Vol. VII No. 5 - Tuesday
January 29, - February 4, 2008



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by Saichon Paewsoongnern


NEWS
HEADLINES [click on headline to view story]:

Newly elected parliament convenes after 2-year hiatus

Further report confirms new bird flu outbreak

Blacklisted members of major drugs ring arrested in Chiang Mai

40,000 Thai youngsters addicted to inhalants

Protest Rally held at Chiang Mai City Hall by Night Safari employees

New Speaker of the House still suspected of vote fraud

Fatal accident on Superhighway kills three

Communities close to CM Airport complain about noise levels

National Agenda resolution aims to promote happiness

 

Newly elected parliament convenes after 2-year hiatus

Sutin Wannabovorn
Bangkok (AP) - Many key allies of Thailand’s deposed Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra returned to active political duty Monday as the country’s lower house of parliament convened for its first session since a 2006 military coup.
HRH Crown Prince Vajiralongkorn presided over the opening ceremony of the House of Representatives with a brief speech urging lawmakers to restore stability after two years of political tension and uncertainty.
“Your task is to run the country with reason and rightness, keeping in mind that the stability and security of the nation is paramount,” he said, adding a call for reconciliation.
Parliament’s official work began Tuesday when lawmakers nominated a speaker of the house. The selection of a prime minister was scheduled for yesterday (Monday).
Thai politics have been turbulent since early 2006, when large protests in the capital began demanding that Thaksin step down because of alleged corruption and abuse of power.
His ousting by a Sept. 19, 2006 coup failed to restore stability, even though a military-installed interim government pursued efforts to erase Thaksin’s political legacy, largely by filing cases of corruption against him in the courts.
But the country remains polarized between the former prime minister’s detractors and supporters, as dramatically illustrated by last month’s parliamentary election, in which a party aligned with Thaksin emerged with the greatest number of seats, giving it the right to form a new government.
Thailand has not had an elected legislature since February 24, 2006, when Thaksin dissolved the parliament and called snap elections in an effort to halt the street protests calling for his ousting. But the April polls were boycotted by the opposition and later nullified by the courts as undemocratic.
Thaksin remains popular among the rural majority who benefited from his populist policies and voted heavily in favor of his allies in the People’s Power Party at the Dec. 23 polls, the first since the coup.
The imminent installation of an elected government in Thailand may bring some short-term calm to Thailand’s tumultuous political scene, but few expect it to last.
A six-party coalition led by the pro-Thaksin People’s Power Party controls about two-thirds of the 480 seats in the House and is expected to form the new government. The Democrat Party, which won 165 seats, will be the sole opposition voice.
The PPP plans to nominate longtime Thaksin confidant Yongyuth Tiyapairat as house speaker, the party’s secretary-general, Surapong Suebwonglee, said Sunday.
Yongyuth is currently under investigation for vote-buying during the elections, and the Election Commission has said he will lose his seat in the parliament if he is found guilty.
Yongyuth held several posts under Thaksin, including government spokesman and environment minister. He also served as one of Thaksin’s top advisers.
The PPP is widely regarded as a front for Thaksin - who was prime minister from 2001-2006 - and his dissolved Thai Rak Thai party. The PPP has vowed to reinstate the populist policies that won Thaksin widespread support in the countryside.
Much of the tension now is focused on the prospect of Thaksin’s return from exile, which he has vowed will take place by April. Thaksin, a tycoon-turned-politician, has spent the past 16 months living in Hong Kong and England, where he owns the Manchester City soccer club.

