protestors reach Government
House; no violence
After a marathon rally demanding that the coalition
government of Prime Minister Samak Sundaravej leave office, members and
supporters of the anti-government People’s Alliance for Democracy on Friday
marched to Government House and camped there.
Amid applause from members and supporters, PAD coordinator Suriyasai
Katasila declared a victory atop a platform used as the rally focal point
during the nearly month-long demonstration after learning that small PAD
groups had blocked an exit gate at Government House.
The protestors at the UN Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the
Pacific headquarters about a kilometre away from Government House, clapped
hands in appreciation of the police who allowed their colleagues to march to
Government House without using violence.
It was feared earlier that the police might use tear gas to dispersing the
protestors and prevent them from going to Government House.
The climax in front of the UN offices before the protestors were able laid
siege to Government House was quite tense as the police tried their best to
prevent the demonstrators from crossing a small bridge in front of ESCAP.
But their attempts succeeded eventually after protestors separated into
small groups and were joined by members of several state-enterprise labour
unions - including Electricity Generating Authority of Thailand and Thai
Four police officers - including two women - were injured after
demonstrators pushed iron barricades, which fell on some of the officers.
Mr. Samak, who also serves as defence minister, earlier pledged to refrain
from using force against the protesters.
He and other cabinet members were not at Government House on Friday.
Government spokesman Wichianchote Sukchotrat said some schools and
government offices near Government House were ordered to close Friday for
The Thai stock market rose 3.56 percent Friday as the anti-government
rallies remained peaceful, analysts said.
The Stock Exchange of Thailand composite index soared 26.44 points to close
at 768.90 points, while the bluechip SET 50 index rebounded 21.88 points to
close at 550.46. (TNA)
Traditional crafts are focus for new tourist destination
Proximity to Chiang Mai reduces fuel costs
San Patong district craft villages have begun a
new tourist initiative in their area, stressing their location as a
A new cultural tourism location was opened Jun 11 in San Patong
district, previously only little-known as an area in which rice perfume was
produced, and located a short drive from Chiang Mai. The four tourist
attractions comprise a wood-carving village, a village specializing in
hand-made knives, a dolls’ exhibition house and a Singh modeler, all of
which can be visited within a half-day trip from the city.
The concept was decided on at a meeting between the recently-appointed San
Patong district chief, local village head men and the administrators of the
local tourist sector. A strong point of consideration was that, with fuel
prices at an all-time high, the proximity of the villages to Chiang Mai
itself would mean that visitors could enjoy a half-day out and purchase
souvenirs of their visit without excessive fuel costs. The district chief
had also encouraged each area to examine its local potential to attract
For more information please contact the San Patong District Office for a map
and guide, or call on 053 311 258.
Forget Euro 2008 - elephant football’s more fun!
Special shows at Maesa Camp
Recent visitors to the Maesa Elephant Camp, many of whom may have
been following the Euro 2008 football tournament on TV and in the media,
were surprised and delighted with a display of elephant football specially
organised to coincide with the international tournament. With shows taking
place three times a day, and the flags of the Euro 2008 competing teams also
allocated to the elephants, photo opportunities for fans of any particular
Euro 2008 team were much appreciated.
2008 - was this a goal or did it miss?
Visitors were also invited to watch mahouts training the magnificent beasts
in the skills necessary to win the cup! The assistant MD of the Mesa Camp,
justly proud of his elephants’ achievements, stated that not only did his
camp have the best elephant artists in the world, but that they had been
trained to play other sports in addition to football. He added that he hoped
all fans would enjoy Euro 2008, although he would prefer them not to use the
tournament as an excuse to gamble.
reforestation project under way
Tree replacement in devastated forest
areas around Chiang Mai
A major tree-planting event was held June 13 in three sections of
damaged forests in the Chiang Mai area, led by the Minister of Natural
Resources and the Environment Anongwan Thepsuthin, together with more than
500 forestry officials, military personnel, students and local residents.
