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HEADLINES [click on headline to view story]:

Happy Birthday HRH Princess Chulabhorn

Chiang Mai mayor stands down, promises to run for re-election

Scandinavian retirees targeted by Banana Paradise Marketing

Pesticide contamination endangers the lives of Northern elephants

Second official report on fatal Phuket air crash blames pilot error

The paedophilia presentation at Chiang Mai Friends’ Group meeting

Monday July 1st is a bank holiday in Thailand, all banks will be closed

Chiang Mai to become S.E Asia’s movie production hub

KNU border bases abandoned, Karen refugees forcibly repatriated

 

Happy Birthday HRH Princess Chulabhorn

(Photo courtesy of the Bureau of the Royal Household)

Peter Cummins,
Special Correspondent

Born on July 4, 1957, Her Royal Highness Princess Chulabhorn Walailak is the youngest daughter of Their Majesties King Bhumibol Adulyadej and Queen Sirikit of Thailand and herself has two daughters, the princesses Siribhachudhabhorn and Adityadhornkitikhun.
Princess Chulabhorn graduated from the Faculty of Science and Arts at Kasetsart University with a Bachelor of Science Degree in Organic Chemistry, First Class Honours, in 1979, following with a doctorate in 1985, being awarded a Doctor of Philosophy Degree in Organic Chemistry from Mahidol University in July of that year, capping off a record of excellent academic achievement.
In 1986, she was appointed as an Honorary Fellow of the Royal Society of Chemistry in London and was awarded the Einstein Gold Medal by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization. The following year, she undertook post-doctoral studies in Germany, and has since been a visiting professor at universities in Japan, Germany, and the United States, as well as holding Honorary Doctorates from nine universities around the world.
Her Royal Highness is chairperson of the working group on the Chemistry of Natural Products collaborative program between the Japanese Society for the Promotion of Science and the National Research Council of Thailand. HRH the Princess has received international recognition for her scientific accomplishments, resulting in her appointment to various United Nations posts, namely special advisor to the United Nations Environment Programme and member of the Special High-Level Council for the International Decade for Natural Disaster Reduction of the United Nations.

 

Chiang Mai mayor stands down, promises to run for re-election

Phitsanu Thepthong /Elena Edwards
At a recent press conference at the Municipality building, Chiang Mai Mayor Dr Duentemduang na Chiengmai told a large group of supportive and cheering people, including representatives of the local media, that she and the municipality’s administrators had followed the ongoing deliberations of the Election Commissioner, the Supreme Administrative Court, and the results from the Royal Decree with interest.

Dr Duentemduang na Chiengmai, pictured during her address to the Chiang Mai Friends’ Group, assuring her listeners that she would stand for re-election and continue her fight both for the city she loves and for all Kon Chiang Mai (People of Chiang Mai).
In her address, she announced that, ‘Today, I received an official letter from the Governor of Chiang Mai, Amornphan Nimanant; however, the content of the letter was unclear as regards the correct procedure. Therefore, after discussion with the municipality’s administrators, I decided that, as many urgent projects which would benefit the city and its residents have been put on hold due to the nature of this issue, to suspend my mayoral duties as from today’.
Dr Duentemduang stated that, since her election by the people of Chiang Mai, she has performed all her duties according to the relevant laws, rules and regulations which govern her office as Mayor. She noted that she had initiated many successful projects for the improvement of facilities and the benefit of the community.

Dr Duentemduang na Chiengmai, shown paying homage at the Buddhist shrine in the grounds of the Municipal Offices after her recent press conference.
As previously reported, during her 2003 election campaign, her qualifications as a candidate had been considered adequate according to the law; however, this was challenged in the courts by the opposition during the months following her landslide victory, leading to a battle over a previously set precedent, which has not, it seems, yet been resolved satisfactorily.
As a result of Dr. Duentemduang’s decision to stand down, a further mayoral election will be called. To enthusiastic applause, the ex-mayor announced that she was determined to stand for re-election, in order to continue her work for the city and its residents. She also stated that, if elected, she would inaugurate an anti-corruption campaign in order to ensure that government and municipal funds are used only to the benefit of Chiang Mai City.
Following her address, many cheering people crowded onto the podium with bouquets of flowers; Dr. Duentemduang was clearly touched by the support she had received, warmly thanking everyone. After paying her respects to the Municipality’s revered Buddha images and to the Spirit House and Buddhist shrine in the grounds, she left by car, having told reporters that she was determined to run for re-election.
The following day, June 25, Dr. Duentemduang was the guest of honour at the monthly meeting of the Chiang Mai Friends’ Group, held at JJ Markets. She began her address to the group by saying that she was happy to be able to relax at last amongst warm, good-hearted people, and continued by stating that those who were against her had not succeeded in their aim of forcing her out of Chiang Mai, the city of her birth, which she loves and which she has served to the best of her ability as mayor. ‘Although I am not yet certain of the date of the new mayoral election’, she said, ‘I will stand for re-election, and fight for the chance to honour the promises I have made to all Kon Chiang Mai (People of Chiang Mai). There are so many things yet to do, for the good of the city and all its residents; if I am re-elected, I will work honestly and hard, and continue to fight for what is right’.


