Onion growers’ protest
at City Hall turns violent
Access road to be blocked by piles of onions
Following the recent presentation of a petition to the local
authority by local onion growers, (reported last week in this newspaper),
news that negotiations on their behalf had failed has resulted in the
farmers making further protests.
Growers had requested that, as they were losing money on their crops due to
a glut of onions on the market, a higher price be fixed. A proposition made
by the local authority that each grower should destroy his crop on half a
rai of land and receive compensation of 11,000 baht was rejected. The
growers demanded that one rai’s crop should be destroyed, and that they
should receive 22,000 baht compensation. This was finally rejected by the
On February 11, whilst the above was under discussion, 1000 protesters had
gathered outside Chiang Mai City Hall, bringing with them a large quantity
of their produce, which they piled at the entrance to City Hall, thus
preventing access to and from the building. Farmers stated their case
through a powerful amplification system, and were subsequently told that an
answer would be given that afternoon, when officials had returned from their
lunch! By 1.30 pm an answer had not been received, at which point a group of
protestors tried to rush the office of the Governor. Security guards
intervened, and a fight ensued. No injuries were reported.
Subsequently, the Deputy Governor of Chiang Mai, Phairoj Saengpoowong, who
had been chairing the meeting, announced to the protestors that their
increased demands for compensation and destruction of crops would not be
met. As a result of this announcement, the protestors became angry, and made
their position very clear by shouting profanities at Phairoj. They later
announced that they would be taking their protest to Bangkok and placing it
before the Thai Prime Minister, and that they were prepared to continue
protesting and blocking the access road to Mae Wang District until their
claims were met.
Mystery shooting of Canadian
doctor puzzles police
Tourist trip ends in emergency operation
Canadian tourist Dr. Erik Griffioen and his wife Elizabeth, also a
doctor, were looking forward to an enjoyable experience as the tour
company’s song taew picked them up from a first class hotel in Chiang Mai.
They had planned a full day out including rafting, elephant rides, and a
jungle tour in Mae Wang. Unfortunately, their dream tour turned into a
nightmare as, without any warning, the 49 year old Dr. Erik was shot in the
back as the song taew approached Charoen Muang Road through a small soi.
song taew mini bus that picked up Erik and Elizabeth.
Realising that her husband was badly hurt, Elizabeth immediately alerted the
driver of the song taew, who drove to the nearby McCormick Hospital. Dr.
Erik was admitted, the wound was declared serious, and an emergency
operation was performed.
Police at Mae Ping Station, after having informed the Canadian Consulate of
the shooting, went to the scene, but could find no weapon, nor any trace of
an explanation of the incident. They concluded that Dr. Erik had probably
been hit by a stray bullet during an altercation, but were unable to
Medical staff at McCormick Hospital have since confirmed that the emergency
operation was successful and that Dr. Erik’s condition is stable.
crisis levels in
500 villages affected -
“zoning” may provide solution
Zoning of districts in Chiang Mai province is being implemented as a
measure to cope with the increasing problem of drought in the area,
designated as a disaster zone since November last year. At that time, the
Governor of Chiang Mai, Wibun Sa-nguanphong, ordered all districts to
closely monitor the situation.
On February 12, the Chief of Chiang Mai Public Relief and Disaster
Prevention, Prachon Pratchayasakul, stated that the drought in 2008 is
harsher than in the previous year and is at crisis level in the most
affected areas, due mainly to low water levels in the reservoirs at the
beginning of the dry season. More than 500 villages in 16 districts of the
province are at present seriously affected by a lack of adequate water
Special Operations Centres are being set up in each zone by the Chiang Mai
Provincial Authority in order to co-ordinate efforts to relieve the
situation, to make regular reports, and to work closely with each other to
determine solutions. Responsibility for zoning will be divided and
precautions will be closely monitored.
Zone A will consist of Muang, Doi Saket, San Sai, San Kampaeng and Mae On
districts; Zone B of Hang Dong, San Patong, Samoeng, Mae Wang and Sarapee.
