Vol. VII No. 20 - Tuesday
May 13 - May 19, 2008



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by Saichon Paewsoongnern


NEWS
HEADLINES [click on headline to view story]:

Ongoing humanitarian crisis in Burma looks set to continue

Police get tough on mobile phone use whilst driving

Bank robber bomber arrested

Garlic-growers’ protest spreads to Mae Hong Son

Visakha Bucha Day, May 19 - a sacred Buddhist festival

Thai PM cancels trip to Myanmar

Bank of Thailand’s northern branch summarises increased economic growth

U.S. Mission in Thailand to help support U.S. Government’s relief assistance to the Burmese people in cyclone aftermath

Thailand and India to link information on tsunami warning buoys

Thailand’s Social Development Minister resigns

Lahu hilltribe members arrested for drug dealing

The tragic situation in Burma

New economic development programme planned for Northern Thailand

Chiang Mai Red Cross holds Soroptimist-sponsored buffet lunch

Green light given for import of wood products from Burma

Police raid “forest monk” settlement

 

Ongoing humanitarian crisis in Burma looks set to continue

Junta still refusing visas for aid workers

CMM Reporters
Nero fiddled while Rome burned - the Myanmar military junta fiddles while Myanmar drowns.
According to American diplomats inside Burma, the death toll resulting from Cyclone Nargis’s 120 mph winds and the resulting storm surge, 25 feet high in places, may reach 100,000. Millions of homes have been destroyed, along with much of the affected area’s infrastructure, 65% of Burma’s rice fields are submerged in salt water, causing a long-term effect on food supplies, and tens of thousands of human and animal corpses are floating in the flood waters. Roads are blocked, bridges are down, accessibility to the worst-hit areas within the Irrawaddy Delta is minimal, except by helicopter. The human misery is unaccountable; the risk of disease is imminent.
After the storm hit, the Burmese military junta begged for outside aid. Governments across the world, the UN, and medical and other aid agencies gave an immediate response. Experts with years of experience in the logistics of disaster management stood ready to leave, along with plane-loads of medical necessities and food.
As the crisis unfolded, it became apparent that the secretive junta was not prepared to allow the much-needed experts to enter Burma. To date, very little aid has been allowed into the stricken country from the West, and essential visas have not been granted. Although aid has been accepted from China, Thailand and Indonesia, a flight from Qatar carrying aid workers and medical necessities has been forced to return, and two UN plane-loads of aid have been confiscated by the military.
Efforts by the Burmese military to cope with the scale of the disaster seem to have failed miserably, and include forcible removal, under threat of death, of victims from their own areas to already overcrowded monasteries and mosques in the larger towns.
Everywhere in the stricken areas, residents are being forced to cope on their own, aided only by monks from local temples, although Burma-based foreign aid agencies have been distributing emergency aid where possible.
International criticism of the junta’s actions has been swift. The US Secretary of State, Condoleezza Rice, stated, “What remains is for the Burmese Government to allow the international community to help its people. It is not a matter of politics”, after a US offer to deploy three naval vessels and two planes in the region was refused. After the tons of aid sent in two planes by the UN’s World Food Programme was impounded by the military, the organisation is reported to be “in negotiation” with the military government, after it threatened to suspend relief flights.
France and the USA are pushing the UN to declare a resolution based on the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which states that when helping people in crisis, the right to cross borders exists, as does the right to receive humanitarian aid in any form. Dr. Bernard Kouchner, the French Foreign Minister and head of Medicine sans Frontiers, said, “We are working within the UN to try to implement the responsibility to protect, given that food, boats and relief teams are there, and thus obtain a UN resolution which authorises the delivery of help and supplies, and to impose this on the Burmese government”. UK aid agencies have accused the junta of deliberately delaying emergency help to desperate survivors. An internal UN memo accused the junta of “dragging its feet”, adding that “there is no indication of when this will be sorted out”. Nine days after disaster struck, there seems to be little progress towards a solution for the tens of thousands of survivors.
Reports from inside the affected areas via the internet give little cause for hope, and emphasise the need for experienced specialists in disaster mitigation. The fear of an outbreak of deadly disease grows stronger every day. Survivors report that there is little or no aid. They speak of lack of food and water, sanitation and shelter, and of increasing anger amongst increasingly desperate people. Quotes include, “While the military government is still going ahead to legitimise and secure their power and individual family wealth, (a reference to the constitution referendum which took place last Saturday, in spite of the tragedy), the Burmese people are now facing death, loss of homes and family and starvation”; “Survivors come to the town brandishing their swords - they are very angry”; “Where are the army leaders who think they are the saviours of Burma? There is no help, we must help ourselves. We have to get rid of them”; “The situation is terrible. Only one person is left in my family of 10. I tried to save them but could not. I can’t find their bodies. Most of the people were dragged away by the wave from family members who were trying to save them.” Other reports state that acid rain fell, which burned the skin on contact, and that most of the victims are affected with a black, oily residue on the burnt skin.
Severe penalties have been imposed by the junta on anyone who is found talking to a foreign journalist. It seems imperative that this situation is not allowed to continue; if it does, according to the Director of the UK based Save the Children Fund, the death toll will keep rising.

