Thailand, Cambodia agree
to joint border patrols
Cambodian government disagrees
Senior army officers of Thailand and neighbouring
Cambodia agreed last Thursday to joint patrols in their disputed border
areas following bloody clashes between soldiers of the two countries,
according to Lt. Gen. Wibulsak Neepal, Thai Second Army chief.
Lt. Gen. Wibulsak, who oversees security affairs in northeastern Thailand,
said the agreement was made by ranking army officers of the two countries at
a meeting which lasted more than four hours in Si Sa Ket province on the
borders of Cambodia.
The meeting was held following Wednesday’s clashes between soldiers of both
countries near the ancient Preah Vihear temple which left two Cambodian
soldiers dead and five Thai soldiers wounded. Lt. Gen. Wibulsak said
although there was not clear agreement and progress to end border disputes,
both sides agreed to introduce joint patrols to avoid armed confrontation.
A policy level meeting between the two countries was scheduled for October
The deputy governor of Si Sa Ket province, meanwhile, met urgently with the
heads of three villages adjoining the Cambodian border to map out an
evacuation plan in case clashes between soldiers of the two countries erupt
anew. The overall atmosphere in the two countries’ border towns was very
quiet on Thursday with many Cambodians living in Poi Pet seen packing their
personal valuables and heading for their hometowns deep inside the country.
However, the joint border patrol operation between soldiers of the two
countries, believed to be a solution to a temporary cease-fire, failed to
begin Friday as agreed, amid reports from official sources that the
Cambodian government disagreed with its concept. In spite of this, soldiers
of both armies remain stationed at their bases, the situation seems normal,
and de-mining operations are continuing in the immediate area. Meanwhile,
local residents in Si Sa Ket are hoping the next round of negotiations due
Tuesday will produce progress, enabling them to harvest crops around the
Preah Vihear temple. (TNA)
Rising costs and fixed wholesale corn prices result in farmers’ protest
An appeal to the Ministry of Commerce was submitted by the leader of
a large group of local corn farmers during a protest October 10 against
increased growing costs which had resulted in losses on the sale of their
crops and considerable financial difficulties.
at Chiang Mai City Hall are a number of the 1,000 local farmers who staged a
protest against the low price of corn.
The rising price of fertiliser and other expenses had increased farmers’
costs to 7 baht per kilo of corn, whist the agreed wholesale price continued
to be fixed at 4 baht, leaving 100,000 tonnes of corn unsold. A protest had
already been made to the Prime Minister, to no effect.
On October 11, the Commerce Minister, Songkhram Kitlerdpairoj, met with the
protestors’ leaders, and agreed a government pledge of 8.5 baht per kilo, 50
satangs below the farmers’ demanded price of 9 baht per kilo. It was felt
that the support of the farmers during the present political crisis was
important. The protest ended after the agreement was reached.
Thai-manufactured melamine-tainted ‘Mali’ condensed
milk seized countrywide
Thai Public Health Ministry food and drug officials have
seized canned unsweetened condensed milk manufactured by a Thai firm from
shelves throughout the country after the milk product was found to be
contaminated with melamine far exceeding acceptable safety standards,
according to Vicharn Minchainant, Deputy Public Health Minister.
The seizure was made after the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) was
informed by the ministry’s Medical Sciences Department that tests found Mali
brand condensed milk tins weighing 385 grammes with an expiry date of 160109
and manufactured by Thai Milk Industries Co., Ltd. to be melamine-tainted.
According to Vicharn, the tested sample of Mali milk contained 92.82 mg/kg
of melamine, far exceeding the maximum safe level of 2.5 mg/kg. He stated
that Mali milk, as well as other products using similar raw materials, were
recalled from stores nationwide.
FDA officials visited the company’s factory in Ayutthaya, where they were
told that raw materials were imported from Belgium, Switzerland, Australia,
Germany and India. Vicharn said the company’s owners could face a maximum
two years in prison, a fine of Bt 20,000 or both. The FDA earlier collected
samples of 10 products for tests, with six testing as having acceptable
levels. Three other product results are yet to be released.
The tainted milk scandal began in China, where four babies have died and
about 54,000 infants became ill from melamine in baby formula. (TNA)
Night Safari’s animal feed suppliers protest against unpaid bills
Suppliers of animal feed and grass from three
Chiang Mai tambons with their banner at the protest against the present
non-local Night Safari management team’s actions.
