Protestors gather in
Chiang Mai and Lampang
Local political networks loyal to the banned Thai Rak Thai party and
to the People’s Power Party (PPP) mounted a demonstration August 31 in front
of City Hall, attended by protestors bussed in from all districts by over
100 songthaews hired for the occasion. The protest, in support of PM Samak
Sundaravej and his government, requested that no force be used against PAD
demonstrators and that Samak stay in office.
A local community radio station run by the owner of the Grand Wararos Hotel
and president of the advisory committee to the “Rak Chiang Mai” group 51,
Phechawat Watanaphongsirikul, has been broadcasting appeals for the general
public to turn against the PAD and support Samak’s government.
A further pro-government demonstration was subsequently organised by
Narisuan Thongyaem, chairman of the “Rak Chiang Mai” group 51 together with
Phetchawat, in his capacity as chairman of the Northern Peoples’ Union for
Democracy. Details of the new rally were broadcast on air, resulting in
members of the public gathering in front of the Grand Wararos Hotel August
30, wearing red shirts. Phetchawat stated that, although demonstrations are
allowed under the constitution, the 9 leaders of the PAD for whom arrest
warrants had been issued should turn themselves in to police.
Later, on September 3, as the anti-PAD pro government groups continued their
protest at the Grand Wararos Hotel, it was stated that donations were being
accepted for the funeral costs of the man killed on the morning of September
2 during the Bangkok riots. Protestors were encouraged to resist any efforts
by PAD supporters to cause disruption in the city or to occupy buildings.
The rally is set to continue daily until the crisis is resolved.
In Lampang, more than 3,000 residents from 13 districts gathered in front of
the town hall September 1 in support of PM Samak Sundaravej and his
government. Many waved banners saying “Prime Minister, please fight on”,
others waved the national flag, and some carried placards attacking the PAD
and the Bangkok riots. Police ringed the rally, causing traffic jams around
The Governor and Deputy Governor of Lampang spoke with the protestors, and
stated the rally seemed to be a reasonable expression of democracy to which
all have rights, according to the law of the land. The provincial
authorities had been given previous notice of the rally, and were prepared
to pass on the wishes of the people to the government.
Chiang Mai Mail
settles into new home
With shoulder to the wheel and nose to the
grindstone, we move forward to a brighter future
Buddhist monks consecrate the new CMM offices.
On the morning of Sunday 31 August, Buddhist monks from Wat Sam
Khayom temple performed religious ceremonies to bless and ordain the new
offices of the Chiang Mai Mail.
The ceremony was a joyful one attended by a small group of management
and staff led by Kamolthep Malhotra (Prince) the General Manager and
Director of Sales and Marketing and Khun Suthasinee Maneekul, chief
This bodes well for the Chiang Mai Mail and the people of Chiang Mai, for it
shows our strong will and conviction to carry on and make a success of this
incredible yet challenging venture.
Like all businesses, the growing up years is tough. We are no different.
Chiang Mai Mail was established in 2002 with the intention of serving the
Chiang Mai and the northern communities with news, information and
entertainment, by being an honest yet objective voice of the people.
But getting to this point is no easy task. Good management is hard to get,
especially someone who understands the trials and tribulations of the
newspaper business and the needs of the community. But the most admirable
quality of a winner, is someone who is willing to take punch after punch and
still move forward to take some more.
We’ve made a few changes in these past 6 years and at times we wondered to
ourselves whether it is all worth it.
But the Pattaya Mai Media Group, which is the mother company of the
Chiang Mai Mail has a very strong conviction to carry on for the sake of
the English speaking community in the north.
Someone asked Pratheep Malhotra (Peter) MD of the Pattaya Mail Media Group
(PMMG) during one of our most difficult times, why he was prepared to lose
more money in keeping the Chiang Mai Mail on the news stands week after
week. “Because I’m passionate about the newspaper business and I promised
the Chiang Mai community that what ever happens, we will hold on for as long
as we possibly can…and we are holding on” he said boldly.
Prince Malhotra the GM, said, “After graduating from the Mahidol
International College with a degree in Hotel and Business Management, I
worked with my father for the past 6 years in Pattaya, managing the Pattaya
Mail, Pattaya Blatt and the Pattaya Mail on Television departments of our
media group. With all that experience, I can with determination say that I
have learned the ropes of practically every aspect of this business.
I am looking forward to these new challenges and responsibilities in Chiang
“With the help of our staff and especially the business and social circles,
we can work together to improve the quality of lives in our communities
through advancement of businesses and social caring of the needy.”