Concern about the environmental effects of countrywide deforestation had
prompted the initiative, with the Chiang Mai planting taking place in Huay
Tungtao, Don Kaew and Mae Rim districts.
Minister of Natural Resources and the Environment, Anongwan Thepsuthin,
planting a tree as part of the countrywide reforestation project.
The minister noted that Thailand currently only has 4.5 million rai of
forests compared to a previous count of 24 million rai, and that plans to
replant all devastated areas countrywide have been initiated. The Ministry
of Natural Resources and the Environment has requested the cooperation of
the Department of Forestry in the hope that the project will be speedily
Anongwan also mentioned that, due to forecasts of unusually heavy rain and
storms increasing the risk of landslides and flooding in the north, her
ministry has been ordered to cooperate with the northern region’s
Meteorological Department as regards anticipation of evacuation of
threatened areas and villages. This initiative is at present in the planning
stage. The Samoeng, Mae Cham and Om Koi districts of Chiang Mai are at
particular risk, as are Chiang Rai, Mae Hong Son, Prae and Nan.
Governors of Lamphun and Mae Hong Son propose solutions to fall in tourists
New roads, new factory tours and a new tunnel
Governor of Lamphun Amornphan Nimanant has stated that the province
should concentrate on promoting conservation-related tourism, and is
proposing that Lamphun be considered for listing as a World Heritage Site
due to its role in the origin of the Lanna kingdom and its number of
archaeological sites and temples.
He is also suggesting a new and somewhat original form of tourism, in that
interested visitors should be offered tours of the industrial areas and
factories of the city, the largest such in the north. In addition, the
Governor announced that a new scenic road was to be constructed, linking
Amphur Toen in Lampang to Amphur Lechang in Lamphun, an area with a long
history which encompasses both cultural sites and beautiful scenery. A
request has also been made that a road be cut between Tak and Mae Hong Son
in order to bypass Chiang Mai and facilitate easier access by visitors to
Meanwhile, the Governor of Mae Hong Son, after a meeting concerning Thailand
Tourism Promotion Year held recently in Chiang Mai, proposed that
consideration be given to the construction of a tunnel beginning at Ban Wat
Chan in Chiang Mai, in order to reduce travel times between the areas by
three hours and to attract more visitors.
Electrical fault causes
tourist bus burn-out
Bus completely destroyed, no injuries
A recent emergency call-out brought Mae Ping police and four
fire engines to the Ploy Luang Kao Hotel intersection, where they found
a tourist bus belonging to the 999 VIP Tour Company in flames at the
side of the road. Firefighters took 15 minutes to bring the blaze under
control, by which time the bus was completely destroyed.
totally burnt-out bus, parked by the side of the road.
The driver, Surin Suksasanii, 48, reported later that, having cleaned
the vehicle, he had been driving it to the Chiang Mai bus terminal to
pick up his passengers when he noticed a smell of burning. On seeing
smoke, he stopped the bus near the hotel, realised that the passenger
area was on fire, and tried without success to douse the flames with a
fire extinguisher. At that point, he left the bus and called the police
and the fire services. No injuries were caused as the bus was empty, but
damage is estimated at 6 million baht. Police, believing that the fire
was caused by an electrical fault, have towed the bus to Mae Ping Police
Station, where it will be examined by forensic experts.
to visit Chiang Mai
The British Ambassador to Thailand, Quinton Quayle, will visit
Chiang Mai on June 26-27, in order to present a speech at CMU in the
Thai language, (which he studied in Chiang Mai 29 years ago), entitled
“Democracy in the Region”. All are welcome to attend; the venue is room
HB7 on the 8th floor of CMU’s Faculty of Humanities - the speech will be
given on June 26 between 4 and 5 pm.
