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A most happy birthday to Her Royal Highness Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn
City or Country – we all need good neighbours
Amari goes darkin support of Earth Hour
A most happy birthday to Her Royal Highness
Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn
(Photo courtesy Bureau of the Royal Household)
Her Royal Highness Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn was born on April 2,
1955, the third child of Their Majesties the King and Queen of Thailand.
HRH the Princess studied from kindergarten to high school at Chitralada
School in Bangkok. She ranked first in the National School Examinations in
the primary level (grade 7) in 1967 and in upper secondary level (grade 12)
Ranked fourth in the National University Entrance Examination, HRH the
Princess enrolled in the Faculty of Arts, Chulalongkorn University and
graduated with a Bachelor of Arts degree, first class honor, and a gold
medal in History in 1976. She continued her studies in two graduate programs
concurrently, obtaining an M.A. in Oriental Epigraphy (Sanskrit and
Cambodian) from Silpakorn University in 1978, and an M.A. in Pali and
Sanskrit from Chulalongkorn University in 1980. She enrolled in a doctoral
program at Srinakharinwirot University (former College of Education) in
1981, and was awarded a doctoral degree in Developmental Education in 1987.
The principle of using education as a means for community and social
development, which HRH the Princess acquired during her doctoral studies
along with her former experiences in the field, has provided her with a
solid base for her subsequent involvement in community development
In addition to her formal degree programs, HRH the Princess has attended
several training courses and workshops to enhance her knowledge and skills
in effective integrated development. These subjects include computer,
cartography, meteorology, survey and photogrammetry, remote sensing and
geographic information system and nutrition.
HRH the Princess has acquired first-hand experiences in working on
development projects initiated by Their Majesties the King and Queen. These
projects involve a number of diversified fields including health and
hygiene, education, water resource development, agriculture and cottage
industry by regularly accompanying Their Majesties on visits to remote areas
since the age of sixteen.
From these experiences, HRH the Princess has developed special interests in
agricultural extension to improve school children’s nutritional conditions;
supports education from pre-school to tertiary levels; and mother and child
care. She has also concentrated on helping the handicapped, especially in
using information technology (IT) to develop independent living and learning
HRH the Princess runs several philanthropic organizations and foundations.
She has been Executive Vice President of the Thai Red Cross Society since
1977; Executive Chairman of the Chaipattana Foundation (in charge of His
Majesty’s development and environmental preservation projects), Ananda
Mahidol Foundation (to promote higher education), the King Rama II
Foundation (to conserve and promote Thai Culture); President of the Sai Jai
Thai Foundation (to support disabled veterans), Prince Mahidol Award
Foundation (to award prizes annually to members of the international
community for outstanding performances in the fields of medicine and public
health); and Adviser of the Committee of Thai Junior Encyclopedia Project by
Royal Command of H.M. the King.
HRH the Princess began her teaching career in 1979 when she started teaching
the General Education Program at Chulalongkorn University. A year later, she
joined the Department of Law and Social Sciences, in the Academic Division
of Chulachomklao Royal Military Academy. Presently she is Director of the
Department of History, and has played an active part in revising its
curriculum. She also supervises the Thai Music Club at the Academy.
Occasionally HRH the Princess gives special lectures at several other
institutions and regularly attends academic conferences and seminars both in
and outside the country.
In addition, HRH the Princess represents Their Majesties in various royal
functions. She also presides over ceremonies as well as other social and
charity functions all through the year. In 1991, HRH the Princess was
awarded the Magsaysay Award for Public Service.
HRH the Princess likes to travel around the Kingdom and abroad to obtain
knowledge of physical geography and peoples’ varied lifestyles. One of her
favorite pastimes is writing articles, poetry and short stories. Proceeds
from her written accounts of her overseas travels are the main source of
income for the Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn Foundation which was set up
in 1979 to support needy students in schools, vocational colleges and
HRH the Princess loves Thai literature and studies literature of other
countries. She enjoys playing classical Thai instruments and practicing Thai
classical dancing. She also paints and is keen on sports, including jogging,
swimming, biking and trekking - which gives her an opportunity to learn
about plants, trees and geographical features of the areas.
In addition to her knowledge of Pali, Sanskrit and Cambodian, HRH the
Princess is communicative in both English and French and has been learning
Chinese, German and Latin.
City or Country – we all need good neighbours
At a time when rumours are circulating in the media about the
release of 62 year-old Nobel Peace Laureate and Burmese opposition
leader Aung San Suu Kyi, China’s stance on the Burmese issue, regarded
as a major stumbling block to progress on human rights and a true
democracy in that benighted country, may even be easing, according to a
statement made at the UN Human Rights Council by China’s Geneva
On March 16, Yan Jiarong stated that the entire international
community’s interest would be served by the resolution of difficulties
and challenges in the issues of development and reconciliation in the
troubled state. His comments, made in response to a recent UN report on
Burma’s appalling human rights record, represent a major change;
previously, China had refused to be drawn into discussions on the
subject, referring to it as an ‘internal matter.’ A number of Chinese
high officials have visited the country recently, meeting with Gen.Than
Shwe and army chiefs, and there would appear to be concern about the
country’s economic position during the current world financial crisis,
which has disastrously affected Burma’s highly lucrative trade in gems.
Combined with another recent UN ruling that the detention of Aung San
Suu Kyi is illegal, both in terms of Burmese domestic law itself and
international law (and a possible hardening of the position of Thai PM
Abhisit Vejjajiva, who may have realised that the Junta Generals are not
such great Buddhists after all…) is international opinion finally moving
towards serious condemnation of the Junta’s behaviour, and, if it is,
will the Generals see fit to take notice and modify their stance?
