Two men charged with sexual abuse of young girls in their care
Two men, one American and one Thai, were recently arrested and
charged with sexual abuse against a number of young hill tribe girls between
the ages of 13 and 15. It seems that the two men’s abuse of the young girls
in their charge may have been continuing unreported for a number of years.
The men were questioned and charged at Police Bureau Region 5’s Juvenile and
Women’s Protection Division; a search of the foundation’s premises resulted
in the seizure of CDs and DVDs which will be used as evidence.
Robert Moss, 55, the proprietor of Hor Fuang Fah, a foundation which
supplied accommodation and access to education for hill tribe girls, with
premises in Muang and Mae Taeng districts, together with his employee
Chailong Siriwong, 49, are, at present, denying the charges. During
questioning, Chailong insisted that he had not sexually abused the girls,
and that he had loved them as would a father. He refused to comment about
Moss’s involvement, stating that it was “none of his business”.
Prior to the two men’s arrest, Somboon Jai-ngarm, the principal of Mae
Tang’s Sop Perng Wittaya School, had become concerned about the behaviour of
a number of young girls from the foundation’s Mae Taeng premises who were
being educated at the school. The students seemed ill, nervous and
depressed, and were often found crying. Suspecting child sexual abuse,
Somboon contacted local police, and was finally able to persuade 7 of the
girls to talk with police. After the subsequent arrest of their alleged
abusers, the victims felt able to tell their full stories.
The Hor Fuang Fah foundation was supposedly acting to sponsor selected
students from impoverished hill tribe families living in Chiang Rai’s Mae
Suay district, providing them with education and a place to stay in Chiang
Mai. The accused Thai, Chailong, originally from Mae Suay, was employed by
Moss to drive the girls to and from school and to perform housekeeping
duties. At least 100 young girls were resident at the facility.
However, during questioning by police, the possibility that the foundation
was being run for the financial benefit of its proprietor was revealed. Each
student’s family was charged 3,000 baht annually for accommodation, food and
transportation to school, and another 10,000 baht for education services. It
is being suggested that the bulk of the charges, plus national and
international donations received by the foundation, were retained by Moss.
One of the abuse victims told the school’s principal that girls staying at
the dormitories often went hungry, as food was in short supply. Another said
that she was afraid she would have to die before she could get away from
Moss and Chailong, and that if she could escape, she would never go back.
Others said that on many occasions, Moss and Chailong would force girls to
go with them to their private quarters in order to ‘give a massage’.
Outsiders were not permitted to enter the foundation’s premises, even when
girls were sick and needed medical attention, or when the school’s principal
needed to check on their health. The children were also forced to work in
Since the arrests, almost half the girls have left the foundation’s
premises; a number have been sent to other children’s homes in Chiang Mai,
others have been taken back to their villages by their parents. Some, who
have been terrified by the constant threat of abuse, have refused to return
to the facility.
Pol Lt Col Thawatchai Yoomark, deputy superintendent of the Juvenile and
Women’s Protection Division, said that police suspect that a further number
of organisations may be acting in this manner, and that their founders’ and
executives’ history and profiles were being investigated by the authorities.
New CM Governor faces up to pollution
and political discord
Chiang Mai has welcomed the new governor, Amornpan Nimanant, who
began his work for the province on March 16.
Chiang Mai Governor Amornpan Nimanant talks to the media on his first day in
Chiang Mai-born Amorphan was appointed as the replacement for Wibun
Sa-nguanphong during the recent reshuffle involving 26 provincial governors,
most of whom were transferred to inactive posts. On his first working day,
he met up with his three deputy governors, Pairoj Saengpuwongm, Chumporn
Saengmanee and Chuchart Keerapaeng, plus his own assistant, Surachai
Jongrak, in order to allocate specific responsibilities and discuss
At the meeting, Amorphan stated that he was studying the pollution problem
in depth. If the present poor air quality continues to rise higher than the
acceptable levels, district chiefs, kamnan, village headmen and public
health volunteers will be called to a special meeting to tackle the problem.
Regarding the political conflict in Chiang Mai, the new governor said that
he realized that local Chiang Mai residents are not violence-oriented, and
that he believed the divergence arises from a small group who may respond to
negotiation. He plans to meet and talk with the leaders of the Red Shirt
groups in order to encourage them to develop the province’s potential and
promote tourism, rather than focusing on political discord.
EGAT blocks local anti-dam protestors at Pak Moon
March 14, The International Day of Action against Dams, saw the
Electricity Generating Authority of Thailand (EGAT) block over 500
protesting villagers in Ubon Ratchathani from entering the site of the
controversial Pak Moon dam, forcing them to read their statement of protest
from outside the gates.
