Rak Chiang Mai 51 attempt to intercept PM at military airport
A stop-over at Chiang Mai’s Wing 41 military airport on April 4 by
PM Abhisit Vejjajiva was rudely interrupted by several hundred Rak Chiang
Mai 51 members as the PM transferred from his aircraft to a helicopter on a
visit to the Doi Angkhang Royal Project in Fang district.
Protestors arrived at approximately 1 p.m. with banner and placards, led by
Petcharawat Wattapongsirikul. Finding that they were unable to access the
airport in their vehicles as large numbers of local police, and military,
both in uniform and plain clothes, were already in attendance, the group
used loudspeakers to condemn the present government and urge PM Abhisit to
The PM arrived at 2.30 p.m. and was safely transferred to the helicopter,
after which the red-shirted group dispersed.
Songkran hotel bookings plunge 40% due to political unrest
According to major travel and tourism associations, foreign
occupancy rates for Chiang Mai hotels and resorts during the Songkran
festivities have fallen from 90-95% in 2008 to 40-45% this year. Political
chaos and the threat of violent protests in the city over the holiday period
are cited as the main reasons for the disastrous reduction in advance
Chiang Mai is regarded as the key Songkran destination in Thailand for both
foreign and domestic visitors. Tourists already in the city have been
urgently booking travel to other areas for fear of violence, and Bangkok
travel agents dealing with bookings by foreign visitors are insisting on a
40% deposit to cover ‘no-shows’ in the event of drink-fuelled riots in
The city is already reeling from the effects of the world economic crisis,
the closure of Suvarnabhumi Airport last autumn, and the violent protests in
both Bangkok and Chiang Mai itself, including the recent forced cancellation
of the Gay Pride Parade due to threats by Rak Chiang Mai 51. Combined with
the exceptionally high pollution levels in the city, which have also
received international publicity, a drop of 25% in visitor numbers is hardly
Concern has also been expressed that the manufacturing sector in the area,
already suffering from a crucial drop in exports, may use the holiday
closures to lay off more workers.
New CMU bi-lingual website - an essential tool for ethnicity research
As a result of a 4-year collaboration between the CMU Social
Research Institute’s Centre of Ethnic Studies and Development (CESD) and the
French Institute of Research for Development (IRD), a new bi-lingual website
has been launched as a tool for researchers, students and those who are
interested in the contemporary history of ethnicity in the north of
The site contains over 5,000 downloadable newspaper articles in English,
covering the period between 1965 to the present day, extracted mainly from
the Bangkok Post, the Chiang Mai Mail, The Nation, the Vientiane
Times and the Irrawaddy.
Seven thousand six hundred articles in Thai have been extracted from Khon
Muang, Siamrath, Thin Nue, Daily News, Daily Mail, Chiangmai News, Thai
News, Matichon and Thairath.
The majority of the articles focus on Thailand and Burma, but some of them
also deal with Laos, Vietnam, Cambodia, East India, Malaysia and Indonesia.
Search can be done by newspaper name, by title, by date and by keywords.
Articles in English have been indexed only with English keywords, articles
in Thai by Thai keywords.
The website also contains 4,000 pictures with detailed captions, some of
which are from privates collections held by Hans Mansdorff, Jacques Lemoine
and Paul T. Cohen, and an e-museum from which visitors can download video
clips on ethnic cultures.
The URL of the new site is http://www.cesd-thai.info; it is certain to
become an invaluable aid to study and research.
Depressed fireman kills wife,
then commits suicide
Police and rescue workers attend to the bodies
of NiranWongmai and his wife, Rattikan Wongmai, after they were found dead
at their house in San Kamphaeng.
Police were sent to a house in San Kamphaeng recently after
neighbours reported a shooting. On investigating, they found the corpse of
NiranWongmai, 41, a local fireman, with a bullet wound to his chest. A
hand-made gun was lying near the body.
