NEWS
HEADLINES [click on headline to view story]:

Thai Cabinet suspends cooperation with Cambodia on temple status

People’s Alliance for Democracy holds Chiang Mai seminar

Doi Suthep temple Chedi under restoration - again

Over 25,000 Thai companies employ illegal immigrant workers

Energy minister warns against using cooking gas in vehicles

Chiang Mai Queen Sirikit Sericulture Centre holds contest

10 National parks to reduce visitor numbers

Launch of the Chiang Mai Charity Calendar 2009

Informal Network for the Needy holds third meeting

 

Thai Cabinet suspends cooperation with Cambodia on temple status

BANGKOK, Thailand (AP)- Thailand has suspended its decision to support Cambodia’s bid to have an 11th century temple near the Thai border declared a world landmark, the deputy prime minister said Tuesday. The Cabinet’s decision came three days after the Administrative Court issued an injunction to temporarily suspend a Cabinet resolution backing Cambodia’s application to UNESCO for the Preah Vihear temple to be designated a World Heritage Site.
“The Cabinet agreed to suspend the resolution,” said Deputy Prime Minister Somchai Wongsawat. “The government will inform UNESCO and Cambodia on its decision.”
The action is likely to have little effect on Preah Vihear’s World Heritage application, since Cambodia does not need Thailand’s support. Saturday’s court order to temporarily suspend the resolution was issued at the request of the People’s Alliance for Democracy, a Thai group opposed to the government of Prime Minister Samak Sundaravej.
The dispute surrounding the ancient temple continues to fuel nationalist sentiment in Thailand. A small amount of territory adjacent to the temple remains in dispute, and critics claim cooperation with Cambodia over the heritage site application would jeopardize Thai claims to it.
The court’s action is a political embarrassment for the government, which is fighting accusations by opponents both inside and outside parliament that it ceded Thai territory to Cambodia. The issue was raised as one of the reasons why Samak should step down.
The ruling applies to a Cabinet resolution that endorsed a Cambodian map of Preah Vihear temple, as well as a joint communique signed June 18 in which Thailand said it supported Cambodia’s bid. The communique specifically said the application had no bearing on territorial claims by the countries, but in its ruling, the Administrative Court said the communique “might undermine Thailand’s future standing on the territorial dispute.”
Cambodia has an internationally recognized claim over Preah Vihear temple and does not need Thai support for its application. In 1962, the International Court of Justice awarded the temple and the land it occupies to Cambodia, a decision that still rankles with Thais even though the temple is culturally Cambodian, sharing the Hindu-influenced aspects of the more famous Angkor Wat in northwestern Cambodia.
Government spokesman Khieu Kanharith, responding to the latest decision of Thailand’s Cabinet, expressed thanks for the support Bangkok had previously offered, and blamed the turnabout on politics played by the Thai opposition. He said the Thai opposition has learned from its Cambodian counterparts, who sought to make problems for the government with accusations that it had given up land to neighboring countries.
Khieu Kanharith, who is also information minister, said that registration of Preah Vihear as a heritage site would have no bearing on the countries’ territorial claims. He said that even if the status was not granted, Cambodia would still administer the site as a tourist attraction.

 

People’s Alliance for Democracy holds Chiang Mai seminar

Change of Prime Minister still on the cards

Saksit Meesubkwang
Members of the anti-Thaksin political party People’s Alliance for Democracy held a seminar on “Thai politics viewed through the present situation” at the Rattanakosin Hotel in Chiang Mai on June 29. Asst. Prof. Choemsak Pintong, (former Senator), Dr Surat Horachai, (lecturer in International Relations at the Faculty of Political Science, Chulalongkorn University), and Swing Tanud, (former member of the 2007 Constitution Drafting Committee), presided over an audience composed mainly of older businessmen and academics.

People at the seminar, young and old, demand: “Restore the Nation.”
Pamphlets were handed out describing the history of the Thaksin regime, and detailing the former PM’s administration of the country which, the PAD considers, has destroyed Thailand’s democracy. CDs and shirts were also on sale, containing the words ‘Love Thailand, Fight the Thaksin Regime’. Bands of yellow cloth were distributed at the entrance, to be tied around the head or wrist.
The controversial and seemingly ongoing situation concerning the land agreement at Preah Vihear was one subject of an address by Prof. Choemsak, in which he stated that the ceding of the land to Cambodia had been done on Thaksin’s behalf in order to allow the former PM huge investment opportunities. PM Samak, he said, is Thaksin’s nominee, and even although the recent “no confidence” vote had failed to oust him, recent information indicates that a change of PM might still occur.


