NEWS
HEADLINES [click on headline to view story]:

KKU researchers receive HRH Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn

Continuous heavy rain results in Hang Dong floods

Confusion reigns over Chiang Mai relocation of ASEAN summit

Incendiary device destroys Chiang Mai PAD supporter’s car

Chiang Mai Zoo’s mega-aquarium opens – then closes due to malfunctions

Chiang Mai maize growers protest against government’s low guaranteed price

Ban Nam Piang Din border pass to reopen

Thai students triumph at International Math 2008

New rules introduced to govern launch of hot air lanterns

Concerns raised about air traffic safety during Loy Krathong

Happy Hour at the Chedi raises over 40,000 baht

New structure and developments to be announced by Chiang Mai Friends Group

Happy Birthday to The Pub

 

KKU researchers receive HRH Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn

HRH Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn, shown being briefed
by the Dean of the Faculty of Medicine, Prof Wiroon Laupattarakasem.

KKU News Reporters
Khon Kaen University’s Faculty of Medicine was honoured to receive a visit from Her Royal Highness Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn on October 25, during which she led the International Award Committee of the Prince Mahidol Award Foundation in Khon Kaen province.
On her arrival, HRH Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn was greeted by Manit Wattanasen, Provincial Governor, honorary Prof Dr Sumon Sakolchai, KKU President, and Prof Wiroon Laupattarakasem, Dean of the Faculty of Medicine, together with KKU administrators and the people of Khon Kaen. The Princess paid visits to the faculty’s ongoing research projects, and was shown various successful studies which had taken place at Srinakarin Hospital’s Princess Mother Memorial building. Afterwards, she was escorted around an exhibition organised by the various research centres, where she noted other highly respected scientific and medical work.
A number of KKU’s medical and scientific institutions were present at the exhibition and showed their research.
Subjects on display included research into emerging infectious diseases, cardiovascular research, a project studying the health of children in rural schools, a study to promote the holistic care of HIV infected children and families, and improvements in the practice of ante-natal care in Thailand, as well as a project which is carrying out research into mathematics education.

 

Continuous heavy rain results in Hang Dong floods

CMM Reporters
Last week’s continuous heavy rain has caused a fresh bout of flooding in the Doi Suthep area, forcing many residents to leave their homes. Five villages in Hang Dong district have been badly affected, with waters rising to over 60 centimetres. Over 200 households in Nong Kwai, Hang Dong and Baan Wan are affected, and sand bags are being used to prevent further damage. Residents have been warned to move their belongings to higher ground and to leave their homes if the rains persist.


Confusion reigns over Chiang Mai relocation of ASEAN summit

Elena Edwards
As noted briefly in last week’s Chiang Mai Mail, the upcoming ASEAN summit will now be held in Chiang Mai. The location is reported to be the Shangri La Hotel, which seems to now be fully booked for the period in December which includes the dates of the summit, December 15-18.
During his recent visit to Chiang Mai, PM Somchai Wongsawat announced the change of venue without giving a reason; however, media reports in the days prior to his announcement stated that security concerns were a pressing reason. Another media-driven theory is that Chiang Mai, being the traditional political stronghold of former PM Thaksin Shinawatra, his Thai Rak Thai party and the present government’s People’s Power Party (PPP) was a more suitable choice than Phuket (also under consideration), which has active anti-government factions. The official line, according to a foreign ministry spokesperson, is that the move was undertaken to give delegates an opportunity to visit another area of Thailand and enjoy the cooler weather…
As well as the 10 ASEAN countries, this year’s summit will include delegates from China, Japan, South Korea, Australia and New Zealand, and will endorse the ASEAN charter, which states the future direction of the 10-member regional group, as well as discussing the global economic crisis and its effects on the area.
United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon will attend, and will hold talks with both the South-East Asian leaders and those from China, Japan and South Korea.
However, not all prospective participants in the summit are happy with the relocation. A government official mentioned the security considerations, playing down the instability effect on Thailand’s image of the sudden switch. Bangkok diplomats are also unhappy, citing a possible lack of suitable accommodation due to an influx of government officials and foreign media on top of the expected increase in tourism in Chiang Mai during the cool season.
Arin Jira, the ASEAN Business Advisory Council’s chairman, is concerned about the council’s annual Bangkok event, ASEAN-Bis, which, this year, has been timed to coincide with the summit. Stating that it had been in preparation for 8 months, Arin insisted that it could not be moved to Chiang Mai, as it would involve the relocation of 400-500 delegates. He also pointed out that, as Chiang Mai is a PPP stronghold, the arrival of People’s Alliance for Democracy supporters could provoke protests and violence as easily in Chiang Mai as in Bangkok. “It’s better to postpone the summit until January,” he said.
Meanwhile, in Bangkok, news of the relocation does not seem as yet to have arrived at the venue already booked for the summit, the brand new luxury Centara Grand Hotel. Sales staff told reporters that, as far as they were concerned, the summit booking was confirmed and in place.