Zone C will contain Chormthong, Hot, Doi Lor, Mae Chaem, Om-Koi and Doi Tao,
whilst Zone D will consist of Mae Rim, Mae Taeng, Chiang Dao and Phrao. Zone
E will hold Fang, Mae Ai, Chaiprakarn and Wiang Haeng.
Intel sponsors Thai students for Intel
ISEF, world’s largest science competition
5 winning students to participate in international Science Fair
Natha Boonprasit(3rd right), Public Relations
Manager, Intel Microelectronics (Thailand) Ltd. congratulates the young
scientists Intel is sponsoring to participate in the 59th Intel ISEF
competition in Atlanta, USA in May 2008. The students are Boonyarit
Somrealvongkul (far right), grade 12 student from Mahidol Wittayanusorn
School; Ronnapee Chaichaowarat (2nd right), grade 12 student from Mahidol
Wittayanusorn School; Pheemadej Prasitwarawej (3rd left), grade 9 student
from Montfort College and Tanavorakit Bangkeaw (far left), grade 9 student
from Montfort College.
Bangkok, February 13 - To help Thailand develop the science skills of its
young people, Intel Microelectronics (Thailand) Ltd. is sponsoring five
young Thai students to participate in the 59th Intel® International Science
and Engineering Fair in Atlanta, Georgia, USA, running from May 11-17 this
The five students selected to be Thailand’s representatives at Intel’s ISEF
event are individual and team category winners of the recent Young Scientist
Competition in the Computer Science and Engineering Project. The competition
was held as a collaboration between the National Electronics and Computer
Technology Centre, the National Science and Technology Development Agency,
and the Thai Ministry of Science and Technology.
Three separate projects will form the basis for the Thai students’ 2008 ISEF
entries - two individual projects, both by Grade 12 students from Mahidol
Wittayanusorn School in Nakhorn Patong, and one team project developed by
grade 9 students at Montfort College, Chiang Mai.
‘Sound Analysis and Recognition System for musical instruments’ was
developed by Boonyarit Somrealvongkul and won the first prize in the
computer science category. ‘Measuring Curved Path’s Radius with a Modified
Motor Car’ took first prize in the engineering category, and was developed
by Ronnapee Chaichaowarat. These are the two individual entries. The third
project, selected from the team entries is ‘New Plywood Products from Weed
Flora,’ the first prize winner in the environmental science category
developed by Pheemadej Prasitwarawej, Tanavorakit Bangkeaw, and Manapas
Hararak, from Montfort College, Chiang Mai.
All five winners now have the opportunity to participate in the 59th Intel
International Science and Engineering Fair in the USA, the world’s only
international science fair for life sciences designed for students in grades
9 to 12. Over 1,500 of the brightest young scientists from across the globe
attend the fair every year, where they share ideas, showcase cutting-edge
science projects and compete for more than US$ 3 million in awards and
This is the eleventh consecutive year that Intel Microelectronics (Thailand)
has supported the YSC.CS & EN event. The competition is open to all Thai
students at high school or equivalent level with initiatives in science and
engineering. Students demonstrate their talents by presenting projects in
the national competition for selection to compete at the Intel ISEF
Bangkok traffic police to enforce mobile phone ban
Hands-free accessories permitted
The law prohibiting mobile phone use whilst driving will be enforced in
Bangkok from May 8, with digital cameras being used to monitor offenders.
Pol. Maj. Gen. Phanu Kerdlarpphol, deputy commissioner of the Metropolitan
Police Bureau, stated that the new law, which was published in the Royal
Gazette on February 8, would take effect three months from that date.
Violators will be subject to immediate arrest, and fines from 400 to 1,000
baht will be imposed. However, drivers are advised that the use of
hands-free devices is permissible. Drivers will be informed that they should
respect the new law, as it is central to the concept of road safety.
Speaker of the House denies electoral fraud and claims he was framed
“Conspiracy aims to have ruling party disbanded
by court action”
Speaker of the House Yongyuth Tiyapairat repeatedly dismissed allegations
that he had been involved in the bribing of local leaders in Chiang Rai
province where he contested a parliamentary seat under the People Power
Party banner. Yongyuth was quoted as saying he had been framed by a
conspiracy of unidentified people who aimed to have the ruling party
dissolved by court action.
