Prime Minister Somchai
Wongsawat visits Chiang Mai
The recently elected PM Somchai Wongsawat paid a visit to Chiang Mai
last week in order to inspect the renovations at Phra That Doi Suthep and
pay his respects to the ancestors of his brother-in-law, ex-PM Thaksin
Having stayed overnight at Thaksin’s Chiang Mai residence, Somchai headed to
Doi Suthep, where he was welcomed by local authorities and a crowd of
well-wishers. During his speech of welcome, the temple’s abbot expressed his
wishes that Somchai would bring harmony and a successful resolution to the
present tense situation.
Officials from the Fine Arts Department and members of the temple’s staff
then presented Somchai with the proposed renovation plan and took him on a
tour of the endangered areas, including the famous stupa containing the
relics of the Buddha. Somchai agreed with the plan and pledged the
government’s financial support.
During the PM’s visit, he was accosted by a female PAD supporter waving a
“clapping hand” device, regarded as a symbol by PAD protestors. The woman
was detained by plain-clothes police, but claimed her right of public
After leaving Phra That Doi Suthep, Somchai headed out to Sankamphaeng
district, and paid his respects to the ashes of ex-PM Thaksin’s antecedents,
housed at Wat Samakkhee Rong Tham. He also paid a visit to Chansom
Shinawatra, an elder relative of his wife, Yaowapa Wongsawat. On his return
to the city, he visited Wat Chedi Luang and paid his respects to the body of
the recently deceased abbot, Luang Pu Chan. Prior to his departure for
Bangkok and after taking his evening meal at Xia Tong Heng Chinese
restaurant, he was welcomed to Tonlamyai and Warorot markets by stallholders
and a crowd of well-wishers including representatives of local authorities.
EDITORIAL: 3 dead and hundreds injured as excessive force used against protestors
It can be no surprise to anyone in this country and overseas that the
violence which has been threatening to erupt since August 26, when
supporters of the People’s Alliance for Democracy (PAD) stormed into the
grounds of Bangkok’s Government House intent on bringing down the People’s
Power Party’s coalition, has finally broken out.
Until late on Monday, at which time protestors marched to Parliament, vowing
to prevent newly-elected Prime Minister Somchai Wongsawat from delivering
his policy statement to both houses, it seemed that police had used
reasonable methods of control of the flagging protest, refusing to be
provoked into violent conflict. At the same time, PAD leaders seemed to be
using a “Ghandi-esque” approach in order to win sympathy from the masses
whilst challenging their right to suffrage.
However, all this changed when the clashes broke out early Tuesday morning
as protestors gathered around the parliament compound to prevent lawmakers
from attempting to enter the Parliament building, which led to the worst
violence seen in Bangkok for 16 years. Police fired tear-gas into the
thousands strong crowd, often aiming not over the heads of the protestors,
but towards the ground and into the crowd.
The results of their actions, seen countrywide and worldwide on local and
international television, were horrendous. Legs were blown off, people’s
limbs burned or crushed beyond repair, hands blown off, injuries and severe
burns to faces and bodies, with blood everywhere. An unarmed group,
including old people, sheltering from the violence by a wall, were unable to
escape tear gas canisters lobbed directly at them by police. Innocent people
were caught up in the chaos, unable to escape injury. At the end of the day
two people lost their lives.
There is never any justification for such excessive violence. A percentage
of PAD protestors may have been prepared to use violence themselves - but
the scale of the response of the police towards their own countrymen and
women who see a different solution to the stalemate which has gripped
Thailand for far too long, is totally unacceptable, and its economic and
social consequences will be felt long after memories of the videoed violence
itself have faded.
Her Majesty the Queen has shown grave concern for the injured, has
instructed all Bangkok hospitals to give them special care and has donated
personal funds to help the injured. Surely this has to be understood by all
politicians, police commanders and other authorities involved in this crisis
as a precursor to urgent moves towards the reconciliation of all sides and
the cessation of any moves towards further violence?
Even as Prime Minister Somchai made his delayed policy statement,
deliberately neglecting to mention with regret those horribly injured in the
ongoing clashes outside, Thailand was reeling from shock at the horror of
If this conflict is not resolved, the rest of the world, together with its
tourists and investors, may well draw back from a country whose leaders
apparently permit such excesses. How much longer must the Thai people
We deplore the excessive use of force last Tuesday by the riot police force
in its abortive attempt to break up the PAD protest at the Parliament
building, and call for a united and successful reconciliation between all
the political factions.
