Escalation at anti-government protest prevented by police intervention
On September 28, 100 People’s Alliance for Democracy (PAD)
supporters from Chiang Rai and Mae Hong Son, all wearing yellow shirts and
led by Therdsak Jiamkitwattana, PAD’s leader in Chiang Mai, rallied at
Raming Nivet housing estate, Chiang Mai, intent on making and broadcasting
anti-government speeches from Wihok, the community’s radio station. An
appeal was made on the air to PAD supporters in the city to gather in Raming
Nivet with their vehicles prior to advancing the protest into the city.
Having heard the PAD supporters’ on-air appeal and its criticisms of Rak
Chiang Mai 51, supporters of the present PPP government, Rak Chiang Mai
broadcast its own appeal on another frequency owned by its leader
Petcharawat Wattanapongsirikul. The opposing broadcast asked PPP supporters
to meet in front of the Grand Wararos Hotel wearing red shirts, to march to
and surround Raming Nivet village and the PAD group, and to shut down the
Wihok radio station.
After the Rak Chiang Mai 51 protestors stormed into Raming Nivet that
evening, an argument broke out and missiles were thrown, resulting in minor
injuries. Police intervened and persuaded the two leaders to negotiate to
prevent further violence. A temporary agreement was reached, following which
the two mobs dispersed.
Memorial service held
for local soldier killed in South
The body of Sergeant Chaiprakarn Boontha who was
killed in the South by insurgents September 21, shown during the memorial
ceremony at Wing 41.
A memorial ceremony was held September 23 at the Royal Thai Air
Force’s Wing 41 station on the occasion of the arrival in Chiang Mai of the
body of Sgt. Chaiprakarn Boontha of the Special Operations Unit 25 in
Pattani under the command of the Second Battalion of the Hundred Fifty Third
Infantry. Sgt. Chaiprakarn was shot and killed during an exchange of fire
whilst on night duty September 21 at Ban Makham, Pattani.
The Deputy Governor of Chiang Mai, Pairot Saengphuwong, Pol. Lt. Gen.
Sathaporn Duangkaew, the Commander in Chief of Region 5, and Maj. Gen.
Thongchai Taeparat, the Commander in Chief of Royal Thai Army Squadron 33,
together with officers and relatives of the deceased, were told at the
ceremony about the attack by Southern rebels on Sgt. Chaiprakarn’s post,
during which he met his death.
The body of the deceased was flown home by the Thai Royal Air Force.
Following the ceremony it was transferred under an honorary guard provided
by the Royal Thai Army to Pracha Kasemtong Temple in Hang Dong for a
The wife of Sgt. Chaiprakarn, Nicha Tasang, 24, his two children and several
army friends were too distressed by his death to attend the ceremony,
although they were comforted that he had sacrificed his life for his
country. Maj. Gen. Thongchai stated that the deceased will be posthumously
promoted from Sgt. to Captain, and that the Chiang Mai zone’s Veterans’
Welfare Office will continue to fully support the family in addition to the
Royal Thai Army’s immediate assistance. This support will ensure that Sgt.
Chaiprakarn’s son and daughter, now 6 and 4 years old, will be able to
continue their education up to and including university, either at
government or private schools.
Thai government grants 2.83 billion baht
for initial flood relief
The Ministry of Agriculture and Cooperatives will
disburse 2.83 billion baht to help flood victims in 56 provinces whose
properties and farmland were damaged by floods between August 1 and
September 30, Deputy Minister of Agriculture and Cooperatives Somphat
Kaewpijit said Wednesday.
Speaking to journalists after chairing a meeting of the natural calamity
committee, Somphat said it was decided to initially grant 2.83 billion baht
to the victims. More financial assistance would be given after a thorough
survey of flood damage is completed, a process which is expected to take
about 30 days.
