Vol. VII No. 13 - Tuesday
March 25, - March 31, 2008



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by Saichon Paewsoongnern


NEWS
HEADLINES [click on headline to view story]:

Protest march held in Chiang Mai in support of the Tibetan people

Fatal shooting after argument at Chiang Mai restaurant

4th Annual Fun Run in support of the displaced people of Burma

Hacker who used skills to blackmail businessmen is finally arrested

Chiang Mai University Library to receive EMC Heritage Trust grant

Mayor of Chiang Mai’s exclusive interview with the CM Mail

400 investors cheated in internet-based gold dealing fraud

Conference on logistics, trading and market expansion held in Chiang Mai

Hang Dong villagers protest about polluted water in River Ping

Hailstones damage 200 houses and monk’s residences in Phrae

 

Protest march held in Chiang Mai in support of the Tibetan people

Brutality in Lhasa resembles last year’s Burma crackdown

Staff Reporters
On March 21 at 9.30 am approximately, 100 demonstrators marched from Suan Bauk Haad on the south west corner of the moat to the Chinese Consulate on Chang Loh Rd, to protest over the brutality in Tibet.
The demonstration was arranged by ‘Action Group for Peace’, whose spokesman stated that “We strongly condemn the killings and arrests of Tibetan demonstrators by the Chinese Authorities in Lhasa and other parts of Tibet since March 10, 2008. The widespread demonstrations are the result of decades of systematic oppression by the Chinese government of the Tibetan people. The Tibetans’ grievances and demands for self-determination must be addressed through political dialogue, not by force and further oppression. The current crackdown in Tibet is chillingly reminiscent of the crackdown on the Saffron Revolution in Burma last September, as once again we are seeing images of armed troops being deployed against unarmed monks, and bloodstained bodies in Buddhist robes. China, by providing financial, military and diplomatic support to the Burmese military regime, was also complicit in the crackdown in Burma”.
The majority of the demonstrators were Thai, with about 20 foreigners. Another demonstrator stated “Their plight is casting a dark shadow on the forthcoming Olympic Games”. A few protestors turned up late, one commented “If only we had known about this earlier we could have brought all our friends”.
For further information, please contact the Action Group for Peace action [email protected]

 

Fatal shooting after argument at Chiang Mai restaurant

Australian long-term resident admits killing.

Staff Reporters
Police in Chiang Mai confirmed last Saturday that William Thomas Douglas, 61, an Australian national and long-term resident of Chiang Mai, had been charged with the murder of 46 year old American Gary Booth Poretsky.

Police at the restaurant, with the murder victim still lying underneath the table.

The shooting occurred on Saturday morning at the Koie Chiang Mai restaurant near the moat, where the two men had been drinking. Police were called to the scene of the crime, and found Poretsky’s body on the floor underneath a table. He had been shot three times, twice in the body and once in the head.
The killer had fled the scene, but later surrendered to the police and admitted his crime.
A witness to the shooting told police that she had seen Douglas “showing off” the gun to the Hawaiian, Poretsky, and stated that, “The Australian was trying to say that he was a big guy in Chiang Mai. The two men had an argument”. In a statement given to police, Douglas is alleged to have said that he had links with the Thai Narcotics Suppression Bureau and senior police officials.
An official from the Australian Embassy in Bangkok , Robin Hamilton-Coates, said that Douglas is being held at Chiang Mai police headquarters, where he has been visited by the Australian Consul in Chiang Mai, and will be transferred later to a local prison.
A Chiang Mai police spokeswoman told press that Douglas had lived in Chiang Mai for 28 years, and was fluent in the local language. He will appear in court at an unconfirmed date. The reason behind the killing is at present unknown.


4th Annual Fun Run in support of the displaced people of Burma

Organisers thrilled by the turnout

Enthusiasm and smiles from Fun Run contestants
both young and slightly older...

