NEWS
HEADLINES [click on headline to view story]:

The Kingdom rejoices at HRH Crown Prince Maha Vajiralongkorn’s Royal Birthday Celebration

Violence at PAD protest provokes call for Mayor’s resignation

Guarded welcome, scepticism regarding southern ‘ceasefire’

One-Two-Go announces temporary shutdown

Air Force set to evacuate Thais in Cambodia if tensions escalate

Chiang Mai Friends’ group plant 500 trees

George Bush scheduled to visit Bangkok

Famous fortune teller predicts “no coup”

Jealous Thai man stabs former girlfriend and foreign tourist

 

The Kingdom rejoices at HRH Crown Prince Maha Vajiralongkorn’s Royal Birthday Celebration

His Royal Highness Crown Prince Maha Vajiralongkorn was born on July 28, 1952, in the Ambara Villa of the Royal Dusit Palace in Bangkok. He is the second of four children, and is the only son of Their Majesties King Bhumibol Adulyadej the Great and Queen Sirikit.
The Crown Prince received His primary schooling at Udorn Hall of the Dusit Palace and attended secondary school in Sussex and Somerset, England. In August 1970, the Crown Prince attended the King’s School, Paramatta, Sydney, Australia and in 1976, He received a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Military Studies at the University of New South Wales. He subsequently attended the Royal Thai Army Command and General Staff College, graduating in 1978, and, in 1987, received a Bachelor of Law degree from Sukhothai Thammatirat University in Bangkok. In 1990, He successfully attended the Royal College of Defence Studies in the United Kingdom.
His Majesty King Bhumibol Adulyadej conferred his son with the title of “Somdech Phra Borama Orasadhiraj Chao Fah Maha Vajiralongkorn Sayam Makutrajakuman” on December 28, 1972, making him the Crown Prince and Heir to the throne. HRH Crown Prince Maha Vajiralongkorn attended numerous military training courses in Australia and the United States, with observation tours in England, Belgium, Germany, France and the Netherlands. A long list of military courses attended by the Crown Prince includes helicopter and high performance aircraft flight training, special warfare training, demolition training, parachute training, and courses in small arms and other weapons used in modern warfare.
Assignments include Commanding Officer of the King’s Own Bodyguard Regiment and Command, Commanding General of the Royalty Security Command, and Instructor Pilot of the F-5 E/F. Intermittently, He engaged in actions for counter-insurgency purposes in the North and Northeast areas of Thailand as well as for protective purposes in areas around Cambodian refugee camps at Khao Lant, Trat Province.
The Crown Prince has continued the Royal Family’s assistance programs to underdeveloped areas around the country, and has visited depressed urban areas around Bangkok distributing food and necessities to people in need. Another impressive undertaking was His participation in a fertilizer preparation project in Suphan Buri Province using natural ingredients to enrich the land in support of the country’s agricultural pursuits. Farming is considered to be a highly significant and noble profession in Thailand and the Royal Family takes an active role in advancing the Kingdom’s vital agricultural industry.
In 2005, HRH Crown Prince Vajiralongkorn and Mom Srirasmi Mahidol became the proud parents of a baby boy, HRH Prince Dipangkorn Rasmijoti, born on April 29 at 6:35 p.m. at Sriraj Hospital in Bangkok. It is the couple’s first child.

 

Violence at PAD protest provokes call for Mayor’s resignation

Demonstrators battling police at the end of the People’s Alliance
for Democracy demonstration held at the Municipal Stadium.

Saksit Meesubkwang
An anti-government demonstration held July 13 by the People’s Alliance for Democracy at Chiang Mai’s Municipal Stadium has provoked calls for the resignation of the city’s Mayor, Dr. Duentemduang na Chiengmai, according to a report on a Thai news website. A violent clash at the demonstration between PAD and government supporters, has, it is claimed by the Northern Citizens’ Association for Democracy, created conflict amongst local residents. As a result, the NCAD held a further rally on July14, during which a petition was circulated urging the Mayor to take responsibility for her decision to allow the PAD demonstration, and to resign.
A representative of the NCAD, Jirapat Ruenkaew, stated that his group had not been responsible for the throwing of bottles and rotten food at the PAD protestors, and that his supporters were present as the demonstration simply because they were local people who disagreed with the PAD’s stance. More than 1,000 protestors of both political persuasions attended the PAD rally.
At the PAD demonstration itself, the initial topic for discussion was the situation regarding Preah Vihear temple. At the end of the discussion, after protesters had heard speeches from Kasit Phirom, former Thai Ambassador to Washington DC, Pichaet Pattanachote, former Senator and others, Chachay Sukhvadee (a famous rock star) sang “We Love The King, we love Thailand,” joined by the crowd. At that point, a large number of demonstrators opposing the PAD blocked the exits to the venue and threw rotten eggs, urine-filled bags, stones and bottles at those who were attempting to leave, showing no consideration for children, women, monks or the elderly. A near riot commenced, with 100 police being brought in to restrain the demonstrators.