Doi Suthep temple Chedi under restoration - again

Moisture level caused by high humidity still a problem

Visitors on the beautiful Naga stairway leading up to the famous
Wat at Doi Suthep where the Chedi is situated.

CMM Reporters
The famous Chedi at Wat Phra Thart, traditionally believed to contain a relic of the Lord Buddha, is again under restoration to prevent its collapse. The cost of the renovation, which will focus on reducing the high level of moisture inside the pagoda, is estimated at approximately 6.6 million baht, and is being met by a central government grant. Experts from CMU’s Fine Arts Department, led by Rung Juntabun, a renowned Lanna style architect, will supervise the renovation, which began on June 4 with the removal of the Chedi’s apex and its placement in safe storage, and which will include placing drainage pipes within the structure. Work is expected to take at least six months.
According to legend, the temple site was chosen in the late 14th century by the then Lanna King Gue Na. His method was somewhat unconventional, and involved placing a Buddha relic on the back of an elephant and allowing it to roam. The elephant climbed Doi Suthep mountain, stopping just below the summit, where it fell dead. The King ordered the Chedi to be built to contain the Buddha relic exactly where the elephant fell, and the temple was constructed around it. The site, some 3500 feet above sea level, had, it seemed, been considered holy for many hundreds of years.
The Chedi and its surrounding areas have been subject to several previous restorations - 1992 its central base was renovated and the grand terrace’s foundations were strengthened. A further restoration in 1998 involved the insertion of iron rods into the brick and lime pagoda, which, as they caused parts to swell, had done more harm than good. In 2004, another was attempted, as the high humidity in the structure had threatened its stability. Since the Chedi is covered with brass and gold plates, the humidity inside cannot be released. To make matters worse, water leaks in through cracks, and the marble paving around the Chedi also prevents ventilation. The present restoration will include the re-tiling of the surrounding area, hopefully not with marble.


Over 25,000 Thai companies employ illegal immigrant workers

45,000 detained during eight month putsch

CMM Reporters
The Department of Employment issued a statement recently which confirmed that, in the eight-month period between October 1, 2007, and May 31, 2008, a total number of 764 cases were filed against employers who had knowingly hired illegal immigrant workers, thus breaching the Alien Employment Act. Cooperation between the various national and local offices concerned with the labor market had resulted in an estimate of 26,764 enterprises which used illegal immigrant workers, involving a total of approximately 126,000 Burmese, Lao and Cambodian employees. The Department of Employment did not state whether it was planning to bring charges against the remainder of the companies involved. Approximately 45,000 illegal immigrant workers, the majority of whom were Burmese, were arrested and charged during the eight-month period; again, a statement was not given as to the fate of those arrested, nor to future policies. It is known that any illegal immigrant who is returned to Burma will face arrest and imprisonment for a term of up to 7 years.


Energy minister warns against using cooking gas in vehicles

Energy Minister Poonpirom Liptapanlop on Wednesday warned motorists not to attempt to use cooking gas instead of liquid petroleum gas for vehicles, saying it could endanger their lives. Although she conceded that consumers in many areas are using the substitution because it helps reduce their costs, she stressed that the practice could cause substantial damage to lives and property.
The minister also asked owners who are intending to convert their vehicles to use LPG l not to rush to complete the modification because such action could cause a temporary shortfall in supplies of the fuel, which at present are sufficient for demand.
Regarding progress in the restructuring of LPG prices for vehicles and household use, she said the committee chaired by Permanent Secretary for Energy Pornchai Rujiprapa would speed up its consideration and deal with the matter as soon as possible. (TNA)


Chiang Mai Queen Sirikit Sericulture Centre holds contest

Local silk industry winners to compete in national contest

A group of local home workers producing silk thread for weaving.

Saksit Meesubkwang
A competition was held recently to by the Chiang Mai Queen Sirikit Sericulture Centre to determine winners of specific sections who will represent the local silk industry at the “Peacock Queen Bestows Authentic Thai Silk” awards contest next month. The awards contest is held by the Queen Sirikit Institute of Sericulture and will take place this year in Muang Thong Thani, Pathumthani province, on August 6 through 10.
The local contest comprises categories for which examples must be submitted; Mai Noi, Mai Leoub, Royal Thai Silk using natural colours, Royal Thai Silk using chemical colours, Classic Thai Silk using natural colours, Classic Thai Silk using chemical colours, Thai Silk using natural colours, Thai Silk using chemical colours, Thai Silk blend using natural colours and Thai Silk blend using chemical colours.
The aim of the contests is to encourage the export and sale of Thai Silk and Thai Silk products worldwide, and to interest entrepreneurs, agriculturists and students in this traditional and highly valued product. The monitoring of market changes and quality control of the product will also help to expand the export market.


