Vol. VII No. 44 - Tuesday
October 28 - November 3, 2008



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by Saichon Paewsoongnern


OUR COMMUNITY
HEADLINES [click on headline to view story]:

Chiang Mai Friends group’s 9th meeting – a variety of presentations

Mekong Institute organises inter-GMS trade, investment and study trip

Sore feet and a good result

A Taste of Peru - Unusual, delicious and much appreciated

Exhibition of antique French ephemera related to King Rama V

Don’t Miss in October and November!

Piang Luang – A community with a message?

Thai villagers train to defend their homeland

Beware email address and address book hackers!

Chiang Mai Friends group’s 9th meeting – a variety of presentations

Duenpen (Boong) Chaladlam, president of the Chiang Mai Friends group,
with the Spirit House Singers.

Elena Edwards
The UNISERV building, located next to CMU’s Conference Centre, was the venue for last week’s 9th meeting of the Chiang Mai Friends group. The group’s president, Duenpen (Boong) Chaladlam welcomed the 80 or so “positive and good-hearted people who are helping to serve the community in education and in the environment” to the conference room, and gave her report of the previous meeting and the group’s recent activities.
Khun Boong then introduced Professor Dr. Anurak Panyanuwat, the director of the Academic Service Center of Chiang Mai University (UNISERV) and also a professor at CMU. He described UNISERV as a service centre for non-degree programmes such as research and economic consultancy, and a provider of venues for social functions and human resource events. The facility is able to provide conference and meeting rooms, reasonably-priced hotel accommodation and a restaurant (in which a good few of the group’s members and their guests had already enjoyed a pleasant meal prior to the meeting). One of UNISERV’s future plans is to hold a seminar, entitled “Farangs in Law,” intended to increase understanding of the law amongst foreigners who are married to Thai nationals. Dr. Anurak mentioned that new citizens of Chiang Mai must feel confused and sometimes lonely and may often need help. He hoped that UNISERV in cooperation with Chiang Mai Friends group would be able to provide support and assistance in the future.
The centre is also jointly involved with Royal Projects in the north of Thailand. Finally, Dr. Anurak encouraged members to fill in a questionnaire which focused on Thai/foreign couples in the areas of cross-cultural understanding and such couples’ immediate needs on arrival in Chiang Mai. Based on the results of the questionnaire, research will be undertaken as to how best to welcome and support these new arrivals.
Khun Boong then presented slides of the Green Chiang Mai group’s “green clean-up” at Huay Kaew Waterfall at the beginning of the month, an enjoyable, if tiring, experience for all those who took part. It had also been a chance to meet with the superintendent of the national park and to learn how the park is maintained. The general opinion seems to have been that extremely hard work came into it somewhere!
The next speaker was Rebecca Lomax, who heads up the Foundation for the Education of Rural Children (FERC). Rebecca told her audience that she had arrived in Chiang Mai some 10 years ago, and had soon realised the need for aid in the education of disadvantaged kids from rural areas, and that, with her background, both academic and in psychiatric social work, she had the right qualifications and the will to help. The foundation was established as a non-political, non-religious, totally transparent and fully registered Thai charity, with its funds being raised in the USA and Holland as well as in Thailand itself. The scholarships it provides are based on need as well as on ability and include designated grants of 10,000 baht per annum to selected students aged between 15-17 years for their continuing education. Rebecca showed slides of tribal children from some of the 130 schools in Region 4 whose students have benefitted from FERC’s generosity. At present, FERC is also supporting education programmes, an anti-human trafficking project in Mae Sai and HIV/AIDS programmes such as the Sangha Metta Project, which works through local temples.
A new and interesting project, the School of Life was introduced by Khun Boong as a way of teaching which encourages students to care for and stay in their own home towns or villages rather than go to the cities in pursuit of higher education, thus risking forgetting their original values and origins. School of Life is a way to stay in touch with the humanity which is essential to personal development. In their early and formative years, everything surrounding children can be used as teaching material. Children living in a village will receive first-hand knowledge from their elders, such as folk wisdom, culture, music, dance and local tradition, which can result in a good heart, a good soul and a strong sense of morals. The Chiang Mai Friends group will be arranging a trip to visit the School of Life in the near future. Anyone interested in going should please contact Khun Boong for further details. Following the above, a member of the newly formed Chiang Mai Pride group, formed to educate people about HIV/AIDS, introduced himself to CMF members and guests, and described the group’s plans for a Gay Pride March to be held in the city.
The last item on the programme was a performance by the Spirit House Singers, formed almost a year ago to specialise in Renaissance music, both sacred and secular. The short and charming concert featured 6 madrigals, all dating from the time of Queen Elizabeth the First in “Merrie England.” As the group’s founder stated, “Music is the international language which transcends time.” Perhaps this statement was most apparent in the audience’s favourite, entitled, “Mother, I will have a Husband – in spite of her who will have none.” The second phrase referred, of course, to the “Virgin Queen” herself who, although reputed to have had many lovers, steadfastly refused to marry throughout the entire length of her reign! Given the fact that, for royalty, marriage invariably had a political rather than a personal motivation, who can blame her? The final madrigal was also much enjoyed by the audience, although the logical conclusion of the opening lines “Now is the month of Maying, when merry lads are playing – each with his bonny lass, upon the greening grass,” was left to the listeners” imaginations!

