combustion processes forming carbon
particles, combined with dust from roads and fields. During the dry and hot
seasons, prevailing weather conditions favour the formation of early morning
smog and air pollution, as an “inversion layer” of colder air traps warm air
below it, preventing it from rising and dissipating polluting particles.
Recently, the Meteorology Department reported that the lessening of a
depression over Thailand had caused increases in daytime temperatures in the
upper regions of the country, but that the weather was still cold, with
cloudy conditions, exactly the conditions which encourage the formation of
an inversion layer and the resultant pollution. Airborne pollution is able
to travel great distances at altitude as a result of prevailing winds; an
example of this being the huge decrease in already unsatisfactory air
quality caused by the massive forest fire on the Burmese border during last
year’s hot season.
Canadian tourist shot dead
Policeman faces murder charge after scuffle
with drunken couple
Mae Hong Son - A Canadian tourist was shot dead and his wife
wounded at 2 a.m. last Monday morning, January 7, near a pub in Mae Hong Son
province after a scuffle with a policeman.
Pol Sgt-Major Uthai Dechawiwat claimed shots were fired accidentally after
the foreign couple tried to snatch his pistol from him.
The 37-year-old policeman, who was released on bail after being charged with
murder and manslaughter, said he had struggled to get his service pistol
back from John Leo Del Pinto and his wife Carly Reisig.
He said he had used the gun to threaten them when he was down on the ground
after the couple beat him up.
Del Pinto, 25, took a shot in the mouth, from which the bullet travelled
through his shoulder, and another shot on the left side of his torso, while
Reisig, 24, was shot on the left side of her torso.
Uthai initially fled but give himself up to Pai police not long afterwards.
Quoting witnesses, case investigator Pol Lt-Colonel Sombat Panya said the
couple had been drinking in a local pub called Ting Tong. They became
involved in a drunken brawl after Del Pinto, who recently arrived in
Thailand, found out that Reisig had become pregnant with a Thai man known as
The couple continued arguing after they left the pub when Uthai arrived at
the scene, near a bridge, on personal business. Uthai approached them and
asked them to be calm but both foreigners turned to attack him.
The officer said Uthai was beaten to the ground by the couple. After
managing to get up, Uthai pointed his service pistol to threaten away both
foreigners, but Del Pinto tried to snatch the pistol from him. After a
scuffle, shots were fired and the couple went down.
Del Pinto died at the scene at about 2am and Reisig was sent to a hospital
in Chiang Mai, where she is in a safe condition.
Sombat said he had not interviewed Reisig about what happened and no offence
had yet been filed against her.
Saowaluk Promsorn crowned Miss Chiang Mai
Miss Chiang Mai Saowaluk Promsorn (center) poses
with other winners
The lucky winner of the “Miss Chiang Mai 2007” beauty competition held at
the end of December as part of the Provincial Winter Fair was a 24 year old
graduate nurse from Chiang Mai University, Miss Saowaluk Promsorn (height
172c.m., weight 48 kgs., measurements 34-23-36!).
She was awarded the first prize of 300,000 baht, a crown, trophy, and other
prizes. Prior to becoming Miss Chiang Mai, she had won both the “Miss Mae
Ying Theep Tangoing” and the “Miss Ban Tawai” beauty contests.
PTT set to cut retail fuel prices if global oil price continues to fall
Thailand’s top energy giant PTT Plc. announced that it is ready to cut local
retail oil prices next week if global oil prices continue to fall. Chaiwat
Churitthi, senior executive vice president of the PTT Oil Business Group,
said concerns over crude prices in the world market had now eased since oil
reserves had increased and cold weather in Europe had lessened. This
situation caused crude prices in the global market to fall by almost US$2
He explained that, as marketing margins for gasoline and diesel were low,
his company was not able to cut retail prices immediately, but emphasized
that, if global crude prices were still falling by next week, a fuel price
cut would be possible. He was particularly concerned to lower the price of
diesel, because of the impact of higher fuel prices on product prices.
Regarding a shortage of oil plants such as palm for alternative fuel
production, PTT had not experienced any problems as producers of oil palm
were still supplying raw materials to the company. (TNA)
Global warming is
top science news in 2007
Global warming ranks as Thailand’s top science and technology news in 2007,
followed by stem cell developments, according to a survey by the National
Science and Technology Development Agency (NSTDA). Prof. Dr. Sakarindr
Bhumiratana, NSTDA director, said the agency and the Writers and Publishers
Forum conducted the survey on interest in science news among 3,000 people in
Bangkok and the surrounding areas.
News about global warming ranks top, followed by news on stem cells. Other
science and technology news stories of interest include reports of Thai
teenagers winning gold medals in the Olympiads, Internet threats, robot
competitions, the Leonid meteor showers, nuclear power plants, lead-free
noodle pots, GMO field trials, and NANO products.