The general situation in many provinces has returned to normal after the
floodwaters have receded, while the Royal Irrigation Department has
dispatched teams of workers with pumps to drain water from still-flooded
Somphat said that tropical depression ‘Mekkala,’ which has been downgraded
to active low pressure cell status in the northeastern province of Uttaradit
has benefited the national water reserves at the Bhumibol Dam as it had
added substantial water to its store. The dam is still capable of storing
about 6 billion cubic metres more water.
The Meteorological Department has announced that another tropical depression
was heading towards Thailand from the Philippines. (TNA)
Lin Hui briefly reunited with Chuang Chuang as 7th birthday treat
Lin Hui enjoys her birthday treats.
Chiang Mai Zoo’s female panda, Lin Hui, celebrated her 7th birthday
September 28. As a special treat, the zoo’s Panda Show and Research Center
allowed her mate, Chuang Chuang, to stay in her cage with her after 2 years
of separation. 200 excited schoolchildren sang Happy Birthday to Lin Hui in
the Chinese language, and all children were allowed free entry to the zoo on
her special day. A birthday breakfast of quantities of fruit and carrots was
provided, and a “snow scene” was constructed from dried ice, in which the
two pandas played together. They both seemed happy to be reunited, if only,
sadly, for a short time.
Lin Hui, the birthday girl, and Chuang Chuang,
during the celebrations at Chiang Mai Zoo.
Mysterious fire engulfs
Lamphun lamyai warehouse
A major fire broke out September 29 at a Lamphun warehouse
containing 300 tons of dried lamyai, all of which were destroyed. Damage and
losses are estimated at 20 million baht and the cause of the fire has not
yet been established.
Ten fire engines were summoned to the blaze, and took 6 hours to douse the
flames. Police cordoned off the area and forensics officers are
investigating, at present suspecting either arson or an electrical fault.
According to the owner of the warehouse, Thaned Bunchert, the dried lamyai
had been stored under contract since 2004.
Two Chiang Mai bus stations to be transferred to municipality
Two of Chiang Mai city’s bus stations, Chang Puak and the CM
Arcade bus terminal, are to be transferred from the Chiang Mai Land
Transport Office to the Municipality, effective from January 30, 2009.
The transfer has been delayed for three months as construction of
toilets for the disabled costing 2 million baht is behind schedule.
After the transfers are completed, the municipality will assume
responsibility for the buildings, facilities and surrounding areas, and
will receive the income from fares and other charges. The vehicles
themselves, their drivers and presently employed staff will remain under
the control of the Land Transport Office, but temporary support staff
will be employed by the municipality. The Chiang Mai Arcade bus terminal
will require a support budget from the Land Transport Department, as
revenues are less than running costs excluding salaries.
At the same time, a proposal was put forward by the Director of the Land
Transport Office that a feasibility study should be undertaken for a 3rd
bus station on the Chiang Mai/Lampang Superhighway, with allowances for
complete facilities including air-conditioning, department stores and
Missing Kayans return home at great cost
11 Kayans who left their village in Mae Hong Son province, lured by
businessmen who planned to put them on show for tourists, have returned
home with many lessons learnt.
The Huay Sue Tao village was brought back to life again with Kayans
chanting traditional folksongs as a greeting during the return of the
missing village members.
Two months ago, the seven adults and four children disappeared from the
village. Authorities believed they were misled by businessmen who
offered them a job in nearby Chiang Mai.
“We decided to go with them as they said they would pay us 4,000 baht
per person per month. We just wanted to earn a living,” said Mati, one
of the missing women.
With the Kayan people recognised as displaced persons and not allowed to
leave their province without authorities’ permission, the disappearance
of the 11 became an issue of human trafficking and prompted authorities
to search for them around the clock.
Mati said she and the other Kayans faced hardship travelling to Chiang
Mai. They had been on the move constantly and were hiding in the jungle
for two months. Finally a man who picked them up sent them back to Mae
Hong Son, after facing much pressure from authorities’ blockades. They
did not get paid even one baht.