 

Police get tough on mobile phone use whilst driving

Law enforced from May 8, fines from May 20

The “Pretty Parade” along Hang Dong Road, informing motorists
of the new amendments to the law.

A new amendment to the Traffic Act was brought into being in April amid increasing concerns about the number of road accidents caused by drivers losing concentration whilst talking on their mobile phones, and applies both to drivers of vehicles and drivers of motorbikes. However, “hands free” communications equipment which allows conversation will be deemed acceptable.

Traffic police in Chiang Mai advise motorists about the new regulations.
The amendment has been in force since May 8, and police in Phayao and Phrae are warning drivers that if they are caught violating the law, fines of between 400 and 1,000 baht will be issued. In Chiang Mai, police have launched a campaign on the roads and at the main intersections which will inform drivers, whether local residents or tourists, of the new regulations. The campaign, backed by Zoom Technology Co, Ltd, was launched at the front of Airport Plaza by means of a “Pretty Parade”, which toured the Chiang Mai-Hangdong Road, accompanied by 20 members of the traffic police who distributed explanatory leaflets to motorists.
Zoom Technology has agreed to provide, free of charge, wireless earphones or Bluetooth equipment to drivers who are able to pass a question and answer quiz based on the new regulations.
From May 10 to May 20, police will merely inform and warn any drivers who flout the ban; however, after May 20, fines starting at 2,000 baht will be issued, and video cameras will be used to detect those breaking the law.


Bank robber bomber arrested

Inspiration for crime was Thai action movie

Piriya Archeebkosolkul, the bank robber who placed a bomb
to aid his escape, being questioned by police after his arrest.

Saksit Meesubkwang
A bank robber who escaped with 150,000 baht in cash from the Thapae gate branch of Siam Commercial Bank, leaving an explosive device on the doorstep, was arrested last Friday.
Piriya Acheepkosolkil, a former marine with the Royal Thai Navy and trained as a bomb specialist, told arresting officers that he had planned the robbery after seeing the 2004 Thai action movie 102 Bangkok Robbery. Police had been searching for Piriya for over a month, and had finally traced him to the Tuko Buddhist monastery in San Pa Tong district, where he had been hiding. During interrogation following his arrest, Piriya stated that, after being discharged from the military, he had been ordained as a monk, subsequently spending time in several monasteries in the Chiang Mai area, but had been defrocked for violating monastery rules by singing at a karaoke bar. He claimed to have spent all the stolen cash at entertainment venues in the city.


Garlic-growers’ protest spreads to Mae Hong Son

Appeal to government falls on deaf ears

CMM Reporters
In a repeat of the recent protest held by garlic growers at Chiang Mai City Hall recently, growers in Mae Hong Son province are planning to surround Mae Hong Son City Hall to add their voices to growing anti-government resentment caused by the recent fall in their crop’s wholesale prices. Up to 2000 protestors are planning to eat and sleep at the protest site, as previous requests for government assistance have fallen on deaf ears. Planters in Amphur Fang and Chiang Dao are planning to follow suit.
At a recent meeting with the MP for Mae Hong Son and managers of Tesco Lotus and Macro stores in Chiang Mai, growers were told that their appeal to the government had been submitted with no result. Many of the growers are experiencing severe financial problems, particularly with school fees and related costs, and also have other debts. The leader of the protestors, Noran Chatrataen, stated that the cabinet’s ignoring of the problems of the people is seriously affecting poor farmers, who are now prepared to unite in order to demonstrate their power. He requested that government finance should be provided by allowing mortgages on the crop, as retailers are offering a below-cost price including conditions which are unacceptable to the growers, although they are prepared to but 100 tons of garlic per month.