Prof. Dr. Sakarindr confirmed that the survey identified a segment of the
public that are interested in science issues relating to living and health
problems. The stem cell issue for treatment of illness and the support of
intelligent students were two excellent examples.
The NSTDA will, in the future, promote science-related news, particularly
about industry and product development. It also plans to educate the public
regarding more controversial issues such as GMO crop trials and the
construction of nuclear power plants. (TNA)
EGAT reinstates hydro-electric
dam construction plans
People living at construction sites to be evacuated
As a result of Thailand’s search for alternative energy
sources amid the continuing oil price rise, the Electricity Generating
Authority of Thailand (EGAT) has reinstated its proposed plans for the
construction of more hydro-electric dams, saying they could generate
electricity for the country indefinitely.
EGAT deputy governor Suthipong Theppitak said Thailand has the potential to
build hydro-electricity plants with a combined capacity of more than 2,000
megawatts in the North, Central and South. However, there is a need to
explain clearly to the public the benefits the country would receive from
this program. There should be reassurance to the public that the building of
more dams would not only benefit low-cost energy provision, but would also
prevent flooding in low-lying farming areas. People living and working in
the vicinity of the newly re-introduced projects would also benefit from
state-supported development of their livelihoods.
“The dam building will initially affect the environment,” he stated. “Local
people living at the construction site must be evacuated. However, the
implementation of a sound contingency plan will lessen negative social and
environmental impacts and will benefit the country in the long run.”
“Although oil will be depleted in the next 40-50 years and coal prices may
continue to rise, water in the world will never run out,” he said, noting
that the appropriate and sensible use of continuing water resources will
enable the country to have longer term access to the non-renewable energy
resources of petroleum, natural gas and coal. (TNA)
A unique dance performance in Chiang Mai
An extraordinary performance will visit Chiang Mai on the
evening of January 23. Verchovyna, a Ukrainian dance ensemble from
Australia, makes a stop in Thailand on their world tour from Melbourne to
Dance is an important expression of Ukrainian culture, and its vigorous,
colorful style has amazed audiences throughout the world. Celebrating its
fortieth year in Melbourne, the Verchovyna Ensemble consists of 120 dancers
of all ages. A smaller group, mainly composed of performers between the ages
of eighteen and twenty-five, will travel to Thailand and Ukraine in a tour
The members of Verchovyna have dedicated themselves to their love of
dancing, but also to continuing the rich folk tradition of their heritage.
While visiting their Ukrainian homeland, the dancers hope to demonstrate the
national pride and spirit in their hearts.
Verchovyna is an important cultural institution for the many Ukrainians
living in Australia, but it also seeks to educationally share this culture
with other communities. Recently, the ensemble has toured extensively
through Australia and Canada. The current tour is Verchovyna’s first chance
to visit Southeast Asia.
Natalia Moravski, a member of Verchovyna, says, “The dancers are very
excited about performing and sharing their Ukrainian culture with the people
of Thailand. Verchovyna has never performed there and it always been a dream
of our dancers to share our culture widely.”
The performance promises to be entertaining, in addition to its cultural
mission. The dancers are passionate about their art. The show contains
diverse choreography representing fifty different regions of Ukraine. Even
its costumes have left lasting impressions with audiences. Moravski believes
“Ukrainian dance is dynamic, exciting, and rich… The ‘Discovery’ tour is
exciting, challenging, and most importantly, educational, as we will
showcase the rich culture of Ukraine through Ukrainian dance.”
The performance is at 7 p.m. on Wednesday, January 23. The Prem Center for
International Education, located in Mae Rim, will host the performance in
its main auditorium. Please call (053) 301 500 for information and
directions. Tickets are 200 baht for adults, 100 for children, and children
under six are admitted free.
New U.S. Ambassador
arrives in Thailand
The U.S. Embassy in Bangkok is pleased to announce the Honorable Eric G.
John as the new Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the United
States of America to the Kingdom of Thailand. Ambassador John arrived in
Thailand on December 30. Ambassador John is considered to have taken up his
Ambassadorial duties in the Kingdom of Thailand on January 8, 2008,
following notice by the Director of Protocol that his request for an
audience with His Majesty the King for the presentation of credentials,
along with copies of the Letters of Credence and the Letters of Recall of
His Predecessor, had been submitted to the attention of His Majesty the
Ambassador John was nominated by President George W. Bush on May 21, 2007
and was sworn in by Deputy Secretary of State John Negroponte on October 22,
Ambassador John is a native of Indiana and is a career member of the Senior
Foreign Service. He most recently served as Deputy Assistant Secretary of
State for Southeast Asia, where he coordinated policy in Washington with
regard to the eleven nations in that region, as well as the Association of
Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN). He has previously served as the Minister
Counselor for Political Affairs at the U.S. Embassy in Seoul, Korea and as
the Deputy Consul General in the U.S. Consulate in Ho Chi Minh City.
Ambassador John was assigned to the U.S. Embassy Bangkok from 1989 to 1992.