The Ambassador is expected to meet with the Governor of Chiang Mai on
the afternoon of June 27, and will also speak with the Mayor, Dr
Duentemduang na Chieng Mai and other city officials. There are also
plans for him to meet with British business owners operating in Chiang
Mai. The British Embassy in Bangkok encourages British nationals
travelling or living in Thailand to register their details with LOCATE,
the Foreign and Commonwealth Office’s newly improved online registration
service. The new service allows easier location of British nationals
abroad in the event of a crisis. To register please visit,
Royal Project in Mae Hong Son receives rainfall reporting equipment
Flooding and other natural disasters cause concern
The Phra Tamnak Pang Tong Royal Project in Mae Hong Son province
has recently received specialised equipment to monitor rainfall in the
area. The technology, installed by the Mae Hong Son Natural Disaster
Prevention Office and NECTEC, is connected to the mobile communications
network and will compile rainfall levels in order to alert the general
public to the possibility of flooding.
An official of the Mae Hong Son Natural Disaster Prevention Office
stressed the importance of being able to monitor possible threats to
life by natural disasters, particularly as Mae Hong Son is situated on a
fault line. With this and other factors in mind, an NECTEC team on June
19 held discussions with the Mae Hong Son management committee.
10 gambling arrests made
in first 3 days of Euro 2008
Punters and bookies prefer anonymity of phone and internet
The commander of Chiang Mai Municipal Police has summarized ten
gambling-related arrests during the first three days of the Euro 2008
Championships. All local and city police stations have been ordered to
carry out suppression activities, however difficult, and special
investigative teams have been set up. Due to the preference of both
bookmakers and gamblers for the anonymity of internet and telephone
betting, dedicated internet and telephone gambling suppression
activities have also been initiated.
According to Pol. Maj. Gen. Suthep Daecharaksa, of the ten arrests made
during the first three days of the tournament, one was of a bookmaker’s
runner, and the rest were of gamblers. Evidence was seized, including an
amount of 8,000 baht in cash. The arrests took place in Mae Ping, Chiang
Mai City and Chang Phuok.
Nam Ping River merit-
making ceremony held
on World Environment Day
Annual celebration of the river and its contribution to life
Residents living along the banks of
the Ping celebrate their traditional
links with the river during the merit-making ceremony.
For generations, the way of life of the people living
along the banks of the Ping has been connected to the river
itself. In celebration of this, a Nam Ping River merit-making
ceremony has been held annually in Amphur Saraphi since 1998
with the purpose of expanding awareness of the importance of
conservation of the river, its environment and its ecology. This
year, the ceremony was carried out on June 6, a day after World
Officials from Sansai District Administration Organization,
local village elders, the Sansai Cultural Association, the
Chiang Mai Fresh Water Research and Development Centre, the Land
Development Organisation and the committee for the Ping River
and Environment Preservation all cooperated to introduce the
Sansai 2008 Ping River Fish and Environment Preservation
Programme. Chiang Mai MP Kotsaporn Siampakdii, (PPP), presided
over the opening ceremony, and helped with planting carried out
in honour of His Majesty the King in order to prevent soil
sinkage on the river’s banks. The director of the Sansai
District Administration Organization, Prapat Unjai, stressed
that his organisation had shown by heading up the ceremony that
the importance of the river to residents was fully realised. He
noted that a fish preservation area had been designated,
prohibiting fishing for a distance of one kilometre, and that
fish had been released into the river to expand its marine life.
Residents in the area are encouraged to participate in the
preservation and love of the Ping River and its environment, as
an honour to His Majesty the King on World Environment Day.
Many other Chiang Mai organisations also held events on World
Environment Day, including the Chiang Mai Provincial
Organization, the Chiang Mai Municipality, the Environment
Engineering Board, Chiang Mai University, the Chiang Mai
Environment Office, the 33rd Army Regiment and local
administration organisations, together with 500 students who
organized World Environment Day activities at Khlong Mae Kha.
Talks were given on ways to solve environmental issues and their
direct and indirect impacts and a campaign was started to
encourage local administration organizations to preserve the
environment in their communities Chumporn Saengmanee, the deputy
governor of Chiang Mai, presided over the signing of an
agreement between local administration and other government
organizations to cooperate to solve environmental issues. In
Khlong Mae Kha, the local Corrections Department supervised 50
soon to be released prisoners who had undertaken to perform
activities for social benefit.