This remains to be seen, as does any resulting action by the rest of the
world which may result in the development of true democracy in
Thailand’s strife-torn neighbour.
And Aung San Suu Kyi’s release? This should have taken place in May 2008
– the same month in 2009 will see the 6th anniversary of her current
term of house arrest. The term used by Junta officials, when questioned,
is ‘quasi-judicial detention.’ Whatever that oblique phrase actually
means (even experts in international law aren’t sure!), the hard fact
remains that she is being illegally detained. She represents her people,
the Burmese people, she has suffered with them and for them. It doesn’t
seem too much to ask of governments worldwide (and closer to home!) who
have been ‘talking the talk’ for some years now, to ‘walk the walk’ and
take positive action to finally ensure her release, not to mention the
release of the Burmese nation itself!
Burma and the plight of its citizens, however (despite our awareness and
concern for its people), may be ‘once removed’ from our own perception
of reality, due perhaps to our Western origins. Life here in Chiang Mai
is another matter. For many of us, our initial perception, encouraged by
online reports, has been replaced by a strong sense that those reports
may have been exaggeratedly positive. ‘Paradise’ is a word we may have
read, or heard, rather more than once… A more apposite comment, also
often read or heard, is, ‘Living here is nothing like coming here on
Most would-be CM residents, before they arrive, spend a great deal of
time forming an impression of their intended destination from many
different online sites. I certainly did. Thai Visa leads the pack as
regards actual expat experiences, even a though one may have to sift
through pages of off-topic posts and occasionally accusative rants.
Comparisons can easily be made between local forums in, for example,
Chiang Mai, Pattaya and Bangkok – these three invariably include threads
of practical interest as well as announcements of events, new
restaurants, etc. However, as with internet forums worldwide, content is
controlled by moderators.
While no-one would suggest that moderation of posts or threads is
totally undesirable, the practice, dependent on the forum’s policy and
the individual moderator, can easily result in an imbalance of topics or
responses leading to a slanted perception of reality, of what really
does happen in any specific area. ‘Big Brother’ and the Nanny State, it
may seem, are not confined to the countries we left because of their
In the real world of Thailand, in spite of online attempts to persuade
us otherwise, horrible things do happen. People get murdered, prejudice
runs rampant, drug dealers ply their trade, fraud happens, domestic
abuse creates misery and single mothers, HIV/AIDS kills both adults and
children, human trafficking destroys lives, just the same as in any
other country in this imperfect world. And, perhaps one of the most
sensitive and destructive issues, paedophilia, raises its revolting head
every so often. A Google search reveals Thai Visa and other threads on
the subject, some as late as last December. But…none, it seems, are from
Thai Visa’s Chiang Mai (TVCM) forum.
In last week’s paper, on the front page, a story concerning the arrest
of two men for sexual abuse of young girls was printed. In the TVCM
forum, a lone poster has attempted, by copying and pasting the text, to
start a thread. However, a moderator seems to have immediately closed
the thread. Policy…perhaps? Recently, other somewhat controversial
threads have either been truncated or closed…policy again? A policy for
what? To encourage the, somewhat outdated, vision of Chiang Mai as
‘Paradise?’ To make life easier for the moderators…it’s faster to close
an entire thread than to carefully read each post and delete seriously
offensive material? Or, do TVCM’s moderators truly believe that we all
need protecting from the realities of life and the need to express our
opinions in the public domain?
Perhaps we should confine ourselves to posting on TV’s Pattaya forum,
where, it would seem, no such restrictions exist. Or maybe we should,
individually, contact TVCM’s moderators and tell them to get real and
respect our human right of freedom of speech. Within reason, of course.
Chiang Mai is a wonderful place to live, for many reasons, but the dark
side of human nature never fails to assert itself, wherever humans
congregate. To ignore it, to pretend it doesn’t happen, or to suppress
debate on its manifestations, only encourages it to grow and thrive.
According to Edmund Burke, ‘All that is necessary for evil
to triumph is for good men to do nothing.’ Isn’t the
prevention of free expression a way of forcing good men to do nothing?
Suddenly, Burma doesn’t seem so very far away…
Amari goes darkin support of Earth Hour
Some of us, who have the time or the inclination to lounge in
front of the TV may have noticed entreaties (where there used to be
adverts before the economic crunch hit in!) to switch off all electric
lights for an hour between 8.30 and 9.30 p.m. on March 28. Wherever we
live on the planet, ‘Earth Hour’ is intended to engender massive support
for the fight against global warming and the ‘Save the Planet’
initiatives now springing up worldwide – even here in Thailand! Over 900
cities and towns in 80 countries across the globe are involved in this
By the time this paper hits the streets, those of us in town last
Saturday may have noticed that Chiang Mai, or at least a popular corner
of the city, was also involved. The Amari Rincome Hotel, together with
all 17 hotels and resorts in the Amari group, was committed to joining
in and switching off all unnecessary lighting during ‘Earth Hour,’ and
will have been encouraging its guests to support this phenomenal world
event in the belief that ‘We CAN make a difference!’ The hotel chain has
also initiated a Green Initiative. To learn more, please visit
This is good. Wish the rest would follow suit! Apart from anything else,
we women fully appreciate the amount the electricity bill decreases when
we switch off unnecessary lights… It’s a win-win thing!
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