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
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
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.
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
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.
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
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.
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
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
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!
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
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]