The Chiang Mai Mail humbly joins the Kingdom of
Thailand in wishing Princess Ubolratana Rajakanya Sirivadhana Phannavadi a
most happy birthday on April 5. Princess Ubolratana was born on April 5,
1951, in Lausanne Switzerland. She is the eldest daughter of HM the King and
Red-shirts hold mass
rally in Chiang Mai
Red-shirted demonstrators gather at the city’s
700 Year Stadium to show their support for deposed PM Thaksin Shinawatra.
Politics returned to the streets of Chiang Mai on Sunday, March 22
as a mass rally of red-shirted supporters of ex-PM Thaksin Shinawatra took
place at the city’s 700 Year Stadium. The meet was organised by the United
Front for Democracy (UDD) as part of its ‘Roving Truth Today’ political talk
show series, and included a two-way satellite link with Thaksin himself, who
was speaking from an unknown location. Around 10,000 supporters were in
attendance, including the controversial Rak Chiang Mai 51 group, whose
predisposition to violence has caused a number of former members to break
away and form their own groups.
In his address to the crowd, given in the Lanna Thai dialect, Thaksin
vigorously attacked the Abhisit government’s economic policies, saying that
not only was it not responding correctly to Thailand’s current economic
problems, but that its response was causing even greater suffering to the
majority of the Thai people.
He then assured his supporters that, should he be returned to office, he
would be able to solve Thailand’s current crisis.
Controversially, he then explained events which led up to his removal from
office, and named persons involved whom he considered responsible, stating
that he had been framed with false accusations of lèse-majesty, and that
Gen. Surayud Chulanont, (Thailand’s 24th PM and head of the interim
government), was the mastermind behind his attempted assassination and the
overthrow of his government in the 2006 military coup. Thaksin also
implicated army chief Gen. Anupong Paojinda, privy councillor Prem
Tinsulanonda and constitution court judge Jaran Pakdithanakul, and promised
to release more details at a later date. All the named individuals have
since denied his accusations.
According to the Bangkok Post, as a result of Thaksin’s naming of names,
national police chief, Gen Patcharawat Wongsuwan, has instructed lawyers to
determine whether the ex PM’s Sunday speech was in violation of Thai law, as
it made reference to important persons in the government. Interior Minister,
Chavarat Charnvirakul, also stated he had ordered provincial governors to
track the movements and activities of local red-shirt groups and their
German kills Thai lover, flees to Germany and surrenders to police
Local police were alerted to the murder of a Thai woman by a request
from German police concerning a German national’s admission of the crime.
On March 20, the naked body of Praew Dangkaesi, 23, was discovered by police
at her home in Chiang Mai’s Muang district. The dead woman had been struck
on the head with a beer bottle and suffocated with a pillow. Police had been
alerted by a call from the Foreign Department requesting details after a
recently arrived German national had admitted to police in his home country
that he had killed a woman in Chiang Mai.
Further investigation revealed that Thomas Peschel, 45, had been the lover
of Praew, and was supporting her financially by sending her 15,000 baht each
month, according to the dead woman’s sister. On discovering, after Praew
tried to end the relationship, that she was in contact with a Swiss man,
Deutch flew to Thailand to try to reconcile their differences, but his
jealousy caused many arguments. Finally, on March 16, he killed her, and
subsequently left Thailand for Germany before her body could be discovered,
surrendering himself to German police on his arrival and admitting that
jealousy had been the motive for the murder.
Thai police are cooperating with other agencies in order to request
Peschel’s extradition to Thailand to face a murder charge in the Thai
Government gives 2,000 baht to low-income workers
Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva (right) hands
over a cheque worth 2,000 baht to Gongjai Harnchai as Finance Minister Korn
Jatikawanich (2nd left) and Commerce Minister Paitoon Kaewtong (2nd right)
look on during a ceremony for the cash hand-scheme launched in Bangkok,
Thursday, March 26.
(AP Photo/Apichart Weerawong)
Bangkok (AP) - The government began handing out 2,000 baht
cheques to millions of low-income workers last Thursday to stimulate an
economy suffering from the effects of the global financial crisis.
The so-called “help-the-nation” dole-out scheme targets over 9 million
people earning less than 15,000 baht a month.
“I am confident it will stimulate the economy,” Prime Minister Abhisit told
reporters ahead of the launch of the 18 billion baht program.