Villagers are demanding that EGAT open the dam’s sluice gates every day of
the year in order to allow fish to migrate between the Mekong and Moon
rivers. A cabinet resolution ordering EGAT to pen the gates for four months
each year is not considered effective, as the electricity authority delays
the opening every year, forcing the villagers to protest.
Local villagers have also petitioned the Thai government to scrap the
planned building of dams on the Mekong and Salween rivers, as their
construction will ruin their livelihoods and seriously affect the fragile
ecology of the region and its rivers.
The petition also urges the government to pay compensation to local
residents affected by new dams, and to repair ecological damage caused
during their construction. New land should also be allocated to farmers who
lost their properties due to flooding by reservoirs.
A member of the National Economic and Social Advisory Board, Harnarong
Yaowaloes, stated that, although anti-dam and environmental conservation
movements had improved awareness, more dams were already in the planning
stages as the negative impact on people’s lives and the environment was not
yet fully understood by the government. He urged the public to closely
monitor government support for the construction of the Huay Samong dam in
Nakhon Ratchasima, (prospectively located in a World Heritage Site within
which any construction is forbidden), and the Tha Sae dam in Chumpon
province, which will seriously affect a nearby wildlife sanctuary.
Working committee chief
demands CM disaster alert
At a recent meeting attended by representatives of various city
organisations, Wichai Kitmee, chairman of a Chiang Mai working committee on
smog, smoke and wildfire issues, proposed that the city and its suburbs
should be placed on disaster alert due to the continuing high levels of
Measurements of particulate matter in the air have continually been over the
recommended limits for more than two weeks, with smog blanketing the city.
It seems unlikely that illegal burning in agricultural areas can now be
The poor air quality has resulted in more than 13,000 residents seeking
medical assistance during the period. In the previous six months, the Chiang
Mai area has suffered more than 1,000 forest fires, affecting over 7,000 rai
of land. Worst affected areas include Mae Cham district, where most of the
wildfires occurred, Jomtong, Hod, Doi Saket and Chiang Dao.
3rd Army to join
in forest fire fighting
A meeting at the premises of the Pha Muang Task Force, chaired by
Lt. Gen. Tanongsak Apirakyodhin, commander of the 3rd Region Army, and
attended by government office chiefs, was held recently to discuss the high
levels of pollution caused by continuing forest fires.
Gen. Tanongsak Apirakyodhin addresses the media at the meeting held March
In response to the immediate crisis, the military will allocate its forces
stationed at Naresuan and Pha Muang, in order to assist in dealing with the
problem. A special unit has been set up at the 7th Artillery’s base on
Chotana Road, Mae Rim, from which 1200 soldiers will operate as
fire-fighters. The unit will continue its operations until April 30.
Lt. Gen. Tanongsak stated that the target for seeing a reduction in the smog
would be 7 days, with reports on air quality being submitted every 3 days.
After the meeting, Lt Gen Tanongsak was shown by air the worst-affected
forest areas in Muang, Samoeng and Mae Cham, before travelling to Mae Hong
Son and Chiang Rai to discuss the situation in those areas with the
Chiang Rai drought problems may be caused by shallow klongs
Tinakorn Phuwapatchim, inspector general of the Office of the
Prime Minister, recently visited Chiang Rai to discuss remedies for the
province’s draught and pollution problems, centering on the Mae Sai and
Initially, it was found that klongs in sub-branches of the Kham River
were too shallow to allow the support of water flows in the rainy
season, causing overflows and flooding of agricultural areas, and the
inability to collect water for storage and use during the dry season.
In Muang district, similar problems were found with the Pukang klong. It
is estimated that once the depths of the klongs have been increased,
water shortages to more than 300 homes will be alleviated, and 500 rai
of agricultural land will be able to be irrigated resulting in double
crops and the ability to plant during the dry season. Chiang Rai
provincial authorities have requested a budget allocation for the work
from the deputy prime minister’s office.
Subsequently, Tinakorn met with local residents and urged them to
cooperate in saving water, and to increase the watershed areas in the
forests to enable more water to be absorbed during the rainy season. He
also asked for their cooperation in improving air quality by not
allowing the burning of rubbish and agricultural waste.
Meanwhile, in Mae Hong Son province, the drought has affected almost
30,000 homes, resulting in an emergency drought disaster area being
declared in 7 districts due to acute water shortages. Sub Moey, Pai,
Khun Yam, Mae Sariang, Mae Lanoi, Muang Mae Hong Son, and Pangmapha
districts are worst affected.