Chiang Mai Zoo’s director announces new marketing strategies
Following the recent birthday celebrations at Chiang Mai Zoo for the
female panda Lin Hui, Thanaphat Pongpamorn, the zoo’s director, announced to
reporters that 5 rai of land has been set a side for a new attraction, the
Adventure Zoo, which will focus on the prehistoric era of the dinosaurs. The
project will be launched later this month.
New marketing strategies aimed at increasing the number of visitors to the
zoo will also include “Amazing Zoo Star,” featuring a pair of pandas gifted
by China, a Cape fur seal and Humboldt Penguins. Another innovation,
“Amazing Only One in Thailand,” will present Kali, an Indian rhinoceros
gifted to His Majesty King Bhumibol in 1986 by the then King of Nepal.
The “Seven Wonders” of Chiang Mai Zoo will also include the huge aquarium at
present under construction, together with a display of orchids and the
ancient Lanna historical site at Wat Ku Din Khao. A map of the location of
the 7 wonders will be given to every visitor, stamped with a number and the
visitor’s name and address, which will be entered into a monthly prize draw.
In spite of the worldwide financial crisis and its effect on visitor
numbers, Thanaphat is still optimistic that the new marketing strategies
will bring increased numbers of visitors to the zoo.
Dutch tourist found
dead in guest house
A Dutch tourist, Willem Pater, 56, was found dead October 5 on the
balcony of his rented room at a guesthouse on Ratchadamnoen Road.
Willem, who had arrived in Chiang Mai October 2, was discovered by a maid
lying face down on the floor with blood on his head and in his nose and ears
and a cigarette in his hand. Police and medical staff from Maharat Nakorn
Chiang Mai hospital were called to the scene, and announced that the death
had taken place approximately 10 hours previously. It was assumed that
Willem had fallen victim to a seizure whilst walking onto the balcony to
smoke a cigarette, and had fallen awkwardly, striking his head on the hard
The owner of the guesthouse told police that the dead man had checked in
three days previously, and had eaten once in the restaurant. Willem’s body
has been sent to Maharat Hospital’s forensic department in order that an
autopsy be performed to determine the cause of death, after which the Royal
Dutch Embassy will send it home to Holland.
Chiang Mai academics send
anti-violence letter to PM
A group of Chiang Mai academics, led by Wongsak na Chieng Mai, have
routed a strongly-worded letter condemning the recent violence in Bangkok
through Chiang Mai’s governor to Prime Minister Somchai Wongsawat.
The letter’s contents stress the three deaths and more than 400 injuries
which resulted from the attempt by police to break up the PAD’s
demonstration outside Parliament, and the political situation and clash of
ideals which caused the confrontation. It calls on the Prime Minister to
ensure that weapons are not used against Thai people by Thai police in
The group of academics responsible for the letter also stress that the
present conflict should be solved by the use of intelligence and wisdom,
bearing in mind that Thai society, and in particular its younger members,
were to survive this crisis, it should be by understanding the
administration’s position and not by the use of violence by any party.
The letter criticised PM Somchai for neglecting to mention in his
parliamentary speech the violence, deaths and injuries caused during the
riot, arguing that his action was against the traditional Buddhist
foundations of Thai society itself, which stress moral principles and
kindness towards all living things. It continued by stating that the Thai
people themselves must be continually aware of these principles and fulfil
their duty to live in peace with ethics and correct development.
Finally, the letter stated that the PM’s resignation was not for its writers
to demand, but that he should take responsibility for the situation and
reject the possibility of further violence. The writers stated that “There
are as yet silent forces in the kingdom, which will be closely watching the
PM and the members of his cabinet.”
Chiang Mai 2008 dengue fever infections highest for 10 years
According to the city’s public health chief, Dr. Wattana
Kanjanakamol, cases of dengue fever in Chiang Mai have risen to the
highest total in 10 years, with 3,100 recorded sufferers during the
period from January to September 2008. Muang and Doi Lor recorded the
highest number of infections, with half of the province’s cases found in
Muang district. The epidemic reached its peak during July and August,
with species 1-4 of the disease being identified.
Reasons for the dramatic increase in infections range from an increase
in the number of mosquitoes carrying the disease, the increased
rainfall, and the increased resistance of the mosquitoes to pesticides.
Global warming was also cited as a possible reason, as was human
behaviour in that an infected patient who moved from one area to another
could cause an epidemic to break out in a different area.
Security concerns cause cancellation of PAD rally at CMU’s theatre
Following the cancellation by CMU’s rectors of their proposed
October 5 rally at the university’s theatre, 50 members of the Chiang
Mai chapter of the People’s Alliance for Democracy, led by coordinators
and former CMU lecturers Suriyan Thongnoo-iad and Dr. Chalermpol
Saempetch, gathered to seek an explanation.