Chiang Mai Zoo celebrates 31st anniversary
Future plans include polar bears and penguins
On the occasion of the 31st anniversary of the opening
of Chiang Mai Zoo, its director, Thanapat Phongpamorn, announced
plans for its future, including the largest aquarium in Asia
with over 8,000 salt and freshwater marine species, and new
displays of polar bears and penguins. The director reported
that, over the previous 31 years, the zoo had provided a
recreational facility for locals and tourists alike, as well as
creating employment for local people, and had helped to promote
tourism by displaying pandas, white tigers and other endangered
species. He also confirmed that the zoo had operated at a loss
until pandas were introduced; subsequently generating annual
profits of 500,000 baht. A 75 million baht budget has been
allocated for future projects.
The anniversary celebrations themselves were held between June
15 and 22, and began with a religious ceremony on the first
morning, with academic presentations in the afternoon.
Activities for visitors included photo opportunities with wild
animals and OTOP goods were on sale at competitive prices.
PM Samak makes low-key
Chiang Mai visit to discuss tourism
“Too many hotel rooms - block further building”
At a press conference after the
meeting, PM Samak Sundaravej, right,
and Weerasak Kowsurat, Minister of Tourism and Sports, spoke
the situation of tourism in Thailand’s northern region.
The much-publicised visit to Chiang Mai on June 14 of
the current Thai Prime Minister, Samak Sundaravej, was, it
seems, a deliberately low-key affair. The aim of the visit had
been to discuss the poor state of the tourist industry in the
city, although there were suggestions, about which Samak refused
to comment, that he was also here to celebrate ex-PM Thaksin’s
birthday at a party which was being held at the Green Valley
resort in Mae Rim district. The PM seemed in good spirits,
although it had been reported that several days previously,
during his lunch with leaders of the coalition parties, a
confrontation with reporters waiting to file a report without
prior notification may have occurred.
Before the meeting at the Shangri-La Hotel, Samak spent some
time and a little money, together with his private secretary and
a few plain clothes policemen, in Wararot market, meeting
people, drinking coffee and purchasing fried pork, sai aua,
kanom jeen nam ngiaw and a large quantity of oranges of the Sai
Namphung variety, informing reporters in attendance that “food
prices here are not expensive”. It was reported later that,
although there may have been no connection with these pleasant
activities, he had spent at least 30 minutes in the bathroom
before the meeting commenced.
Getting down to business, Samak chaired the meeting with the
Minster of Tourism and Sports, attended by the Governor of
Chiang Mai and local business owners in the field of tourism.,
in order to discuss promotion of the 2008-2009 “Visit Thailand”
project. He requested informality for the occasion, although it
was noticed that security for the meeting involved at least 500
uniformed police officers. The morning’s meeting involved a
discussion with private organisations, Governors of the northern
regions and the tourism minister concerning the promotion of the
area; the afternoon’s meeting involved a discussion with local
administrative organisations and other relevant local
departments. During the morning’s meeting, the Vice President of
the Chiang Mai Tourism Business Association raised the valid
point that, although the situation is far from good, with
reduced flights due to lack of demand and visitor numbers
falling fast, there are over 30,000 rooms available in the
city’s hotels, too many for even a busy season. He requested
that new initiatives be set up to attract more visitors to fill
the empty rooms, that certain costs such as parking fees at the
airport and other service fees should decrease, that the
long-delayed Conference Centre and Exhibition Hall should be
constructed to bring in MICE visitors to seminars and
conferences, and that a hold should be placed on any further
building of hotels.
Representatives from 5 Chiang Mai districts also attended the
venue before the meeting in order to submit to Samak their
requests concerning the water supply to the city, focusing on
the annual flooding in Chiang Mai and Lamphun, and the recent
drought. The construction of an additional reservoir in Mae Tang
to provide a “water retention” area which would solve both
problems was proposed. Complaints on this issue have been filed
regularly since 2004. On this occasion, the representatives were
not allowed to meet with the PM - details of the group’s
requests were taken by a provincial official.