 

Further report confirms new bird flu outbreak

Authorities take stringent measures to contain spread of virus

Chickens from a village in Thailand’s northern province of Phichit have died and laboratory tests on samples have indicated the presence of an H5 variant of the avian influenza virus. At present, a closer identification could not be determined. The new outbreak occurred only a day after the potentially deadly disease was detected in poultry in nearby Nakhon Sawan province. Preechan Ruanchan, the governor of Phichit province, said the remaining poultry in the village would be destroyed, in order to prevent the spread of the disease. Check points have been set up on provincial roads to prevent the transportation of birds without authorisation by veterinarians.
All vehicles moving between Ban Mun Nak and Chum Saeng districts are being sprayed with disinfectant. Officials in several provinces, including Bangkok, are on high alert since the re-emergence of the virus.
Both in Udon Thani and in the Khlong Khlung district of Kamphaeng Phet, livestock and health workers have renewed drills intended to inform local residents of the procedures necessary to contain and prevent further outbreaks. Villagers have been told to immediately report bird deaths to the authorities, and have been instructed in the correct methods of disposal. In Nakhon Sawan, the culling of 40,000 birds has had to be postponed for one day due to heavy rain. In Bangkok, the governor, Apirak Kosayodhin has ordered officials to coordinate with the Livestock Development Department as regards monitoring unexplained poultry deaths.
Senior Public Health Ministry officials, led by permanent secretary Praj Boonyawongvirot, visited the quarantined farm last Friday. They also visited a hospital, where health officials are closely monitoring 13 patients suspected of having contracted the avian influenza virus. The monitoring will continue for at least two weeks. (TNA)


Blacklisted members of major drugs ring arrested in Chiang Mai

Undercover police trap wanted men

Lao-U Sae Yang and Thongchai Sae Cha, both residents of Chiang Mai,
were detained at Suan Luang Rama 9 Park on Chotana Road, Chiang Mai,
where they were found to be in possession of 4,000 Ya-E pills.

Saksit Meesubkwang
A combined anti-drug operation spanning the north of Thailand and the Thai/Myanmar/Chinese border area was successfully concluded on January 16 with the arrest in Chiang Mai of two major blacklisted drugs smugglers. Lao-U Sae Yang and Thongchai Sae Cha, both residents of Chiang Mai, were detained at Suan Luang Rama 9 Park on Chotana Road, Chiang Mai, where they were found to be in possession of 4,000 Ya-E pills, a form of the illegal drug ecstasy. Both men are of Thai nationality, but are of ethnic Chinese Haw heritage, and were on the Office of Narcotics Control Board’s blacklist of major wanted criminals. They had evaded capture by the police on several previous occasions.
Earlier, undercover police officers had contacted the pair and requested a supply of 4,000 Ya-E pills, at a cost of 1.6 million baht. The drugs were to be delivered to Suan Luang Rama 9 Park on Chotana Road on January 16. At the same time, police organised a surveillance operation in order to track the criminals as they approached the agreed rendevous. On arrival at the Chotana 1 Esso station on Chotana Road, one man went to the toilets, picked up a bag from under a garbage pail, and placed it in the car, which was then driven to the meeting point. On arrival, both men were arrested by waiting police officers. A search of the car revealed the 4,000 Ya-E pills.
On investigation, it was found that the two men had distributed illegal drugs in the Chiang Dao district, and were connected with ethnic Chinese drugs gangs in Chaiprakharn district, Chiang Mai and Pai district, Mae Hong Son. They had also been heavily involved in the transfer of drugs between Chiang Mai and Bangkok, and will be charged with possession of narcotics intended for distribution.
Commissioner Pol. Lt. Gen. Theerasak Chukitkhun reported that this arrest had been the most important in the current war on drugs in the area, and that it would be expanded in order to pursue and arrest the two men’s accomplices. It was noted that the drugs has been smuggled into Thailand using the Thai/Myanmar/Chinese border area, as army and police activities along the Malaysian border had increased the risk of detection of smugglers.


