Cache of ammunition found on Ping river bank
Burma’s ethnic groups strongly deny involvement
A cache of ammunition consisting of 867 bullets contained in a sack
was found last week on the Ping river bank, underneath the walking bridge
which crosses the river from Chang Klan Road. Residents had spotted the sack
and, suspecting it might contain hazardous material, called local police.
When the ammunition was examined, it was found to be from two categories -
88 mm bullets for use with an outdated weapon, and 93 mm machine gun
ammunition. All had been engraved with the letters RTA - Royal Thai Army -
and a serial code.
Police theories as to the reason that the ammunition was dumped include its
being in the process of being moved from one location to another and hidden
when a police patrol was spotted; ownership by a group who became afraid
that they were about to be discovered; its being thrown away by teenagers
who had found it originally, or its having been stolen from the military..
Initial reported theories based on the 88 mm bullets involved ethnic
military groups operating along the Thai/Burma border, as these groups are
known to be supplied with the outdated weapon which uses such ammunition.
However, leaders of the Karen National Union, the Karenni National
Progressive Party and the Shan State Army all reject the report, and suggest
that the discovery was deliberately linked to them to coincide with the
visit to Bangkok by the Burmese Prime Minister.
The Thai military have now been asked to inspect the cache in order to
determine the origin of the ammunition from the engraved serial code.
Politicians and local leaders reject 2007 constitution
“Demon with a pipe in his hand” burnt in protest
A protester wearing the “demon with a pipe in
his mouth” mask,
glaring at a copy of the 2007 constitution.
Praesang Mongkolsiri, a former Thai Rak Thai MP, together with local
leaders, held a protest meeting and demonstration at the Mora Hotel last
week, at which a notification of rejection of the 2007 constitution was
issued and the organising of a petition was announced. The petition will
call for the reinstatement of the 1997 constitution, and is expected to
collect at least 16 million signatures nationwide.
Praesang referred to the 2007 constitution as “a dictatorship document”, and
stated that his group’s moves were partly motivated by a wish to attack the
drafter of the present constitution, Prasong Sunsiri, whose draft, delivered
with the intent of destroying former PM Thaksin Shinawatra, had severely
affected the lives of people throughout the country.
Praesang described Prasong as “a demon with a pipe in his mouth”, and said
that from this point on he would coordinate with People’s Power Party
politicians across the country in order to warn the electorate of the
dangers of the present constitution.
Dr. Phomsak Saenphote confirmed that the former Prime Minister had no
involvement in the present moves, and added that “Thaksin remains in the
hearts of the people of Chiang Mai”. Phomsak announced that a further
protest and demonstration would be held on May 10-11, in order to give
Chiang Mai voters the opportunity of expressing their feelings and rejecting
the 2007 constitution in public. More than 5000 people are expected to
At the conclusion of the demonstration, an image of the “demon with a pipe”,
(obviously representative of Prasong), holding article 309 of the
constitution, was placed on a copy of the full document and set alight in
front of representatives of the media.
Burmese military ordered to shoot down Thai aircraft
Air space violations may
lead to disasters
The Burmese Eastern Region Military Commander has ordered all units
stationed along the Thai border in Mae Hong Son to immediately shoot down
any Thai aircraft which are found to be invading Burmese air space.
The order was issued following a meeting between Thai officials and Burmese
military leaders during which a petition was handed to Thai officials
concerning Thailand’s night use of unmanned spy drones which had allegedly
been penetrating 80 km into Burmese air space between February and April
this year. Officials at the meeting had earlier discussed the many deaths of
Burmese workers who were attempting to enter Thailand illegally.
Subsequently, a source at Mae Hong Son Airport’s flight communications
department reiterated that no Thai aircraft had entered Burmese air space,
and an official from the National Security News Agency stated that Burma had
not yet acted on Thailand’s recent complaint that Burmese aircraft had been
carrying out spying missions in Thai air space around Ban Pang Tong in Mae
Hong Son two weeks previously. On receipt of the complaint, Burma had denied
that it had carried out the missions.