Guarded welcome, scepticism regarding southern ‘ceasefire’

Response to the oddly-announced ‘ceasefire’ in the insurgency-wracked southernmost Thai provinces was welcomed last Thursday, but with much caution and scepticism, as the broadcast raised as many questions as it answered. Neither the government nor the military command officially responded to the announcement, and no one appeared to know the identities of the men on camera.
Meanwhile business, community and political figures reacted with guarded welcome and scepticism.
The head of the Thai Chamber of Commerce urged the public to watch closely to see just how far the ethnic Malay insurgents who announced a return to peace on national television earlier in the day will be sincere and honour their pledge to institute a ceasefire throughout the border region. Thai Chamber of Commerce chairman Pramon Suthiwong said he was uncertain whether there was a hidden motive or benefit behind the announcement by three men claiming to represent 11 underground insurgent groups that the militants would end their armed struggle in the three southernmost provinces - Pattani, Yala and Narathiwat. Pramon urged the public to not to give too much credence to the announcement, but to wait and see its result.
However, if the ceasefire is genuine, trade, investment and tourism in the South - and not only the insurgency-troubled provinces - will improve, whilst the residents of the region would have a peaceful life, Pramon said. Director Thanawat Palavichai of the University of the Thai Chamber of Commerce Economic and Business Forecasting Center said security officials would be able to confirm whether the insurgents’ announcement of the ceasefire is genuine or not. If peace returns, it will benefit the Thai economy in general, and foreign tourists would visit the region in larger numbers again.
Three men calling themselves the Thailand United Southern Underground group representing 11 insurgent organisations operating in the region announced via a satellite television broadcast that they had negotiated a ceasefire beginning July 14.
It was negotiated between the unknown insurgent groups by retired Army Gen. Chetta Thanajaro, leader of the Ruam Jai Thai Chart Pattana political party. Gen. Chetta, a former defense minister, said later Thursday he personally believed the three men represented insurgent groups and that they wanted to cease operations. “The outcome should be known within the next 30 days,” he said, adding that he would solely take responsibility if anything happens.
Gen. Chetta also stated that he would formally inform Prime Minister Samak Sundaravej of the ceasefire through Army chief Gen. Anupong Paochinda, stressing that he had not informed the prime minister earlier because negotiations were conducted under the utmost confidentiality without conditions. The former Army chief reasoned that negotiations with the insurgent leaders could not be made through government channels because they were made through several middlemen, and thanked Malaysia and several neutral countries who had given their support during the negotiations process.
Deputy Prime Minister/Finance Minister Surapong Suebwonglee expressed joy at the announcement, saying that tourism and border trade, especially in Hat Yai district near the Thai-Malaysian border, should recover and the economy should improve in the next few months. Meanwhile, Narathiwat Democrat MP Jeh-aming Tohtayong was sceptical because he and other villagers who sat together watching the announcement on television did not know the trio who appeared on the broadcast and were not sure that the men were really leading members of the group or had the authority to make such a promise. Jeh-aming said he had many questions including details about Gen. Chettha’s role in brokering the accord, in what capacity, and whether the government knew about it. However, he said, if this was not a practical joke, it would be good for the country and could help resolve the violence in the deep south. The Democrat MP said he would monitor the situation in the southern provinces for several days to see whether it improved. (TNA)


One-Two-Go announces temporary shutdown

CEO plans two-month reorganisation

CMM Reporters
Founder and CEO of the popular Thai budget airline One-Two-Go, Udom Tatiprosongchai, has been forced by the double whammy of fewer tourists and ever-rising fuel prices to announce a two month shut-down, starting July22. During the period of closure, a reorganisation of the company will take place to ensure a return to business by September 15.
Udom confirmed that the airline has been losing money for several months, and said that the shutdown was the only way forward, as the company could not continue under the present circumstances. Routes had already been rescheduled to no effect.
One-Two-Go’s rivals, AirAsia and Nok Air, have been facing the same situation, and have also rescheduled or cancelled a number of flights; however, at present they are still providing services. Both have already reorganised their business strategies.
It remains to be seen whether the temporary closure of this popular budget operation with further affect the lack of tourists in the north of Thailand.


