Vol. VIII No. 20 - Tuesday
May 19 - May 25, 2009



Home
Automania
News
Book-Movies-Music
Columns
Community
Art, Music & Culture
Happenings
Dining Out & Entertainment
Features
Our Children
Social Scene
Sports
Chiang Mai FeMail
Daily Horoscope
Cartoons
Happy Birthday HM Queen Sirikit
Current Movies in
Chiangmai's Cinemas
Advertising Rates
Classifieds
Back Issues
Updated every Tuesday
by Saichon Paewsoongnern


NEWS
HEADLINES [click on headline to view story]:

Thousands gather at Wat Phra That Doi Suthep for Visakha Bucha Day

Myanmar’s Aung San Suu Kyi held in prison

Phitsanulok boy in quarantine with flu symptoms

Construction of new Chiang Mai shopping mall to go ahead

Is she or isn’t she?

Fierce fire destroys Phrae OTOP Centre, causing 2 million baht losses

Pubs, bars and clubs under fire for breaches of licensing laws

refugee villager seriously wounded from land-mine

Japan provides funds for new Mae Taeng village bridge

TAT Chiang Mai’s director expects increased tourism later in year

Night Safari and Pattaya agree to joint tourism promotion

Ancient Royal ploughing ceremony predicts abundant food, proper amount of water

 

Thousands gather at Wat Phra That Doi Suthep for Visakha Bucha Day

CMM reporters
The road sneaks its way through 14 kilometres of forest. Guided by the moon light, thousands of people walk together, up the mountain. Children silently hold the hands of their parents, teenagers listen to their iPods while they silently put one foot in front of the other, students joke the time away … given the choice, a Thai will probably prefer to ride his bike rather than walk 200 meters. And yet there are special occasions when they don’t balk at walking. Visakha Bucha Day is one of them.

Chiang Mai deputy governor, Chumporn Sangmanee, officially opens the Visakha Bucha Day ceremonies, May 7, 2009.

Visakha Bucha Day is one of the three most important Buddhist days in Thailand and happens during the Full Moon in May. This year, it fell on Thursday May 8. This special day commemorates the birth, the Enlightenment and the passing-away of Buddha. For the occasion, Thai people will make merit and gather in temples to pray.
But the most impressive event happens on the eve of Visakha Bucha Day. On May 7 at 7 p.m., Thai people gathered by the thousands at CMU to walk up to Wat Phra That Doi Suthep, which is said to house relics of the Buddha himself.
The walk was long but never boring. Free food stalls were packed along the way; freshmen from Rajamangala University were running and chanting, led by their senior; monks were strategically located along the way to encourage people to make merit and pray. Even though people didn’t talk so much together, all experienced the feeling of community and belonging that permeated the atmosphere.
Most people arrived at the temple around midnight, after a 3 to 5 hour walk, for the first moments of Visakha Bucha Day. The newly-renovated Chedi was shining and people crowded under its shadow, walking silently around it three times, holding in their hands lotus flowers, candles and incense sticks. Once completed, they were able to make their way back home … walking for the most courageous ones, sitting in a red truck for the rest of us.
Back at the university at 2 a.m., people could still be seen starting the hike up the mountain - they would arrive just in time for the 7 a.m. ceremony at the temple.

 

Myanmar’s Aung San Suu Kyi held in prison

Yangon (AP) - Myanmar’s jailed democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi insists she is not guilty of violating her house arrest, her lawyer said last Friday, as a clearer picture emerged of the American who swam to her home and kicked off the junta’s latest crackdown.