Incendiary device destroys Chiang Mai PAD supporter’s car

The Volvo belonging to Chiang Mai PAD leader Therdsak Jiamkitwattana, destroyed by a home-made incendiary device.

CMM Reporters
As officials from the People’s Alliance for Democracy (PAD) and judges sympathetic to PAD come under attack in Bangkok from bullets and home-made bombs, the increase in violence is spreading to Chiang Mai, with reports of an incendiary device causing the destruction of a car belonging to Therdsak Jiamkitwattana, a prominent local PAD supporter.
Therdsak, the leader of the PAD in Chiang Mai, has been prominent in several local protests, and has broadcast anti-government propaganda from a local radio station, using it to rally supporters to join demonstrations. In a recent protest reported in the Chiang Mai Mail, police had to be called to break up a stand-off between PAD and PPP supporters in which missiles were being thrown. Therdsak’s car was in a garage in Muang district, Chiang Mai, when a fire broke out at 4 a.m., which totally destroyed the vehicle. Police believe the blaze was caused by an incendiary device.


Chiang Mai Zoo’s mega-aquarium opens – then closes due to malfunctions

PM Somchai Wongsawat, presiding over the opening ceremony
of the newly-built aquarium at Chiang Mai Zoo.

CMM Reporters
During his recent brief visit to Chiang Mai, PM Somchai Wongsawat presided over the official opening of Chiang Mai Zoo’s monster tunnel aquarium. Its 133 metre length is home to 8,000 examples of marine life, cost 600 million baht, and was built to replicate the distinctive environments of both the Mekong River and the shallow tropical coastal waters which sustain mangrove forests. The official opening took place on October 26.
Unfortunately, on the very next day, the high-profile tourist attraction had to be closed, due to malfunctions in both the water purification system in the freshwater section and an automatic ticket-vending machine. Tanapat Pongamorn, the zoo’s embarrassed director, explained that sand was leaking into the water supply, making the water too murky for the marine life to be viewed by visitors. Disappointed tourists, lured by the extensive public relations campaign, were turned away in numbers, with their entrance fees refunded.
Roj Thuwanasin, chairman of MarineScape (Thailand), the zoo’s partner company in the project, stated that, as the water in the aquarium is being pumped in from a natural source, it contains an amount of mud and sand, which the water purifier and filtering equipment is working too slowly to clear. The attraction is expected to reopen November 15, with the problems solved.


Chiang Mai maize growers protest against government’s low guaranteed price

The provincial police and city hall security guards block
the protesters from occupying city hall offices.

More than 2,000 maize growers rallied at the offices of the governor of Chiang Mai last Tuesday, expressing dissatisfaction at the low price of 8.50 baht per kilogramme offered by the government earlier in the day. Government purchases are due to begin on November 1 and continue through December 30. Yanyong Phuangrach, the Internal Trade Department’s director, stated that his ministry would ban imports of maize during the harvesting season to prevent the domestic price from declining.
Demonstrators were unhappy with the quoted price, saying that the increased cost of production and transport to silos was eating into profits. Transportation of the harvested crop would cost approximately 40 million baht, with the local administration pledged to provide support of only 2 million baht, a sum the farmers say is not enough. They are also demanding that the government must put in writing the date of their implementation of the guaranteed price and details of the agencies involved. Threats were made that protest would continue and accelerate if no satisfactory answer to their demands was received.
Maize is grown on over 100,000 rai in Chiang Mai, with an output of nearly one million tonnes per year, but in 2008 approximately 20 per cent of the total yield has been damaged due to heavy rains. (TNA)


Ban Nam Piang Din border pass to reopen

PRD Mae Hong Son
A meeting was held recently in Mae Hong Son to discuss the reopening of the border pass at Ban Nam Piang Din border pass, in the hope that it would stimulate trade and tourism in the area.
The meeting, attended by Wanchai Sutthaworarchai, the deputy governor of Mae Hong Son, and representatives from local administration, immigration, customs, police and army departments, also discussed the location of checkpoints along the Thai-Burmese border regarding the importation from Burma of trade products and its effect on the local economy.
The general opinion of the participants was positive, with the expected generation of more income from import taxes. It was pointed out that the Ban Nam Piang Din border crossing’s location was convenient for both the national highway 108 and Mae Hong Son’s Centre for Skill Development, and that a recent 5-month report from Ban Huay Phueng checkpoint stated that 746,529 baht in taxes had been generated.
Land in Mae Hong Son is being prepared as a storage area for imported goods entering Thailand from Burma, and roads are being reconstructed to allow easier access.