 

Mekong Institute organises inter-GMS trade, investment and study trip

Mekong Institute’s ICCD staff
The Mekong Institute, Khon Kaen, in collaboration with the Greater Mekong Sub-region Business Forum and Yunnan’s Department of Commerce, recently organised an inter-GMS trade and investment workshop and study tour.

Diao Mingsheng, UNESCAP’s Chinese representative in Thailand, delivering his opening address at the Mekong Institute in Khon Kaen October 13 to the 21 participants from GMS countries.

The event, which focused on trade and investment opportunities in the Greater Mekong Sub-region, took place October 12-23, both in Khon Kaen and along region 3a’s North-South Economic Corridor, and involved 21 participants from the GMS countries. Funding was provided by the Yunnan provincial government.
Diao Mingsheng, UNESCAP’s Chinese representative, stated in his opening address that “trade is a powerful engine for economic development, and may generate benefits in poverty reduction by export expansion, as well as contributing to the achievement of the United Nations’ Millennium Development goals.” He further said that “with the progressive elimination of tariff barriers, the facilitation of trade plays an increasingly important role in its expansion. Non-tariff barriers, along with cumbersome, costly and time-consuming trade procedures and formalities constitute major obstacles for developing countries to expand trade and investment in the region, especially against the background of global financial crisis.” UNESCAP, with China’s cooperation, will explore ways to continue construction of the North-South Economic Corridor, regarded by China as having great benefits. According to Diao, GMS countries need to make concerted efforts to speed up the construction process, with the cooperation of the Chinese government and other international organisations.
The chairman of Khon Kaen Chamber of Commerce, Suraphol Thaveesangsakulthai, stated that Khon Kaen, as the commercial centre of North Eastern Thailand, has a high economic and investment potential and is a key driver of the national economy.
The Thai government has endorsed Khon Kaen as the export centre for trade within the Indo-Chinese region. Suraphol added that he believed the workshop would benefit the sub-region in terms of sustainable trade and investment development
Bhoj Raj Khanal, the Mekong Institute’s research manager, said that inter-GMS trade and investment is an essential and highly important issue. With MI’s new intergovernmental status, it is in a very favorable position to facilitate regional development, cooperation and integration through its human resource development programs, GMS-focused research, and policy dialogue facilitation.
Participants from China, Laos, Myanmar, Thailand and Vietnam attended the workshop, the purpose of which was to enhance the development of regional trade and investment and give participants first-hand experience on inter/intra-trade and investment in the GMS North-South Economic Corridor.


Sore feet and a good result

The Croston House sponsored walk comes home

Glenn and Rosjana Croston celebrate their successful trip
at The Pub on Huay Kaew Road.

Michael Davies
Forty-three days and some 1,230 kilometers from their starting point in Banglamung, Chonburi, on September 5, Glenn and Rosjana Croston finally completed their sponsored walk and returned shortly before 3 p.m. on October 17 to the children at Croston House Children’s Home.
Glenn, who walked over a thousand and fifty kilometers for the cause, averaged around twenty-eight kilometers a day with just five days off for good behaviour, in an attempt to raise two million baht for his foundation. The money, when raised, will be used to purchase transport to take the children to school and on outings, and to buy land on which a permanent and purpose-built children’s home can be established in Lamphun province.
Sleeping primarily in their car, with the back seats removed, or in a tent in service stations, temples and police stations, Glenn and Rosjana travelled through some fifteen provinces of central and Northern Thailand to arrive home to a warm welcome from the twenty-seven children currently residing at the foundation. Their own three children, Frankie (8), Anya (7) and Rosie (2) were thrilled to see them as well.
Earlier in the day, they and all the children had visited Driessen Aircraft Interior Systems’s premises on Lamphun’s Northern Region Industrial Estate, where the children were hosted for lunch and Glenn was presented with donations totalling 5,980 baht raised by the company’s staff. The following evening, a charity night was held at The Pub in Chiang Mai, with another 4,000 baht being added to the coffers.
Although it’s unlikely that they will reach their target after just one event, despite their best efforts to attract sponsorship over the last six months, they both feel that it was a worthwhile experience that has certainly raised the profile of the foundation both in Thailand and abroad. Further fund-raising events are being planned; if you would like to help Glenn and Rosjana give the children in their care the opportunity of a brighter future, you can contact them at [email protected] yahoo.com, on 086-385-7118 (English) or on 089-757-3255 (Thai). For more information about the foundation, please visit their website www. crostonhousechildrenshome thailand.org.