Visakha Bucha Day, May 19 - a sacred Buddhist festival

Tess Itura
Visakha Bucha Day is one of the most venerated Buddhist festivals of the year, and falls this year on May 19, in the sixth month of the lunar calendar. The festival celebrates both the three stages of the Lord Buddha’s life; his birth, his enlightenment and his death, (all of which, traditionally, fell on the same date in the year), and the “Triple Gems” of the Buddhist faith, the Lord Buddha himself, the Dharma, (the teachings of the Lord Buddha), and the Sangha, (the monastic community).
In Chiang Mai, the celebrations, for the many devout Buddhist who take part each year, take a special form. At sunset, the faithful join the traditional procession from the city to Wat Phrathart Doi Suthep, the famous temple set high on the mountain and containing the precious relics of the Lord Buddha himself. The path winds upwards through the forest for 9 kilometres, and the procession will arrive at the temple at around 3 am, waiting there until daylight to begin their devotions and to make merit by paying homage to the Lord Buddha’s relics housed in the ancient sanctuaries. As dawn breaks, worshippers will make offerings of food to the temple monks, and continue their devotions at the chapels containing the sacred relics. A day of Dharma readings and instruction by monks follows, culminating in the final “Wien Tien” ceremony, a candle-lit procession which winds clockwise three times around the main temple building. Each worshipper carries a candle, three sticks of incense and lotus buds, the symbols of the journey towards the great light of enlightenment. This lovely and traditional ceremony ends this most sacred of Buddhist festivals.
During this religious holiday, the killing of animals and the drinking of alcohol is forbidden for 3 days. Temples are to be adorned with lanterns, flowers and joss sticks as symbols of worship, and skyrockets will be lit for three days to celebrate.
Banks and government offices will be closed, and alcohol should not be served in public venues.


Thai PM cancels trip to Myanmar

Thailand’s premier on Friday cancelled a hastily planned trip to Myanmar after its junta government started to accept foreign assistance for cyclone Nargis victims, but it was still barring foreign aid workers from entering the country.
Prime Minister Samak Sundaravej offered to undertake his own humanitarian mission to break the bureaucratic logjam in reclusive Myanmar which does not wish the presence of foreign aid workers.
Mr. Samak earlier sent a letter to his Myanmar counterpart, Prime Minister Thein Sein, encouraging flexibility in allowing workers from the United Nations World Food Programme to deliver and distribute relief supplies.
Earlier British ambassador to Thailand Quinton Quayle and US ambassador Eric John asked the Thai prime minister to petition the military rulers of Myanmar to permit Western aid and humanitarian workers.
Mr. Samak, also Thailand’s defence minister, said earlier that he had liaised with the Myanmar government and scheduled a trip to the cyclone-hit country for Sunday.
The Myanmar foreign ministry said in a statement carried in official media on Friday that the country would accept foreign aid, but not foreign aid workers.
“Myanmar is not in a position to receive rescue and information teams from foreign countries at the moment,” it said after a disaster rescue team from Qatar that arrived in Yangon on an aid flight was turned back.
Air Force deputy spokesman Group Capt. Monthol Satchukorn said in the meantime that Her Royal Highness Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn had donated 20 tonnes of food, relief supplies, electric generators, and water purifiers to be sent to Myanmar via C-130 military aircraft on Saturday. (TNA)


Bank of Thailand’s northern branch summarises increased economic growth

First quarter’s figures encouraging

CMM Reporters
Somsak Wongpanyathavorn, an administrator with the Bank of Thailand’s northern branch, gave a summary of the economic and financial sector for the first quarter of 2008, saying that it was showing growth. The farming sector was experiencing an increase in revenue due to an increase in the prices of agricultural products and the industrial sector was showing high growth due to international demand. The services sector was also showing growth resulting from marketing drives, sales and consumer promotions. Even although growth is leveling off at present, there are some signs of imminent recovery such as increased motorcycle sales and investment, and an increase in the number of construction licenses and land transfers being applied for in the municipal areas. Prices of goods, however, have increased, particularly those of oil, rice and meat.
A regards the situation in the second quarter of this year, Somsak said there should be signs of economic growth due to an increase in domestic investment. The Bank of Thailand has amended its economic growth rate predictions from 4.8% to 6%, higher than earlier predictions. Household economies are still in good shape regardless of inflation. However, the increase in prices of agricultural products and rice are the main factor in the growth of the northern economy; therefore help should be given to farmers to enable them to increase their production to the benefit of both the agricultural sector and the overall economy of the country.


