Happy Royal Birthday
HRH Crown Prince Maha Vajiralongkorn
(Photo courtesy Bureau of the Royal Household)
His Royal Highness Crown Prince Maha Vajiralongkorn was born on July 28,
1952, in the Ambara Villa of the Royal Dusit Palace in Bangkok, the second
of four children, and the only son of Their Majesties King Bhumibol
Adulyadej the Great and Queen Sirikit.
He received His primary schooling at Udorn Hall in the Dusit Palace and
attended secondary schools in Sussex and Somerset, England. In August 1970,
he attended the King’s School, Paramatta, Sydney, and in 1976, He received a
Bachelor of Arts degree in Military Studies at the University of New South
Wales. The Crown Prince also attended the Royal Thai Army Command and
General Staff College, graduating in 1978, and later received a Bachelor of
Law degree from Sukhothai Thammatirat University in Bangkok in 1987. In
1990, He successfully attended the Royal College of Defense Studies in the
His Majesty King Bhumibol Adulyadej conferred his son with the title of
‘Somdech Phra Borama Orasadhiraj Chao Fah Maha Vajiralongkorn Sayam
Makutrajakuman’ on December 28, 1972, making him the Crown Prince and Heir
to the throne.
Subsequently, He attended numerous military training courses in Australia
and the United States, including helicopter and high performance aircraft
flight training, special warfare training, demolition training, parachute
training, and courses in small arms and other weapons used in modern
warfare, together with observation tours in England, Belgium, Germany,
France and the Netherlands. Assignments include Commanding Officer of the
King’s Own Bodyguard Regiment and Command, Commanding General of the Royalty
Security Command, and Instructor Pilot of the F-5 E/F. He has engaged in
actions for counter-insurgency purposes in the North and Northeast areas of
Thailand as well as for protective purposes in areas around Cambodian
refugee camps at Khao Lant, Trat Province.
The Crown Prince has continued the Royal Family’s assistance programmes in
underdeveloped areas around the country and visited depressed urban areas
around Bangkok distributing food and necessities to people in need. Another
impressive undertaking was His participation in a fertiliser preparation
project in Suphan Buri Province using natural ingredients to enrich the land
in support of the country’s great agricultural pursuits. Farming is
considered to be a highly significant and noble profession in Thailand and
the Royal Family takes an active role in advancing the vital industry of
HRH Crown Prince Vajiralongkorn and Mom Srirasmi Mahidol are the proud
parents of HRH Prince Dipangkorn Rasmijoti, born on April 29 at 6:35 p.m. at
Sriraj Hospital in Bangkok. It is the couple’s first child.
Massive Taiwanese-led phone scam uncovered, 94 arrests
A group of alleged fraudsters arrive at the
for interrogation before being transported to Bangkok.
Officers from the Central Investigation Bureau, the Tourist Police
and the Highway Police raided 11 rented homes on up-market Chiang Mai
housing estates on July 21, arresting a total of 94 transnational gang
members who had been running an international money transfer scam estimated
to have netted them at least 23 billion baht. 3 million baht’s worth of
Thai, Taiwanese and Chinese currencies, together with assets worth more than
40 million baht, were seized.
The successful raid was the culmination of an investigation into a number of
Chinese and Taiwanese suspects over several years, and was prompted by
information gained as a result of the recent arrest of a gang of Chinese
fraudsters in Bangkok who were part of the same operation.
The fraudsters had rented houses for use as call centres, and hired young
Chinese women will good telephone manners to cold-call victims in China,
Taiwan and Hong Kong using prepared scripts. The scam was two-fold, and
involved online money transfers to the gang, either as a fee for claiming
non- existent winnings, tax rebates or social service repayments, or in the
case of foreign owners of Thai businesses, in payment for business services
such as tax, business registry and legal advice which never materialised.
Amongst the assets seized during the raid were computer equipment,
telephones, copies of the scripts used by the fraudsters to con their
victims, and a safe containing currency. The accused have been transported
to Bangkok for a press conference and further questioning; charges against
them will be brought at a later date, as police investigations are still
Young Chinese women who had been working on the
phone scam in various Chiang Mai rented homes, pictured at the police
station after their arrest.