“Please stop by our new office to meet with me and discuss avenues of
advertising and promotions of your businesses, announcements of your social
events or just for a cup of tea or coffee and a few minutes of
Our new office is much easier to find now. Located on 3029 highway, not very
far from Mee Chok Plaza. The address is 209/5 Moo.6, T. Faham, A. Muang,
Chiangmai 50000. The new telephone number is 053-852-557, and the fax number
is 053-260-738. You can find the exact location on the map posted in our web
My e-mail address is: [email protected] and phone number is: 085 905
Suthasinee Maneekul (left) and Prince Malhotra
over the blessing ceremonies.
Infamous Chiang Mai ladyboy gang arrested
Revellers in the Chiang Mai late-night bars who sensibly decided not to
drive home but sleep in their cars may have had an unpleasant shock
recently, due to the activities of a rather unusual gang. The four person
Gang katoey khwai, (Buffalo Ladyboy Gang), so named after one of their
portlier members, would roam the city’s bar area looking for drunks resting
in their cars after a heavy night out in order to rob them. The unpleasant
shock would come when the gang, having removed any valuables from the car,
would perform on the confused victim a certain service usually reserved for
more private locations.
Until recently, possibly because of acute embarrassment on the part of said
victims, police were unable to amass enough information to make arrests;
however, all this changed on August 20, when a 34 year-old man walked into
the local police station and blushingly admitted what had happened to him.
Unfortunately for the gang, he had sobered up considerably by the time they
found him, and was able not only to fight them off, but to identify his
assailants from mug shots shown to him by police. Breathing a collective
sigh of relief, police arrested the entire crew, including the obese member
who had given the gang its distinctive name. When questioned, the
perpetrators admitted everything – yes, everything – including the fact that
they had robbed and molested at least 40 victims. Stolen property and pawn
tickets were found and seized as evidence and the fumbling four were charged
with robbery. It is not known, however, whether they will also be charged
with sexual assault.
Gang warfare at temple compound prevented by police intervention
A violent confrontation between 2 Chiang Mai youth gangs was prevented by
Saraphi police August 29, who arrested 34 gang members between the ages of
12 and 19.
arrest 34 youth gang members to prevent violent confrontation at temple.
A rival gang of youths had threatened the leader of the first gang, Soi, (an
alias), several days earlier at the Wat Ping Noi mobile Dhamma Fair, and
challenged him and his gang members to a fight to be held at Wat Khua Mung
August 29. On receiving information about the planned violence, police
arrived at the Wat concurrently with the first gang and arrested them. A
sword, 4 home-made bombs, a quantity of fireworks and 19 motorcycles wee
seized. During questioning, Soi, (an alias), told police that he had
gathered together all his gang’s members and their weapons in order to fight
the other gang.
After the arrested gang members, including one girl, had been warned not to
congregate again and their details had been filed, their parents were
summoned to the police station, charged with an offence, and told to take
their children home. The weapons were confiscated and the motorbikes held
for further checks.
New border regulations
cause drivers’ protest demo
More than 200 cross-border transfer drivers based on the
Thai/Burmese border at Ban Saohin Pass near the Salawin Wild Animal Reserve
and Protected Zone blocked the road with 30 6-10 wheeled trucks last week in
protest at new regulations introduced by the chief of the reserve, Somchai
Somchai had instigated a new requirement involving boarding passes for
drivers taking goods vehicles across the border. It seems that some groups
of drivers received passes valid for several days in order to make the trip
to their destinations within Thailand, others received passes for just one
day, not enough time to make the return journey from Mae Sariang to Saohin.
The protesting drivers set up tents in the middle of the road, and demanded
that Somchai and his deputy be removed from their jobs and that the
checkpoint be opened on weekends. In reply, Somchai stated that he had acted
within the law, and had given notice of the changes in advance.
Subsequently, on September 2, a meeting took place between the deputy chief
of protection in Mae Sariang, Apiwat Promkhan and Somchai, at which it was
decided that Somchai would take a day off and leave the reserve so that the
drivers could pass through the checkpoint in the normal way. The protestors
were partially satisfied with this, but insisted that their protest would
continue until their full demands were met.
New border drug-detection technology to target foreign tourists and hill tribes
Mae Hong Son’s Office of Narcotics Control Board, (ONCB) has
recently received state-of-the-art drug detection technology, which is
being introduced into northern Thailand after first being trialled in
The device, known as Alpha 6, detects vehicles carrying narcotics, and
was introduced as a result of reports that there were literally millions
of amphetamines waiting to be shipped across the border in Mae Hong Son.
It will be used to target foreign tourists and hill tribespeople who
exhibit suspicious behaviour at checkpoints both in Chiang Mai and Mae
Hong Son provinces.