City officials have ordered local authorities to accelerate primary
support to residents in their respective areas and the government has
stated that it will provide water for distribution.
Drug dealer arrested
on Thai/Myanmar border
Soldiers from the 17th infantry regiment combined with Mae Hong
Son border police and Drug Enforcement Agency officials to form a
special task force which initiated a sting operation resulting in the
seizure of 162,000 YaBa pills from Red Wa drug smugglers.
and her partner Sam were arrested following a sting operation launched
by a special Thai drug task force in Mae Hong Son.
An appointment was made with the smugglers to purchase the drugs, hidden
on the Thai border in an almost inaccessible area of Pangmapha, where
illicit border crossing are frequently made. The trap resulted in the
seizure of the drugs, and the arrest of an ethnic Red Wa couple, Meong,
30, and Sam, 40.
During questioning, Meong stated that the drugs had been smuggled into
Thailand via a little-used border crossing opposite Ban Piang Luang
border pass on March 17, on the order of a dealer living in Wiang Haeng
However, a conflicting report from the Thai military stated that the
Thai task force had been conducting their sting operation against 3 drug
smugglers when a gunfight broke out, during which the three smugglers
fled into the forest. It alleged that Meong was arrested and charged by
another Thai force as she arrived to collect the money from the deal.
PM vows to slow drug trade within 6 months
The prime minister vowed last week to reduce drug trafficking
within six months but said he would avoid abuses that have marked
previous government crackdowns.
Prime Minister Abhisit announced his plan after revealing that the
number of addicts in the country has been steadily increasing. Abhisit
said the crackdown will be conducted lawfully and without violence.
Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva.
A “war on drugs” conducted under former Prime Minister Thaksin
Shinawatra led to about 2,300 killings. Human rights activists claim
many were extrajudicial executions.
“If all sides work together, I am confident that the amount of drugs
being trafficked will be reduced. The government has set up a six-month
timeframe to produce concrete results,” Abhisit said.
Despite the alleged abuses, the 2003 drug war under Thaksin was popular
in some rural areas and slums where a tide of methamphetamine from
neighboring Myanmar led to soaring addiction and crime.
Thaksin’s government claimed drug gangs carried out most of the killings
to eliminate informers or rivals. Few if any people were tried or
convicted in the slayings.
Abhisit, speaking last Wednesday at a meeting of high-ranking security
officials about drug suppression, said official statistics showed
460,000 drug abusers in 2003, 570,000 in 2007 - the year after Thaksin
was ousted by the military coup - and 605,000 in 2008.
“A crackdown (on illegal drugs) has to be done decisively, but we also
have to take the law into consideration,” he said. “(We) do not want a
policy that promotes a violent crackdown that will lead to other
Separately, Dr. Boonreun Triruenworarat of the Public Health Ministry
said the number of teenage drug users has risen significantly in recent
years, with addicts between the ages of 13 and 18 accounting for 40
percent of all abusers at the end of last year, up from about 20 percent
Dried longan scam uncovered
by local police after tip-off
After a recent tip-off from local longan growers, three trucks
bound for a Lamphun warehouse were seized by Chiang Mai police officers.
On inspection, the trucks were found to contain more than 30 tonnes of
dried longan fruit processed as far back as 2003 and 2004. Growers were
concerned that the 5 and 6-year old fruit would be mixed with longan
processed this year, then exported to China, thus damaging the growers’
On being questioned, the owners of the seized longan, Narongsak
Tiyarattanachai and Winit Khandee, also the owners of warehouses in
Lamphun, told police they had bid for the dried fruit at an auction held
by officials of the government’s longan mortgage programme. The
programme has recently been under investigation by a Senate
sub-committee for alleged corruption, with specific concerns about its
application in the Northern provinces during 2003/2004.
Major credit card fraudster arrested in Chiang Mai
Police have arrested a Malaysian suspected of being the leader of a gang
of credit card detail hackers, who produced fake credit and ATM cards.
Genuine card holders are estimated to have lost over 100 million baht
due to the gang’s activities.
According to local police, Kok Mun Chiang, a 39-year-old Malaysian
national, was apprehended at a hotel in Chiang Mai municipality last
Wednesday as he was hacking credit and ATM card information belonging to
a local businessman. Also seized was a laptop computer, ATM slips for
money transfers and a notebook containing a list of credit card numbers
allegedly in the suspect’s possession. Bank account books showed that
Kok and his accomplices had money deposited at various locations in an
amount of approximately 112 million baht.
