Kingdom celebrates Wan Chatramongkhol
(Coronation Day) May 5
Photo courtesy of the Bureau of the Royal
Photo courtesy of the Bureau of the Royal
The Chiang Mai Mail and the people of Chiang Mai are honoured to
congratulate His Majesty King Bhumibol Adulyadej the Great on the 59th
anniversary of His coronation on May 5, 1850.
This Tuesday, May 5, is the 59th anniversary of His Majesty King Bhumibol
Adulyadej the Great’s coronation, although HM the King had ascended to the
throne on June 9, 1946. Wan Chatramongkhol (Coronation Day) is celebrated
both in Thailand and by Thais scattered around the world, and is observed as
a national holiday, with banks and government offices being closed. (Photo
courtesy of the Bureau of the Royal Houshold.)
During his coronation, the new King of Thailand, the Ninth Monarch of the
Chakri Dynasty (Rama IX) took a sacred oath, “to rule with Righteousness,
for the Benefit and Happiness of the Siamese People”, an oath to which he
has been magnificently loyal, garnering tremendous respect not only from his
own people but from the world at large. King Bhumibol Adulyadej the Great is
the world’s longest reigning monarch. Long Live the King!
His Majesty the King, after finishing his studies in Europe, returned to
Thailand and was crowned King during an elaborate and highly intricate
ceremony that outshone all previous coronations in Thailand. On April 28,
1950, a week before his coronation on May 5, H.M. King Bhumibol and Mom
Rajawongse Sirikit Kitayakara were married.
The elaborate ceremony itself reinforces the stature of the Kings of
Thailand, with the first such having been performed when Pho Khun Phamuang
succeeded Pho Khun Bangklangthao as the ruling King of Muang Sukhothai.
Phaya Lithai, a former leader in Sukhothai, left a historical record in
stone describing the coronation ceremony in Sukhothai at Wat Srikhum.
At the beginning of the Ratanakosin era, King Buddha Yot Fa
Chulalokmaharach, founder of the Chakri Dynasty, took the title of Rama I,
moving the capital of Siam from Thonburi to the opposite bank of the Chao
Phraya River, and constructing Krung Ratanakosin, (Bangkok). During the
process of building the Royal Palace and Wat Prakaew (Temple of the Emerald
Buddha), Rama 1 refined the coronation ceremony, establishing important
protocols which have lasted to this day. All successive Kings who did not
follow the new ceremonial strictures would be unable to assume the term
“Phrabat”. This title precedes the King’s title of “Somdej Phrachaoyuhua”,
and, more significantly, use of the symbol of the nine-tiered umbrella would
also not be permissible or officially recognized.
The elaborate coronation ceremony of His Majesty King Bhumibol Adulyadej the
Great included all the ancient rituals required for assuming the full title
and the nine-tiered umbrella. King Bhumibol Adulyadej then bestowed the
honour posthumously on His late brother, King Ananda Mahidol. King Bhumibol
Adulyadej’s benevolent act raised King Ananda Mahidol’s regal status from a
seven to a nine-tiered umbrella.
During the reign of King Mongkut (Rama IV), Buddhist monks and Brahmin
priests were incorporated into the coronation ceremony to conduct rituals to
sanctify the auspicious occasion. Previously the ceremony was arranged and
conducted by the Royal Palace staff and members of the Royal Household.
The annual remembrance of the coronation ceremony is currently a three day
affair, starting with a ritual “tham bun” ceremony on May 3 to honour the
King’s ancestors. Later on the first day, another ceremony is performed,
whereby flags of honour are issued to distinguish various military units.
The following day, Buddhist ceremonies continue with chanting rituals,
prayers and Brahman priests announcing the auspicious occasion forthcoming
on May 5 itself. On that day, His Majesty King Bhumibol Adulyadej conducts a
merit-making ceremony, presenting offerings to Buddhist monks, and leading a
“Wienthien” ceremony, walking three times around sacred grounds at the
Temple of the Emerald Buddha.
