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HEADLINES [click on headline to view story]:

Chiang Mai hosts Primary Public Health Care Seminar

Prosecutors asked by DSI to formally charge Thaksin’s wife and two others

200,000 Ya Ba amphetamine pills seized in raid

Rotary Club presents certificates to volunteers

Extortion attempt results in arrest

Karen soldiers arrested 3 kilometers inside the Thai border

Massive fall in wholesale prices causes onion growers’ protest

US resumes military aid to Thailand as promised

Government to present its policies to House of Representatives on Feb 18

Local election candidates attend City Municipality

Motorcycle thieves arrested and charged

Ex-PM Thaksin to return before May, states new Foreign Minister

Provincial Police Bureau Region 5 to get new offices

 

Chiang Mai hosts Primary Public Health Care Seminar

HRH Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn opens and chairs discussions on basic services

Staff Reporter
A recent international seminar on primary public health care held at the Lotus Pang Suan Kaew Hotel between February 4-6, was graciously opened and chaired by Her Royal Highness Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn. The seminar, hosted by the Nursing Faculty of Chiang Mai University in cooperation with 7 international universities, was funded by the Medical Board of China, the universities involved, the Office of Universities Committee, and the World Health Organisation. 600 delegates from more than 30 countries attended and were welcomed. The involved international universities were John Hopkins University, USA, the Universities of Seattle, Washington, Michigan and Harbor, the UK University of Southampton, the Western University of Australia, and the Yamakushi University, Japan.

 

Prosecutors asked by DSI to formally charge Thaksin’s wife and two others

Investigations concluded, charges filed

Thailand’s Department of Special Investigation asked prosecutors on Friday to formally charge the ousted prime minister’s wife, Pojaman Shinawatra, and two executives with asset concealment involving SC Asset Corp, a listed firm on the Stock Exchange of Thailand. Pornchai Assawawattanaporn, deputy director-general of the DSI, in his capacity as chief investigator on the case, submitted evidence to the prosecutor concerning the three defendants, Pojaman, and two female executives of SC Asset Corp. Both the female executives are relatives of the former first lady and her husband. Another defendant, deposed prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra is still living in self-imposed exile overseas after his government was toppled in a bloodless coup on Sept 19, 2006. The court had earlier issued an arrest warrant for him. The prosecutor allowed Pojaman to use her earlier posted bail amounting to 2 million baht cash.
Pornchai said that all investigators on the case were now of the opinion that charges could be filed against the defendants. He was confident that the evidence which had been submitted was sufficient to bring the accused persons to trial.
Meanwhile, Sunai Manomai-udom, director-general of DSI, said that the investigators had believed since late last year that all the four defendants should be able to face prosecution. When asked whether the DSI was afraid of a possible intervention in the case by the newly appointed Justice Minister Sompong Amornwiwat, (a close associate of Thaksin), Sunai stated that the DSI had concluded its investigations and had decided to file charges against the suspects one day after the new Minister takes the portfolio. This strategy meant that Sompong could not intervene.
Subsequently, the accused have now been charged with concealing their shares in SC Assets, a listed property developer, thus violating the Securities and Exchange Act. (TNA)


200,000 Ya Ba amphetamine pills seized in raid

Gunfight results in death and injury

Saksit Meesubkwang and Staff Reporter
A recent tip-off to the Infantry Special Operations unit 17 based in Mae Hong Son resulted in the seizing of 200, 000 Ya Ba pills following a gunfight in the deep jungle of Wiang Haeng district, Chiang Mai province, in which at least one drug smuggler was killed and several injured.
A report of the incident was sent in to Wiang Haeng Police offices, resulting in an inspection of the area by helicopter which revealed the corpse of a Lisu man, weapons scattered around the scene, and trails of blood leading into the jungle.
It transpired that, upon receiving the tip-off, troops had been sent to the area to confront and arrest the smugglers; however, when soldiers intercepted the drugs caravan, a member of the gang began shooting. A ten minute exchange of fire followed, ending when the gang retreated into the forest. Troops subsequently searched the immediate area, finding a dead body and the 200,000Ya Ba pills. A further investigation was carried out later in the day; it was, however, brief, as there were concerns about the smugglers returning in the dark to seek revenge.

A report of the incident was sent in to Wiang Haeng Police offices, resulting in an inspection of the area by helicopter which revealed the 200,000Ya Ba pills, the corpse of a Lisu man, weapons scattered around the scene, and trails of blood leading into the jungle.