U.S. Mission in Thailand to help support U.S. Government’s relief assistance to the Burmese people in cyclone aftermath

US Embassy
Press Release

The United States Mission in Thailand joins the United States government and its people in offering its deepest condolences to the people of Burma and especially to those who lost loved ones in Tropical Cyclone Nargis. In response to this tragedy, the U.S. Agency for International Development yesterday apportioned US$ 3.25 million in initial assistance for the relief effort. This assistance will be allocated by the USAID Disaster Assistance Response Team, which is currently pre-positioned in Bangkok awaiting permission to enter Burma. U.S. Ambassador to Thailand Eric G. John stated that the DART team stands prepared to enter Burma to render assistance relief, adding that “the DART personnel are experienced in dealing with massive humanitarian disasters, including the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami crisis.”
According to the U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Assistance, the most urgent needs of populations in affected areas include plastic sheeting, water purification tablets, cooking sets, mosquito nets, emergency health kits, food, and possibly fuel supplies. Tropical Cyclone Nargis made landfall at approximately 18:30 local time Friday, May 2 to the west of Rangoon in the Irrawaddy River Delta. When it hit land, Nargis had winds of approximately 132 miles per hour and reportedly produced a storm surge 12 feet high in some areas. Burmese state radio has reported at least 22,000 deaths and tens of thousands are missing, though these figures remain unconfirmed at this time.


Thailand and India to link information on tsunami warning buoys

CMM Reporters
Thailand and India have agreed to link information from tsunami warning buoys in the Indian Ocean in order to enhance their ability to pool resources in an attempt to prevent damage and future loss of life from natural disasters. After meeting with the Indian Ambassador to Thailand, Latha Reddy, last Thursday, the Thai Information and Communication Technology Minister Mun Patanotai told reporters that the link had been agreed, as Thailand has plans to shortly deploy a buoy in the Indian Ocean. He added that Thursday’s talks would lead eventually to the signing of a memorandum of understanding on bilateral cooperation.
Thailand plans to send technical experts to India to study two tsunami warning buoys in the Indian Ocean. Mun explained that the Indian surface buoy had been home-developed, whilst the underwater buoy and software had been imported from Italy, and added that the system that Thailand would purchase should be compatible with that of India, who had offered a competitive tender to supply the equipment.
Smith Tumsaroch, chairman of Thailand’s National Disaster Warning Committee said he expected the purchase of a buoy would take place by the end of this year. The most suitable time for deployment weather-wise would be during November-December as that time frame would not be affected by the monsoons.
Thailand could deploy such buoys in only two locations, but the protection they could offer would extend over six provinces on the Andaman Sea coast of Thailand’s southern peninsula. The former Director General of the Meteorological Department added that Thailand’s tsunami early warning system is reliable and is able to warn the public of danger within 45 minutes.


Thailand’s Social Development Minister resigns

Dodgy degree a possible reason

Prime Minister Samak Sundaravej confirmed Thursday that Sutha Chansaeng had resigned for ‘health reasons’ as Minister for Social Development and Human Security. Government spokesman Wichienchote Sukchoterat said Sutha’s resignation took immediate effect as of Thursday and that a new Minister of Social Development and Human Security would likely be named shortly to replace him.
The Prime Minister has not so far commented as to who might be in line to take command of a portfolio largely in charge of social affairs. The vacant ministerial seat was earlier allocated to the ruling People Power Party, to which Sutha belongs.
Meanwhile, Democrat MP Warong Dejkitwikrom charged that Sutha had decided to call it quits not because of his health but allegedly because he had had a problem with his educational background, due to which he may have faced disqualification from the ministerial post. The Democrat MP from Phitsanulok province showed reporters documentation supposedly pertaining to a Bachelor’s degree issued by a little-known college in the Philippines to Sutha, which, according to Warong, may have been forged. All cabinet members are legally required to have graduated with a Bachelor’s degree or higher.
Warong stated that he doubted that Sutha had graduated from the Filipino college at all, given that his passport was issued in 1994 and that the ex-minister’s statement that he had graduated from the college a decade earlier was, to say the least, contradictory. The Democrat MP called on the Prime Minister, Foreign Minister Noppadon Pattama, the chief of the Civil Service Commission and the cabinet secretary to take responsibility for the alleged failures to verify Sutha’s qualification. (TNA)


Lahu hilltribe members arrested for drug dealing

Drug money laundered through used car business

Police and a suspect with confiscated vehicles
in a garage belonging to drug dealer Tat Panyuang.