Chiang Mai based major drug dealer arrested in Hat Yai
Houses and assets seized
One of the houses seized after the arrest of the
drug dealer Anant Salae.
Police and officials from the Office of Narcotics Control board last
week seized three houses in Chiang Mai and Lampang, valued at 15 million
baht and belonging to suspected major drug dealer Anant Salae, who was
arrested April 30 in Hat Yai, Songkla province, with two of his accomplices.
At the time of the arrest, Anant was in possession of 1.4 kilos of the drug
heroin, which was confiscated by the arresting officers and is being held as
evidence. Assets including furniture and a large quantity of household items
from the three houses were also seized.
Police have been tracking Anant’s movements for some time, and had
established that he was instrumental in the trafficking of heroin and
amphetamines, which were being smuggled into Thailand from Myanmar and
delivered to dealers in the south of the country. Investigations continue in
an attempt to trace the remaining members of the gang.
Seriously injured Karenni soldier gets treatment at Thai hospital
Fighting between Karenni and Myanmar armies intensifies
A Karenni soldier who had been shot in the throat during a battle with
Burmese army forces was taken on 20 hour journey to the emergency room of
the Sri Sangval Hospital in Mae Hong Son, where he was examined and said to
be in a critical condition. Local police have been informed.
Pay Lae, 36, whose unit had been on patrol six kilometres from their base
when they were discovered by a Burmese army unit, was shot during a fierce
20 minute battle. A spokesman from the Karenni National Progressive Party
said that the fighting between the Burmese military and the Karenni forces
had intensified in spite of the heavy rains. The Burmese military has
recently been moving supplies and weapons, including 50 mm machine guns, up
to Burmese army units based at the Thai border.
continues across the north
Landslides, serious floods, high winds cause damage
Heavy rain, high winds and storms in the Payamengrai district of Chiang
Rai province on April 28 caused a flash flood to sweep down from Doi
Mountain early that morning. The water level in 4 local villages reached
1 metre in some areas, and carried away stores of rice, fertiliser,
property and domestic animals. At least 500 houses were affected, and
many people had to be rescued from their homes. Pontoons were provided
by the local administration to enable residents’ property to be
In another area in the same district, severe floods gauged out a 50 cm
trough in one of the main local roads, rendering the road impassable and
causing difficulties for support and rescue vehicles. Water levels were
estimated to have been between 50-70 centimetres. The heavy rains also
caused a landslide on the nearby mountain.
In Chiang Mai, in the evening of April 28, storms and heavy rain caused
damage to local Longan orchards, which had already suffered badly from
the drought, with trees losing much of their fruit as a result. The
rains, however, will enable the trees to recover quickly, and will also
benefit rice farmers, whose current crops had begun to die through lack
of adequate water.
Officials from the Meteorological Department in Mae Hong Son confirmed
that the rainy season had begun one week earlier than expected. It is
estimated that there will be more rain than usual this year, and that
floods will occur in many districts as a result. Several cyclones are
expected to move from the South China Sea to the north western areas of
Thailand during August and September. The tropical cyclone Narisa has,
at the time of writing, passed from the Andaman Sea through Myanmar, and
is at present over the Chiang Mai area, causing exceptionally high winds
and torrential rain. Reports of damage occurring as a result have not
yet been received.
Residents over the entire northern and north western areas have been
warned to safeguard their property against high winds, storms and
flooding, particularly in watershed areas in mountainous regions.
Labour Day festivities for Chiang Mai workers
500 labour groups enjoy their day
Workers enjoying the entertainments
at Chiang Mai’s Municipal Stadium on Labour Day.
Workers from all over the city gathered on May 1, Labour Day, at the
Three Kings’ Monument and the Municipal Stadium to enjoy activities,
games, entertainments, fun, sports and a Miss Labour Day beauty contest,
all aimed at fostering unity and closer relationships between all
present, whether employers or employees.