Moreover, Mati and her three companions were charged for leaving the
province without permission and fined 2,000 baht each. Her husband and
another Kayan faced further charges for leading the refugees out of the
camp and were still detained for questioning. Mati considers their
ordeal an expensive lesson.
“I won’t leave the village anymore. This causes us a lot of troubles. I
can’t live in such a situation,” said Mati.
It’s not the first time Kayans have left their villages to make a living
in low-lying areas. With some businessmen seeking to exploit the Kayan’s
distinctive brass neck-rings, combined with their poor condition of
living, it cannot be guaranteed this won’t happen again.
Preah Vihear uncertainty
seriously affects border economy
Locals and business people on both sides of the Thai/Cambodia
border in the area of the Preah Vihear temple complex are worried that
the ongoing uncertainty surrounding the issue will continue, as its
effects are seriously harming local economies.
In the two months since the row over the ownership of the temple complex
erupted, business and tourism incomes have fallen to almost zero, with
the presence of both side’s armies causing recollections of the deaths
and injuries caused during Cambodia’s Civil War to haunt local people.
The ancient temple is closed at present; locals who work with tourists
feel that it should be reopened as soon as possible, and that tourism
should be encouraged by the authorities. Local residents on the Thai
side of the border want the new Prime Minister, Somchai Wongsawat, to
visit the area in the near future to see for himself the effects on
businesses of the ongoing situation and the poverty which is threatening
residents as a result.
Soldiers posted to restive South get protective amulets and blessings
A ceremony was held September 28 at Wat Sridonmoon in Saraphee,
attended by 64 members of the 7th Infantry Regiment stationed at Chiang
Mai’s Kavila Camp.
The aim of the occasion, led by Capt. Srongwattana Saengsisod and Capt.
Nathharin Sithhibunma, was to allow the troops to pay their respects to
the abbot of Sri Donmoon Temple, Khru Ba Noi Taechapanyo, a Buddhist
teacher, and to receive blessings and protective amulets before their
departure for the South of Thailand.
The soldiers brought flak jackets, made by a local housewives’ group,
and protective helmets to be blessed and marked with a mystic symbol by
the abbot, and were sprinkled with holy water for their protection
during combat. Each soldier was given one a new series of “Miracle”
amulets for further protection, and was personally blessed and
instructed to pay his respects to the “God of the Land” on his arrival
in the south.
CM Narcotics Suppression officers accused of kidnapping rich widow
A second missing person report filed September 23 by Muang
resident Noi Piewthong and her lawyer Diloktham Nualsamlee at Changpuak
Police Station accused Chiang Mai Narcotics Suppression officers of
kidnapping her daughter, Rattikul Khampeera, 33, the widow of a British
Army serviceman and inheritrix of 30 million baht.
mother, Noi Piewthong, and her lawyer, filing a lawsuit for kidnap
against the Narcotics Suppression team with Pol. Maj. Pisanu Norapong.
Noi stated that her daughter had lived in the UK with her British Army
serviceman husband for ten years, returning to Thailand two months ago
after his death. On September 3, officers had raided a house on Waesalee
Road in a search for drugs, and had taken Rattikul in for questioning,
releasing her later the same day. On the morning of September 5, the
same officers had detained her again for questioning about drugs, also
seizing her BMW car. Subsequently, Noi was unable to contact her
daughter and has not seen her since that date.
The first missing person report was filed September 9, at which time Noi
reported her fear that Rattikul might have been kidnapped. When asked
why she thought this, she told officers about the 30 million baht her
daughter had inherited on her husband’s death in the UK. Hearing nothing
further from police, Noi contacted her lawyer and presented a second
missing persons report to police.
As a result, a search was carried out September 23 on a police safe
house in Doi Saket, during which Rattikul’s BMW was found. Police
officers who had previously detained her insisted that she had been
allowed to go free the same evening.
