Happy Birthday HRH Princess Soamsawalee
Chiang Mai Mail joins the people of
Thailand to humbly wish Her Royal Highness Princess Soamsawalee a very Happy
Birthday Monday July 13. (Photo courtesy of the Bureau of the Royal
One month old! Lin Hui’s baby is focus of celebrations at the zoo
Lin Hui, Chiang Mai Zoo’s seven-year-old giant
panda mother cuddles
her five-week-old cub. (AP Photo/Wichai Taprieu)
Lin Hui’s baby was the focus of much celebration by Chiang Mai Zoo
executives, officials and employees on June 27, exactly one month after she
To start the day, Chiang Mai Zoo’s assistant president, Nipon Wichairat,
bearing a large ‘panda birth certificate’, took part in an anointing and
blessing ceremony led by Koo Ba-noi Tespanyo at Wat Sri Don Moon. Later, the
zoo’s president, Sopon Dumnui, led a large group including members of his
staff, specialists from China, and representatives from Chiang Mai and Mae
Ho Universities who had been involved in the birth, in a run around the zoo.
Most of the 100- plus participants had taken a vow, before Lin Hui’s
pregnancy by artificial insemination had been attempted, that if a
successful live birth resulted from their efforts, they would make the run.
In the afternoon, a huge 100 lb-500 slice birthday cake, decorated with
photos of the panda cub from birth to 1 month old and views of Chengdu city,
Chiang Mai and the new snow dome was brought out by Peung Noi Bakery. After
the candles were blown out, everyone sang ‘Happy Birthday’ to the little
cub, and 30 lucky people with the same date of birth were allowed to see the
new arrival for the first time.
In his speech, Sopon said the panda’s birth was an accomplishment made
possible only through cooperation and research amongst scholars from a
number of different educational institutions. CMU, for example, helped with
Lin Hui’s health and hormone check-ups; Kasetsart University took care of
the sperm, and Mae Jo University helped with pregnancy tests and the
insemination itself. He reported that the newborn panda’s overall health is
good; she now weighs 1,500 grams, and is 33 cm. long. Her hair is starting
to grow longer, and her eyes should begin to open in around 2 weeks’ time.
The new Chinese Consul-General in Chiang Mai, Dr. Shu Weiming, told the
crowd that he was very happy to have seen the baby panda with his own eyes,
adding that, although China has many pandas, this was the first time he had
been close to one. He believed that the baby panda will bring good luck to
Chiang Mai, as well as bringing China and Thailand closer together.
The Zoological Park Organization of Thailand, in association with the Thai
Post Office, recently announced the four names selected for the final naming
contest – Kwan Thai, Lin Ping, Thai Chine and Ying Ying. All Thai people may
vote for their favourite by sending the specifically-designed postcards
marked with their choices by the closing date of August 5, with the winner
being announced August 12. The winning name will be given to the panda cub,
and everyone who voted for that name will be able to take part in a grand
draw for a prize of 1 million baht and a car.
Sopon Dumnui, the president of Chiang Mai Zoo,
shown here leading the children in singing ‘Happy Birthday’ to the 1
month-old cub and blowing out the candles.
American paedophile arrested in Chiang Mai
At 4 p.m on July 1 at Chiang’s Provincial Police Region 5
headquarters, Pol.Lt.Col. Apichart Haptasin announced that US citizen,
Robert Ward Cutler, 37, had been arrested on charges of paedophilia
involving at least 5 young boys under the age of 15 years, the most recent
victim being 13 years old.
Ward Cutler, an American citizen who had been working as a guest lecturer
and researcher in Chiang Mai, shown being questioned by police after his
arrest for sexual abuse of underage boys.
At the time of his arrest, the accused was working as a guest lecturer and
researcher at a university in Chiang Mai. Previously, Cutler, a Fulbright
scholar, had taught at Bard College in New York. A search of the his rented
house in Muang district resulted in the seizure of a laptop computer, boxes
of pornographic CDs and sex toys for use during anal intercourse.
Police were initially alerted to Cutler’s identity, place of work and crimes
by the Australian police in Thailand, and subsequently contacted the
Foundation of Child Development. Cooperation then took place between Region
5’s Office of Protection against Transnational Crime and other relevant
organisations, including Rights of the Child in America and Australia, which
resulted in Cutler’s interrogation and subsequent arrest.
Government aid scheme for
public service employees begins
On July 2, Chiang Mai’s Office of Local Administration began
distributing the 2000 baht aid cheques promised recently by the Thai
government to public service employees. The cheques are intended to help
ease the cost of living burden for Thai people who work in local or
deputy Chiang Mai governor, Chumporn Saengmanee, pictured handing the
cheques to a representative of the Chiang Mai Provincial Administrative
Recipients of the grants will include 148 employees of the Chiang Mai
Provincial Administrative Organisation, 316 from the Chiang Mai City
Municipality, 54 from Chiang Mai’s Local Administration, 1080 from the
Chiang Mai Municipality of Muang and 1718 from the Local Administration
Organisation. In addition, 357 retirees from the Chiang Mai Provincial
Administration Organisation also received cheques. In total, 7,346,000 baht
will be distributed.
