December 10 is Constitution Day
Wednesday, December 10 marks Constitution Day in
Thailand. The holiday is celebrated annually to commemorate the advent of
the Constitutional Monarchy in Thailand in 1932. Constitution Day is a
public holiday and, as such, all government offices, banks and many
businesses close. Shopping centres and bank currency exchange booths,
however, are open. Places of entertainment are usually open without
Consulates set up help desk
at CNX for stranded travellers
The Help Desk for foreigners was established at
Chiang Mai Airport after protestors occupied the Bangkok hubs.
Since the occupation by the PAD of the two Bangkok airports began
two weeks ago, there has been a fully manned desk at Chiang Mai
International Airport ready to assist travellers & tourists who are unable
to get home as their long-haul flights are routed from Bangkok.
Gareth Phillips from the Australian Embassy in Bangkok, along with the
Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT), the Airports Authority of Thailand
(AOT), Jon Glendenning and Panita Inthasan from the British Consulate, and
representatives from the Hotels Association, the bus company and the tourist
police have manned the desk during CNX’s opening hours.
Recent media reports of governments chartering aircraft in order to fly
stranded nationals home did not include the UK, whose officials
categorically stated they were unable to help.
The Chiang Mai Mail asked the honorary British Consul, Jon Glendenning, to
comment. He replied that the UK was indeed working with the airlines to
ensure that the estimated 6,000 stranded UK nationals could return without
further delay, and explained that the large number of UK citizens who needed
assistance has been part of the problem as regards the chartering of
aircraft. He added that, as the British government considered that the
stranded passengers were being inconvenienced rather than placed in a
dangerous situation, the need for the UK taxpayer to fund a full evacuation
was not considered urgent.
Gareth Phillips, who had been at the desk since the start, explained that
the first weekend had been very busy, but that things had calmed down since
that point. For people whose priority was to return home, flights were
available through other Asian hubs, although tickets had to be purchased by
the individual. Silk Air and Air Asia had provided extra flights to
Singapore and Kuala Lumpur, and Swiss Air had provided an extra daily flight
Passengers were advised to purchase tickets and claim the cost back on their
travel insurance, although it is not clear at present whether this situation
could constitute an exclusion on their policies. Overall, no passenger had
to wait more than 24 hours for a flight. Gareth also pointed out that the
AOT and all others concerned with the assistance provided were very well
Chiang Rai seminar to stress advantages of doing business in Laos
A seminar to discuss the investment and business potential of the
China-Lao-Thailand trade route will be held December 22 at the River House
Hotel in Chiang Rai, and organised by the Chiang Rai Chamber of Commerce and
the Economic Quadrangle.
The meeting, ‘Investment Opportunity and Potentiality in the upper Mekong
sub-region and Laotian northern region’, will be attended by representatives
of the Chambers of Commerce from the 10 affected northern regions. Subjects
under discussion will include promotion policies, assistance to be granted
to Thai entrepreneurs for materials and labour, the tax advantages of
business expansion and Thai policies for the operation of businesses in the
Greater Mekong sub-region.
According to Pattana Sitthisombat, the president of Chiang Rai’s Chamber of
Commerce, Thai entrepreneurs are lagging behind their Chinese counterparts
when it comes to doing business in Laos. “Investment in Laos has good
potential for Thai entrepreneurs, as northern Laos is located on the main
Thailand-China trade route, is abundant in natural resources and is a good
source of cheap labour,” says Pattana, “(yet) despite these obvious
advantages, few Thai investors seem interested, thus leaving the
opportunities to be seized by Chinese investors.”
New 15-day visa rule to clamp down on border runs
order to limit the amount of foreigners using “back-to-back” border runs,
Thai Immigration has issued a new regulation regarding the 30 days tourist
Starting with immediate effect, travellers arriving through a land-based
border checkpoint without a visa obtained in the neighbouring country will
only be allowed a 15-day stay. Passengers arriving via an international
airport will, as usual, be given a 30-day stay, as will travellers with
Malaysian passports who cross at a land border.
For 60-day stays, travellers will need to obtain the correct visa from the
Thai Embassy or Consulate in each country before entering Thailand.
The police order number 778/2551 confirming the changes has been issued by
the Royal Thai Police Immigration Bureau in Bangkok and the above
information has been verified by Chiang Mai Immigration.
meet incorporates AGM
Members and guests at the Skal dinner held
at the Manderin Oriental Dhara Devi.