The annual festivities were organised by the Provincial Labour Welfare
and Protection Office together with private companies, and were attended
by over 500 labour groups from state enterprises, private companies,
factories and Hill Tribe groups.
The director of the Labour Welfare and Protection Office, Withala
Withayasai, stated, however, that Chiang Mai was at present attracting
large number of refugees and migrants from Myanmar, and that a survey
had reported that a number of businesses were still breaking Thai labour
laws by illegally employing migrants and alien workers. Both public and
private companies are being asked to cooperate in registering with the
authorities, and to closely follow rules and regulations related to such
employment. Should they fail to do so, further action will be taken
Mayor agrees budget of 70 million baht for municipal pawnshops
Parents pawn possessions to pay school fees
The Mayor of Chiang Mai, Dr. Duentemduang na Chiengmai, has agreed a
budget of 70 million baht, more than in previous years, to enable the
three Chiang Mai Municipal pawnshops to be able to service parents
attempting to fund their children’s studies for the new term. The
present economic situation has led to fears that more parents than usual
will be forced to resort to pawning their possessions in order to enable
the children to continue with their education.
The amount will be divided between the three shops according to their
needs and the needs of the three overcrowded areas in which they are
located; Thapae, Chang Puak and Chiang Mai Gate. A fourth pawnshop is
under construction and is expected to open in the near future. Residents
in need prefer to use the Municipality shops as the interest charged is
at a lower rate than that charged in private concerns.
30 million baht has already been advanced to customers; the agreed
budget will be topped up should it prove insufficient. Rates charged by
the municipal establishments increase with the amount borrowed, and are
set at 75 satangs per 100 baht up to 5,000 baht and 1 baht per 100 baht
for amounts over 5,000 baht.
Dengue fever cases up by 80% in first quarter of year
10,910 infected, 12 die
Chaiya Sasomsub, Thailand’s Public Health Minister, reported
last Monday that the number of cases and deaths from dengue fever during
the first quarter of 2008 have increased by 80 percent when compared
with the first quarter of last year. From January 1 to April 19, cases
of dengue fever totalled 10,901, with 99 per cent of those infected
making a complete recovery; however, 12 dengue fever patients have died
during that period. The minister warned the public to be on the alert
for symptoms of the illness, and to take preventative measures. He has
also instructed local health authorities to instigate campaigns in order
to eradicate the breeding grounds of the mosquitoes which carry the
disease. Dengue fever is also known as “break-bone fever”, because the
pain it causes to sufferers resembles that of broken bones.
Medical specialist issues
Over 50% in Chiang Mai suffer from respiratory disease
Dr. Chaichan Photirat, a specialist in allergy and respiratory diseases
based at Chiang Mai Hospital, announced recently that data from a lung
health check program carried out amongst residents in Chiang Mai in 2002
showed that 30% of the population was suffering from respiratory
disease. In 2005 numbers had risen to 42%, in the following years to
50%, and are still rising He attributes the increase to the growth of
the city, the resultant increase in vehicle use, the increase in
industrial plants and overcrowding, as well as to continuing illegal
Chaichan stated that, as in all large cities, further growth and
expansion inevitably results in a deterioration of air quality, which
causes damage to the environment and an increase in pollution and the
number of recorded sufferers from respiratory disease. He emphasised
that burning of refuse, plastics, agricultural debris and forest areas
should cease, and that residents should seek immediate medical help for
any kind of respiratory problem.
The World Health Organisation’s levels of not more than 50 micrograms of
dust per cubic metre of air are significantly lower than those, (120 mcg
per cubic metre), set in Chiang Mai. For the vast majority of days in
March and April, levels in the city were above the WHO’s recommended
maximum. Medical experts in the field feel strongly that Chiang Mai’s
levels are set too high, and should be significantly reduced.
Speaker of the House resigns; awaits trial for election fraud
2007 constitution “a trap to dissolve PPP”
Thailand’s Speaker of the House, Yongyuth Tiyapairat, who is facing
trial on charges of electoral fraud during the general election held
last December, resigned from his post last Wednesday.