Myanmar opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi, seen here in this 2007 file photo, was due to be put on trial Monday in connection with the intrusion of an American who sneaked uninvited into her compound. (AP Photo/Myanmar News Agency)

Ahead of Suu Kyi’s trial this past Monday, the Nobel Peace Prize laureate spent the night at the country’s notorious Insein Prison where she is being held in a “guest house” within the compound during her trial proceedings, said her lawyer Kyi Win.
Worldwide condemnation has poured in since Suu Kyi was charged last Thursday with breaking the terms of her years long detention, just two weeks before she was due to be released. Her trial was scheduled to be held at a special court at the prison, which has held numerous political prisoners over the years.
World leaders, human rights groups and fellow Nobel laureates denounced the move as an attempt by the military junta to silence its chief opponent ahead of next year’s election - which will be the first since Suu Kyi’s party won elections in 1990 that the junta refused to recognize.
Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton and U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon condemned the charges and called for Suu Kyi’s immediate release.
“If the 2010 elections are to have any semblance of credibility, she and all political prisoners must be freed to participate,” British Prime Minister Gordon Brown said.
The Singapore government said it “is dismayed” by the charges against Suu Kyi, one of the few criticisms to come from Myanmar’s neighbors in Southeast Asia, who abide by a much-criticized policy of not interfering in each others affairs.
The charges follow a mysterious visit to her home by John William Yettaw, 53, an American who swam across a lake and sneaked into her home seeking food and a place to rest.
It was the second time Yettaw had made the trip after swimming across the lake last summer, but on that visit the house staff kept him from speaking to Suu Kyi, his wife, Betty Yettaw told The Associated Press in an interview outside her home near Camdenton in southern Missouri.
“I think that’s what motivated him to go back. He thought he could be in and out,” she said, describing her husband as eccentric but peace loving and “not political at all.”
Before making the latest trip, Yettaw left his 10-year-old and three teenagers with friends, then visited his former wife in California last month and told her he had to go to Asia to work on a psychology paper about forgiveness, according to his ex-wife Yvonne Yettaw.
John Yettaw belongs to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, commonly known as the Mormons, said Yvonne Yettaw, adding that it was unlikely he was in Southeast Asia to proselytize for the church or convert the Nobel laureate.
Yvonne Yettaw, speaking from Palm Springs, California, told the AP that her ex-husband lived on veteran’s disability benefits, supplemented by occasional construction work. She said he had been studying psychology and writing a paper about forgiveness after trauma, and went to Southeast Asia for research but he was “real secretive” about his journey.
Suu Kyi has already spent 13 of the last 19 years in detention without trial for her nonviolent promotion of democracy. She was scheduled to be freed May 27 after six consecutive years of house arrest but now faces up to five years in prison if convicted of violating the terms of her detention, said one of her lawyers, Hla Myo Myint.
“Daw Suu understands the law and told me, ‘I did not break the law,” said her chief lawyer Kyi Win, who met with Suu Kyi last Thursday. “Daw” is a term of respect for older women.
“She did not contact the swimmer, he came in as an intruder and she’s not guilty,” said Kyi Win, who attended the Thursday arraignment and met with Suu Kyi.
According to the restriction order under which Suu Kyi is held, she is prohibited from having contact with embassies, political parties and “associated persons” and she is barred from communicating with the outside world by telephone or mail, he said.
Myanmar citizens are required to report overnight visitors to local authorities but Suu Kyi’s “did not report him because she did not want to see anyone arrested because of her.”
Yettaw was arrested May 6 for allegedly swimming across a lake to secretly enter Suu Kyi’s home and staying there for two days. He was brought to the same courtroom last Thursday as Suu Kyi and charged with illegally entering a restricted zone, which carries a maximum penalty of five years in prison, and breaking immigration laws, which is punishable by up to one year in jail.
The junta scheduled elections as part of its so-called “roadmap to democracy,” but the effort is widely perceived as a guise for continued military control.
Parliamentary rule was overthrown by a coup in 1962, and the army has been in control since then. It held an election in 1990 but refused to honor the results after Suu Kyi’s National League for Democracy party won in a landslide.