The deputy Chiang Mai governor, Chumporn Saengmanee, thanked the Office of
Local Administration for its efficiency in handling the distribution, and
requested that the cheques be immediately passed on to the local
organisations for distribution. He hoped that the grants will be spent in a
manner which will benefit the local economy, but reminded beneficiaries not
to be extravagant.
Record fall in exports during
May due to weak demand
and intensifying competition
As demand for goods manufactured in Thailand continues to slow, a
record fall in exports during May has led analysts to believe that a strong
rebound in the near future is unlikely, with weak demand and intensifying
competition taking a long-term toll on the economy.
Standard Chartered Bank’s Suara Wilaipich has linked the lack of demand for
imports of raw materials to a prolonged downturn for exporters, whose
businesses normally account for 60% of Thailand’s economic activity.
Recently released figures for May indicate that exports fell by 26% from
last year, and imports dropped by 34%. The situation has not been helped by
a comparative drop in visitor numbers and a lack of confidence due to
political unrest and uncertainty.
Earthquake disaster mitigation training held in Chiang Mai
Pictured are deputy director-general of
operations at the Department of Disaster Prevention and Mitigation,
Srisombat Pornprasidhi, ( left), and the deputy governor of Chiang Mai,
Phairoj Saengphuwong, presiding over the opening ceremony.
On June 29, the deputy director-general of operations at the
Department of Disaster Prevention and Mitigation, Srisombat
Pornprasidhi, together with the deputy governor of Chiang Mai, Phairoj
Saengphuwong, presided over the opening ceremony of a command post
exercise held at the Disaster Prevention and Mitigation Academy.
The aim of the exercise was to train staff in coping with an earthquake
disaster in the Chiang Mai area.
Srisombat Pornprasidhi, in his opening address, noted that, as the
terrain of Chiang Mai province is mostly mountainous, if a severe
earthquake occurs it will cause major damage over a wide area. Tall
buildings and public utilities including electricity, water supply,
transportation and roads could be severely damaged by tremors, and dams
and reservoirs could be damaged or destroyed. The training exercise is
essential in ensuring that government organisations will be able to
handle the situation systemically and successfully, and that local
residents could rely on assistance in the eventuality of a severe
Continuous heavy downpours are also a problem in the Chiang Mai area
during the rainy season, as they could cause landslides and settlement
of soil. If the amount of rain per day exceeds 100 millilitres over a
long period of time, the soil will not be able to absorb the excess
water and flooding will occur. As a result, rain measurement meters are
to be installed, which will warn householders that the safe level of
rainfall has been exceeded over a period of several days. Training
exercises will also take place in the local villages considered most
likely to be at risk.
11 northern villages receive awards for pollution control
Director-general of the Pollution
Control Department, Dr Supat Wangwongpatta, 6th right, pictured
with village representatives during the awards presentation
ceremony at the Imperial Mae Ping Hotel.
In a bid to control the worsening pollution levels in
the north of Thailand, the government’s Pollution Control
Department, (PCD), recently enlisted the help of local villagers
in a number of provinces in a campaign to reduce uncontrolled
burning and wildfires in rural areas.
As a result of their efforts, on June 30, 11 northern villages
received ‘Decontaminated Community Role Model’ awards at a
ceremony held at Chiang Mai’s Imperial Mae Ping Hotel. The PCD’s
director-general, Supat Wangwongwattana, presiding over the
ceremony, said in his opening address that a major contributing
factor to pollution was the unchecked burning of agricultural
and other refuse. The resultant smog, he added, caused health
problems in the community and was detrimental to tourism. The
project, as well as raising awareness of the serious nature of
the problem, had trained village volunteers to watch for
incidents of burning and prevent the spread of the flames.
The villages which received the awards ranged from Khor Klang in
Chiang Mai’s Mae On district, Ban Koh in Chiang Rai, , Ban Huai
San in Mae Hong Son, Ban Sam Kha in Lampang, Ban Pan Pong Chai
in Lampang, Ban Ta Pa Pao in Lamphun, Ban Wo in Phayao, Ban
Pancherng in Phrae, Ban Wang Khong and Ban Sorden Pattana in
Nan, to Ban Kwao in Sukhothai. Criteria for the selection
included the strength of each community’s leader, the enthusiasm
of the villagers for the project, the control of burning in the
village and its surrounding areas, and the ongoing maintenance
of awareness campaigns.