Deputy PPP leader Kant Thiankaew distributed a statement made by Yongyuth in
Parliament and gave explanations in his defence. Yogurt was alleged to have
been involved in handing out 20,000 baht in cash to each of 10 sub-district
chiefs and village heads in exchange for votes from their villagers. Such
accusations, if proven, would unduly discredit and damage the Speaker as
well as the PPP itself. They would also confuse the public and divide
society, the deputy ruling party leader said. Kant pointed out that, until
the Supreme Court makes a final ruling on the case, Yongyuth is legally
considered innocent and is regarded as Speaker of the House as appointed.
The Election Commission is expected to pass a ruling on the electoral
rigging charges against Yongyuth next week and to forward the case to the
Supreme Court for final judgment if the Speaker is found guilty as charged.
Pol. Lt. Col. Kant said a person identified as Chaiwat Changkhaokham had
tricked local leaders into falsely testifying against Yongyuth to a
subcommittee of the Election Commission.
The local leaders had earlier been questioned by a group of police officers
led by the Deputy Special Branch Police Commissioner Pol. Maj-Gen. Chaiya
Siri-amphankul who, Kant said, was personally loyal to an unidentified
military officer known to have close connections with anti-Thaksin media
mogul Sonthi Limthongkul. Kant added that Chaiya had not only conspired with
others to damage Yongyuth and the PPP, but also that he had been well aware
of the doctoring of a maliciously circulated CD which groundlessly accused
the Speaker of electoral fraud. (TNA)
Thai Prime Minister to visit Laos on his first official trip abroad
Press reports of Thaksin Shinawatra’s
imminent return dismissed
Thai Prime Minister Samak Sundaravej may visit
neighbouring Laos on his first official trip abroad, tentatively scheduled
for later this month or early March, as part of the new government’s foreign
policy which aims to foster strong relations with neighbouring countries.
According to Foreign Minister Noppadon Pattama, the premier is emphasising
that the newly elected government’s foreign policy will focus on
strengthening bilateral relations with its neighbours in parallel with
adopting a proactive approach to international engagements.
Noppadon, the former legal advisor to Thaksin Shinawatra, mentioned that he
also would be attending the Association of South East Asian Nations’s
(ASEAN) ministerial meeting in Singapore on February 19 to meet with his
counterparts, but denied reports that he plans to meet with the former Prime
Minister in the city state.
He revealed that he has had private discussions with Thaksin by phone, at
which time the exiled former Prime Minister affirmed that he would return to
Thailand before May this year. Noppadon then dismissed press reports that
Thaksin was to return today, (Friday), stating regarding his visit to
Singapore, “Thaksin will probably have left the city state by the time I
It will be Noppadon’s first trip abroad since the former legal advisor of
the ousted premier took office as Foreign Minister. (TNA)
World Bank advisor visits Lampang’s OTOP scheme
Increase in range of products,
more aggressive marketing advised
Dr. John Eriksson, an advisor to the World Bank, paid a recent visit
to Lampang in order to provide advice on maximising the income generated
from the “One Tambon, One Product” scheme at present running in the
province. A meeting was held on February 11 at Lampang City Hall between Dr.
Eriksson and members of the Lampang Economic Development Working Committee
of the Joint Public and Private Sectors’ Consultative Committee.
At the meeting, Dr. Eriksson stated that he was pleased to see development
in many areas in Thailand, and was appreciative that the Kingdom had begun
to offer assistance to underdeveloped countries in spite of its economic
slowdown. He advised the OTOP scheme organisers to consider either splitting
into separate sectors, or to add more products to the range at present
available in order to increase its income potential and competitive impact.
He also suggested that private sector involvement in marketing strategies
and a more aggressive approach to connecting with the industrial sector
would help the scheme to maximise its potential.