A statement from Noi’s lawyer indicated that a friend of Rattikul,
Chanapong Yipa, had been arrested in possession of more than 100,000
yaba pills, and that this may have been the reason for the investigation
into his client’s daughter. A verified money withdrawal from a local
bank was also mentioned.
The Commander in Chief of the Provincial Police in Chiang Mai, Pol. Maj.
Gen. Sutheo Detraksa, stated that a police committee had already been
convened to investigate Rattikul’s disappearance. If police officers
were found to be involved, they would be prosecuted according to the
law. The suspension of the Narcotics Suppression team prior to
investigation was not ruled out.
Teenaged prisoners escape
after violent attack on guard
A land and air search for 11 teenagers who broke out of a local
juvenile prison after attacking a guard has resulted in the recapture of
8 of the escapees.
guard Khamsan Janloy suffered a wound to his head during the inmates’
Previously, the 11 youngsters all detained at Chiang Mai’s District 7
Correction Centre for drug and violence-related offences, had been
allowed to spend Mothers Day at their homes, but had failed to return at
the agreed time. Officers had rounded them up, and they were given urine
tests for drugs and alcohol, several of which proved positive. Fearing
that this would result in longer sentences, the group had decided to
After attacking a prison guard, Khamsan Janloy, 50, with an 8 inch steel
pipe, the 11 detainees went on the run. An immediate search was
instigated, aided by a helicopter belonging to the Border Police, which
resulted in the recapture of 8 of the group. The remaining three are
still at large.
A statement by the injured guard blames lax security at the centre for
the escape, and notes that staff benefits are poor and administrators
seem not to value their staff. The group’s parents have been called in,
and it is expected that the escapees’ sentences will now be increased as
a warning to other inmates.
Demand increases for illegal
imports of cheap Burmese rice
The illegal cross-border trade in rice, banned by the Burmese
junta following the devastation of much of the rice-growing areas by
Nargis, seems nevertheless to be alive and kicking, with hundreds of
thousands of bags being smuggled into Thailand at the Mae Sot border
Recent heavy rains have impeded transportation, leaving a large quantity
of bagged rice on the Myawaddy side of the Thai/Burmese border waiting
to be loaded, according to a Burmese trader. A Burmese truck driver,
wishing to remain anonymous, reports that around 30 trucks, each with up
to 700 bags of rice per trip, are used to transport the grain, hidden
under other produce. Bribes of 200 kyat per bag enable the trucks to
pass through Burmese Army and Karen ceasefire groups’ checkpoints.
Repackaging of the rice is often necessary, as Thai traders are
reluctant to accept bags marked with logos referring to Burmese
Demand for Burmese rice has increased during this year as the price for
Thai-grown rice has increased. Amid growing concerns in Burma that the
export of rice to Thailand could cause drastic price increases in Burma,
local traders consider that the illegal shipments will continue in spite
of fears of a poor harvest.
Thailand to issue new immigration card
A new Immigration Card (IC) will be introduced for use by those going in
and out of Thailand by the end of this year, said Immigration Police
chief Pol. Lt. Gen. Chatchawan Suksomchit.
IC holders will include those who travel in and out of the country three
to five times in a year, regardless of their nationality. They, Thai and
foreign alike, will also bypass normal procedures of the Immigration
Police which include scanning for criminal suspects or those on the
police and immigration Watch List.
Instead, the IC holders will have the privileges to go through fast
passage at airports, Lt. Gen. Chatchawan said.
The card, which will be issued to tourists and others by the end of this
year, marking the advent of a fresh tourist season, was part of the
efforts to promote tourism and investment in the country.
Meanwhile, the Immigration Police will open Call Centre 1178 early next
year to provide tourism-related information in eight languages. Besides,
the Immigration Police will take part in the crackdown on the
exploitation of foreign labour and flesh trade throughout the country.