Scandinavian retirees targeted by Banana Paradise Marketing

Phitsanu Thepthong
Long stay and retiree Scandinavians will soon have their own dedicated product supplier for hotels, resorts, condominiums, and second homes for rent or purchase.

CEO Helge Knosmoen
The Banana Paradise Marketing Co Ltd, part of the Banana Paradise Group, will open in Kad Suan Kaew at the end of July, and will present Banana Paradise Village, Banana Paradise Hotels and Banana Paradise Residences to this niche market. With a Thai Air flight now operating from Oslo to Bangkok, the company’s CEO, Helge Knosmoen and its president, Phakhaphol Laowkhajornpob, are forecasting a bright outlook for an increase in the number of visitors to Thailand from the Scandinavian countries.
As well as long stay and retiree assistance, Banana Paradise will be offering time-share deals of 2, 4 and 6 weeks over a three-year period, to give tourists a chance to sample the Thailand lifestyle in Chiang Mai, Koh Samui, Koh Tao and Krabi.. Banana Paradise Village in Chiang Mai’s San Kamphaeng district, established in conjunction with Fah Luang Housing Estate, will promote affordable quality homes and an array of other services including food, healthcare, housekeeping, transportation, and activities.

President Phakhaphol Laowkhajornpobb

To aid the company’s concept, joint venture projects are being developed with existing companies whose philosophies are similar.
In order to facilitate the service, all documentation, contracts, etc, will be in the client’s own language, and its representatives are also happy to offer assistance with obtaining ‘retirement’ visas for long –stay clients. Sales and management staff includes nationals from Scandinavia, England, Germany, France and USA as well as Thailand, and the company has 20 years of experience in the property market worldwide. For more information, please visit. www.2thaiparadise.eu


Pesticide contamination endangers the lives of Northern elephants

CMM reporters
Following the recently reported death of at least one elephant from eating vegetables contaminated by pesticides, a veterinarian from the Friends of the Asian Elephant Foundation has expressed his concern about the unregulated use of hazardous chemicals by northern growers.
Veterinarian Preecha Phuangkham, quoting the results of recent surveys in Chiang Mai, Chiang Rai, Lampang, Phrae and Tak provinces, stated that high levels of toxic chemicals were found in herbicides used by growers of rice, corn and cabbages. Supplies of grass, vegetables and water are being contaminated by over-use of weedkillers and pesticides, endangering the lives of elephants in the 5 provinces.
In a recent case, an elephant was found to have a serious problem with its nervous system; on examination at the Lampang Elephant Hospital, a high concentration of accumulated toxic chemicals was found in its body.
Preecha believes that many more elephants are suffering illnesses and the destruction of their immune systems caused by the excessive and uninformed use of fertilisers in the north, and that the severity of the problem is increasing daily. He has warned mahouts and elephant camp owners that they should be aware of the dangers of allowing their elephants to graze in areas where toxic chemicals are being used, and that they should also check the toxic content of feed supplied by growers.


Second official report on fatal Phuket air crash blames pilot error

CMM reporters
Earlier this year, this paper carried a report on findings by the Thai Department of Civil Aviation, (TCA), concerning the cause of the fatal One-Two-Go air crash which occurred at Phuket Airport during a tropical storm, resulting in the death of 90 passengers and crew, including the pilot and co-pilot.
The report condemned both One-Two-Go and its parent company, Orient Air, citing the lack of a proper maintenance system, the ignoring of regulations governing pilot flight hours, a lack of oversight by management on maintenance and safety issues, and falsified pilot proficiency test certificates. It also stated that mandatory safety training was not carried out and that no checks as to pilots’ familiarity with flight operations manuals were made. Subsequently, as a result of investigations into the report, European Union aviation authorities blacklisted One-Two-Go, banning the airline from European Union air space for safety reasons, and invalidating EU based passenger travel insurance for those using the airline in South East Asia.
Recently, a further TCA report on the cause of the crash was cited in the UK media as having been further delayed, causing questions to be asked in the UK parliament on behalf of 4 British passengers killed in the crash, whose inquests were not able to take place as a result of the delay.
Two weeks ago, a report finally appeared on the TCA’s website. It apparently contradicted much of the earlier report by placing the blame for the crash solely on pilot error and fatigue as the primary causes, with explanatory notes mentioning failure to follow standard operating procedure, failure to properly operate equipment, lack of co-ordination and inadequate reactions between the two pilots, and pilot fatigue. A brief mention was made of worsening weather conditions, no mention was made of incorrect maintenance, poor management oversight, or the breaking of aviation law regarding both pilot flying hours and other safety issues, all outlined in the first report.
However, the report did urge that One-Two-Go upgrade and intensify its flight and emergency training procedures, adjust its schedules to allow both pilots and cabin crew adequate rest periods, upgrade its safety management and actually encourage its employees to report infringements of aviation law and irregularities in the areas of safety and maintenance. It remains to be seen whether the report will be considered adequate to reassure travellers. One-Two-Go officials were not available for comment.