40,000 Thai youngsters addicted to inhalants

New law to be introduced

At least 40,000 young Thais, mostly from poor families, are addicted to breathing inhalants, with the illegal use of these substances ranking third among addictive drugs use in Thailand, an anti-narcotics official said last Friday.
The Deputy Director General of the Narcotics Control and Suppression Board, Pitaya Jinawat, said that young people are easily lured to inhalant use due to its cheap price. The substance is widely distributed and authorities are not sufficiently informed about the dangers of its illegal use to be able to crack down on its sale and consumption. Police are avoiding arresting addicts, because of the time involved in sending them for rehabilitation, and many hospital and rehabilitation centres will not admit addicted youngsters for treatment. Pitaya called on traders to show responsibility by helping to control the sale of inhalants to young people, and also appealed to the business sector to seriously consider employing rehabilitated inhalant addicts.
A new law will be introduced in July this year which will amend the Inhalant Prevention Act in order to impose harsher penalties against those selling inhalants to young people. It will also allow addicts to undergo medical treatment before an indictment, and raises the age at which youngsters will be allowed to buy the substances from 17 to 18 years. However, Pitaya admitted that it would be easy for addicts under the age of 18 to obtain the substances through their older peers. (TNA)


Protest Rally held at Chiang Mai City Hall by Night Safari employees

More than 200 demonstrate against violation of their human rights

Saksit Meesubkwang
More than 200 employees of the Night Safari demonstrated in front of Chiang Mai City Hall on January 20 against a decision by the Cabinet to transfer the Night Safari from the Special Zones Development Organisation for Sustainable Tourism to the Zoological Organisation of Thailand and to establish a company for the purpose in which the government is the sole shareholder.
The demonstrators believe that the objectives of the Zoological Organisation run contrary to those of the Night Safari and will as a result limit marketing opportunities and hamper administration. They also state that the transfer of employees without their agreement is in breach of their human rights as stated in Article 26 of the Constitution. If their protests are not taken seriously, the employees insist that they will organise further demonstrations and may also submit their resignations. A letter to be passed to the Prime Minister was handed to the Deputy Chiang Mai Governor, Phairoj Saengphuvong, by the Director of the Night Safari, Upatharn Bhavaphutanont na Mahasarakham, together with a request to the Cabinet to cancel the order of transfer.
The Director of the Zoological Organisation of Thailand, Sophon Khamnui, stated that a resolution of the matter had not yet been reached as it was at present under discussion by the review committee, after which it would be presented to the Cabinet.
Assets of the Night Safari are being audited and the transfer itself is being studied. The Zoological Organisation is part of the Ministry of Natural Resources and the Environment, and would therefore emphasis care of the animals as its first priority.


New Speaker of the House still suspected of vote fraud

Appointment of Yongyuth Tiyapairat has Royal approval

Last Thursday, a member of parliament from the People Power Party, Yongyuth Tiyapairat, was appointed by Royal command to the position of Speaker of the House.
In accordance with Thai law, Yongyuth will concurrently become the Speaker of Parliament. The Royal command also appointed the two deputy speakers, Somsak Kiatsuranond and Col. Apiwan Viriyachai, also MP’s from the People’s Power Party.
Yongyuth will perform his duties as speaker for the first time in the yet to be convened first session of the new parliament, during which the new Prime Minister will be elected. The leader of the PPP, Samak Sunderavej, is the strong favourite for the post.
However, Prapan Naiyakowit of the Election Commission has said that the investigation into Yongyuth’s allegedly fraudulent actions will continue despite his new appointment. He is accused of allegedly bribing officials in his home province of Chiang Rai to ensure that they helped in his campaign. According to Prapan, the Election Commission have followed the correct procedures and duty of care in deciding whether a winning candidate should take his seat in parliament. He is quoted as having said,” It is not a matter of the Election Commission’s indecisiveness, as charged by another politician. It is merely a matter of evidence.” He also pointed out that even if an MP has assumed a Cabinet post or other position, investigations must continue. If they result in a guilty verdict in the Supreme Court, resignation is mandatory. Five successful candidates have at present yet to be endorsed by the EC.
Traditionally, voting for a new Prime Minister is done on a “roll call” basis with each MP standing to announce “yes” or “no” to the proposed candidate. The PM must be elected by at least half of the total MP’s. The Lower House is composed of 480 seats. (TNA)


Fatal accident on Superhighway kills three

Speeding driver caused crash, then runs away

Saksit Meesubkwang
A fatal accident occurred on January 17 on the westbound carriageway of the Superhighway near Patun Bridge, killing three people and causing further impacts and injuries to other motorists in the immediate area.