Yongyuth, a deputy leader of the People Power Party, told a press
conference that the main reason for his resignation was that he wished
to uphold his own dignity as well as that of the parliamentary
institution. The ex-Speaker said that he also needed time to fight his
case in the Supreme Court, which is due to start Friday. The Election
Commission has already issued him with a red card charging him with
electoral fraud in his home town in the northernmost province of Chiang
Charging that the 2007 constitution, which was drafted by the
coup-makers’ legal experts, is a trap to dissolve the PPP, Yongyuth said
he wanted to be the “last prey of this constitution”. He also insisted
that there was no hidden agenda behind his resignation. He had already
taken, he added, temporary leave from his post, dating from February 26,
and said his resignation would have no impact on his court case. He
wished to clear the way for the appointment of a new Speaker who could
influence MPs in approving constitutional amendment, which is being
pushed by the PPP.
The PPP itself could be dissolved if Yongyuth is found guilty by the
court. Since he has taken temporary leave, Speaker of the Senate
Prasopsuk Boondej, who is also deputy Speaker of the House in accordance
with the law, has been performing Yongyuth’s duties on several
occasions. Most importantly, Prasopsuk will have to preside over the
House when the government-pushed constitutional amendments are forwarded
to parliament if MPs have not elected a new Speaker by that time.
Internet cafes face stringent enforcement of laws
Fears of assembly for unlawful sexual purposes
Wibun Sa-nguanphong, Governor of Chiang Mai province, has announced a
ruling by the Minister of the Interior, Chalerm Yoobamrung, concerning
the strict control of internet cafes. There are fears that the cafes,
popular with youngsters, are being used as assembly points for unlawful
sexual purposes and the viewing of pornographic material by minors.
The Film and Video Act is to be forcefully used in the province in order
to protect youngsters and to punish owners of internet cafes who operate
outside the law. Police are to be instructed to regularly patrol the
shops, particularly at night, and to ensure that the law is not being
broken by way of staying open after permitted hours, allowing youngsters
to assemble for unlawful pursuits, providing unsuitable video games and
movies and allowing minors under the age of 18 to enter.
The Minister of the Interior considers that orderly management of such
venues is essential to control and solve what he believes is a
significant problem in today’s society. The city of Chiang Mai itself
has an unusually large number of internet cafes.
Youngsters march to inform on consumer protection
Many problems, no help from officialdom
Children on the march on Consumer Protection
Thai Consumer Protection Day falls annually on April 30, marked
this year with a march by 50 children with the aim of informing local
people about their rights in law concerning scams, dangers, victim
situations, and the use of the law in consumer protection. Advice was
also offered on the correct way to file complaints.
The march began at Thapae Gate, and was organised by Suparadat
Suthipornwirot, cooperator with the Consumer Protection Club together
with the local Public Health department and the Consumer Protection
department in Chiang Mai. Suparadat stated that she hoped all Chiang Mai
residents and all throughout Thailand would become aware of how to
protect themselves against the many scams and frauds at present being
operated, and to know the correct manner to in which to seek their
rights and legal redress.
Ten major problems exist at present: the “rice share fraud”; so-called
developers taking deposits and absconding; telephone scams offering
prizes and requesting funds for transfers, (a variation of the notorious
Nigerian internet scams), excessive advertising and sales of motorbikes
without after-sales service provision; offering IOU’s to Buddhist monks
or donations made by quotes as merit-making; the selling of sweets and
desserts with no nutritional value outside schools; gyms which pre-sell
memberships and fail to open; low quality, unclean and unsafe food sold
in markets and roadside stalls; poisonous puffer fish being used in
cooked foodstuffs without knowledge of correct and safe methods of
preparation, and low quality foodstuffs with high pesticide content
imported from China.
Suparadat stated that the above problems seem to be increasing daily.
Efforts by consumer protection organisations to involve the relevant
local authority offices have been unsuccessful, as officials seem to be
avoiding taking responsibility for the legal rights of consumers.