Providers of animal feed and grass to the Chiang Mai Night Safari
gathered in protest against unfair trading practices and failure to pay for
produce, blocking access to the attraction and demanding the resignation of
its 4 executive board members in charge of food supplies.
Protestors from the community enterprise, which involves three tambons, had
presented a letter of complaint and request for immediate resolution of the
dispute to the Prime Minister during his recent visit to Chiang Mai. As no
result had been obtained to date, the protest went ahead, and, according to
the community enterprise’s chairman, Dee Chantakaluk, will continue until a
satisfactory answer is received.
Complaints, specified by Dee, include the non-payment of some 1.1 million
baht due for the provision of animal feed and grass, delayed for 2-3 months
after promises of payment on a weekly basis had been made, and the
non-payment of a promised cheque due on September 29. The total cost of the
feed, supplied weekly, is 130,000-150,000 baht per week.
The demand for the removal of the Night Safari’s 4 executive directors,
including the director of animal management, was a result of unfair trading
practices, namely the Night Safari’s claim that the feed, supposedly being
of low quality, had caused the deaths of many animals. The suppliers
strongly reject this claim, stating that the methods of feeding by the Night
Market’s staff had caused the deaths. The protestors are calling for a team
of specialists to oversee the feeding of all animals kept at the facility,
and believe that a conflict of interest exists between themselves and the
Night Safari authorities.
Songthaew driver turns
to theft to make ends meet
Prasert Namthep (centre) with police and a
number of the items he had stolen.
A red songthaew driver was recently caught selling stolen goods at
the roadside, after a complaint had been made to local police concerning the
theft of car tyres.
Prasert Namthep, 37, was arrested in possession of 6 stolen tyres and other
items including a 20 litre oil drum, one shotgun and 5 bullets, found during
a search of his house. During questioning, the accused stated that, due to
the Bangkok protests and the political situation, he had been unable to
support himself and pay the monthly installments on his vehicle by driving
for a living, so had turned to crime simply to make ends meet. Prasert was
charged with theft and possession of firearms.
Late night motorcycle crash results in death and serious injury
A late night crash between a motorcycle and a bicycle on October
6 left an English national, Michael Currey, 65, dead and a Thai
national, Somsak Tongpruek, 57, in a coma.
Currey, a resident of Home in Town housing estate, Muang, was found
lying dead on the road by local police responding to a report of the
accident. Somsak, seriously injured, was lying nearby and was
immediately taken to a local hospital, where he was discovered to be in
a coma. It would appear, from preliminary investigation, that Currey,
who had apparently been returning home after visiting a friend, may have
been speeding over a bridge when he crashed into Somsak’s bicycle, which
was ahead of him on the road. The cause of the fatal accident is still
TAT predicts high numbers of winter visitors to Mae Hong Son
The natural beauty of Mae Hong Son’s winter season is set to
attract a high number of tourists this year, according to local Tourist
Authority of Thailand (TAT) representatives.
The season will begin November 6 with the Buatong flower festival,
co-organised by the Khun Yam and Mae Au Kor districts’ administrative
offices. New for 2008 will be the opportunity for visitors to camp on
the mountain to enjoy the cooler weather and the beauty of the Buatong
flowers in their natural setting. The flowers will bloom until early
December, and are expected to attract many visitors. Parking facilities,
toilets and healthcare services will be provided, along with special
security patrols provided by police officers and volunteers. Hotel
occupancy in Mae Hong Son is already at 90% capacity, visitors planning
a trip from November are asked to book in advance to avoid
In the mountainous areas of Chiang Rai’s Terng district, the weather is
already changing and becoming colder; as a result, many tourists are
already visiting the Phu Chi Fah cliff, famous for its mysterious and
beautiful mists. The local administration are planning further
attractions, including requesting a budget allocation from the Thai
sports authority to be used to create recreational facilities, and
organising an exhibition from 14 local hill tribe villages. Tourists
will be able to visit the Pha Pueng cave nearby, and volunteer guides
have been trained to give advice and help on security and safety in the
area. Local officials are also working with the World Vision Foundation
to establish a cultural centre at Phu Chi Fah.
Medical professionals confirm
ethical stance to protestors
Chiang Mai’s pro-government group presenting
a letter of complaint against the ethics of medical professionals at
Maharaj hospital who had previously refused to treat injured police
Following the Medical Council of Thailand’s action Thursday October 9 in
calling on Thai physicians to consider their code of ethics when
refusing to treat injured police after the Bangkok riots, the Chiang Mai
pro-government group Association of Northern Peoples for Democracy
submitted a letter of complaint to Maharaj hospital executives during a
hastily organised protest in front of the building a day later.