On the same evening, the King conducts a further sacred ceremony; the
changing of the yellow cloth on the Emerald Buddha, the guardian symbol
protecting the Thai people, transferred from Thonburi to Wat Phra Kaew by
Many rooms in the Royal Palace are opened for public viewing on Coronation
Day. Auspicious ceremonies are performed and displays depicting Royal
achievements are exhibited to reconfirm the King’s stature.
Swine flu - 22 Mexican tourists being tracked by immigration
Tourists pass through a thermal scanner erected
at the entrance to Suvarnabhumi international airport in Bangkok, Monday,
April 27. Thailand has installed thermal scanners at all its major airports
to screen travellers for symptoms of the potentially fatal swine flu virus.
(AP Photo/Apichart Weerawong)
During the administration’s weekly press release, it was revealed
that Dr. Wattana Kanchanakamol from the Chiang Mai Public Health Department
had reported that the Immigration department were involved in tracking down
22 Mexican tourists who had arrived in Chiang Mai for the Songkran festival
just before the outbreak of swine flu in their country of origin.
In order to protect against incoming infection with the virus, an infra-red
sensor has been installed at Chiang Mai International Airport. In the event
of the detection of any passengers with a temperature range within the
specified limits, the persons concerned will be placed in quarantine and
checked for the virus.
An average of 1,000 passengers per day arrive at the airport on direct
flights, however, at the present time, none are arriving from countries
where the presence of the virus has been confirmed. The official information
is that there is no need for residents to be alarmed.
Legal confusion prevents progress with new Mayoral election
An interview with Dr. Duentemduang na Chiengmai.
In its April 7 issue, the Chiang Mai Mail reported that
one requirement for the qualifications of our city’s Mayor, Captain Dr
Duentemduang na Chiengmai, to run for office in the last election had,
according to a ruling by the Bangkok Supreme Administrative Court, been
based on an inaccuracy and had therefore contravened Thai election law. The
ruling was made in support of a similar decision by the Chiang Mai Electoral
Commission, made in 2007, and resulted in Dr. Duentemduang’s
disqualification as elected mayor of this city after already serving 18
months of her 4-year term.
The Chiang Mai Electoral Commission’s original ruling had been given as the
result of a complaint made before the 2007 election; subsequently, as an
appeal had been made to the Bangkok court by Dr. Duentemduang, enabling her
to continue to run for office, she won the election with a landslide vote.
Her victory, however, was conditional on a positive appeal decision. When
her appeal failed, information was given out that a further election would
be held within 45 days.
The Mayor of Chiang Mai, Dr. Duentemduang na
chats with the editors of the Chiang Mai Mail during the interview.
When, after 3 weeks, no notification of a further election was given, the
Chiang Mai Mail requested an interview with Dr. Duentemduang, to which
she graciously consented. In this interview, our reporter asked her about
the reasons behind the delay in announcing another election. These are her
replies to this and a further question.
CMM: Dr. Duentemduang, many residents in the city, both Thai and
farang, are grateful for the measures you have introduced during your brief
term as Mayor, and are concerned that the city’s wellbeing may be under
threat due to the present circumstances. We would appreciate your comments
in clarification of the background to this unusual situation.
Mayor: Yes, of course. The situation is unusual in that this has never
happened before in Thailand, and is therefore causing a great deal of
confusion regarding interpretation of the law.
The requirements which must be satisfied before a candidate stands for
election include a provable ‘residential qualification’ in the city of not
less than one year before an electoral campaign begins. The wording of the
law on this matter is ambiguous, making its exact interpretation difficult.
For example, it does not seem to be clear whether ‘residency’ depends on
owning land or a home, or renting a home.
In my case, I have been a resident in the city for almost all of my 37
years; at the time of my election campaign, I was able to provide a local
tax receipt for a period of more than 3 years in a rented property within
the boundaries of the area for which a Mayor has responsibility. This, and
the fact of renting rather than owning, had been considered, in 2003,
adequate according to the Bangkok court. It would now appear that the court
has changed its mind, and that, at least, ownership of land within the area
is considered necessary.
