at Mae Hong Son’s Father’s Day
Parachutist Sgt Maj Panitharn
Chumkanthorn, who broke his ankle on landing, gets treatment from rescue
Mae Hong Son
An accident occurred recently at a display given by 2 teams of army
parachutists during Mae Hong Son’s Father’s Day celebrations, when the 7th
man to jump, Sgt Maj Panitharn Chumkanthorn, slipped on landing and broke
The injured man, from the long-distance patrol troop of the 4th Infantry
Division, had made his jump, intending to land safely and softly within Mae
Hong Son’s municipal stadium, but lost his footing and came into contact
with a concrete footpath. He was sent to Srisangwarn Hospital for treatment.
Another accident had occurred during a practice session held a day earlier,
with one parachutist’s lines becoming entangled in an overhead power line
when the strong wind suddenly changed direction. The unfortunate man had to
wait 20 minutes before being cut down by his team members.
Important archeological find by
Lahu villager to be authenticated in USA
The cave cavity with the ancient human skeleton,
tools and utensils – possibly a burial site.
Mae Hong Son
A human skeleton believed to be around 2,000-3,000 years old, was found on
December 12, together with ancient utensils, inside an unnamed cave at Baan
Nam Huphaser in Pangmapha district, Mae Hong Son.
A Lahu resident of the nearby village discovered the ancient remains, tools
and utensils by chance, lying in a cavity 2 metres above the cave floor,
whilst on a hunting trip in the Huay Nam Pong forest. He took one of the
pottery utensils back with him to his home, only to find the following day
that it had disappeared. On returning to the cave, he discovered the
utensil, mysteriously returned to its former resting place.
Very frightened, he reported his find to his local district officer. The
report led to a full inspection and investigation of the finds by local
officials, medical personnel, a representative from the local cultural
centre and a group of archeologists.
The condition of the human remains, the tools and the utensils is reported
to be 90% complete. After examination, the archeologists are assuming that
the discoveries are from the same period as the human remains and artefacts
discovered in the ‘Spirit Cave’ (Phi Maen Cave) in the same district. In
order to confirm the dating, it was decided to send examples to America for
evaluation and testing; however, local villagers tried to stop the
artefacts’ removal as they feared it would lead to bad luck. However, after
negotiation by the archaeologists, this was allowed. The results are due
within 3 months.
New deputy superintendent of Traffic Police talks to the Chiang Mai Mail
During an interview given to the Chiang Mai Mail by the recently
promoted Pol Lt Col Doi Wongphum, deputy superintendent of Chiang Mai
Traffic Police, the new deputy superintendent stated that, “This is a big
agenda for me because Chiang Mai streets have a large amount of traffic and
attract more tourists, especially as the New Year approaches.” Of paramount
importance to Pol Ltd Col Doi will be strict law enforcement as well as
control and suppression by the traffic police. This is considered to be the
main key in preventing congestion and road accidents.
Lt Col Doi Wongphum, deputy superintendent of Chiang Mai Traffic Police
The deputy superintendent added that, “Police officers must not ignore
disobedient drivers and riders. On the other hand, if any officers are
untruthful or corrupt, citizens can also report their behavior at the Chiang
Mai Police’s traffic headquarters.” He continued that all police officers
must treat citizens as if they were their own relatives, using polite and
Regarding the New Year road safety campaign, more checkpoints will be set up
on all main roads leading to Chiang Mai to check all passing vehicles.
According to the deputy superintendent, if any public transportation
vehicles are found in imperfect conditions, they will not be allowed to
CMU to celebrate
its 45th year in 2009
At a recent press conference, the president of Chiang Mai University
(CMU), Prof. Dr. Pongsak Angasith, outlined plans for the celebration of
CMU’s 45th year serving the educational needs of the north of Thailand.
Under the slogan, ‘The 5th decade: the University of Excellence,’ academic
exhibitions, special celebrations on CMU’s establishment day, and alumni
activities held throughout 2009 will all reflect the importance of CMU’s
nationally and internationally respected contribution to the academic world.