The regular monthly Skal dinner, held November 26 at the Manderin
Oriental Dhara Devi, was preceded on this occasion by Skal’s Annual General
Meeting. Whilst guests of members enjoyed a longer than usual cocktail hour,
the members themselves assembled to elect a new board and discuss motions.
The outgoing Skal committee was returned for another year with the addition
of Naphat Nutsati of Tamarind Village, who takes over as Hon. Sec. Also
voted onto the committee as a supernumerary was Sarah Leelaphat. Meanwhile
Mohamad Jesr was returned as vice-president and will be a great support for
Madame President, Anchalee Kalmapijit.
Following the AGM, members rejoined their guests and everyone adjourned to
the magnificent Sala Jum Ngern. Over 70 people enjoyed a delicious Chinese
Banquet, with an extra treat being provided by local entertainers John Smith
on guitar and banjo and Mark Walder, vocalist.
The next Skal dinner will be the Gala Christmas Dinner, being held at the
Amari Rincome Hotel on December 18, beginning at 6 p.m. All the traditional
Christmas fare will be served, with wine, entertainment and lucky prize
draws. Tickets will cost 1,200 baht per person.
For further details, or to book, please contact any Skal member or visit the
website at www.skalchiangmai.com.
Cold snap results
in government relief
During last week’s cold spell lasting several days, the Governor
of Chiang Mai, Wibun Sa-nguanpong, designated all districts in the
province as a temporary disaster zone, as mean temperatures had fallen
below the recommended level for a period of 3 days.
of Chiang Mai, Wibun Sa-nguanpong.
The announcement allowed the state fund to be accessed to provide relief
for needy residents suffering from the cold.
The Northern Meteorological Centre stated that high pressure from
mainland China had resulted in temperatures in Chiang Mai between
November 29 and December 1 being recorded as between 11.5 and 14.6
Celsius in the early mornings, with mountainous areas being even colder.
Arrest warrants issued against protestors involved in murder
Following the murder on November 26 of Settha Jiamkitwattana, the father
of the leader of Chiang Mai’s People’s Alliance for Democracy (PAD)
group, Therdsak Settha Jiamkitwattana, police have issued 5 arrest
warrants and announced that they have enough evidence to mount a
Investigating officers have concluded that at least 10 protestors were
involved in the murder, and have insisted that proceedings against the
accused parties will be conducted fairly and according to the law.
CM World Aids Day targets young people as infection rates increase
On World Aids Day, December 1, an event aimed at educating local
young people on the prevention of HIV/Aids and the awareness of the need
to practice safe sex was held at the BP Chiang Mai City Hotel.
The event was attended by 150 young people, and presided over by the
Chiang Mai deputy mayor, Soonthorn Yarmsiri. Activities included a
demonstration of the correct way to use a condom, and information
designed to counter a general lack of awareness of the transmission
patterns of the disease.
A report by Chiang Mai’s Public Health office states that there are
currently 30,488 sufferers from HIV/Aids in the province, 2,085 of whom
are between the ages of 15 and 24. Total deaths to date from the disease
Studies have shown that a lack of awareness of the disease amongst
younger people coupled with a reduction in the age at which sexual
activity begins has resulted in an increase in infections.
Ex-PM Somchai performs his last official function at Royal Flora Expo
Before the Constitutional Court removed him from office on
December 2, the now ex-PM Somchai Wongsawat visited Chiang Mai’s Royal
Flora Expo to preside over a ceremony in honour of His Majesty the
King’s 81st Birthday. The ceremony marked the opening of several
exhibitions scheduled to run between December 1 and 10, featuring Royal
Projects, orchid farms, herbal plants, cultural performances and other
During the ceremony, which also showcased a celebration of the Lord
Buddha, 399 hot-air balloons were released in honour of the King, with,
the same evening, a firework display being given. It is hoped that the
10-day event will promote the beauty of Thailand and its culture and
traditions to visitors.
Campaign looks to tackle
pollution and bush fire problem
Chiang Mai firefighters carry out a drill to
demonstrate there readiness to deal with forest and bush fires during
the up-coming dry season.
The deputy governor of Chiang Mai, Pirot Saengphuwong, together
with concerned organisations, has scheduled a campaign to commence in
2009 with the aim of providing effective solutions for pollution and
forest fires during the 4-month dry season. The campaign will be
undertaken to inform residents of the negative effects on the
environment and its air quality of burning, particularly of rice fields,
and to seek their cooperation in banning the practice.
It is hoped that confidence amongst tourists as regards pollution issues
in Chiang Mai will be bolstered by the campaign.