Doi Suthep Pagoda at risk of collapse
Following the news that the famous pagoda at Wat Phra Thart Doi
Suthep is in serious danger of collapse due to water retention in the
lime lining from this year’s continuous rain, and urgent meeting is
being held October 7 between officials from the Fine Arts Office in
Chiang Mai, members of the temple’s committee and academics from CMU’s
Faculty of engineering. The meeting will be chaired by Wibun
Sa-nguanphong, Governor of Chiang Mai.
grand stupa (chedi) at the famous Wat Phra Thart Doi Suthep temple which
is in danger of collapse due to continuous rains and interior dampness.
When the unstable condition of the pagoda, which contains important and
highly venerated relics of the Lord Buddha, became apparent, the abbot
of Wat Phra Thart Doi Suthep, Prathep Worasithachan, was immediately
informed and agreed to the restoration.
There are two possible methods of restoration; the first involves
removing the gold plated covering to the outside of the pagoda, and
allowing the internal dampness to escape and dry naturally. A ventiduct
may have to be placed in certain sections to aid the drying process, and
the gold plating to the exterior will be able to be replaced when drying
is complete and the structure is again sound. The second process
involved introducing a chemical into the interior lime coating, which
will harden it. This method, although it has been previously used at Wat
Phra Thart Jomkitti in Chiang Rai, may cause further problems in the
The construction of the pagoda also causes difficulties, as it slopes at
an angle of 45 degrees. Heavy rain soaking into the surrounding soil
with its poor drainage may destabilise the structure still further and
even cause it to collapse. CMU’s Faculty of Engineering, previously
aware of this possibility, have already applied for a government grant
of more than 100 million baht for the stabilising of the pagoda’s
foundations. The application is still under discussion.
Illegal teak logs worth 2 million baht seized after tip-off
Following a tip-off received on September 24 concerning the
transportation of smuggled teak logs from Lamphun to Chiang Mai,
officers of the Anti-Logging Task Force set up a checkpoint at Nong Hoy
on the Chiang Mai/Lamphun Road which resulted in the arrest of three men
and the confiscation of a large quantity of illegal teak.
Early the following morning, a truck loaded with wood approached the
checkpoint and was stopped by officers, who found 300 planks of teak
worth approximately 2 million baht. The driver, Supanya Jannuo, 51, from
Chiang Mai, and his passengers Ae Nadee, a Burmese national and Daengnoi
Jaikham, 26, also from Chiang Mai, were arrested for possession of teak
without a permit and transporting teak without a permit.
Illegal teak logs seized during the arrest
of the three smugglers.
Mae Hong Son police reluctant
to close illegal gambling
dens despite complaints
An illegal gambling den in Mae Hong Son has been finally closed
down after a number of complaints were received from a householder whose
wife had bankrupted the family with her habit.
After the woman had pawned the family vehicle and cleared out their
savings accounts to support her addiction, her husband complained 3
times to local police in an attempt to have the gambling den closed
down. At first, he was told, inaccurately, that it had been done;
subsequently he was told that it could not be done as the premises were
protected by police officers and could not be touched. Finally, the
husband approached the volunteer police in his area, who raided the
gambling den and arrested Chalerm Maetha, Dang Moonsawat, Wanphen
Nokong, and Amporn Pinmarn, all of whom had been gambling. A further 6
people were not able to be arrested due to a lack of sufficient
volunteer officers. Gambling equipment and 100 baht in cash were
confiscated. Reports do not mention arrests of the owners of the
The Deputy Governor of Mae Hong Son reported that there were many
illegal gambling dens in the area, and that complaints were regularly
received and were passed on to the chief of police in the area. He
stated that the “kindness and good nature” of the police chief might be
the reason why the gambling dens were not closed down, and that he had
personally led volunteer police on a raid at one of the properties on at
least one occasion. Adding that he illegal lottery continues to be a
problem, with betting slips and lists being sent to an email address in
Chiang Mai via the internet, he assured reporters that swift measures
would be taken to remedy the situation.