The Electoral Commission in Chiang Mai confirmed my position as Mayor of
Chiang Mai for the full, 4 year term of office; as the Electoral Commission
in Bangkok has not yet issued any binding statement due to the legal
complications, I am still the Mayor of Chiang Mai. As such, may I assure
residents that basic duties are still being performed pending a final
decision. However, after the court’s original announcement, I decided to
take a one month vacation, although I remained available here in the city.
I shall return to work on May 7, and await further developments or rulings
CMM: Dr. Duentemduang, do you have any idea when, or if, a further
election will take place, and, if it does, will you be standing again?
Mayor: At the present moment, it is too soon to announce an election
date, as no final decisions have been made concerning this unusual
situation. Presumably, the court in Bangkok will request the Governor of
Chiang Mai to announce a date for a further election, if necessary, when it
finishes its deliberations.
I was elected by the people of Chiang Mai for a term of 4 years …I have
served for less than half that time, and have still so much to do for this
city. I must run again, in the hope that I am given the opportunity to
finish my work, as I need more time to continue to improve the quality of
life in Chiang Mai for its citizens.
Recycling and rubbish disposal, for which a new contract is due to be
issued, is a priority, as is pollution, drought, flooding, clean water for
all, street lighting, vehicle emissions control, and many other issues which
affect residents’ daily lives.
The integration of technology into the city’s infrastructure - taking the
best from the West without losing the unique Lanna history and culture of
the city - is essential, as it will make residents’ lives easier and vastly
improve facilities. Another essential is the integration of all the city’s
CMM: Dr. Duentemduang, thank you so much for taking time to explain
your position to our readers.
Lamphun Industrial Estate pollution
under fire again
Villagers from 18 communities located adjacent to the Lamphun
Industrial Estate are up in arms about the lack of results from numerous
complaints concerning industrial and environmental pollution from the estate
made to concerned authorities over a period of some years. In spite of
assurances by factory owners that they are no longer causing pollution, the
villagers insist that people’s health in the area is still being damaged by
emissions, contaminated waste, and polluted water.
When the industrial estate was set up 26 years ago, local residents were
assured that agro businesses would occupy the units. Today, heavy
manufacturing industries in the electronics, automobile parts sectors,
together with leather goods and jewellery manufacturers, employ over 48,000
workers on the 1,788 rai estate, only 38% of whom are Lamphun residents.
The first river to be affected by industrial discharges was the Mae Kuang,
which also flows through Chiang Mai, and is regarded as the area’s lifeblood
by villagers. Massive fish deaths are common, with the river turning red and
emitting an unpleasant smell when waste water from the factories is
discharged. During the dry season, factories on the estate pump water from
the river, leaving none for domestic or agricultural use. Tests have shown
that underground water is contaminated with heavy metals, making it unfit
The Hariphunchai Research Institute, based in Lamphun, has reported that
research into the health of workers on the industrial estate during 2007 had
revealed many health defects. 24% of the workers were afflicted with
eyesight problems, 17% had developed hearing disorders, over 3,700 workers
showed abnormal blood cell counts, 426 suffered from lung ailments and 813
had liver problems. High levels of lead and chromium were detected in some
Pairoj Hathakam, the Lamphun Industrial Estate’s director, however, refutes
the villagers’ claims, saying that whenever there are health or pollution
problems, local factories are always blamed, stating that, “We welcome all
investigations into the pollution allegations. We have a perfect laboratory
to check the water quality before any discharging is done. We check our
water quality around the clock.”
Heavy rain and speeding causes
multiple crashes on mountainous road
On the same road on Doi Nangkaew, a crash
between a 10-wheel lorry and
a pickup truck occurred, along with several other accidents in which trucks,
cars and jeeps were damaged. (Photo by Jittraporn Charasrum)
Local police have blamed heavy rain on the main mountain road
bordering Chiang Mai and Chiang Rai provinces, Highway 118, for at least
five accidents on Sunday April 26.
According to a police spokesperson, drivers were, in the main, very careful,
but the combination of gradient and dangerously slippery road conditions
after a period of prolonged rain had proved too much for some, particularly
tourists to whom the road was unfamiliar. Police also stated that some
vehicles, in spite of the conditions, were being driven at high speeds.