“We are not encouraging extravagant spending. It’s a measure we hope will
ease the burden on low-income people,” he said after personally handing out
the first check to a teacher.
Stores and shopping complexes were quick to jump in, hoping to attract
cheque recipients with special deals.
“The check is valued 20 percent higher if you cash it in at our store,” said
Chamnan Metapreechakul, senior marketing director for the Mall Group, one of
Thailand’s largest mall operators. “We expect people to spend it because
it’s not large enough to save.”
Chamnan said the stores have created baskets of products worth 2,200 baht
for those who do not want to think too much about how to spend their
At the Kentucky Fried Chicken fast food chain, a cheque can be exchanged for
cash coupons with 20 pieces of chicken thrown in for free.
“I am planning to see what the best deal is and spend it there. It feels
good that I am spending to save the country. What an odd concept!” said
Narisara Songsawang, a 36-year-old clerk.
The program is expected to increase economic growth by 0.2 percent, Finance
Minister Korn Chatikavenij said.
The first lot of 5.5 million cheques issued last Thursday will be followed
by 1.2 million in late March and the rest in early April.
Some said they planned to save the money for hard times.
“You watch the news and people are getting laid off daily. I think I will
save it in case my husband is the next one to lose his job,” said Ponnapa
Sintanee, a 38-year-old mother of three. She earns 12,000 baht a month as a
Although the one-time measure was well-received by many, some raised
concerns that it only targets about a third of the country’s labor force who
are registered with the Social Security Fund. Those in the informal sector,
including farmers and self-employed people, are not eligible.
Abhisit said the government plans to launch other programs for those left
out of the current scheme.
High winds and heavy rain cause damage in
city, Hang Dong, Saraphi
A passing motorcyclist looks on and a pedestrian
takes a photo of the
iron-framed billboard blown down by high winds in Chiang Mai city centre.
A fierce summer storm hit Chiang Mai during the night of March 22,
with heavy rain and strong winds damaging property in Hang Dong and Saraphi
districts. Homes were damaged in 20 villages in Hang Dong, with 572 families
requiring assistance as a result.
At the time of writing, Saraphi district is still being surveyed for
accurate data. Urgent support is being given by the local administrative
organisation, which will use its budget to repair the damage to homes.
Prachon Pratsakul, the Chiang Mai Disaster Prevention and Mitigation
Office’s chief, stated that, following a damage survey requested by the new
governor of Chiang Mai, Amornpan Nimanan, a report would be sent to the
provincial office together with a request for the governor’s approval of a
50 million baht emergency budget allowance.
In Chiang Mai city, the heavy rain and strong winds caused the collapse of a
giant iron-framed billboard opposite the public library, causing damage to
the building’s wall. Other billboards around the city were damaged or
destroyed, and some flooding occurred. Fortunately, no injuries were
New Chiang Mai Governor encourages tree planting and conservation of natural resources
The recently appointed Chiang Mai Governor, Amornpun Nimanun,
has announced his dedication to helping create at least 60,000 rai of
‘green’ areas by encouraging the planting of 3,000 trees by each of the
2,000 villages in the province at a rate of 100 saplings per rai of
During a meeting with representatives of the various provincial
districts, he was made aware of the shortage of water in agricultural
districts at present causing concern. As a result, he is coordinating
with officials in the area’s Royal Projects in order to gain more
information and advice about water management and sources. He has also
requested that local authorities concentrate on preventing the illegal
destruction of natural resources, trees and klongs.
David Crisp killers may receive death sentence for premeditated murder
The family of murdered Chiang Mai resident David Crisp, found
stabbed and beaten to death at his home earlier this year, have been
advised that two men arrested and detained for the killing will almost
certainly be given the death sentence. A third suspect is believed to be
hiding out in Burma.
Police previously stated that David was murdered for a few personal
belongings and 5,000 baht, and that the killers, who had confessed to
the crime during questioning, had planned it in advance. In Thailand,
premeditated murder usually results in a death sentence, carried out by
A memorial concert of David’s music will be held in Edinburgh, his home
town, in June, organised by David’s family and the Edinburgh Open
Orchestra, of which David was a founder member and musical director
before he moved to Chiang Mai.