Mae Hong Son officials from the ONCB’s Narcotics Intelligence division
and the local Provincial Defence Office have informed Myanmar officials
across the border in Ratchan State of the new technology. It is known
that drugs gangs in Myanmar traffic their wares into Thailand by means
of transfers of small amounts on vehicles with hired drivers. Once
through the border checkpoints, the drugs can be moved safely to
distribution centres such as Chiang Mai. It is hoped that the
introduction of the new technology will lead to more arrests and the
confiscation of drugs.
Chiang Mai national parks
to host private businesses
In an effort to improve facilities in national parks and boost
tourism, the Ministry of Natural Resources has announced that a pilot
scheme which will grant concessions to privately owned businesses,
allowing them to operate within the parks is under consideration by the
According to Vichit Pattanakosai, deputy chief of the National Park,
Plant and Wildlife Conservation Department, the 30 year concessions will
allow entrepreneurs to provide restaurants, lodgings and shops within
the parks’ boundaries. Recently, there have been complaints about the
quality of the facilities available in the parks, with restaurants often
closed and accommodation becoming run-down. Vichit, also the chairman of
a government panel working on investment and tourism in Thailand’s
national parks, stressed that the scheme would boost both sustainable
tourism and local economies, and provide a regular source of income for
local residents, who will be able to be employed in the new business
ventures. Four national parks in Chiang Mai province have been selected
as part of an initial10 nationwide – Doi Inthanon, Doi Suthep-Pui, Nam
Dang, and Pha Hom Pok.
In addition to the pilot scheme, which is still in the planning stage,
the ministry announced the creation of 17 new national parks, bringing
the nationwide total to 148.
Convicted ladies invite
us for coffee or lunch
Almost in the centre of Chiang Mai’s old city, just behind the
Three Kings Monument, a group of impressive buildings houses the Chiang
Mai Women’s Correctional Institution – the women’s prison, with about
Their sentences would be a lost part of their lives, were it not for the
prison’s director Nawarat Tanasrisutarat and her dedicated staff, who
encourage the inmates to take part in activities and learn skills which
will serve them after their release. At present, the women can choose
from courses in Thai body massage, handicrafts, cooking and baking, wood
carving, gardening, computing, and many other skills. The prison runs
its own massage parlour and gift shop.
Recently, a new project has been added - “Chaun Chom” - a restaurant and
coffee shop. The menu shows an extensive list of Thai dishes, and the
coffee shop serves several types of brewed coffee and fresh fruit
juices, plus, of course, a variety of delicious cakes. Customers are
served by a group of very friendly inmates who, by working in the shop,
are being trained as waitresses.
Chaun Chom has indoor tables in a pleasant and bright setting, and a
shady garden with an old Thai wooden house as a backdrop. By visiting
for coffee or lunch, you will help to brighten up the daily lives of the
trainees as they gain experience which will help them find employment
after their release. Statistics show that that, particularly with female
offenders, training or re-training inmates in preparation for their
release reduces the chance they may re-offend by a considerable
percentage, as having a skill to offer the jobs market means that
poverty will not cause the temptation to return to criminal behaviour.
Chaun Chom is located on Ratvitee Road, 100, just behind the Three Kings
Monument and the Chiang Mai Cultural Centre and is open from 8:30 a.m to
4:30 p.m. Next time you’re in the area, please do drop in for coffee and
cakes, or for lunch. You’ll enjoy the experience and be helping the
women as well.
“Drugs by post” plot foiled
A clever idea by border drugs gangs based on the Thai/Lao border
which involved sending concealed amphetamines by parcel post was foiled
September 1 by Chiang Rai police.
A tip-off that a reputable parcel delivery company, Siam First, was
being used by smugglers resulted in a raid on the company’s Chiang Khong
premises and vehicles, which revealed a consignment of speakers due to
be delivered to Bangkok. Packed inside the speakers were 46,000 YaBa
pills in 23 rolls, arranged so that no vibration could be heard when the
parcels were moved. Police confiscated the drugs, and requested Viang
Kaen police to investigate the sender, Prasit Amatachivanont, a Viang
On investigation of the haul, it was found that the serial numbers were
identical to those on a similar, larger haul found on another Siam First
truck August 31 as it was approaching Bangkok.
Phrae police “on their bikes”
to prevent crime and riots
As unrest grows across the kingdom following the Bangkok riots,
Phrae province’s Bicycle Patrol Project is to be upped by another100
officers, who will patrol the Muang Phrae district on the lookout for
criminals and potentially violent protestors.