A Taste of Peru - Unusual, delicious and much appreciated

Mom Luang Preeyapun, the host of the Peruvian evening,
 presenting flowers to the organisers.

Andy Archer
Earlier this month, October 18, in her role as Honorary Consul for Peru in Chiang Mai, Mom Luang Preeyapun hosted an excellent evening at D2 Hotel’s Moxie Restaurant.
The evening began with a cocktail hour, enabling guests at the “sold out” event to meet, greet, network, mingle and generally gossip. Pisco Sours seemed to be the most popular drink, generously provided by Thomas E. Fernandez from Iceburg Company, who supplied all the evening’s refreshments. Most of the guests had never tasted Peruvian food before –the curiosity factor proved very attractive!
In her welcoming speech M.L. Preeyapun explained that there are two aspects which converge to give Peruvian cuisine its unique character. The first is the enormous biodiversity of Peru, home to some 80 types of the world’s 104 differing biological zones, which assures an amazing assortment of fresh ingredients. Potatoes, Peru’s legacy to the world, and hot pepper are both originally from the Andes, fish and seafood abound in the Pacific Ocean, mangoes and limes grow in the coastal valleys, and bananas originate from the Amazon basin. A chef’s only problem is an over -abundance of choice! Secondly, Peruvian cuisine represents the quintessence of cultural fusion. Ever since the first blending between Inca and Spanish traditions, local cooks have happily incorporated the flavours and techniques of the many immigrants from Africa, China and Japan who disembarked at the country’s ports.
At the end of her speech, M.L. Preeyapun introduced the chef for the evening, a Peruvian national, Yaquir Sato Matsuoka, who owns the famous Castanera 700 restaurant in Lima, started by his father Humberto Sato more than 25 years ago. The restaurant has long set standards for the intuitive and successful fusion of Peruvian and Japanese culinary traditions, with Humberto’s skills being passed on his to his son.
After the introductions and the obligatorily toast with Pisco Sour, the guests converged on the buffet. There was so much choice, it was difficult to decide where to start. Guests included both of the Chiang Mai Mail’s food critics; one of whom, Brian Baxter, remarked that, “Sadly, never having visited Peru, I was in the same situation as most of the guests as regards my ignorance of its cuisine. However, thanks to the guest chef and the impeccable quality of the ingredients, the meal was at least on a level and possibly even better than D2’s three recent ‘regional’ successes (Japanese, Mediterranean and Mexican). The range of food was enormous. Fellow diners especially praised the turkey and the pork chops. The fish dishes, featuring prawn and tuna, were also greatly admired. My personal highlight was the salad bar with its surrounding delicacies, plus the wines and a taste of the Peruvian national drink.”
The atmosphere in the crowded but never oppressive dining area was friendly and relaxed, providing yet another triumph for Moxie’s and certainly for the Peruvian organisers. Another guest and his table companions enjoyed the food, but mentioned that, as there were no translations provided, they had no idea what they were eating! Which at least made for some interesting conversations between diners. Again, the salads were mentioned as combining zing, freshness and subtle flavours, and the rice dish, the superb fish and “jolly old turkey” were much enjoyed, as was the (possibly) pork dish. The desserts were praised and the ingredients appreciated as being of Peruvian origin, and at least one person at that table admitted to eating 6 different “puddings,” all washed down by Chilean wines! Altogether, an unusual culinary experience highly appreciated by all.
If you want to make an event that little bit more special, invite [email protected] chiangmai-mail.com.