World recession may force
closure of Burma’s gem mines
With demand already affected by the USA’s 2007 ban on the import
of rubies and jades mined in Burma, the industry itself may be forced to
close down due a dramatic drop in orders for the gems since the
beginning of the world economic downturn combined with plummeting
Precious stones are Burma’s third largest export sector, and provide
vast sums of money for the Junta, with the state-owned Myanmar Economic
Holdings, (MOH), and Myanmar Economic Corporation, (MEC), dominating the
sector. MEC has recently closed down all its operations.
Both rubies and jade are mined in Burma’s northern regions, with
estimates of as much as 90% of world ruby production originating in the
area. Some minefields are reported to have already closed down, with
others laying off 90% of their workers. Precious stones mined in Burma
are sold in rough form (often on the black market which thrives along
the Thai/Burmese border), mainly to China and Thailand, where they are
cut, polished and processed for sale, mostly to Europe. According to a
gem dealer, a parcel of jade of variable quality would usually fetch
around $1,400; the price has now dropped to below $140.
Around 500,000 workers are estimated to have been employed in the
industry, with the largest mining area, Mineshu, employing at least
100,000, most of whom have now been laid off. If the fall in demand and
prices continues into 2010, it seems possible that the entire industry
will cease to exist, with disastrous effects on Burma’s already shaky
New ‘spraying water’ campaign to drive out pollution
Students parade in Chiang Mai to launch the
new ‘spraying water’ campaign.
A parade of 5,000 students, led by Boonlert Buranapakorn,
president of the Chiang Mai administrative organization, a team of
physicians from various local government offices and representatives
from local military, took place on March 21, beginning at the railway
station and proceeding to Thapae Gate.
The parade signified the start of a new campaign aimed at reducing
airborne pollution, entitled, ‘Spraying water for clear weather and no
smoke in Chiang Mai’. Volunteers were set to visit all local districts,
sub-districts and villages in order to spread information about the
effects of unchecked forest fires on pollution, and necessity to spray
throughout the area to increase humidity and reduce the amount of
particulate matter in the air.
Drought worsens in Phrae, emergency declared
According to the Phrae Public Relations Office, 8 provincial
districts are now regarded as emergency areas, with 74 sub-districts
containing 457 villages severely affected. Damage to agricultural areas,
including rice paddies, is at present estimated at more than 26 million
An agricultural support grant of 33 million baht for the area is being
considered, and would be used to repair dams and water pumps and
facilitate the distribution of almost 5 million litres of water to
Safe drinking water is also in short supply in the province, with at
least two villages receiving a total of 84,000 litres via trucks, as the
local small reservoir is shallow and drying up as a result.
Government’s ‘cash for school uniforms’
plan gets criticism from parents
Following last week’s announcement of a government cash scheme
to aid parents in purchasing school uniforms and supplies, many parents
are suspecting that the scheme will fail due to a government requirement
that unspent cash must be returned. This requirement, they feel, will
encourage frivolous spending on unneeded items.
The scheme was launched as part of the 15 year ‘free education’
programme, and applies to both government and private schools, although
parents can refuse the grants should they wish.
A parent, Athita Lorfuangtham, is reported to have stated that the
Education Ministry should not require unspent cash to be returned,
saying, “If parents manage the money, they should be able to decide
whether to keep or return any unspent portion, and should be allowed to
save the balance to provided necessities in the following school term.”
Another, Pisamai Kaenwong, said that spending restrictions should be
eased by the ministry so that other items could be purchased. However,
Waraporn Saengsuwan and Areerat Anyawan stated that they would return
any unspent cash, as it was taxpayers’ money originally, and was needed
to help the country.
Minister attends Chiang Rai seminar for village headmen
Bunjong Wongtrairat, the government’s deputy Minister of the
Interior, recently chaired a seminar held at Chiang Rai’s Mae Fa Luang
University and attended by 2,000 village headmen from 19 Northern Thai
Bunjong addressed the seminar on the economic downturn, assuring that
policies were being determined which would result in high-level benefits
for the general public. The policies described included a National Check
Support project, a Premium Provisional Care project for elderly people,
the Sufficiency Economy project, and a Volunteer Members Money Reward
project, which would include increasing the compensation paid to village
Bunjong also announced that an educational establishment for village
headmen would be set up some time in the future, which would help
develop cognitive knowledge of Thai law and the Local Administration
Act, and allow opportunities for study at a higher level.