Local police authorities are concerned that, although at present
political gatherings are being held according to the law, things may
turn ugly unless the countrywide crisis is resolved. As a result,
numbers and frequency of police patrols have been increased, and are
carefully monitoring the activities of protest groups. Checkpoints have
been set up, and the public has been warned to be alert and to contact
local police if any potentially criminal behaviour is noticed.
Founder of Chiang Mai Prostheses
Foundation receives “Asian Nobel Prize”
Modern day commercially made artificial limbs are as far from
the traditional image of the wooden leg as wooden ships are from modern
ocean liners, but equally inaccessible to poor people here in the north
of Thailand. Amputees from Thailand’s remote areas had no choice but to
make their own prostheses from bamboo, spare metal parts or plastic
pipes or to resort to using crutches. Until, that is, in 1992, the work
of a young Thai surgeon, a graduate from Chulalongkorn Hospital’s
Medical School, came to the attention of the late Princess Mother, who
lent her patronage and support to establish the Prostheses Foundation in
Chiang Mai. With support also forthcoming from private donors and the
Thai national lottery fund, the young surgeon, Therdchai Jivacate, was
able to expand his work with the poor, which continues providing free
artificial limbs to the present day. When the Princess Mother died, the
foundation’s Royal Patronage was taken over Princess Galyana Vadhana,
who, sadly, died at the beginning of 2008.
As a tribute to his achievements, Therdchai was presented last month
with the 2008 Ramon Magsaysay Award for Public Service, often referred
to as the “Asian Nobel Prize”
His methods are straightforward and simple, although innovative at the
time the foundation began 16 years ago – he relates his prosthetic limbs
directly to the medical and lifestyle requirements of the amputees. In
an early breakthrough, he recycled plastic yoghurt bottles to fabricate
the artificial limbs, thus hugely reducing costs. Bearing in mind
amputees’ occupations he designed a “farmer’s foot” for working in the
fields and rice paddies, another for climbing hills and another for
wearing flip-flops. Most importantly, he established field clinics for
amputees in remote locations, with teams of doctors, technicians and
volunteers, in order to bring his essential services to those who needed
them. In one week, each clinic can measure, design, make and fit between
150-300 artificial limbs. To date, there are about 100 mobile clinics
working in Thailand, Malaysia, Cambodia, Laos and Myanmar, dealing with
amputees who have lost their legs in accidents, from landmines,
diabetes, snake bites or congenital disabilities. The technicians are
often amputees themselves, trained by the foundation, which has
established the first and only occupational therapy school in Thailand
Therdchai himself, at 68 now officially retired but showing no signs of
reducing his involvement, states that, “Seeing my patients smiles when
they are able to walk on two legs – I just feel happy”.
Chalerm Phra Kiat flag
arrives in Mae Sai
The flag representing the “116 days; National Mother’s Day to
National Father’s Day“ events inaugurated to honour Thailand’s King and
Queen and build unity amongst Thai peoples was received by the Governor
of Chiang Rai from HRH the Crown Prince on August 30, and transferred to
Mae Sai amidst much celebration on September 1.
Members of local and official organisations, businessmen and the Mae Sai
general public assembled on the communal area in front of the King
Prommaharat monument to welcome the flag and join in the celebrations,
which were held September 2-8. The flag remained in Mae Sai until the
last day of the celebrations, when it was handed over to officials from
Mae Faluang district, who will continue the celebrations. From there it
will pass through another 16 Chiang Rai districts before leaving the
New TAT director talks with CM Mail and CM Friends’ Group
At an interview kindly given to the Chiang Mai Mail and the
Chiang Mai Friends’ Group last Wednesday, the new director of the
Tourist Authority of Thailand’s northern region, Chalermsak Suranant,
stated that local media should concentrate on promoting the city as a
safe place to visit, and emphasise its varied attractions and events.
Upcoming events mentioned included arrangements for this November’s Loi
Kratong festival, which include an expansion of the famous celebrations
held annually at the meditation temple in Maejo, set in grounds behind
the university. No-one who has attended the event will ever forget the
awe-inspiring sight of 5,000 kratongs simultaneously rising into the
night sky and drifting gently away, carrying with them the wishes and
hopes of the huge crowd.
This year the celebrations, held on November 11-13, will begin at other
temples and venues in the San Sai and Maejo areas with a huge festival
on November 8, and regular designated songthaews will run from Wararot
Rod up to San Sai and back during the festivities.
Several food festivals are due to be held in the next two months; the
first, Kitchen of Lanna-Kitchen of the World, will run from October 9 to
15 at Airport Plaza, featuring both Thai and northern Thai food. The
Chiang Mai Restaurant and Entertainment Association will be holding a
food festival between October 31 and November 8, centred along the Canal
Road between Huay Kaew Road and Suthep Road, featuring local dishes,
entertainment and cabaret.
