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HEADLINES [click on headline to view story]:

“Friends of Burma” Public Forum and Music Festival held at CMU

It’s Tesco Lotus football clinic time again

US-Thai Cobra Gold 2008 closes; relief supplies sent to Rangoon

British Council gives “Tea Party with the Alumni”

Peter Vella Californian Wine launched in Chiang Mai

“Friends of Burma” Public Forum and Music Festival held at CMU

CM citizens and CMU join together

Last Tuesday, May 20, local NGOs heavily involved in the humanitarian crisis in Burma together with academics from Chiang Mai University held a public forum followed by a music festival at the university’s convention centre.

Dr. Wim Min, the highly regarded Chiang Mai based exiled Burmese political expert and lecturer at Chiang Mai University, speaking at the Public Forum.

The aims of the day were to raise funds for the victims of Nargis through the efforts of local, effective aid organisations; to build awareness about the abuse of human rights involved in the junta’s response to the disaster; to provide encouragement both to Burmese people living here and to all who work with Burmese issues here in Thailand, and to promote collaboration between civil society groups in Chiang Mai and Thai and international organisations working with Burma issues.
On display outside the convention centre were recent photographs of the devastation caused by the cyclone, and many local aid organisations and NGOs set up informative poster boards. The public forum began at 3:30 pm and lasted for two hours, focusing on both the potentially disastrous lack of aid and professional assistance in the affected areas, and on the use in this emergency of lessons learned during the aftermath of the tsunami.
Dr. Win Min, the highly regarded Chiang Mai based exiled Burmese political expert and lecturer at Chiang Mai University, spoke at length, explaining the full situation on the ground. He also gave a brief insight into the minds of the ruling military junta, with quotes from the generals, including, “Natural disasters will not hit Myanmar because we are a good Buddhist nation - our mountains will protect us”! Palakorn Wongkongkaew, from the Community Organisation Development Institute, explained about the post-disaster short and long-term aid requirements in Burma, based on past experience of the tsunami, and a situation analysis was given by Dr Chayan Wattanphuti.
Fund-raising activities were held from 5:30 pm, including an auction of paintings by Thepsiri Suksopha and Thirayut Boonmii, a sale of dolls by Udom Taephanit and a sale of photographs by Saran Buunprasaert, Thiraphap Lohikkun, Chirana Phitpreecha and others. Luang Prabang Café provided fresh coffee, and Burmese health foods were available throughout the day.
In the evening, a music and poetry festival was held, featuring “Songs for friends in Burma”, by Suwichanon, Sunthree Wechanon, Book Khetawatthana, Sudsanan, Yenni and Took Brasserie, a youth band from Burma, and poems by Saengdao Satthaman and Phaitoon Phromwichit. The evening ended with the reading of a final poem by Jiranan Pithpreecha and a candlelit mourning ceremony led by Chatchawan Thongdeelert and Sanghueng from Burma.
The “Friends of Burma” day was put together with the assistance of Chiang Mai University, many local organisations, NGOs and civil society groups in Chiang Mai - a truly worthwhile collaboration for the benefit of a truly worthwhile cause.

Ead and Na selling dolls on “Friends of Burma”
 day to raise money for victims of the cyclone.

 

It’s Tesco Lotus football clinic time again

Ian Rush and Peter Read to encourage kids’ football

Former English League stars Ian Rush and Peter Reid are coming to Thailand next week to run football clinics for Thai youngsters at Tesco Lotus stores in Chiang Mai and Bangkok. They will also play in a special Tesco Lotus friendly against former Thai internationals and entertainment stars led by “Zico” Kiatisak Senamuang and play in the 2008 Tesco Lotus Bangkok Masters 7-a-side tournament. “The Tesco Lotus Football Clinics are part of our Community Plan which focuses on activities in education, health and the environment,” said Tesco Lotus Chief Executive Officer Steve Hammett. “We are very glad to be able to give underprivileged Thai kids the chance to learn from these footballing legends, and also encourage them to get involved in sports and keep themselves healthy.” This is the third year Tesco Lotus has organized the clinics following successful events in 2007 and 2006.
The clinics, conducted by Rush and Reid, will be held on Wednesday May 28 at Tesco Lotus Chiang Mai Khamtieng store, and on Saturday May 31 at Tesco Lotus Salaya store from 1 pm onwards. Customers are invited to watch the legends at work and get autographs. The Tesco Lotus Friendly 2008, featuring Ian Rush, Peter Reid and Viv Anderson against Thai stars led by Zico, kicks off on May 30, with gates opening from 4 pm at the Nimibut Stadium. During the event there will be special privileges for Tesco Lotus customers: Exchange a receipt of purchases in Tesco Lotus of 200 baht upwards for two tickets to the friendly match. Make the exchange at the customer service point of any Tesco Lotus hypermarket from May 22-28 (ticket availability is limited). The first 500 to bring a receipt of 500 baht upwards will receive a free football signed by the stars.