Exhibition of antique French ephemera related to King Rama V

An unusual exhibition will take place at the library of Mae Jo University, opening at 1 p.m., October 30. Exhibits have been selected from a private Chiang Mai collection of mainly French antique ephemera and books on various aspects of the life of His Majesty King Chulalongkorn the Great. The exhibition will be open to the public from 9.30 a.m. to 4.30 p.m. daily until November 13, and it is expected that some of the exhibits will be auctioned next year to raise money for the Thailandfreunde e.V. human rights organization.


Don’t Miss in October and November!

Michael Davies
Friday October 31
Beelzebub’s Halloween Hullabaloo at the Artspace Factory on Kamphaengdin Soi 3. From 9 p.m. until midnight. Live performance from Alchemy Pops Band. Tickets available 250 baht in advance or 400 baht on the door. For further information contact Laura 085-622-6607.
Saturday November 1
‘Cancer Care Family Day’ Charity Run at Huay Tung Tao Reservoir. A great way to recover from the parties the night before! In aid of Queen Sirikit Centre for Breast Cancer and the Thai Red Cross. Registration to run begins at 7 a.m., with the race itself starting at 8 a.m. 250 baht per adult and 180 baht per child under 13 include a free T-shirt and a breakfast box.
Tuesday November 11
Remembrance Day at Chiang Mai Foreign Cemetery on Chiangmai/Lamphun Road 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. with a two minute silence at 11 a.m.
Saturday November 22
Foundation for the Education of Rural Children (FERC) will hold its annual fund-raising party entitled ‘Let Us Entertain You’ at the Shangri La Hotel on Changklan Road. The evening’s entertainment will feature the musical talents of Tangerine Blue and a backup chorus of ten local singers, and will showcase music from some of the most popular Broadway musicals, old and new. Tickets are 1,000 baht per person and will include wine, hors d’oeuvres prepared by the Shangri La chefs plus homemade desserts. There will be auctions and raffles during the evening.
Tickets can be obtained from any FERC board member or by contacting www. thai-rural-education.org.
Saturday November 29
Winter Dreams Charity party at the beautiful Rati Lanna Riverside Spa Resort (the former Sofitel), Chiang Mai, on Changklan Road. Wear white and gold for the “Best looking Beautiful Couple” competition. Dancing, Music, Fine food, Wheel of Fortune, Silent Auction and many raffle prizes await every guest. Entrance 999 baht. Proceeds to support orphans in the Grandma Cares.Org under the New Life Foundation for Development of Children’s Fund. www.grandmacares.org
Tickets from: Somboon Suprasert, Tel 053-801-252; Hope Watcharaprecha, Tel 053-262-691, 053-240-822; Margaret Bhadungzong, Tel 053-247-083, 053-260-705.


Piang Luang – A community with a message?

Elena Edwards
There has been much talk recently of Thailand as a developing country along 21st century Western-based lines. Conversely, here in Chiang Mai, there has been equally as much talk of returning to traditional meanings of festivals, and the values of Lanna life. Perhaps a report of a border village where settlement by minorities, ethnic groups and mainstream populations has been going on for centuries, may bring a sense of perspective to these ongoing debates.
Piang Luang village, on the borders of Thailand and Burma, is a community comprised of ethnic minorities, living together with descendants of the ancestors of the Thai people, known as the Tai Yai, who arrived from southern China via the Shan State (now in Burma) centuries ago and are now the majority residents of Piang Luang. Another ethnic group is comprised of former fighters for the Kuomintang, the Chinese nationalist army who, defeated by Mao Tse-Tung’s Chinese Communist forces, fled to the south of the country, crossing from Yunnan province into the Shan state and thence to Piang Luang. Northern Thai groups live there as well, alongside ethnic Lisu and Paduang tribespeople. In the past, Piang Luang represented true community, with people living peacefully and developing together, culturally and socially, each group respecting the difference and diversity of their fellow groups, and all having arrived in Piang Luang as refugees from hardship, deprivation, displacement and, more often than not, armed conflict.
The village now comprises more than 1,000 households, with, until recently, livelihood, language and culture and tradition passing from old to young throughout the generations. Traditional-style Tai houses built on high stilts were seen everywhere, and traditional dress was often worn. In the past, a simple, peaceful community, cut off during the rainy season. Nowadays with an asphalt access road, electricity and modern shops selling everything from satellite dishes through mobile phones to clothes and motorcycles. The language of all, whatever their ethnic origin, is still Tai.
The arrival of the Kuomintang Chinese, however, had brought some friction into the community, with the Yunnanese considering that they were more educated and economically secure; since then, divisions have formed between Tais and Chinese, resulting in residential separation of the groups. The Thai government’s treatment of the Tai as stateless is also responsible for a strong sense of insecurity, with Tai villagers preferring to avoid prejudice by wearing lowland dress when they go to market in nearby towns. Another problem relates to the closure of a nearby border post, which brought an end to cross-border trade. Many job losses have resulted and, concurrent with an increase in population, young people are leaving the area to find work in Chiang Mai and other large northern cities. The conservation of Tai culture and tradition has suffered as a result.
An almost ideal situation is, therefore, turning into a microcosm of the macrocosm which is affecting countries worldwide, as well as Thailand itself, but, because it involves a small community, the effects are obvious, even if no-one takes any steps to reverse them. As youngsters, we all seek new horizons, often finding, as we grow older, that on arrival in a “promised land,” that it’s already been promised to someone else! The crux of this small community’s changing values and the loss of lifestyle and culture that results is that its most precious asset, a sense of community and of safety within that community, is the first thing to go. Modernity and “convenience” in the 21st century sense, may well be proven, in the future, to have been a poor exchange. Perhaps we should all remember that.