Chiang Mai University was established in 1964, and was the fist university
in Thailand to receive the honour of being opened by His Majesty King
Bhumibol at a ceremony on January 24, 1965. Its reputation for producing
graduates of fine quality with a sense of social responsibility, together
with its highly rated academic activities in research and community service
and its sponsorship of arts and culture, have made it the third highest
ranking university in Thailand, after Thammasart and Chulalongkorn. It is
also ranked amongst the top 10 universities in the ASEAN countries. The CMU
president promises that in the future, CMU will continue to develop its
academic services in order to produce graduates who will be both a credit to
the university and a valuable asset to society in general.
‘Too many visitors’ threaten
fragile environments in Chiang Mai’s national parks
Officials have admitted that recently introduced controls on the
daily number of visitors to the fragile environments of Thailand’s national
parks seem to have failed, putting the parks’ ecologies again at risk due to
their popularity during the New Year break.
Recently, visitor numbers have far exceeded the recommended amounts, with
the two Chiang Mai province’s parks being badly affected. Huay Nam Dang
received up to 8,000 visitors per day, against a recommendation of 1,600,
and Doi Suthep-Pui national park, with a recommended maximum capacity of
850, received over 1,000 per day. Other national parks affected are Doi
Inthanon, Phu Kradung, Erawan, Khao Yai, Mu Ko Surin and Mu Ko Similan.
The regulations, which came into effect last July, not only aimed to control
the number of tourists, but also required visitors who wished to book
overnight accommodation within the parks to do so 60 days in advance. At
present, all accommodation in of the named parks is now fully booked for the
upcoming New Year period, although outdoor camping pitches are still
Police arrest suspect
of PAD leader’s father
Chiang Mai Police have recently arrested Nopparat Sangpetch, 38,
a suspect in the murder of Settha Jiamkijwattana, 60, the father of the
leader of the PAD faction in Chiang Mai. He has also been charged with
attacking a court official at Chiang Mai International Airport earlier
on the same day.
Nopparat was reported by witnesses to have been seen at the site of the
murder at Raming Nives housing estate, Chiang Mai, wearing a red shirt
and holding a knife. Arrest warrants for seven other protestors believed
to have been involved were previously issued. Warrants have also been
issued for 6 more protestors involved in the disturbance at the airport.
Disgruntled ‘Red Shirts’ at Chiang Mai rally miss out on Thaksin phone-in
Thousands of disappointed red-shirted
followers gather in Chiang Mai hoping
to hear a phone-in from ex-PM Thaksin.
Ex-premier Thaksin Shinawatra was to have taken part in a live
phone-in on December 13 to supporters massed in a Bangkok stadium,
relayed to rallies around Thailand, including here in Chiang Mai.
However, there was both anger and disappointment amongst the several
thousand strong crowd in Chiang Mai, when the authorities allegedly
blocked transmission of his satellite phone call, made from “somewhere
in a neighbouring country.” At this stage, there is no evidence that the
phone-in was deliberately blocked; however, it has been reported that
pressure, even from within the political groups he used to lead, was put
on Thaksin to avoid further provocation.
The anger was pretty muted in the circumstances. Thailand’s democracy is
stuttering, and the prospect of real freedom of expression is even more
remote after tonight, according to one of the Chiang Mai organisers of
What has been very striking is the composed and orderly nature of every
rally here in Chiang Mai. Some red-shirted followers present at the
latest gathering expressed an articulate understanding of the issues
Not a single major Thai TV network broadcast the pre-recorded speech,
only showing brief clips of the 50,000 strong gathering at the Bangkok
stadium. In his pre-recorded address, Thaksin suggested that Thailand
was undergoing a ‘coup d’etat,’ targeting the newly formed democratic
institutions, and accused the military of directly intervening in the
discussions over the formation of a new government. He also berated PAD
for their occupation of the main Bangkok airports, Suvarnabhumi and Don
Muang, and appealed for unity.