In another part of the single-story wooden house, the body of his wife,
Rattikan Wongmai, 25, an ex student at Sukhothai Thammathirat University now
working in a Thai silk factory, was found, also shot. Near her body was a
notebook containing a letter from Niran, explaining why he had shot his wife
and then committed suicide, and asking for understanding of his motives.
It would appear that Rattikan, married for some years to Niran, and with two
children aged 10 and 7, had wanted to leave as there were problems with
debts and other issues. Her parents had been encouraging her to return to
live with them for some time. In the letter, Niran admitted that his wife
had experienced difficult times with him during their marriage, and that,
when he had told his father that he suspected his wife was having an affair,
his father had told him to kill her.
Police say the relatives of Rattikan are not pressing charges as the
assailant had already chosen to take his own life.
600 police officers prevent violence between two groups at City Hall
Members of Rak Nai Luang show their support
for HM the King at Chiang Mai City Hall.
Concurrent with the huge UDD demonstration in Bangkok on April 8,
representatives of Chiang Mai’s ‘Rak Nai Luang’ (Love HM the King) group
gathered at City Hall, set up a poster of His Majesty, and submitted a
letter via the provincial authority to the Prime Minister, Abhisit
Vejjajiva, the deputy PM for security, Suthep Tuaksuban, and the minister at
the PM’s office who oversees mass media affairs, Sathit Wongnongtoey.
Rak Nai Luang is led by a former lecturer at Chiang Mai University,
Chompoonut Thosinthiti, and the coordinator of the People’s Alliance for
Democracy (PAD) in Chiang Mai, Suriyan Thongnue-iad.
The letter urged that government measures should be tightened to protect the
nation’s institutions, including religion and the Monarchy. Summarising the
present situation, it stated that the UDD red-shirted movement is committed
to the destruction of the nation, the Buddhist religion and the institution
of Constitutional Monarchy, led by His Majesty the King, who serves as the
focus of faith, respect and national esteem, and is enshrined in the hearts
of his people.
It went on to claim the UDD has threatened not only senior Privy Councillors
(close advisors to His Majesty), but also the judiciary and the Monarchy
itself, and added that Rak Nai Luang had gathered as representatives of
Chiang Mai residents to reaffirm their love of the King, of Thailand, and of
democracy, and in rejection of the UDD’s beliefs and practices.
At the same time, a group of UDD supporters set up loudspeakers near Rak Nai
Luang’s group, and relayed speeches from the Bangkok protest at Government
House to the crowd who had assembled at City Hall. The Chang Puak Police
superintendent, having called up 600 officers to keep the peace, spoke with
the leaders of the opposing groups, ordering them not to resort to violence
during their rallies.
One woman’s wish: ‘No violence… just a government elected by the people’
Red shirted demonstrators gather outside the
Wararot Grand Palace Hotel in Chiang Mai, Monday, April 6.
Lee Roy Webster
On the evening of April 6, the Wararot Grand Palace Hotel in
Chiang Mai’s old city was the venue for a gathering of several hundred
UDD supporters, in preparation for their journey to Bangkok the
following morning to join in the demonstrations. Donations were made and
merchandise was purchased, including ‘Truth Today’ t-shirts, foot
clappers, masks of various kinds, picture cards featuring ex PM Thaksin
and DVD’s of his recent speeches at rallies. The voice of Jakrapob
Penkair was heard booming through speakers.
An older woman who had set up her food stall and was donating the
evening’s profits to the UDD cause was asked why she was there to
demonstrate and donate. She replied, “Because I don’t want my children
and grandchildren to grow up in a military and elite-dominated state. I
love His Majesty the King, Queen Sirikit and their children a lot - they
do so many good things for poor and underprivileged people, especially
here in northern Thailand and in Chiang Mai. I am sad that they do not
come here to visit any more. But I also believe that powerful people in
the military and near HM the King abuse their power and use the name of
the monarchy to make politics. The Abhisit government was not elected -
they came to power without the peoples’ voices. I want a democratically
elected government - elected by the people in Thailand, for a better
future for us all.”