Phitsanulok boy in quarantine with flu symptoms

A boy in Phitsanulok province was quarantined last week after showing symptoms of influenza as he returned from a study exchange in a country where influenza A H1N1 had been detected.
Provincial deputy public health official, Thongpoon Taesombat, revealed that the boy had a high fever and was quarantined and put under observation at Buddha Chinnarat Hospital. The province’s medical sciences centre was conducting laboratory tests to determine whether he was carrying the H1N1 strain.
Last Thursday morning, Public Health Minister Witthaya Kaewparadai said that a teacher in the central province of Phra Nakhon Si Ayutthaya who recently returned from a trip to Europe was also quarantined and under observation after showing symptoms of influenza. However, laboratory tests later cleared the teacher of carrying the killer virus and officials stated that it was more likely seasonal flu.
Meanwhile, Siriraj Hospital announced it had successfully detected an influenza A H1N1 virus for the first time after the Department of Medical Sciences provided a sample of the virus to the hospital and at the same time to the US Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), for testing.
Dr. Theerawat Kulthanant, Dean of the Faculty of Medicine at Siriraj Hospital, and Dr. Prasert Thongcharoen, president of the Virology Association (Thailand) jointly held a press conference confirming the success of engineering the first influenza A H1N1 test kit by Thai experts, a significant advance which means the virus can now be identified and confirmed without recourse to external tests.
They said that the hospital’s laboratory took three days to verify the virus before confirming the first case here of influenza A.
They added that the success will lead to the further development of a test kit which will provide an initial test result for influenza A within 15 minutes.
Both institutions will also continue their research to identify an influenza A vaccine to control and prevent the disease in the future. (TNA)


Construction of new Chiang Mai shopping mall to go ahead

CMM reporters
Dutch real estate development and investment group, ECC, is looking to take advantage of reduced land and construction prices in Thailand to develop a series of retail projects under the Promenada brand name.
Announced in March this year, the Promenada Chiang Mai will offer 75,000 square metres of up-scale retail and entertainment space when it opens in the second half of 2011. ECC is now planning similar projects for Bangkok.
According to ECC’s CEO, Tjeert Kwant, “Previously, property assets were overvalued; however, recently prices have started to normalize, giving us some hope of being able to make our moves.”
The Promenada Chiang Mai represents an investment of 3.1 billion baht and when open, it will employ 3,000 people. Construction is scheduled to start in the second half of 2009. To help finance further projects in Thailand and across Southeast Asia, ECC is launching a $250 million investment fund, ECC Retail Investment Holdings.


Is she or isn’t she?

Saksit Meesubkwang
Staff at Chiang Mai Zoo, including its director, Sopon Damnuy, are waiting with bated breath to find out whether female Panda, Lin Hui, is pregnant after her mating with her partner on February 17.
So far, Lin Hui has shown signs of pregnancy, such as eating and sleeping more and preferring to stay on her own in her den. A second ultrasound examination was carried out by veterinary experts on May 11, but proved inconclusive. If the famous female has not conceived, her behaviour will return to normal in around two months.
The initial tests performed on Lin Hui detected a hormone ratio of 300 nanogrammes per milligramme, a creatinin ratio of 440 nanogrammes per milligram, and a thickening of the walls of the uterus; all hopeful signs. However, pandas can undergo bodily and behavioural changes associated with pregnancy when they ovulate but fail to conceive, with females only coming into heat for a few days once a year, and no reliable pregnancy test for pandas. Due to the likelihood of a false pregnancy, the mystery can continue until the last minute.
Lin Hiu will be given another ultrasound after two weeks, with experts and professors from Chulalongkorn University in Bangkok attending her check-up. Meanwhile, staff from the zoo are being sent to China to receive instruction on caring for newly-born panda cubs.
There are only an estimated 800 to 1,000 pandas left in the wild, and they are notoriously difficult to breed in captivity, with females being particularly picky about mates.

Lin Hui undergoes tests at Chiang Mai Zoo
to determine if she is indeed pregnant.


Fierce fire destroys Phrae OTOP Centre, causing 2 million baht losses

CMM Reporters
A disastrous fire broke out in the early hours of the morning of May 3 at the Wam Nam Yong ‘One Tambon, one Product’ (OTOP) furniture centre in Phrae, destroying 20 furniture shops containing teakwood products. Damage caused is estimated at 2 million baht, but cannot be accurately totalled until the shop-owners are able to take an inventory.
The fire, thought to be caused by an electrical fault, quickly engulfed the building, in spite of the efforts of officers with 5 fire engines from Don Moon fire station, who fought the blaze for an hour before bringing it under control.
A witness report stated that the blaze began in the first showroom, the owner of which was absent, and had left his lights on overnight. A single electric wire connected the shops; it is believed that a short-circuit may have occurred, which went unnoticed as there ware no security staff in the building at night. Investigations to determine the cause of the fire are continuing.