A fatal accident occurred on January 17 on the westbound carriageway of the Superhighway near Patun Bridge, killing three people and causing further impacts and injuries to other motorists in the immediate area.

Police were immediately on the scene, and reported a demolished Honda City containing the three dead, Pud Chomjai, 48, Paohom Chomjai, 27, and Jammia Lunglod, 47. The fourth occupant of the car, Kuang-U Chomjai, had already been taken to a nearby hospital with back injuries.
Witnesses reported that a Toyota Vigo being driven at a dangerously high speed had approached from the direction of the Highway 118 junction. Having reached the end of the bridge, it lost control and swerved 3 metres across the road to the left, then crossed over to the right hand lane, smashing into or landing on the Honda City, killing three of its occupants instantly. The Vigo sustained minor damage, and the driver, apparently only slightly injured, fled the scene during the ensuing confusion.
Police are tracing the owner of the vehicle through its license plates.
Several other cars which had been following the Honda City were also involved, with two more people sustaining injuries requiring hospital treatment as a result. The accident blocked the road, causing a traffic jam from the Juvenile Court Building to the new Kiang Singh intersection. This part of the Superhighway is a “black spot” for accidents, fatal or otherwise, and it has been suggested that the design and engineering of the bridge itself is faulty and therefore responsible. It has also been suggested that local people should erect a shrine at the site, in order to house and protect against the spirits that are causing the accidents.


Communities close to CM Airport complain about noise levels

Damage to buildings causes concern

Saksit Meesubkwang
Following a number of reports from local residents of noise pollution and damage to property in areas adjacent to Chiang Mai International Airport, pollution control offices visited homes in Ban Nimman Noradee to take measurements of the noise levels occurring during take-off and landing of the 70 plus flights per day at present taking place.
Written complaints have been submitted to the relevant authorities, particularly concerning the landing of international flights from 2a.m. onwards, as these involve large aircraft and therefore increased levels of noise. 90% of flights on a daily basis either take off or land in the southern area of the airport, adjacent to Ban Nimman Noradee. Complaints have also been made of damage to roofs due to the combination of upward air pressure under a plane’s wing and the extra turbulence caused by the extended and lowered flaps necessary for landing.
Noise pollution data will be compiled, and if it exceeds the maximum legal limit of 70 decibels, the issue will be taken up with the Environment Protection Committee who will carry out further tests and simulations. It is hoped that a solution will be found; however, noise levels and damage will surely increase when the Airbus A380, the largest aircraft in the world, comes into service.


National Agenda resolution aims to promote happiness

“Giving is a resource for happiness”, states H.M. the King

Saksit Meesubkwang
At a Cabinet meeting late last year, a resolution was passed in honour of His Majesty the King’s 80th birthday, which set up a National Agenda to be inaugurated on January 30, 2008. This National Agenda will invite all people in the Kingdom, its government and private organisations and the general public, to cooperate to support society and so promote happiness. HM the King himself, stating his initiatives for the New Year, noted that “Giving is a resource for happiness. Both the giver and the receiver are happy, both have will power and are united; this brings about happiness throughout the nation.”

On behalf of the Social Development and Human Security Office, its Assistant Chief, Itthisak Srisukho, invites all residents of Chiang Mai to make sacrifices for the benefit of society.

On behalf of the Social Development and Human Security Office, its Assistant Chief, Itthisak Srisukho, invites all residents of Chiang Mai to make sacrifices for the benefit of society, to provide support for impoverished people, and to address and try to solve the present problems within society without receiving any personal benefits as a result. These actions will expand to make a valuable contribution towards creating moral principles, and to the encouragement of good deeds, good behaviour and good thought. In this manner, all people will be helping to create a better, happier, society throughout the Kingdom, and also, by their actions, will be honouring the 60th year of His Majesty’s reign and his 80th birthday.



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