Thai students triumph at International Math 2008

CMM Reporters
Three Thai students were awarded gold medals at the recent International Mathematics Competition 2008, hosted by Chiang Mai at the Phucome Hotel. The contest was opened October 25 by PM Somchai Wongsawat, who pledged to encourage the Ministry of Education’s attempts to improve the national curriculum to facilitate the development of students’ skills and ability. Over 800 primary and secondary school students from 25 countries participated in the tournament, which ended October 30.
The three gold medallists were from the primary and secondary levels; sixth-grader Jettapol Thepauyporn, from Anobal Nakhon Ratchasime School, and Kritameth Lengraksa, a fifth-grader from Bangkok Christian Wittayalai School, competed at the primary level, and Uthaipon Tantipongpipat, a ninth-grader also from Bangkok Christian Wittayalai School, competed at the secondary level. Congratulations go to the three gold-medallists, whose prestigious achievements auger well for their futures.


New rules introduced to govern launch of hot air lanterns

In past years, hot-air lanterns have become one of the colourful elements of many festivities in Thailand, particularly in the northern province of Chiang Mai. As the traditional “Loy Krathong” festival draws near, hot-air lanterns are in great demand and new rules have been introduced governing their launch.
Manufacturers in Thailand’s northern province of Chiang Mai are busily producing lanterns, or yipeng as they’re called in the northern dialect, in time for the upcoming Loy Krathong festival. The launch of these lanterns is a tradition to pay respect to local gods and seek their help in warding off bad luck. Due to great demand for the lanterns, this year’s total orders have reached over 100,000 units. It is estimated manufacturers will earn at least 20 million baht just for this festival.
“Hot-air lanterns are getting popular among Thai and foreign tourists. The quality of lanterns nowadays is up to standard, so people are comfortable lighting them and releasing them into the air,” said lantern manufacturer Roongroj Boonman. “The orders we received were so large we sometimes couldn’t deliver the products on time. Most of our customers are vendors from elsewhere,” said another manufacturer.
The dark sky is illuminated when a huge batch of lanterns is released, but they sometimes disrupt flying aircraft and cause power cuts. Two years ago, several hot-air lanterns were trapped in electricity lines in Chiang Mai, causing a week-long blackout. To avoid similar occurrences this year, Chiang Mai authorities have issued stricter rules for the release of hot-air lanterns.
The launching of lanterns will not be allowed before 9.30 p.m., when commercial flights are still in operation. To allow a lantern to float in the air for only 10 minutes or less, its fuel, a piece of paper coated in wax, must not be over 10 centimetres long and one centimetre thick. “Aviation regulations don’t allow launching of a hot-air lantern larger than 1 cubic metre in size. If a manufacturer produces a huge lantern, it would be difficult to get permission to release it,” said Chiang Mai deputy governor Pairoj Saengpuwong. Most manufacturers have been informed of the regulations and instructed to strictly abide by them to ensure their lanterns will fly freely yet safely in the sky during this year’s Loy Krathong festival. (TNA)


Concerns raised about air traffic safety during Loy Krathong

Saksit Meesubkwang
A risk-assessment meeting was held October 21 between Pairoj Saengpuwong, the Chiang Mai deputy governor, and CNX officials, representatives of the three CM police departments, the Tourist Authority of Thailand (TAT) and vendors of the traditional Khom Loy lanterns. Under discussion was the possibility of air accidents being caused because of a large number on lanterns invading flight paths during landing and take-off of aircraft. CNX’s administrative officer reported Thai Air’s concerns, and stated that there was a likelihood as a result of flights being cancelled between November 11 and 14. Termsak Saengchote, the director of CNX’s Aviation Control Centre, stated that letters had been sent to 30 local administration organisations asking them to cooperate in controlling the release of lanterns in order not to endanger air traffic.

One of the lanterns which will be sent soaring into the night sky in celebration of the Loy Krathong festival.
Phra Thanarit Kunitthato, from Dhudongasathanlanna, told the meeting that the release of 3,000 lanterns would take place as usual, and mentioned that he had received complaints from locals about lanterns fouling electricity lines, and the danger to air traffic. As a result, the lanterns to be released will be made smaller, and the release will be coordinated within a shorter period of time than in the past. He added that, because of the fame of the festival, 40 countries worldwide, including South Africa and Mongolia, had contacted him with plans to release lanterns at the same time.
Deputy Governor Pairoj urged police and lantern vendors and manufacturers to study safety laws relating to damage and risk.