Jiraphat Ruenkaew, the protest’s coordinator, claimed that treatment of
the injured should be fair, with no exceptions, thus conforming to
medical ethics and avoiding discrimination. The presentation of the
letter of complaint was made to Assoc. Pro. Dr. Chairat Kunawiktikul,
deputy dean of CMU’s Faculty of Medicine, also the officer in charge of
the director of Maharaj hospital. Dr. Chairat commented that, although
the letter of intent not to treat had been sent out by medical staff,
doctors had not, in fact, refused to treat sick and injured police, and
had cared for them in a professional manner. He also pointed out that
the refusal to treat had been called off by all medical professionals
after the Medical Council of Thailand’s appeal, and that CMU academics
had also reversed their stance. One member of staff at Maharaj had been
assaulted by protestors from the Rak Chiang Mai 51 group during a
protest several days earlier.
Chiang Rai border area to get CCTV
At a recent seminar held in Chiang Rai with the aim of drafting
the province’s narcotics prevention and suppression policies, it was
announced that the border areas of Chiang Rai will be equipped with CCTV
security cameras, due to the doubling of the influx of narcotics from
across the Thai border. Chiang Mai provincial police are cooperating
with a mobile networks service regarding the installation of the
During the last year, 3 million Yaba pills and other narcotics including
ice, heroin and raw opium, were confiscated, and 2,226 dealers and
smugglers were arrested. 2,278 drug addicts were placed in
rehabilitation centres by police and provincial authorities.
The Chiang Rai governor, Traisit Sinsomboonthong, stated that he was
satisfied with the year’s result, but that the installation of CCTV
along the borders would make it even more difficult for smugglers to
infiltrate the province and transport illegal drugs. At present, drugs
gangs seem to be moving their transportation routes in the north of
Thailand to the Mekong River’s border areas.
Chiang Rai reports 6 dengue fever deaths
The dengue fever epidemic in the Mae Sai district of Chiang Rai
has claimed 6 victims to date, with 127 residents contracting the
disease, according to the director of Mae Sai hospital, Dr. Sura
Khumkongpan. The figures do not include local non-Thai patients or
fatalities. The numbers of infections and deaths have been reported to
the area’s office of public health, and are higher than in previous
Multicultural traditions celebrated in Yunnan music and dance festival
A truly multicultural music and dance festival was held recently
in the Chinese city of Jinghong, in the south-western province of
Yunnan, featuring artistes from four neighbouring countries, China,
Laos, Burma and Thailand, which was represented by the Chiang Rai City
Art Group. The festival opened with an evening gala, which showcased
song and dance from all four participating countries. For this very
special evening, the stage set, lighting and sound effects were arranged
to suggest a scene in the tropical forest of Xishuangbanna. The Chiang
Rai City Art Group entertained with traditional dances; from Laos came
the Luang Prabang Art Group, showing their own traditions with pride and
skill, whilst the representative group from Burma performed dances in
the tradition of their homeland, the Shan State.
Yunnan province’s Honghe, Yuxi, Pu’er, Chuxiong and Xishuangbanna
autonomous prefectures merited special representation as the hosts, with
performers from those regions presenting the traditional performing arts
of the Yi, Lahu and Dai minority groups. Asked if she had enjoyed the
show, a member of the large audience said, “It’s great to see
performances with such diversity. I love it!” The performers themselves
seem to have enjoyed the diversity equally, with a dancer from Chuxiong
prefecture saying that “This festival gives us the opportunity to
appreciate and exchange arts music and dance styles from different
cultural backgrounds. We are glad to learn from each other.” The
festival itself was regarded by all, both performers and visitors, as
more than just entertainment – it was a valuable lesson in difference
and diversity amongst many different ethnic styles and origins, and a
rare opportunity to give and receive ideas.
Trade falls, tourism declines
at Thai-Cambodia border
The number of visitors passing through the border check-point at
Aranyaprathet in Sa Kaeo province on the Cambodian border has declined
significantly, whilst export volumes at the border crossing fell 30 per
cent. Tourists and traders feared that the border would close due to
clashes between Thai and Cambodian soldiers.