Pubs, bars and clubs under fire for breaches of licensing laws

CMM Reporters
Bars, nightclubs, karaoke establishments and pubs are under fire for continuing to break laws contained in the Service and Excise acts relating to closing times, fire regulations and other issues, following a meeting with chiefs of all district administration offices called by the new Chiang Mai Governor, Amornpan Nimanan.
The deputy governor of Chiang Mai, Pairoj Saengphuwong, stated that laws concerning the operation of bars and karaoke establishments must be enforced, including those opening during daytime hours, with ‘best procedures’ being used so as not to affect local residents.
The Ministry of the Interior has ordered the provincial authority to set up a special operations team in accordance with the province’s Social Order policy, and that all 100 licensed entertainment venues should be inspected. During several random inspections which have already taken place, as many as 10 venues have been found to pose risks to customers, similar to those in the Santika Pub in Bangkok which burned down last January, causing many deaths and injuries.
During the meeting, Chiang Mai Administration’s permanent secretary, Surachai Chongrak, stated that the Muang district of the city was known for its cooperation with officials regarding inspections of entertainment premises, and has invited all owners of such venues to discuss further cooperation in order to avoid any breaches of current laws.
The proposed opening of entertainment venues in front of Rajabhat Chiang Mai University will be discouraged, as it may create the wrong image for the institution, and unlicensed venues, when found, will be closed according to the law.
A team of lawyers is being established in order to deal with any objections to or claims against the closure of venues operating outside the law.


refugee villager seriously wounded from land-mine

Khajohn Boonpath
A resident from a Burmese refugee village in a border area near Mae Hong Son, inhabited by the Wa National and Shan State Armies, was seriously wounded when he stepped on a land-mine.
La Wun, 38, had been fishing on the evening of May 4 with friends near Huay Kha landing on the Salween River in the Ban Hua Muang Special Territory area in Shan State, Myanmar. On their way back to their home village through a forested area near the new strategic Doi Lan -Ta Sob Teng road, constructed along the eastern banks of the Salween River, La Wun stepped on an M-14 mine, which exploded and seriously damaged his ankle and foot. The area is known to have a high concentration of land-mines.
His friends carried the injured man to the border with Mae Hong Son, carefully avoiding Burmese soldiers, and arrived at approximately 10 p.m. on May 10, from where La Wun was taken to a Mae Hong Son hospital for treatment.


Japan provides funds for new Mae Taeng village bridge

CMM reporters
The Japanese government’s Grant Assistance for Grass Roots Human Security Projects (GGP) has provided the sum of 1,500,000 baht to rebuild a bridge in Mae Taeng, which was destroyed during severe floods in September 2004 when a local dam burst.
The resulting rush of water caused an avalanche of rocks and soil to sweep down on the area, causing severe damage and flooding, including the destruction of a bridge linking two villages. Although post-disaster reconstruction was implemented in the province, the sum provided did not cover the reconstruction of the bridge. Residents subsequently built a makeshift bridge with logs and bamboo; however, it was dangerously unstable and its replacement became a matter of urgency.
Having been made aware of the problem, GGP agreed to supply the necessary funds, and on May 14 Chiang Mai’s Japanese Consul-General, Junko Yokota, together with Wirach Thima, chief of the local administration, declared the rebuilt bridge open.
The new bridge will ensure safe passage between the two villages and convenient access to educational and medical facilities, as well as an exchange of people and products.
From now on, the local administration will be responsible for the maintenance of the bridge, and, in addition, a volunteer disaster prevention group organised by residents of both villages will monitor the water levels and cut grass on the river banks.


TAT Chiang Mai’s director expects increased tourism later in year

CMM reporters
The director of TAT’s Chiang Mai Office, Chalermsak Suranant, is expecting that, as 70% of visitors to the city are Thai, tourist numbers will begin to pick up as early as the second half of 2009 due to the easing of the political situation resulting in the cancellation of Bangkok’s state of emergency.