Mai PAD supporters, pictured with a wreath showing their disapproval of
the cancellation on safety grounds of their on-campus protest.
Prof. Dr. Watchara Wetchpong, and Assoc. Prof. Pong-in Rak-ariyatham,
both CMU deputy rectors, gave the university’s reasons for the
cancellation on behalf of the rector, Prof. Dr. Pongsak Angasith. It was
stated that, although CMU willingly supported academic activities, it
was considered that the PAD seminar was likely to result in harm to
participants and to university buildings due to the likely presence of
representatives of the opposing political group. The deputy rectors also
stated that the university was not opposed in principal to the PAD, and
was willing to consider further PAD activities provided full prior
discussions took place.
The PAD’s coordinator, Dr. Chalermpol, stated after the meeting that he
was disappointed that permission for the rally had been withdrawn, and
that the seminar had merely been intended to provide information on
PAD’s proposed political reforms. He added that further requests would
be made for use of the university’s premises at a future date.
During the meeting, a group from the pro-Thaksin Rak Chiang Mai 51
assembled outside the campus area, intending to enter and disrupt the
proceedings. Police were called, and the group were refused entry to the
Elsewhere, 200 members of another anti-government protest group, calling
itself the “King’s Musketeers,” led by Terdsak Jiamkijwattana, assembled
at Raming Nivet housing estate and signed a notice of intent to join the
PAD protestors in Bangkok. Police officers kept a watch on the meeting
in case of possible violence.
Phayao wins “10th most
liveable city” award
According to Charnchai Pichetboonkiat, the city’s head of local
administration promotion and development, Phayao has been voted the 10th
most liveable city in Thailand, with its Muang district ranked the 6th
most liveable district, in a recent poll conducted by the Local
Community Development Institute (LDI).
The announcement and presentation of the awards to the winning cities
took place October 8 at the Miracle Grand Hotel in Bangkok, chaired by
Prof. Dr. Pravet Wasri, the president of the Local Community Development
Foundation. The ceremony was held as part of a seminar on the 4th
Strengthened Municipal Networks and Liveable Cities, jointly arranged by
the Local Institute, Local Administration Department, Pattana Thai
Foundation and the Office of National Economic and Social Development.
Zonta invites you
to tell your story
Last February, Zonta International Chiang Mai sponsored That
Takes Ovaries, an evening of theatrical narratives by local men and
women based on real-life stories of women around the globe and their
courage and determination in overcoming adversity, discrimination, and
violence. This year, That Takes Ovaries is asking local women, both Thai
and expatriate, who have a story to tell, to submit it for inclusion in
the play, which will be composed of entirely new stories. These are the
stories that encourage other women to become empowered and speak out.
Zonta invites women here in Thailand to submit their stories for
consideration. They will be modified for the stage for a performance to
be held in 2009. The storytellers’ names will be kept entirely
confidential upon request.
You are invited to send YOUR story of your courageous and daring
experiences. These stories are not just for women; they are stories for
all men and women who discovered their personal power by facing danger,
misfortune, prejudice, and hardship. The manuscripts should be between
500 and 1,100 words. You may use any name of your choosing, and submit
by email to [email protected] .com or mail it to Laura Godtfredsen, 1/1
Moo 5, T. Mae Raem, A. Mae Rim, Chiang Mai, 50180. Please provide an
address or telephone number so that we may verify your story. If you
have any questions, you may call Laura at 084-042-4069. For more about
That Takes Ovaries, go to
http://thattakesovaries.org/htmls/homepage.html. The deadline for
stories is December 1.
Zonta Chiang Mai is a chartered member (1997) of Zonta International, a
worldwide service organization of executives in business and the
professions working together to advance the status of women in almost 70
countries. The Chiang Mai group has sponsored various fund-raising
events in support of the Adopt a Grandma Program, which helps Chiang Mai
grandmothers to bring up their grandchildren, orphaned as a result of
AIDS. These women in need are supported by the generosity of local
donors committed to providing regular monthly support. Zonta’s mission
for this year is to expand the program’s base of donors and grandmas.
Estimates suggest that there are hundreds of grandmas in the Chiang Mai
region that are in need of help. Zonta also conducts programs for the
education of orphaned children, scholarships for young college women,
and is helping to develop a bird sanctuary and nature reserve.
Raid on 6 Omkoi villages results
in arrests and confiscation of drugs
Six villages in Omkoi district, known for its illegal opium
cultivation, were sealed off in a recent raid by the district chief,
Sittichai Sawatsaen, accompanied by the entire staff of 100 members of
the 36th Ranger Regiment and territorial volunteers.