The border opened normally on Thursday but travel operators said their
tours were cancelled due to fears and uncertainties regarding the border
situation and the possibility of the checkpoints’ closure. The assistant
chief of customs at Aranyaprathet said Thai exports to Cambodia have
dropped sharply, as Thai traders are uncertain whether there would be
problems with exported items sent to the neighbouring country.
Thai exported goods to Cambodia saw a positive trade balance of 17
billion baht in 2007 and 26 billion baht in 2008, a 52 per cent increase
as a result of Cambodia’s economic growth and increasing purchasing
power. Whilst the main items being exported from Thailand were
motorcycles, construction materials, and consumer goods, imports
included used clothing, agricultural products, scrap iron and aluminium
The value of imports from Cambodia has risen in 2008 from 130 million
baht to 2.1 billion baht.
At Aranyaprathet’s Rong Klua Market, a Cambodian trader said the value
of his sales had fallen more than 50% to 1,000-2,000 baht per day, but
that he was not afraid of the tension and would continue to trade.
Tourism, however, has been badly affected, with more than 10 tour
companies experiencing cancellations and all tours cancelled last
Thursday. Cross-border traders are also deserting the area at present,
although the border remains open, with stricter controls and 24- hour
guards. Reassurances have been given that Cambodian traders’ goods in
Thai territory will be safe until the situation returns to normal.
Simple Change – Nimmanhaemin Art and Design Promenade 2008
This year’s popular annual Nimmanhaemin Art and Design Promenade
is scheduled to take place between December 5 and December 9, from 10
a.m. to 10 p.m. daily.
This year’s title is “Simple Change,” and points out that, “with a
simple gesture, one can simply change – to ‘greener’ living, beginning
in Soi 1.” An apposite message for these days of climate concern and
As usual, Soi 1 on Nimmanheimin is the focus of the event, crammed full
of art exhibits, design items and home decorating goodies, both in the
many boutiques and on street stalls, with the opportunity to see the
colourful homes of local residents in the soi, and others who admire the
environment. As in previous years, there will be plenty of bargains on
offer. It’s a great place to get your Christmas presents!
After the inevitable shopping spree, the plethora of bars and
restaurants in the immediate area will provide tasty answers to the
“what shall we eat” question. Shopping is such hungry and thirsty work!
As part of the event, afternoons and evenings in the area will be
enlivened with fashion shows, beauty pageants, Lanna dancing and great
live music events – something for everyone. The promenade, as always,
will be a “don’t miss” event for local residents and visitors alike! For
further info, please contact the Amari Rincome Hotel on 053-221-130.
FERC to hold annual fundraiser
at Shangri-La Hotel
The Foundation for the Education of Rural Children (FERC) will
hold its annual fundraising event on November 22 at the Shangri-La
Hotel, beginning at 7 p.m.
The event, entitled “Let Us Entertain You” will take the form of a
cocktail party with a musical review provided by Tangerine Blue, local
expat musicians, whose repertoire will include familiar and much-loved
songs from famous Broadway musicals. The evening’s menu will include
“heavy” hors d’ouvres and wine, plus home-made desserts from the
kitchens of FERC’s culinarily creative members! A silent auction and a
raffle will also be featured. Tickets for the evening will cost 1,000
baht, and can be purchased from any FERC board member or, from November
17th, at the Shangri La.
Proceeds for the evening will be used to buy books and educational
supplies for the school at Baan Huay Pa Hon, a Lahu village in the
Chiang Dao area, and to fund scholarships for students in the Thailand
Department of Education’s San Patong region.
For those who cannot attend but would still like to be a part of this
endeavour, FERC welcomes your in-kind donations for the silent auction,
or any other contribution you would like to make. Please visit FERC’s
website, www.thai-rural-education. org, and contact them with your
wishes. As always, FERC’s members are grateful for your support of its
projects, and look forward to seeing you at the party.
Charity Run begins “Cancer Care
Family Day” at the Four Seasons
Chiang Mai’s Four Seasons Resort has announced details of their
second annual “Cancer Care Family Day” to be held at Huay Tung Tao
Reservoir on November 1, in conjunction with the Queen Sirikit Centre
for Breast Cancer and the Thai Red Cross.
The day will start with the Cancer Charity Run, held over a 3.5
kilometre course. To take part will cost 250 baht per adult and 180 baht
per child under 13, including a free T-shirt and a breakfast box.
Registration to run begins at 7 a.m., with the race itself starting at 8
a.m. Huay Tung Tao Reservoir is on the Canal Road, travelling North past
the 700 year Stadium, approximately 7 kilometres out of town.