At midday on April 26, a collision occurred between a car and a pickup truck
in the area of Tambon Mae Suay, during which both vehicles overturned. Minor
injuries were sustained by Surasee Thananchai, 35, a staff member at Chiang
Rai Rajabhat University, and his two relatives, and also by the Indian
driver of the car and his passenger.
Chiang Rai officials foil drug delivery by registered post
A report was received April 29 by Chiang Rai Immigration at Mae Sai
concerning a white pickup truck which was being used to transport drugs
to Mae Sai Post Office for forwarding to customers. A team from
Immigration and the Narcotics Suppression Bureau police was immediately
sent to the post office. The white pickup truck was identified; however,
its occupants fled the scene.
On inspection, police discovered a package which Post Office workers
confirmed was to be sent by registered post. The package description was
‘amplifiers’. When it was opened, a plastic pack with 60,200 amphetamine
pills was found concealed in the back of one of the four amplifiers. The
package was addressed to Sukanya Thaichamnian, Moo 7, Klongtakod,
Photaram, Ratburi, and was being sent by Luang Thongjai, at Moo 10, Mae
Sai, Chiang Rai, an incomplete address.
Further enquires are being made as to the identities of the two named
persons and their locations in order to arrest them for possession of
Class 1 drugs with intent to distribute.
More red shirt leaders surrender to Chiang Mai police
Following the recent closure of Thapae Road due to a protest by
Rak Chiang Mai 51 red shirts and a number of their vehicles and
songthaews, police issued arrest warrants for two more of their leaders.
Mana Phanpaiboon, alias DJ Ped, and Paiboon Chuchai, alias DJ Loong
Boon, were accompanied on their surrender at Chiang Mai Muang Police
Station by Sunai Chullapongsathorn, the Puea Thai Party MP, who posted
bail for the pair in the sum of 15,000 baht each. The pair were cheered
on and given flowers by a number of their supporters.
Both men were charged under articles 116 and 215 of Thai law, and
accused of causing unrest in the kingdom, gathering in a group of more
than 10 people, causing disorder and parking their vehicles in an unsafe
manner which hindered traffic.
Several more suspects, for whom arrest warrants have been issued,
including Paiboon Chuchai, Mana Phanpaiboon and Suraphol Suphangkharat,
are expected to surrender in the near future. Singkham Nanti and Thanin
Pradithphan have already given themselves up to police. Suraphol has
stated that he will surrender when he has concluded his business in
Freckles on hand identify
British child sex tourist
A British child sex tourist was recently sentenced in the UK to
6 years in prison after police identified his freckled hand, shown
touching young Thai girls in pornographic photographs stored on his
A police investigation proved without doubt that Dean Hardy, 50, had
travelled to Thailand for the purpose of child sex abuse. Hardy had
photographed the abuse, and stored the pictorial record of his illegal
activities on his computer.
While searching his home, police found 63 images stored, and were able
to analyse the electronic data in the picture files to verify the date
they were taken. A cross-reference with Hardy’s passport and credit card
statements showed that he had been in Thailand at that time.
Final proof was obtained when forensic experts matched the freckled hand
in the photographs with that of Hardy.
Two of the photographs showed indecent assault by an adult male of Thai
girls between the ages of 8 and 10. Before sentencing Hardy, Judge
Gregory Stone stated that, “This was sex tourism of the most offensive
kind.” Hardy showed no reaction to his 6 year sentence.
Border gunfight results
in death of drug trafficker
Intelligence reports that a number of armed men were escorting
drug smugglers across the Burmese border in Chiang Rai province resulted
in soldiers from the Third Army’s Phamuang task force being sent to the
heavily forested area.
Having realised that they were surrounded, the smugglers and their five
armed minders opened fire, resulting in a gun battle lasting 15 minutes
during which one smuggler was killed. The remainder of the group ran off
into dense jungle. An assault rifle was found lying next to the dead man
and YaBa pills were found in his clothing. He was later identified as
Jaka Jaseepai, 30, a Black Muser villager living locally; a search of
his house revealed a gun, 15 bullets and a bullet-proof vest.
Local police have stated that the dead man was a member of a group of
traffickers led by Jakulae Jasuepue, who is being sought on an arrest