The Deputy Governor of Lampang, Chai Phanichphornphan stated that Lampang is
continually promoting the OTOP scheme to the extent that at least some of
the products have now reached international markets. These include wood
carvings and silk embroideries. Plans are in place to promote more planting
of Arabica coffee bushes, already being cultivated in the Tambon Jae-Sorn
area, and also to harvest macadamia nuts for export. Both products will be
included in the OTOP scheme.
The meeting also discussed global warming, and was informed that Lampang is
already promoting organic farming methods and planting trees for the
production of rubber. These trees will increase green areas and also
increase the income of the growers.
Students arrested for selling and using amphetamines
5 arrests made following police operation
On February 9, 5 teenaged students were arrested for dealing in
amphetamines, following a transaction orchestrated by police which took
place outside the private Wachirawit School situated behind the Home
Pro/Carrefour shopping complex, and during which two of the gang were
detained. The remainder of the gang were arrested in San Sai and at an
unnamed apartment in Tambon Suthep. The accused had apparently been selling
the drugs to their fellow students at 200 baht per pill, and also were using
the drug themselves. All five accused are students as a well known local
The arrests followed police surveillance of the gang following a tip-off,
during which plain clothes officers contacted the teenagers with a request
to purchase 120 pills for a price of 24,000 baht, to be delivered at the
area in front of the school gates. The numbers of the bank notes were
recorded as evidence before being issued to the officers. At the appointed
time, two members of the gang arrived on a motorcycle, and handed the drugs
to the plain clothes officers. They were immediately arrested, and
subsequently informed police that they had been told by another member of
the gang to deliver the cash to him in front of a shop selling video games
located in Nong Khrai Luang village, San Sai, where they would receive some
video games as a reward. Police instructed one of the accused to take the
cash to the meeting place. When the handover had taken place, police
arrested the recipient, who then told them that he had collected the drugs
from the other two gang members who were living in an apartment in Tambon
Suthep. Police raided the address, and arrested the two final members of the
Police confiscated as evidence 120 amphetamine pills, the 24,000 baht in
cash, 5 mobile phones and a motorcycle. All the arrested students admitted
to the charges, and were handed over to prosecutors. The five accused, all
using aliases, are Faeng, 17, Si, 18, Cha, 17, Daeng, 17, and Sorn, 19.
Insurance for Thai elephants at
Maetang Camp on Valentine’s Day
Insurance company also planning to pander to pandas
The proprietor of an elephant camp in Thailand’s northern
province of Chiang Mai has purchased insurance for his elephants to show
kindness on Valentine’s Day to the caring and clever pachyderms. Wassana
Thongsuk, owner of the Maetaeng Elephant Camp, purchased the insurance
coverage for his camp’s 48 elephants from Thai Life Insurance, the first
insurance company in the Kingdom to offer such insurance. This unusual
premium cover package ensures that, for the sum of 3,000 baht per elephant
per year, medical expenses in the case of sickness plus compensation in the
event of death, (accidental or during a performance), are covered. Thai
Insurance also plans to pander to pandas, proposing a free policy for the
pair of pandas at Chiang Mai Zoo as a gift. (TNA)
New 24 hour emergency freecall number issued as burning continues
City authorities aware of need for public participation
Saksit Meesubkwang and Staff Reporter
As a further move in the attempts being made by the Chiang Mai
Provincial Office of Natural Resources and the Environment, a new emergency
call centre number has been announced. It is hoped that the new free call
number – 1362 – will facilitate the reporting of burning of any kind within
the city and its environs. City authorities are now making the air pollution
problem an urgent agenda, and appreciate the need for public participation
in its control.
Chiang Mai City’s specific problem is its geographical location on a flat
plain surrounded by mountains. An inversion layer forms, preventing smoke,
dust from dry earth, and fumes from escaping into the upper atmosphere,
resulting in smog-like conditions and extremely poor air quality. Pollution
levels are higher than, for example, USA-set safe levels, seriously
affecting residents of the city who already suffer from respiratory
illnesses and causing their numbers to increase. International publicity of
this annually occurring problem also causes visitor numbers to drop,
severely affecting the local economy. In 2007, the number of tourists
visiting the city fell by 25%, and nearly 10,000 rai of forest were
destroyed by fire.