Air Force set to evacuate Thais in Cambodia if tensions escalate

Air Force chief Air Chief Marshal Chalit Phukbhasuk said last Thursday that Royal Thai Air Force aircraft are on standby and prepared to fly out Thai nationals living in Cambodia if tensions flare over the disputed Thai-Cambodian border at the ancient Preah Vihear temple.
Meanwhile, over a hundred carloads of People’s Alliance for Democracy activists attempting to demonstrate at the controversial temple early Thursday were prevented by police and military personnel from travelling to the site, being stopped outside the perimeter established some 10 kilometres from the site. “If the situation worsens, the Air Force can assist on a 24-hour basis and can lift out Thai nationals to repatriate them within one hour. Officials are now well prepared for the operation,” Chalit said. He continued that concerned Thai security officials - including Prime Minister Samak Sundaravej (who also serves as defence minister) military commanders, the supreme commander and the permanent secretary for defence - have conducted an ongoing discussion on ways to defuse the tensions.
Referring to the plan by members and supporters of the anti-government People’s Alliance for Democracy to protest at Preah Vihea, Chalit said that the people have the right to express their opinions but they “must be based on the truth” and that protestors must strictly follow orders issued by officials. PAD members and supporters, however, should refrain from intruding into the disputed area because it is dangerous to so do.
Chalit’s remarks were made following reports that both Thailand and Cambodia had reinforced their troops at and near the competing claims to the approaches to the historic Preah Vihear temple, listed by UNESCO earlier this month as a World Heritage Site. Both countries historically laid claim to the 11th century temple, which now sits on Cambodian soil following the action of the International Court of Justice which awarded the ancient temple to Cambodia in 1962. However, the temple can practicably only be accessed from Thailand. The exact demarcation of the border around the ruins remains in contention.
The security situation around the temple deteriorated after three Thais, including a Buddhist monk, were briefly detained by Cambodian soldiers after surreptitiously crossing into the disputed border area last Tuesday. The trio were released the same day, but refused to leave the 4.6 square kilometre disputed area adjoining the temple complex. (TNA)


Chiang Mai Friends’ group plant 500 trees

Local trees for a local village

CMM Reporters
Early in the morning of July 18, Khon Chiang Mai, (Chiang Mai people), of all nationalities headed off to Pa Pai Village, situated past Doi Saket, 25 miles from Chiang Mai, where the Chiang Mai Friends Group had arranged for 500 trees to be planted in an old quarry just outside the village. The planting was part of HM Queen Sirikit’s birthday project of planting one million trees in Chiang Mai Province.

Each person was given their own trees to plant before heading up to the quarry.
150 local Thai residents and 50 foreigners, including 24 US citizens who were staying at Homestay as part of the ‘Experiment in International Living’ programme, gathered for the ceremony. Five monks gave their blessing, and the village headman welcomed everyone, followed by each person being invited to plant their own trees in and around the disused quarry. Lunch was provided for the group by the villagers.
Chiang Mai Friends Group is made up of both Thais and foreigners who are committed to integration between the two communities and to Chiang Mai’s precious environment, as well as enjoying the usual networking and socializing found in other groups. The trees planted are indigenous to the region; Eugenias, Cassias and Bamboos, and it is hoped on the Her Majesty’s birthday a further 2,000 trees will be planted.


George Bush scheduled to visit Bangkok

CMM Reporters
The outgoing President of the United States of America, George Bush, is scheduled to make a brief stop in Bangkok on August 6th on his way to the opening ceremony of the Olympic Games in Beijing. He will spend one night in Bangkok on his official visit, also timed to commemorate the recent 175th anniversary of the relationship between Thailand and the USA. A meeting has been arranged with PM Samak Sundaravej, as has an audience with His Majesty the King, who is at present residing in Hua Hin. Bush also plans to give a major speech concerning US policy in the South East Asia region, In September 2007, his plans to hold a Summit conference in Singapore with ASEAN leaders (which would have included a celebration of the 30th anniversary of relations between ASEAN countries and the USA) were cancelled.


Famous fortune teller predicts “no coup”

Samak government will stay in power in 2009

Warint Buawiwatloet, a well-known fortune teller, in an overview of Thailand’s present problems, has predicted that the government of Prime Minister Samak Sundaravej will stay in charge of the country through 2009, that the present delicate political situation will resolve itself, and that there will be no military coup. He stated that merit-making will ease the political situation to a certain extent, and that Karma, (cause and effect) will adjust before 2009, at which time the political situation will return to normal and all parties will work together to solve Thailand’s problems.
When asked about the possibility of a change in government or of a dissolution of parliament, Warint replied that he had not studied the details, but believed that the present Prime Minister would be working to alleviate the current situation for a while longer. When reminded about another prediction that Samak’s luck would run out during the summer, Warint replied that he had not studied the stars but had concentrated on the merit and karma of the Kingdom.


Jealous Thai man stabs former girlfriend and foreign tourist

Jealousy prompts attempted murder

Saksit Meesubkwang
The jealous ex-boyfriend of a Thai woman was arrested and charged with attempted murder July 13 after he stabbed her three times at the shop where she was working.
Virach Kanyaratt, 30, from Bangkok, had been living in Chiang Mai with Niyom Saemsimuang, 36, and their child, and had run up debts. Virach had been forced to take a job in Bangkok in order to try to clear the debts, during which time Niyom, who had continued to work in Chiang Mai, had grown distant from him, and sent their child to stay with Virach’s mother in Kanchanaburi. When a friend, whom he had asked to spy on Niyom, reported that she had a foreign boyfriend, Virach returned to Chiang Mai to confront her. He entered the shop where she worked, carrying a knife, and stabbed her three times. A male foreign tourist, already in the shop, tried to help her and was also stabbed. Virach dropped the knife and fled.
Police officers and medics found Niyom lying in a pool of blood on the floor, with two stab wounds in the chest and one in the arm. She and the injured tourist were immediately taken to Chiang Mai Central Memorial Hospital for treatment. Virach, who had been arrested in Chang Klan Road shortly after the stabbing, admitted his guilt during questioning, saying that he had been jealous of Niyom’s new relationship.