Bangkok protests may continue
With Chiang Mai’s pro-Thaksin supporters’ presence
Following recent ugly scenes outside the parliament building,
missiles were thrown at cars by red-shirted protestors who had broken
through police lines in an effort to prevent voting for a new PM taking
place. Several cars were damaged and 2 Democrat MPs were slightly
Meanwhile, in Chiang Mai, preparations were being made by Rak Chiang Rai
51 to transport a total of 12,000 supporters to a planned mass rally in
Bangkok to be held when the Abhisit-led government delivers its policy
statement in parliament. Previously, in October, the People’s Alliance
for Democracy (PAD) had used similar tactics to prevent ex-PM Somchai
from making his statement, with the result that violent clashes had
broken out. Similar pro-Thaksin groups in Chiang Rai and Udon Thani also
expressed their intention to travel to Bangkok as, according to one
leader, people in the North cannot accept Abhisit as the new Prime
Abhisit’s Western educational background, including Eton College, the
UK’s most famous public school, and Oxford University, where he
graduated BA in philosophy, politics and economics and went on to gain a
master’s degree in economics, have raised some criticism amongst the
media, who see him as being ‘aloof,’ and a poorer politician as a result
of his academic background. North-Eastern activists see him as being on
the opposing site, and group him with the PAD and other Democrats.
However, the Mayor of London, Boris Johnson, a friend of Abhisit’s since
schooldays, considers that he is ‘a man of intense integrity and high
Serious mumps outbreak
at Chiang Mai University
Reports are coming in of a serious outbreak of the viral disease
mumps at Chiang Mai University, with a high number of infections and
isolation of patients. It seems that the infection is being transmitted
though the air conditioning system. Although swelling of the salivary
glands is the most typical presentation, painful testicular swelling and
rash may also occur. In teenage and adult males, complications such as
infertility or sub-fertility may result.
Although a triple vaccine (MMR) against mumps, measles and rubella,
similar to the vaccine used in the West, is freely available in
Thailand, there would seem to be similar concerns to those in the West
as to its safety. As a result, the take-up for the vaccine is low,
leaving many young people at risk.
Chiang Mai may lose out on February’s ASEAN Summit
A tentative agreement to hold the postponed 14th ASEAN
Summit between February 23 and 26 was reached by foreign
ministers from the ASEAN countries at a recent meeting in
Jakarta. An earlier than recently announced date for the summit
was considered necessary as, by March 2009, other international
agendas would take precedence. The agreement also confirmed that
the summit would be held in Chiang Mai.
However, the newly elected Thai Prime Minister, Abhisit
Vejjajiva, has expressed his reservations about the suitability
of Chiang Mai as host for the event, saying that, “There may be
many problems if the meeting is held in Chiang Mai.” It is
thought that he may be referring to the staunch support for
ex-Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra in the North and
The summit will involve the leaders and representatives of the
ASEAN countries together with their dialogue partners China,
South Korea, Japan and India, and will also be attended by the
United Nations Secretary-General.
Mae Hong Son governor promotes border trade with Burma
Mae Hong Son governor Thongchai Wongrienthong led press,
government officials and local entrepreneurs on a recent visit
to the border coordination unit at Ban Tham Kham to meet up with
traders from Burma’s Loikaw province. The aim of the meeting was
to promote border trade in the area.
According to Loikaw merchants, the most popular imports from
Thailand include vegetable oil, shoes and second hand clothes.
Of the two border posts available, Nampiengdin in Muang district
is preferred, as the Mae Sariang border crossing is further away
and involves higher transportation costs.
The head of the Loikaw’s border coordination unit confirmed that
the Burmese government had given the green light for local
Burmese traders to continue border trade with Thailand. However,
the Thai local authorities are concerned about the prevention of
human trafficking and narcotics smuggling.
The Mae Hong Son governor stated that, although benefits to
traders on both sides of the border would result from the
arrangement, national security needs to be strongly enforced. He
is confident that the volume of goods traded will increase, and
that the area will become more attractive to visitors due to its
natural charm, saying that, “Border trade will remain as simple
and traditional as always, and larger trade issues will be
discussed following the Burmese general election in 2010.”
Chiang Mai and Lamphun business sectors discuss solutions
to Thailand’s recession
A meeting between business sectors in Chiang Mai was
held recently at the Green Lake Resort, with the aim of finding
solutions to the dire economic situation in which Thailand finds
itself, due to the sub-prime crisis and the closure of the
Bangkok airports by PAD protestors. Attendees included the
Chamber of Commerce, various tourism associations,
representatives of hotels, exporters in the north and concerned
parties. The meeting also welcomed the Japanese Consul General
in Chiang Mai, in his capacity as chairman of Lamphun Industrial
The economic slowdown has caused direct impacts on the country’s
tourism, manufacturing and export sectors whilst political
turmoil raised more concerns amongst tourists planning to enter
Thailand, with 95 per cent cancellations being reported. Exports
are also in trouble, with losses higher than 20 billion baht.