US-Thai Cobra Gold 2008 closes; relief supplies sent to Rangoon

Joint exercise diverts to aid cyclone victims

US press release
The 27th annual Cobra Gold exercise, a joint and combined multi-national military exercise hosted by the Kingdom of Thailand, concluded last Wednesday in Moungkom, Lopburi Province. This year participating countries included Japan, Singapore, Indonesia and the United States.
Cobra Gold 2008 opened on May 8 and consisted of computer-simulated command post exercise, field training exercises, and humanitarian/civic assistance projects. Speaking at the closing ceremony, U.S. Ambassador to Thailand Eric G. John said, “Cobra Gold is a vital tool not just to enhance U.S.-Thai relations, but also to strengthen our bonds with other countries in the region. Thanks to all for your efforts, Cobra Gold remains a mark of our combined commitment to regional stability in Southeast Asia.”
The cataclysmic landfall of Cyclone Nargis, which struck Burma on May 2, had a profound effect on Cobra Gold 2008. Thanks to the extraordinary support of the Royal Thai Armed Forces, U.S. military assets were able to participate in Cobra Gold, while preparing humanitarian relief operations at the same time. To date, more than thirty flights of U.S. C-130 aircraft have flown from the Royal Thai Navy Airbase at Utapao to Rangoon to deliver plastic sheeting, water containers, hygiene kits and food. The United States has 8,000 service members and four Naval Ships now in international waters off the coast of Burma ready to help when requested by the Government of Burma.
For more information on DOD operations, contact Lt. Col. Jeffrey Blau at 087 058 8180 or Lt. Col. Douglas Powell at 087 809 0894. To contact the U.S. Embassy Public Affairs Section, Ms. Bussabonglahwan Pattaro at 02 205 4418.


British Council gives “Tea Party with the Alumni”

Briefing for prospective UK university students

Supattra Honghirun (centre), with guests - about to tuck
in to a typical English High Tea.

On May 17, the British Council Chiang Mai held a ‘Tea Party with the Alumni’ at the Chedi Hotel for would-be students travelling to the UK to complete their studies. Within the magnificent setting of the Old Consular building everyone was treated to a delicious ‘English High Tea’.
However, there was a more serious side to the treat. Many people remember the headlines a couple of years ago - when a Thai student tried to commit suicide whilst studying in Germany - and this was not a one-off occasion. The event gave the young Thai adults the opportunity to network, and provided orientation information which included visa requirements, descriptions of student life, and culture in the UK. Fifteen Alumni - ex-students who had studied in the UK - of around the same age as the prospective students, were on hand to give practical advice The students are predominately female - maybe a sign of the times, with women working to gain a better education than their male counterparts. Soon everyone was exchanging email addresses and promising to keep in contact.
By coincidence, the tea party was held on the same day as another great British Institution - the FA Cup Final, and was also the day on which Peter Phillips, the grandson of HM Queen Elizabeth, got married. Hopefully, these young Thai ladies will find fewer football hooligans and more UK “polite society” when they arrive at their destination universities! Supattra Honghirun, head of customer relations and the organiser of the ‘Tea Party’, was very pleased with the results and hopes to keep in contact with many of the young people as they experience a different lifestyle in a different country.


Peter Vella Californian Wine launched in Chiang Mai

Good value, good quality, affordable price

Last week, Peter J Vella, vice president of winemaking and senior winemaster at the Ernest & Julio Gallo Winery in California, flew into town on a visit aimed at celebrating the company’s new joint venture with Bangkok’s Siam Winery with the launch of ‘Peter Vella Wines’. The new line, created especially for Thailand and the Thai palette, represents a first joint venture between the two family owned businesses, and commemorates 175 years of Thai-US relations. Siam Winery’s local knowledge as leading producers of premium wines makes them an ideal partner in the new venture.

Peter Vella (third left) joins the team from Horeca at The Maze.

E & J Gallo Winery is the largest family owned winery in the world, and Peter has been with the company for more than four decades. “He must be good to have a wine named after him”, said a guest at the wine tasting. Although the brand was established in 1993, and is well known throughout the USA, the Thai version is blended specifically for Thai taste. Extensive research carried out by Siam Winery confirmed that the Thai palate differs from the Western palate, and helped create a blend which compliments Thai food.
The range comprises only two wines, Classic White and Classic Red. Peter explained that the blended wines are soft drinking wines with a typical Californian flavour, which should prove popular amongst Thai wine drinkers. He also stressed that as the wine is shipped by container, with bottling, etc done on arrival, the cost of the product is reasonable at under 300 baht per bottle, and emphasised that the company’s aim was to produce a good value, good quality wine at an affordable price.
Distribution is being handled by Horeca, local distributor to most of the major four and five star hotels in Northern Thailand. Last week’s receptions were held at both Le Crystal and The Maze restaurants, where both wines proved to be popular, especially with those who do not normally drink wine.