Following the awards, the project was officially closed by
Supat, who recommended that villagers continue their good work
for the environment and the health of the community.
Annual international anti-drugs day sparks government policy update
The government’s new ‘5 fences’ anti-drugs strategy, unveiled by
Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva on June, 26, international anti-drugs
day, was quoted at Chiang Mai’s own anti-drugs event held on the same
day. The 5 ‘fences’ of the campaign against drug smuggling, dealing and
use are borders, communities, society, schools and the family. According
to Abhisit, border ‘fences’ would prevent illicit drugs from being
smuggled into the country; community ‘fences ‘would strengthen villages
and communities; and society ‘fences’ would rid society of the risks
associated with the drugs trade, and strengthen it by promoting creative
activities for youngsters. School ‘fences’ would prevent drug use at
schools. Finally, family ‘fences’ would strengthen families and
encourage them to take better care of each other.
The Chiang Mai event, entitled, .To Be Number1’, was inaugurated by the
deputy Chiang Mai governor Chumporn Saengmanee, and organised at
the Lanna Polytechnic College by the Chiang Mai Educational
Service’s Area Office 1 in conjunction with the Office of Narcotics
Control Region 5 and Chiang Mai anti-drug organisations. Aimed mainly at
students and young people, the event stressed the harm drug usage causes
to the individual and the community. All local organisations,
educational institutions and students were encouraged to participate in
anti-drug campaigns and projects based on the new ‘5 fences’ government
strategy. Jurin Laksanawisit, the minister of education sent a note to
all educational institutions emphasizing his request for administration
members, teachers and students to watch for drug problems and keep
schools and universities drug-free.
Activities at the event also focused on other harmful activities and
included burning cigarettes and pornography and pouring alcoholic drinks
into drains. A ‘5-a-side’ football match was enjoyed, as were a
‘three-legged race’, stage performances and contests, including
traditional and contemporary Thai song competitions. Anti-drug
activities for children in the walking street were a feature, as was a
basic computer knowledge competition and a ‘Be Number 1’ contest. The
event organisers are optimistic that the spread of knowledge about the
danger of drugs will help protect the community.
Calling All Angels- a Marathon
for Elephant Nature Park
48 year old Englishman Ray Martin is in Chiang Mai until October,
undertaking a gruelling 26 week training programme that will ensure he
is ready to take part in his first ever marathon, in New York on
November 1. He can be seen very early most mornings on the track,
building up the kilometres around Huay Thong Tao or working at the gym
with his coach Matt Campbell. Ray is doing the marathon to raise badly
needed money for three worthy causes, one of which is the Elephant
Nature Park in Chiang Mai. His ‘Calling All Angels’ fundraising campaign
was officially launched on 4th July.
all Angels’ campaigner Ray Martin from the UK, training here in Chiang
Mai for the New York Marathon, is planning to raise money to donate to
the Elephant Nature Park by running in the race.
This is not the first time that Ray has dedicated himself to raising
money by taking on a serious physical challenge. ‘The last time was in
2004, when I went to India to ride a Royal Enfield motorcycle from dawn
to dusk for seven days across 2,000 kilometres of roads, hills and
scrubland’, he says, adding that it was an amazing experience for him,
which raised thousands of pounds for charity.
Not many people know that Ray has secretly harboured a goal for several
years. This goal is to successfully complete a marathon before
he reaches the age of 50. ‘My goal is to complete the race in four hours
and create a $6,500 dollar fund to help my chosen organisations.
Obviously, I would be thrilled if it were possible to raise more than
this and with your readers’ help, I am certain we can, as I am praying
that people’s hearts will be truly touched by what they read on my
website and that everyone will be as generous as they possibly can in
these difficult economic times’, said the ambitious runner.
Ray is raising money for the Elephant Nature Park to support the efforts
of Lek Chailert. ‘She founded this project and is a tiny, courageous
Thai woman who is one of the world’s great ‘unknown’ heroines, although
I am certain this is about to change’, says Ray. ‘Lek’s aim has always
been to provide a sanctuary and rescue centre for distressed elephants.
My girlfriend took me there last year and what I discovered was both
profound and disturbing in equal measure. Elephants are only of interest
to their owners for commercial gain and consequently, they are
frequently beaten, drugged, abused and made to suffer considerable
stress and pain from being overworked. Young elephants have their
spirits broken by humans in order to make them obedient - a cruel and
inhumane practice that has been the tradition for hundreds of years.
These animals are offered no protection whatsoever by the government and
there is very little motivation to change the status quo as many people
make their living through the exploitation of these creatures’, he
explained. ‘Lek Chailert is changing all of this and putting herself at
considerable risk in order to do so. I really want to support her to
continue the amazing work she is doing in creating what she refers to as
a ‘Heaven for Elephants’. I implore your readers to make a donation to
our ‘Calling All Angels’ campaign and help make sure these wonderful
animals will be safe from harm for years to come’.