Tour guides’ ‘pot’
plantation destroyed in police raid
During the raid on the illegal plantation in Pai
district, soldiers are shown cutting down the marijuana bushes prior to
A force comprising members of the Pai district police, volunteers
and troops raided a marijuana plantation 34 kilometres from Pai town on July
17, destroying 620 plants and seizing 100 kilogrammes of the drug. The
plantation, located near Ban Khun Mae Yah, is in an area well known for the
illegal growing of marijuana, and has been previously raided on 5 occasions
by police and drug enforcement officers. .
force comprising members of police, volunteers, and troops are seen
destroying / burning the marijuana a plants in Mae Hong Son.
On further investigation, it was found that the plantation was set up by
tourist guides, who had smuggled the plants from Nakhon Panom province.
Villagers were hired to grow the bushes, camouflaged amongst other plants.
The drug has proved popular with visitors to the area, who were offered a
special inclusive service by the tour guides. The 100 kilogrammes of
marihuana which was seized has since been destroyed.
HRH Princess Sirindhorn to preside over Wat Chan Hospital opening in Mae Chaem
Chiang Mai residents are invited to welcome Her Royal Highness
Princess Sirindhorn on her upcoming visit to the province on August 6 to
open a newly-built community hospital in Mae Chaem district, Chiang Mai in
honour of His Majesty the King’s 80th anniversary.
The 10–bed Wat Chan Hospital was constructed with a budget from the Ministry
of Public Health and donations from private individuals, and aims to provide
family medicine services, disease control services and primary and secondary
treatments to the population in 3 isolated sub-districts of Mae Chaem.
Donations can still be made to the development fund; any persons who give
more than 10,000 baht will be given the opportunity to meet with the
Chemical used to manufacture narcotics seized after tip-off
Large quantities of a precursor chemical used in the production of
illegal narcotics hidden in cans of corn seed have been seized by Phayao
Following a tip-off that a truck containing narcotics en route from Chai
Prakhan district in Chiang Mai province to a port in Chon Buri would pass
through Phayao, local police set up a checkpoint in the city’s Muang
district. At 3.20 a.m. last Thursday, a truck driven by Wachara Sisawai, 40,
was stopped and searched. The chemical was found hidden inside specially
designed cans containing corn seed. After the arrest of the driver, a blood
test revealed that he had taken drugs.
Police are now tracking the source of the cans, which were to be shipped to
Dubai in the United Arab Emirates, using the manufacturers’ and shippers’
affixed labels. Samples of the chemical have been sent for further
examination at a Bangkok laboratory.
Montfort and Regina Coeli Marching Bands win 2 international gold medals!
‘We did it, twice, and we’re home!’
Celebrations with fellow-musicians, friends, colleagues and families
after the combined marching bands’ victorious return to Chiang Mai.
As a further demonstration of the amazing talent amongst
youngsters here in Chiang Mai, the combined marching bands of Montfort
and Regina Coeli Colleges, whose ‘rehearsal’ concert was a huge success
at CMU’s convention centre recently, won 2 gold medals last week at the
16th World Music Contest held in Kerkrade, Netherlands.
The fist gold medal, won on July 18 with a score of 85.68 points, was in
the Marching Band Contest World Division; the very next day the combined
bands went on to win another gold in the Show Contest World Division
Corps category, scoring 86.64 points! If that doesn’t demonstrate that
Chiang Mai’s musical young people are among the best in the world, what
The overjoyed 80 students and 14 teachers arrived back in their home
city on July 23, to a rapturous welcome by their schools, parents and
friends, and yet another celebratory and very loud traditional drum
performance from the College of Performing Arts, who must, over the last
several weeks, be quite used to playing at Chiang Mai International
Airport for triumphant winners!
According to the director of Montfort College, Bro. Mesak
Wongprachanukul, the students’ amazing double victory was due to their
constant and consistent practice over the 4 months prior to the
international competition. He added that young people who play musical
instruments seem to gain a high degree of concentration, discipline and
a sense of emotional appreciation as well as enjoyment from their
practice. Plus, (and many congratulation go to the young musicians and
their teachers), 2 gold medals!