During questioning, Kok confessed that he and his accomplices had sold
hacked details to networks in Malaysia and more than 10 European
countries for 20,000 baht each. The buyers would then notify him by
return, instructing him to clone specific credit and ATM cards. Kok has
been charged with counterfeiting electronic cards and faces a maximum
term of five years imprisonment plus a fine of 100,000 baht. (TNA)
British Chamber of Commerce holds second business networking evening
Peter West, Mike Brodie, Richard Prouse,
Dr. Ken Leeper, Al Trussell and Rachan Maneekarn
at the BCC’s networking evening held at Tuskers’ Bar and Grill.
The second networking evening for local Thai and expat business
people organised by the British Chamber of Commerce and the Expats’ Club
was held last week at Tuskers’ Bar and Grill and attended by 50
representatives from the Chiang Mai business community.
The guest of honour at the meeting was Jon Glendenning, director of the
British Council and honorary UK Consul to Chiang Mai. Due to the absence
of Alan Hall, Al Trussell gave the welcoming speech, explaining the
informal nature of the meeting. Several guests were attending for the
first time, including Patrick and Kay Mulcahy from the Elite Property
Group, fresh from their successful party held the previous night at
Dalabaa, and Dr. Ken Leeper, whose new long-stay hotel promoting
alternative health treatments has just opened.
Local business people who wish to attend future events should contact
Richard Prouse on 089-557-1378, or email on
Renowned writer Rong
Wongsawan passes away
Crowds of mourners look on as the coffin of
is loaded onto a vehicle during the funeral ceremony.
Renowned Thai author, columnist and writer, Rong Wongsawan, passed away
at the age of 77 on March 15 in an intensive care unit in Chiang Mai’s
Theppanya Hospital, after suffering a stroke. He had been admitted to
the hospital on Friday 13 with chronic kidney disease which needed
regular dialysis, and suffered three heart attacks whilst in intensive
care before his death two days later.
The famous writer, based in Chiang Mai for the last 20 yeas of his life,
was originally a native of central Chai Nat province, and began his
primary education in Ratchaburi, finishing junior high school at Amnuay
Silp School in Bangkok. He also studied at Triam Udom Suksa School in
Bangkok but was expelled, despite having a good academic record, after a
dispute with a teacher.
mourner holds a photo of renowned writer Rong Wongsawan who passed away
on March 15.
As an adult, he worked as a helmsman, a log yard supervisor, actor and
model, becoming renowned as a columnist, documentary writer,
screenwriter, and author of short stories and novels.
The Writers’ Association of Thailand declared Rong an outstanding short
story writer in 1985 and, a decade later, the National Culture
Commission appointed him a National Artist in literature. As a
wordsmith, he was without peer, and revelled in using old-fashioned
words to convey modern messages. He is survived by his wife, Sumalee
Trakarnthai, and their two sons.
The family and relatives of the deceased kindly ask all people who wish
to pay their respects to his memory not to bring wreaths, but to provide
seedlings which will be planted in memorial of the famous author’s care
for environmental conservation. Donations in support of the Rong
Wongsawan Fund Project, which provides treatment, including dialysis,
for impoverished patients with kidney disease, may also be made.
One of Rong’s final requests was that his body should not be cremated,
but buried in Toon-In Garden, Mae Rim, on the site of his much-loved
Education Ministry unveils nationwide uniform grant scheme
The Thai government has recently unveiled a financial aid scheme
to assist parents with the purchase of compulsory school uniforms.
According to the Minister of Education, Jurin Laksanavisit, grants will
be sent to schools, who must immediately inform parents that the money
is available. A total of 18 billion baht has been set aside by the
government to facilitate a 15-year ‘free education’ policy, within which
the uniform project falls. The balance will be used to provide tuition
fees, textbooks, various necessary education tools and school activities
in the coming semester starting in May.
In the first semester, parents of kindergarten students will be given
400 baht for each child; primary students’ parents will receive 550
baht; Mathayom 1-3 students’ parents will receive 660 baht and Mathayom
4-6 students’ parents will get 730 baht. Parents of students at
vocational college will receive 1,130 baht. In the second semester, 100,
195, 210, and 230 baht respectively will be handed to parents for
replacement items of uniform.
In order to safeguard the scheme against misuse, many schools are
arranging to provide uniforms for sale, although parents will be able to
choose whether to use this option. If they do not, they will be required
to show either a receipt for uniforms bought elsewhere, or for uniforms
made to measure, or the uniforms themselves.
The Ministry of Education is also allowing students in almost 32,000
private schools to decide whether they actually need financial
assistance, as it can be refused if not required, and the money diverted
to improve small schools in rural areas.
According to the commission’s latest report, to date less than 1% of
students have refused the grant.