Saksit Meesubkwang
A “sting” operation by local police resulted in the arrest on May 6 of two Lahu tribespeople who had been suspected of drug running for some time. Nahae Jawa, (29), and Tat Panyuang, (35), were detained after an undercover officer had arranged for 30 YaBa pills to be delivered to him at a location in San Kamphaeng district. When Nahae arrived and handed over the drugs, the arrest was made and the drugs confiscated, together with 1 motorbike, 1 pickup truck and two mobile phones.
Subsequently, Nahae, who had admitted to selling drugs to students and teenagers in San Kamphaeng district, and had agreed to work with police in order to apprehend Tat, contacted him to order 50 YaBa pills for distribution, to be collected from Tat’s used car garage in San Kamphaeng. Tat was arrested at the agreed meeting place and the YaBa pills were confiscated to be used as evidence. Later, police returned to the garage, and confiscated 8 vehicles and 1 motorbike. Tat had apparently been collecting between 300 and 600 YaBa pills each week from his village in Mae Ai district, selling them with the help of his wife’s niece Nahae, and laundering the money through his used car business.


The tragic situation in Burma

Sai Awn Tai
Burmese people are suffering from the appalling impact of Cyclone Nargis, and the shocking news that the death toll has increased dramatically. An Asian expert has predicted that it could grow to 250,000, and a US diplomat said Wednesday that more than 100,000 people may have died, with millions homeless. This is horrifying news for the Burmese community both inside and outside the country as well as for caring people around the world.
It is hard to imagine how people living in affected areas are going to survive with delayed access to rescuers and aid workers when there is difficulty in transportation of supplies. There are also restrictions on issuing visas from the Burmese military government. For the Burmese people, suffering from the shortage of food and medication, this is not new; this time it is even more horrifying under the tragic circumstances that they face, traumatised by the loss of their possessions, homes and loved ones.
Losing lives due to this natural disaster should have been preventable. The Burmese military regime had been notified of Nargis’s destructive potential 48 hours prior to its landfall. Ordinary Burmese citizens had circulated information from the US Navy and Air Force Joint Typhoon Warning Center that there was a risk of severe damage. The Indian Meteorological Department had also warned 48 hours in advance about the likely area of landfall and the intensity of the cyclone. The Burmese military ignored both warnings, and worse, had announced to the media that Nargis had weakened, and that the winds were moving toward the north. The report predicted that after 28 hours the cyclone would weaken further and move toward the northeast. According to the Burmese weather department, winds of 40 to 45mph were expected. Thousands of lives could have been saved if the military regime had acted on the warnings, and helped people to evacuate from the cyclone’s path.
By ignoring the warnings the junta has murdered its own innocent people. They knew people would die if they were not evacuated, but chose to let this happen. The facts will remain in documents; one day, when Burma becomes a democracy, the guilty will pay the price for their victims. Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd has stated there should be no blame and no politics at this stage, as saving lives is more important. He is right. The junta, who care more for their power than their people, have been using this kind of brutal tactic since the military coup in 1962.
Foreign Minister Stephen Smith, in a media release, stated that Australia will provide $3 million in immediate humanitarian assistance to those affected by Nargis. This is great news for the people of Burma. $1 million will provide emergency shelters, water and other materials to directly affected people through Care, World Vision and Caritas. Aid of $1 million each will go to the United Nations World Food Programme and the United Nations Children’s Fund.
The military regime, however, is reluctant to grant visas to aid workers, which is extremely disturbing to the international community who care so much about the affected people and are willing to provide financial, material and human resources. About $40 million from more than 20 countries has been pledged already, but the junta has not made any moves which suggest that they welcome the aid. This shows clearly the regime’s fundamental character, in that they have no sympathy for the people who desperately need help to survive. The people of Burma should therefore not tolerate or assist this brutal regime and they should keep in mind that if the regime remains in power, they will continue to torture and kill people, making Burma a slave country.