Rotary Club presents certificates to volunteers

277 weirs built up as part of construction project

Saksit Meesubkwang
At the January 29 meeting of the Rotary Club of Lanna Chiangmai, held at the Royal Peninsula Hotel, the club’s president, Chuntanee Tienvichit, presented certificates of honour to a number of volunteers who had participated in a weirs reconstruction project.

Chuntanee Tienvichit, president of the Rotary Club of Lanna.

 The project itself, initiated in honour of HM the King’s 80th birthday, and on his suggestion, aimed to slow down the water flow in local rivers in order to create permanently moist soil conditions in which trees would flourish.
The Rotary Club of Lanna Chiangmai was responsible for erecting 277 weirs over a large area comprising Chiang Mai, Lamphun, Lampang, Chiang Rai and Phitsanulok. The allocated budget for the work was 2,357,930 baht, all of which was donated by local and international Rotary Clubs. The presentation ceremony was chaired by Sakchai Jorplit, Chiang Mai Muang District chief, and awardees included local volunteers and students from Mae Jo, Chiang Mai and the private universities.

The presentation of the certificates created a happy atmosphere at the meeting.


Extortion attempt results in arrest

Careless criminal caught by stainless steel flask

Staff reporter
A report of an extremely unpleasant and threatening experience finally resulted in police apprehending and charging a Pakistani national, Ahmed Jamil.
On February 1, Inkana Tittisophakul and her son had just parked at the Jusco petrol station on the Lampang-Kho Ka road, when a man opened her car door, got in, and tried to force her to buy 15 Labor wristwatches. When she protested that she had no money, the man grabbed and searched her handbag, removing 4,300 baht and her credit cards. She pleaded with him to take the cash and leave the credit cards; he agreed and having threatened to kill Inkana and her son if they called for help, left the car. As he was leaving he picked up Inkana’s stainless steel flask. She immediately filed a complaint with police and gave a full description of the man.
On February 2, officers of the Thoen Highway Police spotted the suspect, apprehended him, and contacted Lampang police to request identification by the victim. Inkana identified the suspect as her assailant; he was then arrested. Evidence seized included a sum of 4,200 baht in cash, 15 Labor wristwatches, a Chevrolet truck and Inkana’s stainless steel flask!


Karen soldiers arrested 3 kilometers inside the Thai border

Khajohn Boonpath
in Mae Hong Son

An incident which occurred last week along the Thai/Myanmar border would seem to signal that more attacks on Karen peoples and their soldiers in the area by the Myanmar military are imminent.
The incident involved a number of Karen soldiers who, complete with their weapons and ammunition, wandered into Thai territory by mistake whilst they were trying to reach the Karen military base at Yamu. They had apparently been ordered to Yamu from their base at Matai as reinforcements following a report of increased Myanmar troop movements in the area, usually a sign of an imminent increase in hostilities. The Karen soldiers were arrested on February 6 at Ban Huaykaewlang, Muang Mae Hong Son, 3 kilometers inside the Thai border, by a group of 6 volunteer border guards. They were then escorted to Nampiangdin Police Station for further questioning, and were charged with illegally entering into a town whilst carrying munitions.
It was later revealed that army engineers from the Myanmar Military Logistics Unit had been observed surveying the approach road to the Yamu base, again a sign of imminent hostilities, and that 2 Myanmar Army division had been sent to an area adjacent to Yamu base, positioning themselves opposite the base itself. Maj.Gen. Bee Tu, the commander of the Karreni National Progressive Party, (to which organisation the soldiers belonged), stated that the incident had been a trespassing accident into Thai territory without intent to break Thai law.
Subsequently, it was reported that the Myanmar authorities had ordered 1,000 civilians to transport heavy weapons in order to provide support for the Myanmar Military front line. As a result, some civilians have already fled into Thai territory.


Massive fall in wholesale prices causes onion growers’ protest

Farmers making losses on crop

Saksit Meesubkwang and Staff Reporter
Recently, more than 200 local farmers whose main cash crop is onions, lobbied the Chiang Mai Provincial Commerce office at the Chiang Mai City Hall in order to protest against the fall in the wholesale price of their crops from 7-8 baht per kilo last year to the present price of 2-2.50 baht per kilo. The farmers, from the Ban Kad, Don Pao Mae Wang and San Patong districts, are requesting assistance and support for their market, and asked that the authority set a price close to that of last year as, at present, growers are making a loss on their produce.
This problem seems to have arisen as a result of the Provincial Agriculture Resolution Committee’s decision to give financial assistance of 11,000 baht each to growers of onions in the area. This led to a glut of onions on the market, causing the price per kilo to fall, as more and more farmers took advantage of the offer and registered their crop. More than 20,000 tons of onions have since been cultivated in the affected areas.
A report on the situation was given to the chief administrator of the Provincial Commerce Office, Wairak Walairat, who stated that he would submit it to the correct authorities. The Chiang Mai Provincial Authority has called a meeting of their working committee in order to determine how assistance can be offered to the growers; it is possible that foreign markets can be sought for the excess crops, and that imports of onions may be blocked.