After her comments, the older woman went back to selling her sausages,
fish and meat balls.
Every 30 minutes or so, the MC announced more donations to the UDD, both
in cash and kind - bags of rice, bottles of water, petrol vouchers, 500
baht, 10 cushions…
A tourist couple, from Ireland, here for Songkran, remarked in reference
to the screen on which shots of demonstrations were being shown. “It
could be an open-air cinema, to those who don’t know what’s going on!”
Another tourist asked an older man what the event was about; he replied
in broken English, but spoke with difficulty. There was no violence and
no threat of violence. It seemed that the crowd in no way wanted
violence. Thailand is beginning to be split in two. All its citizens can
do is to hope that the demonstrations in Bangkok and across the country
Australia chooses Thailand as launch site for anti-human trafficking campaign
The Australian government has chosen Thailand for the launch of its
campaign against human trafficking. It is publishing a set of two
handbooks to be distributed free to Thai women and private organisations
in the kingdom which assist children and women victims. The 15,000
handbooks cost the Australian government A$472,000 to print and were
recently handed over to Thailand’s permanent secretary for Social
Development and Human Security, Wallop Ploytubtim, by Bronte Moules,
deputy head of mission at the Australian Embassy in Bangkok.
The handbooks are designed to assist Thai women who have been trafficked
to Australia to return home and to prevent women in Thailand and other
ASEAN countries from falling prey to human traffickers. Wallop said Thai
women and children who are victims of human trafficking are mostly found
in South Africa, Bahrain, Japan and Malaysia, with few in Australia.
Reports from international organisations include the Middle East, the
Netherlands, Germany and the UK as destinations, particularly for women
trafficked from Thailand. A study by the Australian Institute of
Criminology, cites Thailand as a major source of girls trafficked into
Australia as sex workers. (TNA)
Four arrested and charged,
30,000 amphetamines seized
The captured drug smugglers sit with their
contraband at police HQ.
Following a tip-off from an informant, local police and military
arrested 4 YaBa dealers at a specially set- up checkpoint in Chaiprakarn
district, seizing 30,000 methamphetamine tablets, a pick-up truck and 4
cell phones, and charging the dealers with possession with intent to
distribute illegal drugs.
Nattayot Somsit, 24, and Jarat Tuoythong, 27, both Chiang Mai residents,
were searched, together with their truck, having been stopped at the
checkpoint. 30,000 methamphetamine pills were found inside one of the
Meanwhile, a bus which had also been stopped was searched, resulting in
two women, Marisa Jaka, 25 and Nasi Janga, 21, being discovered with
pills concealed in their underwear.
During questioning, the two women admitted that they had been hired for
a fee of 13,000 baht to deliver the drugs to Chiang Mai and distribute
them. The men admitted that they had bought the amphetamines for 1
million baht, to deliver to Bangkok.
CMU software camp competition awards prizes to three teams
The students celebrate after competing in
the CMU software camp competition.
April 9 brought awards and celebrations for 3 teams of students
at CMU’s College of Arts, Media and Technology (CAMT) at the close of a
unique software training camp.
With the close collaboration of Chiang Mai Lanna Business Systems Co Ltd
(CLBS), the 32 students in the three teams had competed to produce new
e-registration software which will allow prospective CAMT students to
book their places online.
The best performance was judged to be that of ‘9 Company’, winning them
the first prize of 15,000 baht, to be shared between the 10 members.
Runners up were ANT Company, who were awarded 10,000 baht, and SAPsoft,
who received 5,000 baht.
Dean of CAMT, Dr Nopasit Chakpitak, told the students that their next
task was to finish their individual senior projects and internships, and
to prove that they were suitable for the jobs market. Several have won
scholarships for further study in Europe; others will be placed in
internship programmes with college partners such as CLBS, and clients of
IBM in Bangkok.