The traditional “slash and burn” method of clearing and fertilising land,
still employed by the majority in spite of new regulations and increased
penalties, together with the burning of rubbish, including plastics and
other materials which give off toxic fumes, combine, particularly during the
hot season, to form a cocktail of polluted air which hangs above the city
itself, unable to be dispersed. Should major forest fires or other
conflagrations occur in the countries bordering Thailand, as happened in
2007 on the Burmese border, pollution levels soar still higher. So far, in
2008, there have been no such occurrences; as a result, city pollution
levels are lower then in 2007. However, local burning still seems to be
continuing, largely unreported and unchecked.
Plans for future solutions to the problem, to be inaugurated between 2008
and 2011, include preparations for local administration authorities to be
able to buy plant debris from growers, farmers and villagers. This will be
able to be processed into fertiliser and distributed back to its suppliers
for use on their fields, thus obviating the need for burning. To aid in the
control of forest fires, the National Parks Department has been able to
lease channel time on a USA satellite which overflies the Northern area of
Thailand, in order to swiftly identify and deal with outbreaks of fire. In
the case of areas of forest already devastated by fires, replacement trees
will be planted and supervised by the Forest Department to ensure their
growth. 24 hour emergency call centres will be set up in each province and
its districts, to enable residents to report fires as they occur.
Greater Mekong Expo 2008
estimated to help generate
100 million baht in revenue
600,000 visitors enjoy the first two days of the show
Permanent Secretary of State for Ministry of Commerce, accompanied by high
ranking officials, is seen presiding over the opening ceremony of the
Greater Mekong Expo 2008 at the Royal Floral Expo Park, Chiang Mai.
The head of the Chiang Mai Provincial Office of Commerce, Wairak
Walairat, has announced that Greater Mekong Expo 2008, held at the Royal
Flora Expo site, has been a huge success, doubling the original estimate of
its potential income from 50 million baht to 100 million baht. The event,
organised to boost the economy of the Northern region of Thailand, is
promoting co-operation and greatly increased trade between the neighbouring
Mekong River delta countries and the Kingdom itself, according to the Deputy
Governor of Chiang Mai, Ruangwang Buanuch. Focusing on “One Tambon, One
Produkt” and SME enterprise export products, including handicrafts,
clothing, household products, ceramics, processed agricultural products,
herbs, spa products and herbal cosmetics, the exhibition drew 600,000
visitors in its first two days. Products purchased included quality and
standard-selected Thai items at low prices, and goods from China and Laos.
Items are for show and sale at two locations within the complex, both air
conditioned for the comfort of exhibitors and visitors. In the evenings,
between 6 pm and 9 pm, traditional art and culture entertainments are being
performed by representatives of the Mekong River delta countries of
Thailand, Laos, Burma, and China. Visitors are also invited to view without
charge the Royal Flora Expo itself.
Mae Hong Son fire spreads out of control, threatens hospital
Novice monks burning rubbish were careless
The fire was under control
within 10 minutes.
In spite of new anti-burning and pollution guidelines introduced
recently in Mae Hong Son province, a group of novice monks set fire to a
pile of rubbish in an area adjacent to Srisangwan Mae Hong Son Hospital in
the heart of the city. The fire quickly became out of control, igniting dry
grass nearby and spreading almost as far as the hospital itself and the
adjacent Meteorological Station.
When fire fighters arrived, they found the seven young monks trying to put
out the fire by means of a coconut midriff broom. The fire was under control
within 10 minutes; however, had the fire fighters arrived some few minutes
later, it would have been quite possible that hospital buildings would have
It having been obvious that the fire had spread as a result of carelessness
on the part of the monks, the Fire Station chief spent some time instructing
them in the correct procedures. He also pointed out that, if anyone wishes
to burn rubbish, they should inform the Mae Hong Son Municipality Fire
Station by letter, in order to gain permission. If necessary, a fire engine
would then be provided to help keep the fire under control.