The paedophilia presentation at Chiang Mai Friends’ Group meeting

Elena Edwards
JJ Markets was the chosen venue for last week’s monthly Chiang Mai Friends’ Group’s meeting, and what a meeting it was! Beginning as usual with dinner, friends and Kon Chiang Mai both Thai and farang gathered in anticipation of a very significant presentation by Becky Lomax and Frank J.Weicks on the controversial and distressing subject of paedophiles and sex tourism.

Becky Lomax, shown during the presentation on paedophilia, given in conjunction with Frank J. Weicks during the recent meeting of the Chiang Mai Friends’ Group at JJ Markets.

Prior to the presentation, Duenpen Chaladlam, (Boong), the group’s president, began the meeting by welcoming all, and especially the guest of honour for the evening, Chiang Mai’s ex-mayor, Dr. Duentemduang na Chiengmai. The first topic concerned street elephants in the city, and included a request that anyone who saw mahouts begging with their elephants should immediately call either Boong on 085-037- 2048, or Anchalee Kalmapijit, the owner of Elephant Life Experience. The giant pachyderms are not suited to city streets, and efforts are being made to re-educate and relocate their mahouts to safer areas.
A request was also made that Friends, (and their friends), should submit their favourite recipes to Boong or to the Foundation for the Education of Rural Children, (FERC), who are cooperating in the printing and publication of the ‘Friends’ Cookbook’. The cookbook will be in English and Thai, with colour photos of the dishes; the proceeds of its sale will go to FERC. Ingredients should be easily available in Chiang Mai, and recipes should be sent in for publication by the beginning of October.
Becky Lomax and Frank J.Weicks are qualified professionals in the field of paedophilia, its causes and consequences, and have worked extensively for 30 years both in the USA and, for the last 10 years, in Thailand with specialist police and other dedicated teams. The focus of their presentation was to create awareness of paedophiles’ profiles, their modus operandi and their psychology, in the hope that recognition and identification of paedophiliac behaviour patterns in the community might help protect children. An extensive and exacting description of the ethnicity, habits and identifiable behaviour patterns of such men, (and, infrequently, women), was given, and included the means by which victims are lured and forced into illegal sex.
Paedophiles can be any nationality and any age – particularly since the introduction of Viagra onto the world market – an example of a 78-year old man from Pattaya, convicted but possibly not yet imprisoned, was given. All social and economic groups contain paedophiles, as do all occupations. They may be married or single, but will rarely have an extensive group of adult friends who do not seek sex with minors. They will, however, form a network with others of their persuasion, and often share victims.
Most paedophiles, however, have one characteristic in common – they are ‘collectors’, in the sense that they will hoard everything, and never throw anything away. They will often focus on poorer areas where street children congregate, and will use a number of recognisable strategies to entrap their victims. These range from offering money, (either to the child or its parents), buying presents and providing shelter and food, to appeals for assistance, (as in ‘please help me find my dog’), and enticements such as , ‘come inside, I have something special to show you’. All inducements are aimed at gaining the trust of the child; if the abuser is an authority figure such as a teacher, policeman or religious leader, it is difficult for a child to resist, particularly in societies where respect for authority is considered paramount.
Here in Asia, paedophiles are often found as volunteers in schools and foundations, both in towns and in rural districts. Another example, again from Pattaya, given by Becky, involved a paedophile who came to the kingdom as a missionary, thus gaining the trust of his victims.
Paedophiles strongly believe, even after they are caught – most of those arrested have already abused between 30 and 50 victims – that they are helping children in the sense of being surrogate parents. After sex has taken place, victims are trapped into continuing to allow the abuse by fear and threats of exposure to parents or teachers. When the abuser has no further use for a specific victim, the child will be discarded like a broken toy.
Sex tourism, which is responsible for several million visits to south-east Asia each year, brings with it many paedophiles who have researched suitable locations on the internet, through publications and through specialist travel agencies set up to serve their preferences. These agencies have contacts with accommodation and social venues such as bars and restaurants, and are able to, literally, provide paedophiles with all the information and services they require in their obsessive search for victims. Links also exist with human traffickers and child porn filmmakers and purveyors. It is estimated that profits from paedophilia and child porn, of which at least 20% involves violence and rape, are responsible for between 2 and 14% of the area’s gross domestic product.
Some reasons why south-east Asia is are favourite destination are obvious; some are lees so. Poverty, statelessness, lax or ill-defined laws, abandoned children, a lack of education and a lack of specific training in law-enforcement all exacerbate the problem, leaving young lives irrevocably damaged and abusers seldom reported or prosecuted. Victims are inevitably traumatised, with long-term post-traumatic stress disorder being a common reaction. Abused boys may become violent men, girls may be unable to form relationships and often drift into prostitution. Self-harm and depression are common effects of a history of sexual abuse as a child. Put quite simply, victims never truly recover; their lives are wrecked.
Members of the public who are concerned about suspected paedophiles operating in their area may contact Duenpen Chaladlam at the Chiang Mai Friends’ email address, [email protected] com , who then will contact the appropriate people. Perhaps we should also remember that, ‘All it needs for evil to triumph is for the good to do nothing’.