Village headmen were asked to become leaders of the Institute of
Protection, and to use their positions democratically to ensure
conformity in their communities and in the country. Their efforts, he
stated, must come under the law, even when dealing with the ongoing
problem of narcotics dealing and use.
Before the seminar began, a small group of local red-shirted
demonstrators from the June 24th Democracy Group assembled, using their
vehicles as a stage from which to shout their slogans, and attempting to
prevent the deputy minister from entering the campus. Local police
intercepted them, and the seminar continued uninterrupted.
VIPs visit Lamphun golf resort to present Environmental Conservation award
The well-known Gassan Khun Tan golf resort, located on the
borders of Lamphun’s Doi Khun Tan National Park, recently received a
visit from a large number of international VIPs, to celebrate the
presentation to its management of the International Golf and Life
Foundation’s Environmental Conservation Award.
Foreign leaders and consul-generals, including the governor of Macau,
the Malaysian, Hong Kong, South Korean, Omani, Laotian, Cambodian and
Singaporean consuls (some accompanied by their wives), were all invited
to try out the course, and to report back to their own golfing
communities with the aim of stimulating golfing tourism in the North of
Thailand. The visitors were welcomed by Banhan Buranaprapa, deputy
governor of Lamphun and Pairot Sangphoowong, deputy governor of Chiang
The IGLF’s Environmental Award, according to the organisation’s
executive president, Daniel Navid, will be awarded to selected golf
courses and resorts worldwide in recognition of their efforts to
preserve the local environment and local society. The Gassan Khun Tan
golf resort, opened in 2004, boasts a world-class 18-hole course, with
stunning, panoramic mountain views.
Culture Ministry’s Songkran plan: ‘Unity, Tradition and Safety’
A press conference was held on March 23 by the Ministry of
Culture to announce its 2009 Songkran plans and launch a prototype
celebration entitled, ‘Songkran:- Unity, Tradition and Safety’.
The ministry has employed several agencies to promote the concept of the
annual festival in its traditional form, highlighting the aspects of
respect and the grace and beauty of the celebrations, and playing down
the festival’s modern ‘water wars’ and heavy-drinking reputation. Thai
Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva will endorse and announce promotional
activities for the beginning of the festival on April 13, and the
Ministry of Culture is encouraging participants nationwide to wear
traditional dress during the festivities.
Some 40,000 postcards to advertise the new style of the festival are
being printed and will be distributed to the general public. They can
also be downloaded at www. culture.go.th.
Thousands of ethnic Hmong to be sent back to Laos
Thailand aims repatriate thousands of ethnic Hmong to Laos, officials
said last week, despite concerns that the asylum-seekers will face
political persecution. The first group of 350 were repatriated last
Thursday, said Thai Foreign Ministry spokesman Thani Thongpakee.
An agreement was reached to repatriate a total of about 5,000 Hmong
tribal people when Thai Foreign Minister Kasit Piromya met with his
Laotian counterpart last Tuesday during a visit to the neighboring
country, Thani said.
The Hmong are currently living in Huay Nam Khao village in Phetchabun
province in central Thailand. Laos has previously denied they are
Laotian, describing them as Thailand’s problem.
The refugees say they will be persecuted by Laos’ communist government
if they return because of their Vietnam War-era ties with the United
Many Hmong fought under CIA advisers during a so-called “secret war”
against communists in Laos. Thailand has repeatedly asserted that the
Hmong are not legitimate refugees and have entered Thailand illegally.
A Chicago-based Hmong advocate, Joe Davy, said some of those returned
last week went against their will.
“At least five heads of households were reportedly coerced into
returning,” he said in a statement. The Thai Foreign Ministry denied the
The U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees has repeatedly expressed concern
about the fate of the asylum seekers, noting they have been denied
access to the agency to determine their reasons for fleeing.
Kasit said Thailand has offered to pay 1.5 million baht to Laos to help
build shelters for those who return.
A separate group of 153 Hmong asylum seekers who have U.N.-certified
refugee status will be allowed to leave for third countries willing to
accept them, Kasit said. They are currently being held at an immigration
detention center in Nong Khai province where they have been since the
end of 2006.
In May 2005, a major refugee camp for ethnic Hmong at Wat Tham Krabok in
central Thailand was closed after about 15,000 residents were relocated
to the United States.