On behalf of CLBS, Matthias Schenk said that the practical application
of the project meant that the students had learned skills never taught
in text books. “Teamwork and the delegation of tasks take place every
day in business”, he emphasised, noting that those aspects, and the fact
that behind every small problem lay a bigger problem, had been
thoroughly understood by the competing students.
According to senior lecturer, Ajarn Pawin Pruttinan, all 3 teams had
completed at least the minimum requirements. The course had possibly
been one of the most difficult for students in their 3 years with CAMT,
however, they had shown themselves to be very eager to learn, and had
made extraordinary efforts to complete the project.
Thanking CLBS and the lecturers, student spokesman, Peerawat Poombun,
said that all were now aware of their immediate skills, and how they
needed to improve. “We will keep this camp in our minds for ever” he
Local talent gets another chance
Noodle Duck perform at the press reception
held at JJ Markets.
Earlier this month, over 30 of the local paparazzi turned out in
force at JJ Markets on Assadorn Road for the press launch of the 3rd
Annual JJ Talent Competition 2009.
The winners of last year’s competition, ‘Roye’ together with ‘Noodle
Duck’ and ‘The Opposite’ were on hand to entertain the audience. Since
winning last year, ‘Roye’ has gone on to win the Music Express 23rd
Anniversary contest in Bangkok and are also in negotiations to sign a
record deal with Sony BMG Thailand.
This year’s competition will be widened to include Dance, Fashion and
Comedy rounds, with 2 rounds each month. Thai band rounds will be May 8,
June 12, July 10 and August 14. Singles and Duets will compete on
September 11, with Farang bands on October 9. Dance rounds will be on
May 22, June 26 and July 24, Comedy on August 28, and Fashion on
September 25 and October 23.
The runners up of each round will go forward to the semi finals in
November, with the winner and the winner of the monthly round playing in
the Grand Final on December 9.
Contestants must be aged between 15 and 25 years old. The organisers
encourage audience participation by allowing them to vote for the
winners of each round, as well as having a judging panel of experts in
the various fields, sponsors and the media.
Any single performer or group wishing to take part in this competition
should contact Sarayanee on 085-866-7313. Since the competition started
two years ago JJ Markets has become a nightlife hotspot, mainly for the
younger generation, and as such is the ideal venue for the talent
New reservoir to be built in Mae Hong Son
As a result of a 2006 visit to Mae Hong Son by Her Majesty Queen
Sirikit, and the subsequent founding of the ‘Water Preservation for the
Mother of the Land Project’ initiated as a result of Her Majesty’s
concern, a new reservoir will be built at Ban Huaypong-On in Mae Hong
Son’s Muang district.
Her Majesty was reported to have expressed her concern about inhabitants
of the mountainous areas along the watershed of the Mae Sa-nga River, in
that they must realise the essential nature of the forests, the waters
and the earth. The Department of Irrigation has allocated a budget of
74.5 million baht, and the project is expected to be completed by June,
The new reservoir will have a storage capacity of 645,000 cubic metres,
and will support an area of 2,200 rai of agricultural land in Muang,
Pang Moo and Mok Pae sub-districts. In addition, 363 families in Pang
Moo and Mok Pae and their domestic animals will be able to rely on
year-round water supplies from the reservoir.
As a further result of the new project, developments will also be
undertaken in the communities living along the river basins of the Mae
Sa-nga, the Pai, and in Mae Sa-ad – Huaymakklang.
Life skills for the young
The high school girls attend the ‘Life
skills for youth’ workshop
at Chalermprakiat School for Girls in Pasang, Lamphun.
A ‘Life skills for youth’ workshop was held recently at
Chalermprakiat School for Girls in Pasang, Lamphun, organised by
Singapore’s District 330 Inner Wheel Club and funded by their donation
of 22,000 baht.
One hundred and sixty nine high school girls attended the one-day event,
which began with a mediation session led by the Chiang Mai Raja Yoga
Centre. Ten volunteers from Chiang Mai University’s Faculty of Medicine,
all 4th year students, conducted the training workshop.