According to Naroung Tananuwat, the chairman of Chiang Mai
Chamber of Commerce, there is an urgent need for government
measures, including the establishment of specific centres for
business resolution and campaigns to encourage domestic tourism
and business seminars nationwide. Medium and long-term plans
require the approval of the new government to hold the 14th
ASEAN Summit in Chiang Mai, as are measures to promote Chiang
Mai International Airport as a hub both for logistics and
international aviation. In addition, during the meeting, a
system of high-speed trains and preparations for emergency
situations were suggested.
The Chiang Mai Provincial Administrative Organization (PAO) has
allocated a budget of 10 million baht for tourism campaigns in
the province in order to secure more confidence amongst tourists
wishing to visit the north, and a steering committee will be
established to ensure effective communication between business
organisations for their mutual benefit in trade and investments.
Winter visitors flock to
Doi Inthanon National Park
Famous winter sites in Doi Inthanon National Park have
been crowded with visitors as the cold season sets in, with
temperatures on the mountain tops reaching 5 degrees Celsius,
and 11 degrees Celsius lower down in the park itself.
All the overnight visitor rooms have been pre-booked until early
next year. Small stoves and extra blankets for hire are in short
supply as a result - although visitors have been warned not to
use the stoves inside tents as the fumes may cause suffocation
and death. Visitors have also been advised to wear warm clothing
and drink warm water.
The famous ‘Pine Garden’ on Doi Inthanon mountain was crowded
with visitors on the holiday weekend recently, and many campers
visited Chiang Mai province’s Ob Luang National Park in Hot
district to view the beautiful scenery along the banks of the
Jaem River. National park officers are on duty at the site to
ensure security and to facilitate visitors. Many more tourists
are expected to visit the sites during the long weekend at the
SRT increases train service
for New Year’s travellers
An additional 18 train runs will be provided to serve more
passengers during the New Year holidays, according to a senior
executive of the State Railways of Thailand (SRT).
SRT Governor Yuthana Tapcharoen announced that the extra trains
have been scheduled for the northern and the northeastern lines
to support the normal service of 264 trains, and will be
operated during the year-end holidays.
Additional outbound trains leaving Bangkok will be offered
December 29 and 30, while extra inbound services will operate on
More carriages will be added to all trains to meet the passenger
demand\ expected to jump around 10 per cent. Normally, about
110,000 travellers use the train services each day nationwide.
Yuthana told reporters that the number of train passengers
currently has grown about 30 per cent due to free train services
offered by the economic package initiated by the Samak
Sundaravej administration, and traveller’s uncertainty about air
traffic following the occupation of Bangkok’s two airports in
Free services for third class trains under the economic package
will remain in effect during the New Year holidays.
All tickets during the New Year break are fully booked. It is
estimated that the demand in train services will continue rising
sharply, the governor said.
SRT officials at all train stations have been ordered to step up
security measures, to check closed circuit television cameras
(CCTV) and to limit entrances and exits at the stations for
thorough checks on passengers and visitors. Safety coordination
centres have also been set up to cover every part of the country
including Bangkok, Nakhon Ratchasima, Uttaradit, Chumphon and
Hat Yai. (TNA)
Corn growers stop protest
after satisfactory talks
Corn growers in the northern provinces of Chiang Rai and Phrae
dispersed last Wednesday following a two-day road blockade in
which they were demanding that the government extend time and
increase quotas for their produce mortgage.
The Public Warehouse Organisation announced the closure of the
government’s corn mortgage scheme last Monday, saying its quota
of 500,000 tonnes was full. That prompted corn growers to block
roads in several provinces in the north and the northeast.
Negotiations among local authorities, silo operators and corn
growers brought about a satisfactory end to the protest, with
the demonstrators agreeing to dismantle the road blocks and
Silo operators have accepted to store produce for one month
without charge but farmers will have to pay 320 baht per tonne
of corn to cover the cost of keeping their produce in good
condition with no excess moisture. Their produce will be stored
until the government launches a new mortgage scheme to help the
growers. If the government has no new scheme, silo operators
will buy produce at the market price.
The government’s previous guaranteed price of corn in the
mortgage scheme was eight baht 50 satang, about two baht higher
than the current market price. (TNA)