If anyone would like to speak to Ray about any aspect of his
campaign, you can email him at [email protected] thedailyexplorer.com or call on
089-000-2633. Donations can be made online at www.thedailyexplorer.com.
If anyone would like to go running with Ray, please get in touch!
Burma’s economy from past
to the ‘desolate present’
By CMM reporter.
Despite Burma’s one time world pre-eminence in terms of world rice
production and its vast natural resources, there is only a glimmer of
hope for any economic progress that would help the ordinary people of
the country under the present regime.
That was the inevitably pessimistic conclusion drawn at the end of a
stimulating lecture by Dr. Sean Turnell, a world authority on the
history of Burma’s economy, given last week at Payap University. His
wide ranging talk, entitled Banks, Moneylenders and Microfinance,
covered the period from the rule of the British, through the post WW 2
years which saw the emergence of a free state (1948 to 1962) with its
comparative freedom and economic optimism, and the period, from ’62,
when the military coup ushered in what he described as the ‘Road to
Ruin’ and the now ‘Desolate Present’
.The presently beleaguered country was, in the period from around 1850
until the end of the 19th century, the ‘rice bowl’ of the British
Empire. In that period of considerable investment, wealth was built on a
combination of land, labour and capital, provided in the main by
Chattiahs, who, despite being moneylenders, charged comparatively modest
interest. Investment and migration from India was an important aspect of
the progress made. This was in marked contrast to the present regime’s
neglect of the infrastructure and their system, introduced around 1972,
whereby rice growers were paid up front for the would – be harvest. By
1989 the interest rate charged on such ‘loans’ had risen to over 700 %.
Dr. Turnell described the economic and social upheaval of the past
decades under the military regime as ‘an extreme view of Stalinism.’
This was in contrast to the period from 1948 when the progressive
government gradually moved into one of ‘modified socialism’, in keeping
with the social attitudes of the times. There had been comparative
economic stability, helped to some extent by the British, preceded by a
couple of decades when Burma had suffered greatly from the effects of
the Great Depression, through much of the twenties and early 1930s.
Although things had begun to improve, the devastation caused by WW11,
(Burma along with Greece was the country which suffered the most
physical damage of any occupied country), under the Japanese from 1942
onwards led to another collapse.
The occupying force had introduced it s own currency, which in 1945 had
become completely worthless. There had been an over ambitious attempt to
rebuild Burma, notably during the 1950s, which had heralded the military
coup and the eventual ‘insatiable demands’ of the state. The many years,
especially the early ones, of steady development of the countryside were
replaced by a complete lack of investment, with only one bank allowed to
provide finance and even that capped at 5 % of any one project. People
were now in massive debt. Economic development was minimal and the
official exchange rate against the dollar was 6, whereas on the ‘open
market’ the rate was over 1000. People depended on meager earnings
supplemented by two systems of ‘income’. The first came in the form of
remittances from friends and family abroad and came largely in the
informal method called Hundi, which relies on the transfer of funds from
abroad into Burma. The other reliance was upon the NGOs and various
charities operating with varying degrees of supervision from the
authorities and the consequently varying degrees of efficiency because
The only ray of hope stemmed from microfinance, which although costly to
deliver (a 32 dollar loan needed 11 dollars to administer) was helping
some 300,000 people in Burma. Once again the authorities interfered, but
these very small amounts were often enough to relieve poverty, via the
provision of fertiliser, tools etc. Repayment was also costly but the
increased revenue offset this. The loans went to small co-operatives and
individuals, most often women who were more careful with the money and
repayments, and were leading – as in many other countries- to the
empowerment of the poorer members of the population, through a measure
What remained was a lack of real investment benefiting the general
population. China was the main contributor in terms of macro investment,
but this was mainly in the development of piping and building to
facilitate the supplies of gas into China. That country and India were
the beneficiaries of such investment. Other countries were either
reluctant to invest because of the regime, which sold off resources
including jade and rubies, or were restricted by sanctions against the
regime and specific individuals. Dr Turnell, from McQarrie University in
Sydney, Australia, concluded, during question time, by saying that he
could see both sides of the argument in respect of sanctions. They were
to some extent an artificial barrier to prospective investment since few
businesses would seek to lend money to the regime. He was aware that
President Obama was considering a change in the policy of the United
States, in the hope of opening a dialogue. But on a recent visit to
Washington he had found that the present situation and the ongoing trial
of Aung San Suu Kyi had meant that any progress was – for now- off the
Dr Turnell’s lecture was part of Payap University’s ongoing series of
talks and discussions about political, social and economic aspects of S.