Staff reporter
All our readers must surely be aware of the cruel reality of the continuing displacement of thousands of Burmese refugees who are forced to leave their villages, their possessions and their way of life behind them and flee into the jungle simply to go on living. Some spend the rest of their lives in exile, some die or are injured as a result of landmines, many suffer malnutrition, many are captured and imprisoned, and many more are killed by the Burmese military after capture. Here in the North of Thailand there are a number of groups who work tirelessly to help these desperate refugees. One such organisation is “Christians Concerned for Burma”, who, for the last four years, have sponsored the annual Fun Run for Relief. All proceeds from the event go to the “Internally Displaced People of Burma”, and are used in the best way possible to provide aid and support.
This year’s Fun Run took place on March 15, beginning as usual amid the picturesque surroundings of Huay Tung Thao reservoir. “Fun” was the theme of the day, and the organisers were thrilled at the number of people of all ages, both Thai and foreign, who came out in support of the people of Burma. The event included a 100 metre dash for children, and a 5 kilometre walk - or run if the energy and inclination was present - for the rest of the participants. As the Burmese refugees have no choice but to escape their pursuers by running into the jungle wearing only flip-flops on their feet, a special “flip-flop run” was this year’s innovation. Competitors, however, were asked to be careful running in this type of footwear; 5 kilometres can feel like 20 if you’re not wearing shoes which support your feet and ankles! A free pair of flip-flops was given to every participant in the new race.
Each runner paid 200 baht to compete; and special t-shirts were also available to purchase for an additional 200 baht. Much more valuable to the participants, however, must have been the feeling that they were helping to do something positive about a situation which, although condemned on a world-wide basis by countless human rights organisations,, does not seem to be important enough to world-wide governments to persuade them to take positive action against the perpetrators.

The Mae Sa Elephant camp celebrated Thai Elephant Day with special activities including painting displays, elephant “football and basketball” matches and rides. More than 80 elephants received a special treat of sugar cane and fruit.


Hacker who used skills to blackmail businessmen is finally arrested

Irish computer expert preyed on online businesses

An Irish hacker who used his abilities to blackmail Thai and foreign businessmen was recently arrested by the Tourist Police whilst on holiday in Chiang Mai, and charged with internet fraud. His illegal operation involved choosing an online company in the Chiang Mai area, and sending an email containing a Trojan virus, which, on being opened, transferred all of the recipient computer’s files back to his machine. He would then contact his victim and demand a ransom of 2 million baht under threat of disclosing the victim’s business transactions to his rivals.

David Nurrhy, 42, from Ireland, after his arrest at the Tourist Police station. He will face blackmail charges.

A British businessman became trapped in this manner in 2006, and transferred the ransom as requested to the hacker’s account, but did not report the crime. In 2008, to his dismay, the hacker struck again, and this time demanded 5 million baht, attaching a file with the demand to prove that he had the data. On this occasion, the victim reported the crime to the police in Nakhon Sawan. They were able to track the hacker from his bank account details, and to subsequently arrest him.
The hacker, David Nurrhy, 42, had graduated in software engineering, and had always used internet cafes with no CCTV when sending the infected emails. He searched data from hotel websites into which he had hacked in order to find victims who were wealthy business owners. Police are asking other possible victims to come forward.


Chiang Mai University Library to receive EMC Heritage Trust grant

16th century Buddhist manuscripts to be preserved

Staff reporter
In a recent announcement, the EMC Corporation, a world leader in information infrastructure solutions, said that Chiang Mai University Library had been selected as one of this year’s seven recipients of the EMC Heritage Trust Project Grant. The company’s CEO, Joe Tucci, stated that, over the last ten years, the project had donated more than $20 million to information heritage preservation across the globe. The initiative includes everything from large-scale museum projects to local community projects worldwide. Its aim is the preservation and protection of humanity’s information heritage and historical documents, achieved through the use of computer-assisted storage, and also to improve access to such invaluable information via the internet for research and educational purposes.
EMC’s judging committee received and reviewed 325 applications, which were then narrowed down to 48 finalists. Award recipients were chosen on the basis of the potential size of the audience which would benefit from access to the information, the “at-risk” status of the information, and the level of benefit the grant would be for the overall success of the project itself.
CMU’s Library’s successful application focussed on the need to digitalise traditional temple manuscripts, many of which are written on palm-leaf material, tree bark paper, and mulberry leaf paper, and which date back as far as the 16th century. Digitalisation is also planned for 350 microfilms from the 1980’s documenting the collections of 100 Buddhist temples.
Other recipients of this year’s grant, which totals $100,000, include the Centre for the Study of Peace and Reconciliation and the Music Library of the St. Petersburg Philharmonic Orchestra.


Mayor of Chiang Mai’s exclusive interview with the CM Mail

Dr Duentemduang na Chiengmai’s plans for Songkran

Tess Itura
Last week, the Chiang Mai Mail was extremely fortunate to be granted an interview by Dr Duentemduang na Chiengmai, the city’s Mayor, in which she outlined her plans for a very different style of Songkran festival than has occurred in previous years.

Dr Duentemduang na Chiengmai, the Mayor of Chiang Mai, at the interview.