Happy Hour at the Chedi raises over 40,000 baht

Andy Archer
Last week saw another event in aid of the 5th Annual Charity Rooftop Party 2009, when he Chedi Hotel hosted a ‘Wine Happy Hour’ for over 100 guests. The 350 baht ticket included 3 glasses of wine, supplied by the Darling Wine Bar, and more than half the guests took advantage of the special set 3 course dinner for 850 baht provided by the hotel at the end of the Happy Hour event.

Sally Ward (back row 2nd right), one of the organisers of the Happy Hour at the Chedi.

A great time was had by all, the net result being 41,313 baht raised (mainly by a mini-auction with prizes kindly donated by Anatara Resort, Fashion King, Oasis Spa and Le Coq d’Or) towards the Rooftop Charity’s present grand total of 404,944 baht.
The final event before the party itself will be the 2nd Annual Garden Party to be held at the City Life grounds on November 30 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. The theme, of course, will be “Christmas,” for which donations of clothes and unwanted household items will be gratefully received by the organisers. Please drop them off at the Hillside 4 Condo building’s reception desk at your convenience. Any items left unsold at the end of the day will be donated to the hill tribes of Chiang Mai province. This event will be the first opportunity to purchase tickets for the 5th Annual Rooftop Charity Party, to be held at Hillside 4 on January 10, 2009. For further information, please email charity [email protected]


New structure and developments to be announced by Chiang Mai Friends Group

Elena Edwards
The next meeting of the Chiang Mai Friends Group will take place on November 5 at the new regular venue, the Mandalay Room of CMU’s International Centre (otherwise known as Uniserve) on Nimmanhaeminda Road. The dinner, which will begin at 5.30 p.m., will be provided by the popular Lemon Tree Restaurant; guests will be able to choose from their extensive menu and pay for their choice. The meeting itself, costing 80 baht and including tea/coffee and biscuits, will start at 7 p.m. with a musical performance by a group of CMU students. The speaker will be that well-known and idiosyncratic expat, Carole Beauclerk, who will give a talk on “Experiences and lessons learned in a Thai village 25 years ago – are they still relevant today?” A very interesting subject, presented by a very interesting woman, who has lived in many countries in Asia, the Middle East and elsewhere, experiences which have resulted in a unique perspective on cross-cultural issues. Please ask questions, Carole intends her talk to be interactive!
An informal open forum will follow; hopefully in a question and answer format, with members sharing their experiences and views on everything from immigration to Thai food! The forum is intended also as a networking opportunity, so remember to bring your business cards. And, also, please remember that we are all, Thai and foreign, part of the Chiang Mai community – khon Chiang Mai!
Duenpen Chaladlam (Boong) would like to remind all Chiang Mai Friends (and their friends!) that the second get-together of the “Clean up Volunteers” will be at Chiang Mai Railway Station on November 3 at 8.30 a.m. The Mayor will open the event, and groups will be formed to tidy up parts of the city until 12 midday, when everyone will meet up again for lunch. On November 4, the monthly meet with the Mayor will take place, beginning at 6 p.m., at the building behind the Three Kings’ Monument. A small evening buffet will be provided by the municipality. Parking inside the complex is easily available.
On November 12, representatives from Chiang Mai Friends will be taking part in the Loy Krathong procession, and are being encouraged to wear an article of Lanna clothing. That request, we understand, refers to males as well as females! During the first week in December, Thailand Environmental Week, the Friends’ group will be joining with the Global Warming Watch Network in various events. Watch this space for further details.
Lastly, the new Chiang Mai Friends Membership Card will be presented and explained in full by Khun Boong, together with some exciting new developments and proposed new structures for the group, at the upcoming November meeting.


Happy Birthday to The Pub

Grahame, landlord of The Pub, celebrating its birthday with regulars.

George Powell
The Pub celebrated its 39th birthday this month with a free buffet and live music provided by Cherry, The Gypsy Lou Band and Noodle Duck. Faithful customer Roy Hudson was also there, joining in the fun. The landlord, Grahame, told the Chiang Mai Mail, ’This reminds me of the time – I had only been in The Pub a couple of weeks – when Roy came up to me and congratulated me on my choice of music. When I pointed out to him that there was no music as yet, Roy replied, ‘I know!’”
Another reason for celebration was Lee’s birthday. He’s actually a lot older than The Pub, which didn’t stop him jumping onto the stage and giving his highly personal rendering of “Mustang Sally”. When he asked the crowd if anyone had any requests, the reply came loud and clear: “YES, GET OFF!” Ah, well…
From its humble beginnings catering to the needs of the then thriving tobacco industry, The Pub now not only has a healthy local expat community customer base, but because of the newly built bungalows it enjoys an ever-changing tourist clientele. Grahame would like to say “Thanks” to all his customers, old and new, for making the joint birthday party a night to remember. He added that he’s looking forward to next year’s 40th birthday party – so is the Chiang Mai Mail! Many Happy Returns to The Pub!