Loy Krathong Yee Peng festival 2008
This year’s Loy Krathong 2008 festival in Chiang Mai is
officially scheduled to run for four days, from November 10 to 13
inclusive. On November 8, prior to the festival itself, 5,000 khom loys
will be released into the evening skies from the grounds of Mae Jo
University’s Meditation Centre following a special Buddhist ceremony, an
amazing sight which, once experienced, will never be forgotten. TAT is
planning a special songthaew service from the city to Mae Jo, and asks
that visitors should arrive at the university’s grounds by 5 p.m. If
visitors are planning to use their own transport, earlier arrival is
advised to give plenty of time to park.
In the city, on November 10, the main events will take place at the
Three Kings Monument from 6 p.m. onwards. Apart from the Grand Opening
of Loy Krathong Yee Peng 2008 between 6 p.m. and 7 p.m., there will be a
children’s beauty contest, Lanna music performances which will continue
for the full 4 days, and even a beauty contest for pigeons! The main
festivities will take place from the 11th to the 13th; as a result,
Ratchadamnoen Road will be closed to traffic from 4 p.m. onwards and
Thapae Road from 6 p.m. onwards on those days.
November 11 will see the 17th Yee Peng lantern parade starting 6 p.m. at
Thapae Gate and moving down Thapae Road to Wat Sri Don Chai, where it
will finish at midnight. At the Three Kings Monument, there will be the
Miss Yee Peng beauty contest, and the beginning of the three-day “Legend
of Yee Peng “competition.
The following day, November 12, will feature the ‘Small Krathong
Parade,’ from 6 p.m. to midnight, and on November 13, the last and main
parade, the ‘Giant Krathong Parade’ will take place. These two parades
will both start at Thapae Gate and continue down Thapae Road to the
Municipal Offices, and are expected to start at 6 p.m. and continue well
into the night.
As with most Loy Krathong Festivals, on the evening of 12th and 13th,
there will be a large firework display for the Buddha Bucha on the Ping
River in front of the Municipal Offices from 7 p.m. onwards, together
with Krathong floating Lanna style, also from 7 p.m.
On the 12th, from 9 a.m. through 5 p.m. on (or rather, in) the river,
bamboo rafting and diving competitions will take place. The west side of
Narawat Bridge, in front of the Governor’s Residence, will see
traditional Lanna merit-making ceremonies, Phra Siri Mong Ka La Yee
Peng. On 11th, 12th and 13th, Wat Jed Lin will display the folk art of 6
The two main areas from which to release your own khom loys are at
Thapae Gate and in front of the Governor’s Residence. On 13th, Wat Muang
Sart Noi will feature the conservation of traditional Yee Peng Wisdom
from 6 p.m. to 11 p.m., and Wat Inthakin will feature a traditional
display of Lanna lanterns throughout the period.
If you feel you would like to help, Chiang Mai Friends Group, on the
instruction of the mayor, Dr Duentemduang na Chiengmai is looking for
‘safety volunteers’ to work with the local tourist police. For further
information, please visit www. retireinchiangmai.com.
Remembrance Day – Tuesday November 11
For those who wish to observe Remembrance Day in the traditional manner,
a non-denominational service will be held at the Chiang Mai Foreign
Cemetery in memory of all those who gave their lives in war in the
service of their countries. The service will commence at 10.45 a.m.; a
two minute silence will be observed at 11 a.m. After the service,
participants are invited to the Chiengmai Gymkhana Club for
refreshments. The cemetery is located on the Chiang Mai/Lamphun Road
approximately 1 mile south of Narawat Bridge, opposite the offices of
the Electricity Company.
Chiang Mai city streets’ major clean up for Loy Kratong and tourist season
Roads in Chiang Mai city being given a major
in preparation for Loy Krathong and the upcoming tourist season.
Streets and drainage channels in the Chiang Mai municipal area
are undergoing a massive clean-up by 40 municipal employees in
preparation for Loy Krathong and the upcoming tourist high season, with
the remaining four municipal offices also being encouraged to clean
their areas. Suthep, Huay Kaew, Charoenmuang and Chang Klan Roads have
already been cleaned, as reported by the Mayor’s secretary, who stated
that the cleaning would also help to eliminate dust which causes
pollution in the dry season. The Mayor and the municipality consider
that tourism is essential to the province and to the city, and are
prepared to do everything they can to protect the health of both
visitors and residents.