Our first question was about the exact dates for the festival. “Songkran 2008 will last from April 1 to April 15”, she replied, “However, until April 11 we would request that people refrain from throwing water, partly because of the mourning period for HRH Princess Galyani Vadhana. Although “throwing water” is officially from April13 to April 15, we think that in some areas it may start on April 12, and may continue until April 16, as this day is also a holiday.
The next question concerned the opening ceremony. “The official opening will take place on April 13, 8:09 am, at Thapae Gate, where, prior to the ceremony, Chiang Mai residents will gather from 6 am for the traditional offering of food to the monks”, she said. “There will be a procession of 60 women on bicycles, carrying traditional umbrellas, starting from Narawat Bridge, and riding up Thapae Road to Thapae Gate. They should arrive there at about 8:15 am; the Beauty Contest will take place after their arrival.”
When asked what other highlights and events the Municipality will organise for the general public, she replied, “On April 12, there will be a drumming competition at the Three Kings’ Monument, with over 100 teams competing. On April 13, there will be a procession of Buddha images proceeding from the Governor’s residence along Thapae Road to Thapae Gate and thence to Wat Pra Singh. On April 14, a ceremony dating from olden times will be performed. This ceremony, ‘Bringing the Sand to the Temple’, dates from when the floors of all temples were covered in sand, which was brought by the people at this time. These days, all temple floors are concrete - however, we want to continue with this tradition. Sand will be made available at Rama IX Bridge and Narawat Bridge. April15, traditionally, is the day when Thais pay their respects to their parents and their elderly relatives. On this day there will be a precession to pay respect to the Chiang Mai Governor, starting at the Three Kings’ Monument, and ending at the Governor’s residence.”
“How many visitors and foreigners do you expect this year?” was our next question. The Mayor replied that the Tourist Office of Thailand estimated that an additional 200,000 people would be coming to Chiang Mai to celebrate “this unique festival, as Songkran in Chiang Mai is different from anywhere else in Thailand”.
We then asked how we in the expat community could help to ensure that the festival was a good experience for everyone. Dr. Duentemduang replied that “We intend to provide 20 “polite zones”, or safe areas, where people can go if they have a problem or just want to escape the mayhem. It is requested that people using these zones should dress in traditional styles. We would appreciate the help of expat volunteers to help to man these areas. Continuing on this subject, we asked, “What would you consider is the most common offence foreigners make against the Thai culture during Songkran?” She answered, “Please advise tourists and foreign residents to be careful what they wear as often when a garment is wet it becomes either see-through or it becomes impolite as regards our culture. We would also request that water should only be thrown during daylight hours; this is not something which should be done after the sun goes down”.
“How will this year be different from previous years?” “We intend to have a safe area at Buak Had Park on the airport corner of the moat - an area where people can enjoy Songkran in the traditional manner. Hopefully we will be able to raise people’s awareness of the importance and “spirit” of the Chiang Mai Songkran Festival, and demonstrate the politeness and correctness of the enjoyment of the celebrations without the use of alcohol. The Chiang Mai Municipal Authority will be tightening up measures for regulating alcohol consumption within the city area. Selling or distributing alcohol in the public area will be prohibited. We want Songkran to be fun for all, Thai and foreigners, young and old, visitors and residents alike.”
We asked whether, in the case of problems or accidents requiring police assistance or hospitalisation, there would be numbers people can call to get help, using the English language. The Mayor replied that a hotline is being planned, and added that “as soon as we have arranged this, we will inform the local press. There will be interns and doctors from Suan Dok Hospital in the area around the moat, plus extra mobile car services provided by city police, tourist police and the ambulance service”.
Our final question was, “This is the first year with you in charge - what are your expectations?” “I would like people to celebrate and be happy, in the unique Lanna culture of Songkran, and I hope that people will appreciate that it is more than just throwing water. Safety is very important. I hope everyone tells all their friends from out of town to come and enjoy Songkran here in Chiang Mai. With 200,000 extra visitors expected; if they all spend 1,000 baht each, this would raise 200 million baht for the local economy. Water will start flowing back into the moat at the beginning of next month, which will give us time to test its quality. With the possibility of a drought this year, I do hope that people will use the water sparingly. I guarantee that the work around the moat will be finished.”
Dr Duentemduang, we thank you for sparing the time to talk with us.
Anyone interested in volunteering to help should contact Boong, Duenpen Chaladlam on btsthailand @gmail.com, ot telephone on 053 284 042 / 085 037 2048.