More than 200 local farmers whose main cash crop is onions, lobbied the Chiang Mai Provincial Commerce office at the Chiang Mai City Hall in order to protest against the fall in the wholesale price of their crops from 7-8 baht per kilo last year to the present price of 2-2.50 baht per kilo.


US resumes military aid to Thailand as promised

Warm relations between the two countries now restored

The United States’s military aid to its close ally Thailand, suspended following the September 19 bloodless coup in 2006 which toppled the elected government and replaced it with the military, is now resumed as the new democratically elected government has been installed, the US ambassador to Thailand Eric John said on Thursday. Washington’s financial aid to the Thai military, including military training and hardware, will now be resumed.
The US President, George W. Bush, suspended around US$35 million in military aid to Thailand after the Thai Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra was ousted in the coup. Two senior US officials, including Christopher Hill, Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific Affairs, will visit Bangkok late this month to help advance bilateral relations. Several other senior officials plan to come to Thailand later this year on a visit aimed at boosting diplomatic relationships, now of 175 years’ standing, between the two nations.
The move to restore US military aid to Thailand came after the newly appointed Thai Prime Minister Samak Sundaravej led his cabinet ministers in the taking of oaths before His Majesty King Bhumibol Adulyadej on Wednesday. The democratically elected government began working on Thursday.
Touching on free trade agreement talks between the two countries, stalled before the coup, the US ambassador said the US-Thailand FTA negotiations are based on mutual benefits to the two countries, and it is too soon to say when the talks would resume. Nonetheless, the USA remains the largest market for Thai exports.
When asked how Washington could assist the Thai government in solving the continuing violence in the restive South, Mr. John stated that he was aware that the Thai people wish to achieve a peaceful solution and to have good relations with Malaysia. The USA, he affirmed, does not want to get involved. Some 2,800 people have been killed in the three troubled southern Thai provinces, (Pattani, Yala and Narathiwat), since the renewed insurgent violence broke out in early January 2004. (TNA)


Government to present its policies to House of Representatives on Feb 18

HM the King’s “sufficiency economy” will remain a vital component

The Deputy Prime Minister, Surapong Suebwonglee, said on Friday that Thailand’s new coalition government will present its policy package to members of the House of Representatives, (the Lower House), on February 18. Surapong, who is also the finance minister, said that the new government, which finally took office on Thursday, would use its budget expenditure, together with monetary and fiscal policies and plans, to boost the confidence of local and foreign investors in order to jump start the Thai economy. The 36-member Cabinet has appointed Somchai Wongsawat, deputy prime minister and also education minister, to chair a committee assigned to draft the government’s policy.
Somchai will work closely with key ministers and senior officials of the National Economic and Social Development Board, the Budget Bureau and related government agencies to draft the policy, which will address concerns about social, economic, security and environmental issues. All the officials concerned will discuss ways to boost the democratic system in the country. Surapong said that the sufficiency economy philosophy initiated by His Majesty the King remains a vital part of the new government’s policy. (TNA)


Local election candidates attend City Municipality

4 political parties represented in contest

On February 4, all candidates who are standing in the upcoming local elections arrived at Chiang Mai Municipality to take part in the drawing of the numbers which will be allocated to them for use on voting forms.

Saksit Meesubkwang
On February 4, all candidates who are standing in the upcoming local elections arrived at Chiang Mai Municipality to take part in the drawing of the numbers which will be allocated to them for use on voting forms. A total of 4 factions, (parties), will contest the election; these are the Chang Ngarn faction, the Palang Chiang Mai faction, the Palang Mai faction and the Khon Chiang Mai faction.
Results of the draw, announced later, were that the Chang Ngarn faction led by the former deputy mayor, Chatree Chuamnocha drew nos. 1-6; the Khon Chiang Mai faction, led by the present mayor, Dr. Duentemduang na Chiengmai, drew nos.7-12; the Palang Chiang Mai faction, led by Wipawan Worawutpongchai, drew nos. 13-18, and the Palang Mai faction, led by Pisut Thongsawat, drew nos. 19-24. Pisut, a local businessman, was presented as a candidate only in the Sriwichai constitution zone.
The Chiang Mai Municipality is divided into 4 zones, comprising Kawila district, (from the east side of the River Ping to the railway station area); Nakhonping district, (the night bazaar, Thapae Gate and Chiang Mai Gate area,); Mengrai district, (Chang Puak and Rajabhat University area), and Sriwichai district, (Maharaj Nakhon Chiang Mai Hospital and Chiang Mai University area). Local councillors usually serve a term of four years in office, ending on February 1.
The mayor of Chiang Mai Municipality is elected in a separate contest, and controls an enormous administrative budget. As a result, major political parties and businesses submit candidates in the local elections, in order to benefit from the arrangement.