Thai villagers train to defend their homeland

In the wake of the Thai-Cambodian border skirmish near the ancient Preah Vihear temple, village defence volunteers in Thailand’s border province of Si Sa Ket have undergone basic military training to help guard their villages.
Men in Phumsarol, a small village in Kantharak district, are practicing basic military training, to provide security for their villages following the October 15 firefight on the Thai-Cambodian border. These defence volunteers have been trained by Thai Second Region Army officials to use weapons, to patrol around the disputed area, and to report the latest situation to the military.
“We are backed up by these extra teams of volunteers. We give them advice. If there is something unusual, they will immediately inform us,” said the Chief of Public Relations at the Second Region Army, Second Lieutenant Chainarong Prayoonkam.
This is not the first time residents in Phumsarol village, bordering Cambodia, have taken on defensive action to protect their community and sovereignty. Back in the 1960s, some were trained during the Communist insurgency in Thailand and also during the fighting amongst Khmer Rouge and other factions in Cambodia more than 20 years ago.
One volunteer involved in this mission expressed his feelings toward the latest military confrontation. “I think the ferocity of violence on Oct 15 was less severe than the fighting in the period of the Cambodia Civil War in the 1970s and the stream of communism in Thailand. The villagers are panicking less,” said Pling Mathong, village defence volunteer at Phumsarol village. Although the latest skirmish along the border of the neighbouring countries seems less violent compared to the past, the people of the two countries still hope their leaders can find a peaceful solution to end the dispute soon. (TNA)


Beware email address and address book hackers!

CMM Reporters
If you haven’t got really strong firewalls and anti-virus software on your computer, now’s the time to invest! If you don’t, you may find your self, as did a friend of mine last week, spending several days online reassuring everyone in your address book that you don’t need their money! This all began when the email below, from a friend’s email address, was received – by everyone in my friend’s Yahoo address book – including me! Reading it through (and knowing that my friend was here in town), I was left with the feeling that unless the recipient was a native English speaker, he or she might be tempted to try to help. Sure enough, a kind Thai mutual friend who had received the same email contacted me to ask if he could help. Good guy! Disillusioned guy, several minutes later! It eventually became apparent that a Vientiane university friend of my friend had been hacked in the same manner two weeks ago. His email address had been stolen along with many others. How the hacker got his Yahoo address book is another matter. The email text is below – read, learn and protect! Names have been omitted to protect the innocent!
How’s work on your end? This has had to come in a hurry and it has left me in a devastating state. These people won’t even allow people write in native dialects. I am in some terrible situation and I’m really going to need your urgent help. Yesterday, unannounced, I came to visit a new researchers’ complex in London, Imperial College London, Gallery Section, (South Kensington Campus, London SW7 2AZ), England. Well we actually got robbed in the Hotel I booked in and they made away with my wallet (which included my cash, diaries and credit cards). My cell phones were not brought along since I did not get to roam them before coming over. The phone cables have been burnt including internet connection cables and the Hotel’s database has been compromised as well. So all I can do now is pay cash and get out of here quickly. I do not want to make a scene of this which is why I did not call the office or my house, this is embarrassing enough. Please I want you to lend me a sum of 1,670, just to clear my Hotel bills and get the next plane home. The Consulate only cleared me of my travelling documents and ticketing since I came in as a tourist and not on official purpose. I shall have your money reimbursed immediately on my return. I’ll be waiting on you at the Hotel lobby for your mail. I look forward to hearing from you soon.



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