400 investors cheated in internet- based gold dealing fraud

Yet another “pyramid-selling” scam

Saksit Meesubkwang
On March 17, a report was filed with local police in Hang Dong concerning yet another “pyramid selling” scam. Aphorn Panyakreng, a Chiang Mai resident, and 13 others, all employees of Italian national Carlo Soreo’s Asian Pay Partnership, have accused the company’s owner of fraud. They had been invited by Soreo to invest in gold, using the internet, and were promised a return of 2.75% per day. Aphom herself invested 50,000 baht, and was told to expect a return of approximately 300 baht per day from her capital, which had been transferred into Asian Pay Partnership’s bank account at Soreo’s request.

Aphorn Panyakreng, a victim of the scam, making her report to police.
It seems that, for the first 2-3 months, Aphorn received the interest due; however, after that no monies were received. She contacted the company, but was rebuffed. Realising at that point that she and the other investors may have been cheated, she decided to inform the police. The scam operated in the usual manner, in that members recruited other members, and were paid 3% of the new capital as a reward. Approximately 400 people have invested with the company, 300 of whom are Thai and include businessmen, bank employees and government officials. The remainder are Singaporean. Pol Lt Col Theekhawutt Bantitchusakun has said that the Department of Special Investigations will be contacted regarding the case, as there are likely to be many more reports filed against Soreo and his company.


Conference on logistics, trading and market expansion held in Chiang Mai

Saksit Meesubkwang
A high-level conference focussing on the development of logistics, trading management and market expansion in the Mekong sub-region was held on March 18/19 at the Shangri-La Hotel in Chiang Mai, organised by the US Consul in Chiang Mai, the US Ambassador to Thailand and the American Chamber of Commerce, in cooperation with US consulates in Vientiane, Phnom Penh, Chengdu and Guangzhou. The US Ambassador to Thailand, Eric John, welcomed the delegates, including the representative of the Asian World Bank, supporters of the project, and representatives from organisations in China, Laos, Cambodia, and Thailand itself. In his opening speech, Eric John summarised the project’s aim to expand and develop potential for trade and investment in Thailand, specifically the north, which is receiving economic benefits because of its accelerated development of logistics in the field of transfer of goods, data, and passengers between the regions. The US, he said, is willing to support such development through the Asian Development Bank.
A representative of the Ministry of Communications stated that the Thai government, in a 4 year plan, was emphasising the construction of railroads over that of roads, due to the impact on road transport costs of the rise in oil prices. It was also pointed out that roads now under construction, would, as a result of increased trade between countries, become congested within a few years.. A proposed rail link from Denchai to Chiang Rai is being surveyed, with the intent to continue the route into China in the near future, and is linked to the support of the Development and Market Expansion Project involving China, Myanmar, Laos, Thailand and Cambodia.


Hang Dong villagers protest about polluted water in River Ping

Problem has caused concern for five years

Staff reporter
Wastewater run-off from Chiang Mai city into the River Ping at the Mae Kha floodgate in Ban Kho, Hang Dong, has, it seems, been polluting the river for some 5 years. Local residents, in a complaint made to their local MP and the Pollution Control Department on March 18, stated that the wastewater is released untreated, is dirty and has a foul smell. Fish and other aquatic creatures as not able to be caught and eaten as their flesh has a strong smell and taste of oil, and the stench from the polluted water, particularly in the evenings, pervades the entire area.
At present, the source of the pollution is unclear, but obviously originates from a site or sites within the Municipality; however, a representative from the Water Quality Management Office stated that officials have now collected samples of the affected water, which will be sent for analysis. The water supply and drainage facilities of a building in an adjacent sub-district are also being examined. The issue will be referred to the Municipality itself and any factories or private enterprises that may be found to be responsible will have the Environmental Protection Act enforced at their premises.


Hailstones damage 200 houses and monk’s residences in Phrae

Trees uprooted, homes destroyed and electricity cut off!

Staff reporter
The weather turned ugly recently in Phrae district, where high winds and a fierce storm caused hailstones to rain down on houses and monks’ residences, causing considerable damage. Amphurs Rongkwang and Song were badly affected, with 200 homes and areas of farmland damaged, trees uprooted and electricity cut off. The storm continued for over an hour before subsiding.
The Deputy Governor of Phrae, Somchai Hatayathandee, the head of the local administration and a team of volunteers including army members provided assistance to clear local roads blocked by fallen trees. When the storm damage was inspected, it was found that 20 homes had been completely destroyed and the roofs and structure of others had been badly damaged, as had nearby corn plantations.
Somchai stated that inspections of the affected properties were continuing in order to determine the extent of the storm damage, and local organizations had been instructed to provide immediate assistance. Support had also been requested from the military, police, and local volunteers to monitor the situation as there is still no electricity, which poses a risk that criminals may take advantage of the situation.



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