Vol. VII No. 3 - Tuesday
January 15, - January 21, 2008



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by Saichon Paewsoongnern


NEWS
HEADLINES [click on headline to view story]:

His Majesty the King grants highest honour to late HRH Princess Galyani Vadhana

Chiang Mai Governor issues public order prohibiting burning

Canadian tourist shot dead

Saowaluk Promsorn crowned Miss Chiang Mai

PTT set to cut retail fuel prices if global oil price continues to fall

Global warming is top science news in 2007

EGAT reinstates hydro-electric dam construction plans

A unique dance performance in Chiang Mai

New U.S. Ambassador arrives in Thailand

Prime Minister visits Chiang Rai

Armed pirate attacks yacht moored near Kata Beach

Latest Malaysian drive-by robbery tactics use Samurai swords and eggs

Heavy fog disrupts Suvarnabhumi air traffic

 

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 young.
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 peace forever.
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

Staff reporters
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 the province.
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

Staff reporter
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 Fuen.
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
and runners-up.

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 per barrel.
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 Kiev.
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 named “Discovery.”
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

U.S. Embassy’s
Information
Resource Center

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 King.
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, 2007.
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

Staff reporters
Prime Minister Gen. Surayud Chulanont visited Chiang Rai recently to preside over the opening of a bio-diesel refinery at Viroon Business Administration College.
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

Staff reporters
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 police station.


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. (TNA)



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