Motorcycle thieves arrested and charged

Pol. Lt. General Theerasak Chukitkhun views the stolen motorcycles
and questions the criminals as to the timescale of their operation.

Saksit Meesubkwang
A gang of four motorcycle thieves were arrested on February 1, and charged with being accomplices in stealing or receiving stolen items, stated Pol. Col. Montree Sambunyanon, the Deputy Commander of the Provincial Police Investigative Bureau in Region 5. The four accused, Kamnung Lahpuak, 31, Wiwat Saewong, 23, Apidet Itthichai, 20 and Polawat, 19, were apprehended with 3 Yamaha motorbikes reported as stolen from the San Sai and Muang districts of Chiang Mai. The four men had been stealing motorcycles from parking lots in town and at department stores, hostels, bars and restaurants in both areas using copied keys. They would then retouch and re-spray the machines, and distribute them to accomplices to sell along the Thai/Myanmar border, centering on Mae Sot, Tak province. Police are expanding the operation to include the border area, in the hope that they will be able to apprehend the receivers of the stolen motorcycles. When questioned, individual members of the gang admitted to already having stolen more than 20 bikes.


Ex-PM Thaksin to return before May, states new Foreign Minister

New legal team to later reveal exact date of arrival

The Thai Foreign Minister Noppadon Pattama, previously ex-Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra’s legal advisor, stated on Friday that the deposed Prime Minister is likely to return to Thailand before May, although the exact date of his arrival remains unknown. Noppadom said that he had received a congratulatory call from the ex-premier on Thursday which also gave him personal advice on a proactive working strategy at the ministry, based on Thaksin’s past experience of the same Cabinet position. Thaksin’s new legal team is expected to announce later the exact date of his arrival in the Kingdom.
Khunying Pojaman, Thaksin’s wife, had earlier said her husband would return in May to fight charges in connection with her controversial land purchase scheme. Thaksin is facing criminal charges in the Supreme Court for allegedly abusing power while in office regarding the purchase in 2003 of a 772 million baht (US$26 million) plot of land in Bangkok’s Rachadapisek area. The former prime minister is accused of illegally influencing the deal and helping his wife purchase the government-owned parcel of land at a bargain price while he was in office. The ex-premier and his wife have denied any wrongdoing.
The foreign minister also gave assurances that he would not meddle with his ministry officials’ decisions regarding whether or not to return Thaksin’s diplomatic passport to him. “It’s a matter of their discretion as to who should receive the ‘red passport’“, he stated. “However, I believe in fair treatment for all.”
Thaksin, who remains in self-imposed exile mainly in London, UK after being toppled by a bloodless military coup on Sept 19, 2006, had his diplomatic passport revoked last year, and is the only former PM to whom this has happened. The Foreign Ministry gave at the time no clear explanation for its decision. (TNA)


Provincial Police Bureau Region 5 to get new offices

Claims that original premises were causing floods in the city

Saksit Meesubkwang
On February 2, the National Police Chief, Pol. Gen. Seripisuth Temiyavej, visited the new site for the Region 5 Provincial Police Bureau, which is to be located on 300 rai of land adjacent to Mae Jo University in San Sai district.

The National Police Chief, Pol. Gen. Seripisuth Temiyavej, visited the new site for the Region 5 Provincial Police Bureau, which is to be located on 300 rai of land adjacent to Mae Jo University in San Sai district.

The build will start immediately, as a budget of 170 million baht has already been approved, and the new headquarters should be ready for use within a year. It will house not only the Provincial Police offices, but also those of the Border Police, the Tourist Police, the Highway Police, the Railway Police, and the Immigration Police. After the build is complete, there will be enough land remaining to provide a building for the Operations Unit, and also a police weapons training field.
The reason behind the relocation of the Provincial Police offices from Muang to the new site was the possibility that the old buildings were causing an obstruction to a nearby waterway, increasing the likelihood of flooding in the city during heavy rain. Various remedies had been tried; none of which were successful, leaving the move to the new site, originally belonging to the Government’s Tobacco manufactory, as the only option.