Chalermsak Suranant

He added that strong measures to promote international tourism were also being taken, including Chiang Mai’s Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) Roadshow to be held this month in South Korea with the cooperation of the central TAT office.
An innovative ’Je t’aime’ event will be held in Chiang Mai on June 18-22, involving both the local TAT and the Paris TAT offices, in which 15 couples will be invited to take their marriage vows in a special ceremony. For the event, actors and well-known writers from wedding magazines will be invited to attend.


Night Safari and Pattaya agree to joint tourism promotion

Chiang Mai Night Safari’s director of marketing and public relations, Panchak Bulsataporn (2nd left), meets with Pattaya City Mayor, Ittipon Khunpluem (2nd right) during Panchak’s visit to Pattaya to promote tourism in Chiang Mai.

CMM reporters
Chiang Mai Night Safari’s director of marketing and public relations, Panchak Bulsataporn, recently visited Pattaya’s Region 5 Travel Fest Season of the East to promote the Night Safari and the giant aquarium at Chiang Mai Zoo.
The Travel Fest, held between April 30 and May 3, featured twin package deals involving both Chiang Mai attractions, all of which were sold by the second day of the event.
In his speech, Panchak said his visit to the coastal tourist town was as a representative of the Night Safari, the Chiang Mai Tourism Business and the Chiang Mai Chamber of Commerce, and that his aim was to link the eastern, northern and , in the future, international tourism markets.
In his reply, the Pattaya City mayor, Ittipon Khunpluem, agreed to promote the tourist attractions of both regions, and to give his support to the establishment of flights between Chiang Mai and U-Tapao airports. He was also happy to promote Chiang Mai’s upcoming Grand Sale 2009, which will take place from May 31 to August 2, on Pattaya cable TV’s Good Life station.


Ancient Royal ploughing ceremony predicts abundant food, proper amount of water

The sacred oxen, Fah and Sai Oxen are guided by royal attendants during Royal Ploughing ceremonies held in Bangkok on 11 May.

AP Photos by Sakchai Lalit
Thailand’s traditional soothsayers predict an abundance of food production in the kingdom during the coming year, and a proper supply of water - with plentiful rice yields – after divining the signs indicated in the royal ploughing ceremony last Monday, marking the beginning of the planting season.
The ceremony was presided over by His Royal Highness Crown Prince Maha Vajiralongkorn, representing His Majesty King Bhumibol Adulyadej.

Secretary of Agriculture Jaranthada Kanasut leading the procession scatters sacred seed rice during Royal Ploughing ceremonies.
Permanent Secretary for Agriculture and Cooperatives Charanthada Kannasuta, who served in the Brahman ceremony from ancient India as the Lord of the Plough, was offered three pieces of folded cloth of different lengths and he selected one of medium length. Based on his selection, proper water supply, with plentiful food and rice were predicted.
The sacred oxen, Fah and Sai, ate grass and sesame seeds and the Brahmin seers accordingly interpreted the actions as meaning there will be an abundance of food and average water supply in the kingdom of Thailand during the coming year.
Charanthada is serving as the Lord of the Plough for the last time as he will retire at the end of September.
The royal ploughing ceremony is an ancient Indian Brahmanic rite, in which sacred oxen plough a furrow at the Sanam Luang ceremonial ground. The ceremony has been performed in Thailand since the Sukhothai period, some 700 years ago.
Four consecrated ladies carry gold and silver baskets filled with rice seed, which they scatter into the newly-ploughed furrow. Walking alongside the plough are official Brahmans from the royal court who are chanting and blowing conch shells. (TNA)

The sacred oxen, chose to eat grass and sesame seeds by which Brahmin
seers interpreted an abundance of food and average water.



Chiangmai Mail Publishing Co. Ltd.
189/22 Moo 5, T. Sansai Noi, A. Sansai, Chiang Mai 50210
THAILAND
Tel. 053 852 557, Fax. 053 014 195
Editor: 087 184 8508
E-mail: [email protected]
www.chiangmai-mail.com
Administration: [email protected]
Website & Newsletter Advertising: [email protected]

Copyright © 2004 Chiangmai Mail. All rights reserved.
This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

Advertisement