October 15 marks the end of Buddhist Lent, and will be traditionally
celebrated at Wats throughout the Chiang Mai area. Special ceremonies
led by local abbots and monks will take place at Thapae Gate and CMU.
During the interview, the director was asked if TAT could consider
regularly providing for publication English language information
regarding upcoming events of interest both to residents and visitors. It
is difficult for foreigners who do not speak Thai to find the smaller
cultural and traditional events for themselves, and many visitors would
prefer to visit such events rather than to take the often commercially
focused local tours offered by city agencies.
For travel information, please contact TAT Chiang Mai on 053-248-604, or
053-248-607, 8:30 am until 4:30 pm or their call centre on 1672, 8 am to
Taking giant strides forward
The Croston House fundraising walk
Pictured is Glen Croston with friends at
Tuskers Bar’s benefit night,
held before he set out on his walk.
On Sunday 28, Glenn Croston, founder and director of Lamphun’s
Croston House Children’s Home, and his wife, Rosjana, left the
twenty-eight currently resident children and their own three children in
the capable hands of Rosjana’s mother and father and traveled down to
Banglamung in Chonburi province. There, they made the final preparations
for a journey that they hope will raise enough money for their
foundation to be able to buy land and much needed transport. They are
also hoping to raise more awareness about their foundation, and to
attract regular sponsorship from businesses and individuals both here in
Thailand and overseas.
Glenn, originally from north-west England, has lived and worked in
Thailand for nearly ten years, and intends to walk the return journey
from Banglamung to Lamphun with Rosjana acting as his support vehicle
driver-cum-cook/masseuse/photographer/nurse and much needed provider of
moral support. After a farewell fund-raising party at Tuskers Bar on the
previous Friday, the walk got under way at 7 am September 5 at Glen and
Rosjana’s home in Banglamung, where they first started taking in
disadvantaged local youngsters nearly three years ago. The first leg
will take them to Ban Chang in Rayong province; with around 1,400 km to
travel. In order to complete the walk in 45 days, they need to cover
around 30 km a day to arrive on schedule at the foundation on October
19. Being away from the children for so long will be harder than the
walk itself, according to the couple, but Glenn and Rosjana believe
that, should they be successful, they will be closer to achieving their
long-term goal of a permanent, purpose-built children’s home in Lamphun,
making the separation worthwhile.
Chiang Mai Friends learn about Theravada Buddhism and
the Thai people
The regular monthly meeting of the Chiang Mai Friends’ Group,
held on August 27, was more than fortunate to have as its speaker
Professor Dr Saeng Chandra Ngarm, highly regarded in northern Thailand
as a “Diamond and guardian of the Buddhist faith”. Dr Saeng is also the
chairman of the “Wisdom Bank” of northern Thailand, a project
inaugurated and supported by Her Majesty Queen Sirikit, which focuses on
reforestation, irrigation and forest reclamation.
Members of the group met up at the Maninarakorn Hotel, an attractive new
building just up from the Imperial Mae Ping, and were welcomed with a
tasty and varied buffet dinner, as well as by friends old and new. After
the meal, Khun Boong and members, together with the hotel’s GM, planted
4 trees on wasteland opposite the hotel. The original trees along the
borders of the land had been cut down; planting will continue until they
are all replaced. The hotel staff will ensure the saplings are taken
care of and watered.
After the planting, the member gathered in the conference hall, where
Khun Boong announced that the new Chiang Mai Friends website was almost
completed, and would be a bridge of understanding for all. The good news
that 10 rai of unused city land had been donated to the Friends’ new
Edible Garden Project was received with much enthusiasm. The land will
be planted with indigenous trees along its borders; the interior will be
used to plant organic “Tom Yam” vegetables. After explaining the project
to new members, Khun Boong introduced the evening’s speaker.
In his introduction, Dr Saeng, speaking in excellent English, first
explained the nature of Theravada Buddhism, which is practiced in
Thailand, and said that it had been the philosophy of life for the
population for over 1,000 years and had provided the foundation of Thai
culture and civilisation. He mentioned that 92% of the 62 million Thais
are Buddhists; therefore, their characters have been moulded by Buddhist
thought. He continued with the question, “What is religion?” to which
his answer was, “A philosophy of life”, and went on to describe the
basic tenets of the Buddhist way of life practiced here in Thailand. The
simple, unadorned clarity of his thoughts, expressed in a way all
present were able to understand, made for a very unusual and
thought-provoking talk. After he had finished, he answered written
questions on Buddhism from his audience, so ending a fascinating and
very enjoyable evening.