Monday July 1st is a bank holiday in Thailand, all banks will be closed

Wednesday, July 1 is the annual Mid-year closing of all banks. This is a bank holiday, and not a public holiday, so other offices and businesses will still be open. Many currency exchange booths will also be open, but all major bank branches will be closed for the day.


Chiang Mai to become S.E Asia’s movie production hub

CMM reporters
Following several previous reports that Chiang Mai is the next destination for movie moguls wanting to save on production costs, a Los Angeles – based property developer specialising in entertainment industry sites has expressed strong interest in developing a film studio complex close to the city.
Creative Kingdom Inc, which also has animation production facilities in Thailand and China, will work in conjunction with experienced local film producer Chris Lowenstein’s established production services company, Living Films, on the CNX Movie World Studios development, which should be completed within 3 years at an estimated cost of $250 million. Phases 2 and 3 will follow, to be completed within four years, and costing a further $4 million, with investments from property companies in the Middle East, South Africa and the US.
Creative Kingdom’s CEO, Eduardo Robles, stated that the project will serve as the hub of South-East Asia’s booming film industry, with 8 sound stages, workshops and post-production facilities. Creative Kingdom’s business development manager, Bernie Harrera, considers that Chiang Mai has good weather, better economics than Bangkok, and an international airport which improves logistics and communications, adding that Thailand doesn’t have enough state-of-the-art studios, and what studios it has are mostly in the south.
The Thai government is committed to prioritising an increase in the number of international productions as part of its film development programme. Hollywood movies such as ‘Rambo’ and ‘Street Fighter’ were among the 56 foreign films that were shot in the country last year.


KNU border bases abandoned, Karen refugees forcibly repatriated

CMM Reporters
Following the displacement of thousands of Karen nationals during the escalation of the conflict along the Thai/Burmese border, Karen National Union, (KNU), sources have indicated that troops of its military wing, the Karen National Liberation Army, (KNLA), will be withdrawn from its bases in the area.
The decision was made as a result of information that troops from the Democratic Karen Buddhist Army, (DKBA), a breakaway group from the KNLA now allied with the Burmese Army, have been ordered to fight on the frontline, while Burmese troops stay at the rear and support with mortar fire. The order would have resulted in Karen fighting Karen, and the loss of many men. Karen sources state that guerrilla tactics will be used against the combined Burmese/ DKBA force in future.
It has been reported that the DKBA has been ordered by the Burmese regime to locally recruit soldiers to act as border guard militia, and to clear all KNLA military bases in the area in preparation for the upcoming 2010 general election
Meanwhile, many of the 4,000- plus Karen refugees who fled across the border into Thailand are being forced by the Thai authorities to return to Burma, according to local sources. The Karen Women Organisation, (KWO), issued a statement last week saying it was deeply concerned about the repatriation of Karen families and appealing for international action to help the refugees. Aid groups, including the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, and Thai authorities are now discussing the problem.     
 KWO Secretary Dah Eh Kler said, ‘Thai authorities should at least wait and assess the situation. Forcing these people to return during the rainy season to places where they still have every reason to fear for their lives is inhuman and a violation of their rights’, adding that the repatriated Karen faced human rights abuses, rape and even death. Two women, aged 17 and 18, were caught by Burmese army soldiers in Kwee Law Plo village in Pa-an district when their husbands fled into the jungle. The soldiers raped and then murdered the women, one of whom was pregnant.