10 National parks to reduce visitor numbers

Reservation of one-day visits not available at present

CMM Reporters
10 National Parks have announced that they will be introducing a policy which will restrict on a daily basis the number of visitors allowed entry. Reasons given by the government’s National Parks, Wildlife and Plant Conservation Department include maintenance and protection of the parks and their ecology, the effect on the natural environment of high visitor numbers, and the safety of visitors. The 10 parks affected, four of which are in Chiang Mai province, are ; Huaynamdang, Doi Fahompok, Doi Inthanon, Doi Sutheo-Pui, Phukradung, Kaoyai, Erawan, Kangkrachan, the Sorin Islands, and the Similan Islands. Tourists are advised that, in order to visit these areas, they must plan in advance and make reservations up to two months before their visit by contacting either the Management Preservation Area Office 16’s website at www.fca16.com, (Thai only), or the National Park, Wildlife and Plant Conservation Department’s website at www.dnp.go.th, which has an English language section. It should be noted, however, that the present advance reservation pages only apply if visitors are planning to spend at least one night in the chosen park - one-day only visits do not seem to be provided for as yet.


Launch of the Chiang Mai Charity Calendar 2009

2008 success to hopefully be repeated next year!

CMM Reporters
Following the huge success of the Chiang Mai Charity Calendar 2008, which raised over 600,000 baht, it has been agreed to continue this venture with the theme for next year’s calendar being ‘Delightful Lanna’. The new calendar is expected to be out in print by the end of August 2008, promoting all eight Northern provinces.
Last week judges from La Luna Gallery, Tita Gallery and Studio Naenna selected 14 paintings from over 100 paintings submitted by students from schools in Chiang Mai and Lampang. The reason for choosing14 paintings is that the next calendar will run for 14 months from December 2008 until January 2010. The calendars will be self- financing and “clean and fresh”, containing no advertising or banners. Citylife Magazine has generously agreed to do the artwork and layouts for free, and Chotana Print Company will print the calendars at cost price. Also featured will be photographs from three leading photographers; Suriya Nuntasukhon, Naret Visesvongsa and Andrew Forbes. The calendars can be personalized for companies to use them as promotional material.
The organisers are open to suggestions for a deserving charity for funds raised. A proposed beneficiary must fulfill the following criteria; they must be located in the Northern region, preferably in Chiang Mai province, must be officially registered, and should be dedicated to the welfare/education of disadvantaged or homeless children. They must show that they are efficiently and economically managed by devoted people of known high integrity, and must not have top heavy or expensive administration. They should also be small, secular, not already well-supported, and be the kind of organization in which even small amounts of money can make a difference. Also, of course, they must be in urgent need of help!
Suggestions, please, to [email protected]


Informal Network for the Needy holds third meeting

Recently set up NGO group encourages networking and info-sharing

NGOs from around Chiang Mai meet at Rejoice.

The Informal Network for the Needy, a group set up earlier this year with the aim of networking ideas, contacts and information between NGOs in Chiang Mai, held its 3rd meeting recently at the Rejoice Centre. The meeting was chaired by Ian Bushell, (BCTFN); attendees included Don Wilcox, (Foundation for the Disabled), Lisa Nesser, (Freedom House), Glenn Croston, (Croston House), and Steve, Laurie and Dave from Rejoice.
A presentation was given by Andy Northrop of ProThailand, with the assistance of Mim Moonmai. ProThailand is under the umbrella of ProWorld, which operates in Peru, Mexico, Belize, India and hopes to become a Thai Foundation within the next year. Until this happens, they are assisting NGOs already working on the ground here, usually in the health field, but also in education and culture. ProThailand will bring undergraduate students from abroad, who will each be allocated an appropriate NGO with which to work. ProThailand will arrange and pay for Thai home stays for volunteers, along with Thai language courses at minimum of 2 hours per week. For more about ProThailand, please contact Andy direct on [email protected]
Steve presented an update on the various schemes which have been inaugurated by Rejoice, which including helping 26 male prostitutes to leave the sex industry in Chiang Mai, and obtain regular work in the construction industry. Rejoice pays the first month’s wages (6,000 baht) - to help set them up in their new employment. Dave spoke about a pilot scheme called ‘Virtual Adoption’ which consists of people from abroad sponsoring an orphan, either with HIV or who has been orphaned because of AIDS, and described details of the scheme, which includes supervised visits where necessary, and requirements to prevent the new scheme from being abused.
Don Wilcox introduced his ‘how to volunteer’ booklet which looks at the problems and pitfalls of being a volunteer in an NGO organization in Thailand, both from the volunteer’s and the NGO’s point of view as well.
For more about the Informal Network for the Needy, please contact Ian Bushell on [email protected]