Ambassador John joined the Foreign Service in 1983, shortly after he
graduated from the Georgetown University School of Foreign Service. He has a
Master’s Degree from the National War College. Ambassador John is
accompanied by Mrs. Sophia John and their two children, Adam and Nicole.
Prime Minister visits Chiang Rai
Gen. Surayud states that political parties should not use mob rule
Prime Minister Gen. Surayud Chulanont visited Chiang Rai recently to
preside over the opening of a bio-diesel refinery at Viroon Business
He used the occasion to thank the private sector and the local communities
for helping to improve the energy/fuel crisis in Thailand. He stated that
increased use of bio-diesel as a preferred fuel will promote raw material
agricultural production. He also indicated that the government is concerned
about supplies of consumable water, which at present are significantly
reduced due to an abnormally dry rainy season. Many areas will suffer water
shortages, and the Prime Minister is holding urgent consultations with the
purpose of seeking sustainable remedies.
On the political front, the Prime Minister stated that the government had no
authority to intervene in the breach of election laws, as it is the
responsibility of the Election Commission to issue yellow or red cards in
order to find evidence of election law breaches.
As regards expected pressure by members of the public concerning a possible
decision on the issue of a red or yellow card to the deputy leader of the
PPP, Yongyut Tiyaphairat, the government’s position was that citizens should
allow the Election Committee to do its job without interference.
On this subject, Gen. Surayud stated that, “If gang law overrules the law of
a country where the political system is weak, the result is unrest which
halts that country’s further development.”
He asked the new government to concentrate on the deteriorating economic
situation in the Kingdom, and particularly the rising cost of living, which
he attributed to rising oil prices on the world market, but recommended
conservative national budget expenditures.
Armed pirate attacks yacht
moored near Kata Beach
New Zealand yachtsman badly wounded, pirate dead
Last Wednesday night, police from Chalong Police Station, near
Phuket, were called to the scene of a very unusual attempted robbery. Having
been informed of a shooting incident on a yacht, they found a New Zealand
yachtsman, Pierre Alain Oberson, badly wounded in the chest and leg.
His girlfriend, who had been with him on his yacht, told police that a
robber in a wetsuit had climbed on board brandishing a gun in a plastic bag.
The robber tried to force Oberson to give him money and valuables, and when
the yachtsman fought back, shot him twice.
In the ensuing struggle, the robber himself was also shot, and fell
backwards off the yacht into the sea. Oberson then fired a distress flare in
order to obtain assistance. When the police arrived, they used a long-tailed
boat to search for the robber, and found his body floating in the sea
nearby. There were no identification papers.
Oberson was taken to Phuket International Hospital, where he is recovering.
The Police Superintendent at Chalong Police Station said that this was the
first time such a robbery had taken place in the area of his jurisdiction,
and has instructed his officers to make regular patrols around the bay in
order to ensure that it does not happen again.
Latest Malaysian drive-by robbery tactics use Samurai swords and eggs
Just keep driving…
A new tactic is in use by criminals in Malaysia to force
you to stop your car in order to rob, rape or slash you. It involves a
motorcycle with a pillion rider, who will throw two eggs at your car’s
windscreen. Within a few seconds, the broken eggs will be smeared all over
the glass, as your first reaction will be to switch on your windscreen
wipers. You will, of course, stop the car as soon as is practicable, and
will then try to clean the mess from the glass. At this point, the robbers,
now in a car themselves, will screech to a halt beside you. A recent email
to a staff reporter at the Mail from a friend mentions that a farang
couple to whom this happened were threatened with Samurai swords!
The threatened couple were able to drive away in time, so were not hurt or
robbed, and managed to note the registration number of the car. However,
when they reported the attempt to their local police station, they were told
that the car had stolen number plates! This tactic would seem to have been
used frequently during the latest string of roadside robberies, especially
with women drivers and drivers with their families in the car.
Given that bad news (and bad ideas) travels as fast as good news, it seems
possible that this tactic may well be adopted in the not too distant future
here in Thailand. If you are unlucky enough to have this happen to you,
remember not to turn on your windscreen wipers, and to continue driving
(slowly and carefully!) to the nearest crowded place, petrol station, or
Heavy fog disrupts Suvarnabhumi air traffic
One flight diverted to Chiang Mai International Airport
Heavy fog disrupted air traffic at Suvarnabhumi
International Airport in Bangkok last Wednesday, forcing incoming flights to
divert to other airports. Suvarnabhumi’s director, Serirat Prasutanond,
reported that heavy fog suddenly descended at 7 o’clock that morning, due to
warm air from the nearby Gulf of Thailand rising and passing over cool, damp
night air saturated with water vapour, forcing it downwards. This process
causes “radiation fog”. The fog dissipated after about one hour, having
caused an international fight to be diverted to Chiang Mai International
Airport and three domestic flights to be diverted to local airports.
The director stated that it was imperative to closely monitor all weather
changes in order to ensure the safety of both aircraft and passengers.