Illegal items seized during the operation included 7 methamphetamine
pills, 10 opium pipes, 4 sets of opium-smoking paraphernalia, 4 sets of
high-low gambling craps and several guns and bullets. More than 3,000
planks of illegally logged teak were also seized, as were 45 vehicles.
22 villagers were arrested for various breaches of the law, and almost
200 addicts were offered rehabilitation programmes.
The area has long been known for its cultivation of large quantities of
illegal opium on more than a hundred thousand rai of land, which has
been regularly cleared by officials and the Thai Army.
Medical Council of Thailand reminds
Thai physicians to observe code of ethics
The Medical Council of Thailand on Thursday opposed the use of violence
to solve any conflict, whilst urging all medical doctors to help
patients without discrimination and to observe international
humanitarian principles, according to its chairman, Somsak Lohlekha. Dr.
Somsak said the statement was approved by council committees from 16
medical institutions nationwide, representing 38,000 doctors.
Two people died and hundreds were injured in the violent clashes in
Bangkok on Tuesday after police used tear gas against anti-government
protesters outside Parliament.
The Medical Council issued their statement in response to moves by some
doctors who vowed not to treat injured police officers as a protest
against the use of force against demonstrators.
Following the statement given last Wednesday by Dr. Suthep Koncharnwit
of Chulalongkorn Hospital, announcing that the hospital’s medical teams
would not give assistance to police who were injured in the clashes with
PAD supporters, Dr. Somsak stated that the Medical Council would
investigate the issue. Meanwhile, Thai Red Cross Society
secretary-general Dr. Phan Wannamethee and executives of Chulalongkorn
Hospital, the Thai Red Cross Society and Chulalongkorn University’s
Faculty of Medicine together issued an opposing statement affirming
their stance of treating patients regardless of political beliefs, race,
nationality and religion.
Later, Dr. Suthep apologised for having announced a boycott of medical
services to the police, and for the emotional remarks he had made at a
press conference which, he said, may have had an unintended negative
impact on the hospital. He added that his intentions may have been
misunderstood by some, and that he had wanted only to stress that he had
considered the measures used by the police and permitted by the
government were inappropriate. In practice, he said, he could not deny
medical treatment to any patient.
Public Health Minister Chalerm Yoobamrung explained that the physician
had been speaking from anger, and that he believed that all doctors
practice medical ethics and would not discriminate against patients,
despite the emotions raised by this week’s events.
He assured the public that the medical institutes under the Public
Health Ministry would give their full attention and assistance to all
Narenthorn Emergency Medical Services centre recently reported that the
number of those injured in the recent riots has risen to 478, and of
those, 85 had been admitted to nine hospitals in metropolitan Bangkok.
Nine people had experienced severe trauma, with amputations having to be
performed, and one patient had lost an eye. (TNA)
Environmental concerns result in worthwhile morning for volunteers
25 Thai and farang volunteers from Chiang Mai Friends, Green
Chiang Mai and the Global Warming Watch Network, met up on the morning
of Sunday October 5 at Huay Kaew Waterfall in Doi Suthep National Park
to take part in a garbage clean-up session at Pha Ngerb, 500 metres
above Wat Srisoda.
during the garbage clean-up in Doi Suthep National Park.
The group were welcomed and thanked by the park’s superintendent, Ampon
Paan Mongkol, who is responsible for protecting its 262 sq km
environment and for educating visitors and staff alike in ways to keep
the mountain in the best possible condition. He explained that there are
3 main nature trails – Mon Tha Than Waterfall past the Sai Yoi Waterfall
and around the base of Doi Suthep Temple, Fai Hin Temple, by the Zoo (or
from the memorial statue of Kruba Sriwichai up to the Huay Kaew
Waterfall), and the top of the mountain itself, around the Sanku ruin.
The park is home to Wat Phra Thart Doi Suthep (Chiang Mai’s most famous
temple), Bhu Ping Royal Palace and two Hmong villages, as well as a
large number of indigenous species of wild life and birds, including
wild pigs and monkeys. For foreigners who wish to hike these trails,
open from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., there is a modest charge of 100 baht. Ampon
requested that volunteers ask both Thai and farang friends who wish to
visit Doi Suthep National Park, not to leave their garbage behind at the
end of the day!
After Ampon’s welcome, the volunteers were driven up to Pha Ngerb, given
large black plastic bags and protective gloves, and put to work. A
variety of garbage was collected and, after two hours work achieved with
plenty of laughing, joking and forging of new friendships, everyone
agreed it was a worthwhile way to spend a Sunday morning, even after a
late Saturday night out!
To take part in the next “clean up” or to find out other ways you can
help with green issues, contact Duenpen Chaladlam (Boong) at