New economic development programme planned for Northern Thailand

Competitive ability of northern businesses to increase

 The 10 provincial Chambers of Commerce in northern Thailand have recently introduced a new and more aggressive economic development programme, which they are hoping will provide sustainable benefits to local people. Its intent is to initiate cooperation between the public and private sectors and relevant international organizations which will result in the future development of the Quadrangle Zone, namely southern China, Laos, Burma, Northern Thailand and the Greater Mekong sub-regions. The development scheme includes strategic planning, communications systems, networking, and administration in the countries within the zone.
The 6 main policies are coordination, cooperation, economic networks, commerce, investment, tourism, culture and education. Emphasis will be placed on the proactive marketing of Thai products and services to increase the competitive ability of operators in the 10 Northern provinces, and on strategic planning for the north. The committee is considering both the logistics aspects and the development of protective measures against the negative affects of the scheme on the north of Thailand. It also aims to strengthen the 10 provincial Chambers of Commerce and the committee itself, in order for it to become the central body for economic development in the GMS countries.
Plans for the project over the next 4 years include field trips and marketing surveys of tourist attractions in the Quadrangle zone, and the organisation of semi-regional and border trade shows. Seminars will be held based on various subjects, including increasing competitiveness and building up transportation capacity, trading regulations and the scope of limitations. An education center will be established in the zone under the supervision of the public sector, together with an information hub and mobile meetings for the 10 provincial Chambers of Commerce.


Chiang Mai Red Cross holds Soroptimist-sponsored buffet lunch

HIV-AIDS orphaned children and their carers to benefit

 

Dr. Mom Chao Duangduan na Chiengmai and Dr. Carolina Thompson
with Patcharee Chuanriyagul and other caring women and friends
at the sponsored buffet lunch.

The Chiang Mai Red Cross grounds were the venue for a sponsored buffet lunch held recently in aid of children orphaned by HIV-AIDS, and the grandmas and grandpas who are caring for them, having lost their own children to the epidemic. The event was founded by Auntie Boon Suprasert, the founding President of Zonta International Chiang Mai. The sponsors of the event, Soroptimist International Chiang Mai, were represented by their current president, Dr. Carolina Thompson, together with Hanna Braendi and Donna Dauenhauer. Others present were Dr. Mom Chao Duangduan na Chiengmai, Hope Wacharapreecha from the Rotary Club, Patcharee Chuanriyagul, the director of the Red Cross, and many other caring women and friends who have been supporting the project for over 10 years.


Green light given for import of wood products from Burma

Stringent monitoring of illegal activities essential

 The Governor of Mae Hong Son, Thongchai Vongrientong, gave the green light on May 5 for the importation of wooden products from Burma through the Huay Phung pass at Muong Sam Mok. However, he emphasised that the destruction of forest resources, illegal activities, and the smuggling of people and weapons across the border, must be stringently monitored by those responsible. The One Stop Centre at Ban Rong Haeng would be used to check the products and to impose customs duties, and would open on Tuesdays, Wednesday and Thursdays between 8:00 am and 4:30 pm. Since April 17, when the relevant directive was issued, 1,400 cubic feet of wood products have been imported from Burma.


Police raid “forest monk” settlement

Buddhist Association of Thailand rules broken

 Saksit Meesubkwang
A group of monks from the north east, who had been living for two months in a wooded grove beside the Chiang Mai-Lampang superhighway, have been questioned by police and local Buddhist authorities and sent back to their temples.
The monks had erected shelters in the woods, and had received offerings daily in the usual manner from residents in Sarapee district. However, certain residents had complained to local police that the monks’ conduct was not appropriate, as they were not based at a local temple according to the rules of state Buddhism.
When police and Buddhist authorities arrived at the site on May 6, they found a large hut covered in canvas, with a tent inside it. In the hut were 6 monks, 1 novice and 1 Brahman. All had identification papers, which stated that they were monks from Srininwanaram Temple in Loey province and Jak Temple in Chayapoom province.
An official from the Chiang Mai Buddhism Office stated that monks who follow the forest tradition by living in the woods are regarded as disobeying the regulations of the Buddhist Association of Thailand, which state that all monks must live in temples. Although they had done nothing wrong, they were regarded as living in an improper place. Subsequently, as order was made to demolish the hut, and to send the monks back to their original temples. He stated that, should they wish to return to Chiang Mai to perform Dharma or to study, they must make arrangements to stay in a temple.
The “forest monk” tradition itself was strong, particularly in the North East, during the first half of the last century, when a large number of Buddhist ascetics wandered the forests. Their form of Buddhism, based on the life of Buddha himself, found its expression in living day-to-day in the forests, contending with the mental and physical challenges present in that environment. No formal studies were undertaken, and constant meditation was considered to be the way to achieve enlightenment.



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