NEWS
HEADLINES [click on headline to view story]:

Anti-government protestors reach Government House; no violence

Traditional crafts are focus for new tourist destination

Forget Euro 2008 - elephant football’s more fun!

Massive countrywide reforestation project under way

Governors of Lamphun and Mae Hong Son propose solutions to fall in tourists

Electrical fault causes tourist bus burn-out

British Ambassador to visit Chiang Mai

Royal Project in Mae Hong Son receives rainfall reporting equipment

10 gambling arrests made in first 3 days of Euro 2008

Nam Ping River merit-making ceremony held on World Environment Day

Chiang Mai Zoo celebrates 31st anniversary

PM Samak makes low-key Chiang Mai visit to discuss tourism

 

Anti-government 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 Airways International.
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 safety reasons.
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 fuel-economic destination.

Saksit Meesubkwang
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 tourists.
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

Saksit Meesubkwang
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.

Maesa 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.


Massive countrywide reforestation project under way

Tree replacement in devastated forest areas around Chiang Mai

Saksit Meesubkwang
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.

The 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 completed.
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

CMM Reporters
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 both destinations.
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

CMM Reporters
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.

The 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.


British Ambassador to visit Chiang Mai

CMM Reporters
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, http://www.fco.gov.uk/en/travelling-and-living-overseas/Locate.


Royal Project in Mae Hong Son receives rainfall reporting equipment

Flooding and other natural disasters cause concern

CMM Reporters
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

CMM Reporters
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.

Saksit Meesubkwang
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 Environment Day.
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

CMM Reporters
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 about
the situation of tourism in Thailand’s northern region.

Saksit Meesubkwang
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.