A special concert by the combined bands is being arranged, to take place
at the 700-Year Stadium, hopefully in the very near future, so that all
Chiang Mai will have a chance to enjoy their music and congratulate them
on their stunning achievement. Definitely a ‘don’t miss’occasion!
Don’t they look great! The combined marching
bands of Montfort and Regina Coeli Colleges during their performance at
the international World Music Contest in the Netherlands, at which they
won 2 gold medals
Chiang Mai University hosts eclipse-viewing event
On July 22, Chiang Mai University’s Faculty of Science,
in association with the National Astronomical Research Institute
of Thailand, hosted a solar eclipse-viewing event at the rugby
ground in front of the CMU campus.
ongoing eclipse of the sun, as seen by students and invited
Chiang Mai residents at CMU last Wednesday
Students and invited Chiang Mai residents arrived from 7 a.m. to
view the eclipse; by 8 a.m. the cloud cover had cleared and the
eclipse was visible. Everyone was glad they had waited to get a
According to information from the Thai Astronomical Society,
this year’s solar eclipse was special because the moon got
closest to the earth while the sun stayed farthest away, which
caused the moon to look larger than the sun from the earth’s
perspective. This was the reason why this eclipse was the 21st
century’s longest total solar eclipse, lasting 6 minutes and 39
seconds as seen from India, China, Japan and the South Pacific
Ocean areas. As for Chiang Mai, the partial solar eclipse was
seen form 7:02 a.m; at 8:03 a.m. it reached its peak at 63 % and
ended at 9:12 a.m. In Chiang Rai, the eclipse was seen at 69%.
At the event, a live broadcast via internet of the total solar
eclipse from China was shown, and telescopes and eyewear made of
film, plus information about the phenomenon, were provided for
For those who missed this year’s solar eclipse, next year they
can join in to observe another one on January 15. An annular
solar eclipse will be visible in Africa, Indian Ocean and the
south of India, Sri Lanka, Myanmar and China. A partial solar
eclipse will be visible in Thailand, with Chiang Mai residents
able see the moon cover 73% of the sun at around 2:30 p.m. to
4:58 p.m. For those who are not aware, a solar eclipse is a
natural phenomenon which occurs when the earth, the moon and the
sun line up, and as the moon is between the earth and the sun,
it covers the sun and the earth gets dark behind the moon’s
CMU students pictured watching the
eclipse through protective shields to avoid eye damage from the
More amphetamines seized in Tachilek
Just days after the massive drugs haul of heroin and
amphetamines in Tachilek, a further 150,000 amphetamine tablets have
been seized in the town by Burmese anti-drugs forces. The illegal drugs
were found at a local football field; the owners of the stash have not
yet been traced.
Recently, seizures of illegal drugs in the Tachilek/Mae Sai area of the
border have increased considerably. Tachilek town is a major departure
point from Burma, with large numbers of Burmese migrant workers crossing
daily to seek work in Thailand. Earlier this year, 89 kilogrammes of
heroin were found in a container on the Singaporean-flagged ship Kota
Tegap, berthed at the city’s Asia World Port Terminal.
According to a report from the US State Department, the majority of
illegal drugs produced in Burma are destined for Thailand, with experts
from United Nations and the USA stating that Burma is listed as the
second largest producer of heroin in the world after Afghanistan.
Suvarnabhumi duty-free scam scares off tourists
After a number of confirmed reports of a scam operating within
duty-free shops at Bangkok’s Suvarnabhumi International Airport, foreign
embassies in Thailand’s capital city are beginning to warn their
nationals to avoid the outlets.
Reports that up to150 foreign travellers during the last year have been
arrested, unjustly accused of shoplifting, threatened with long jail
sentences, their passports confiscated, and only allowed to leave
Thailand on payment of a large ‘fine’, are scaring off tourists, already
reluctant to include the kingdom in their travel plans because of
political uncertainty, violence and visa difficulties.
Following a report from a young Danish tourist that, having unknowingly
crossed the unmarked boundary line of the shop, she had been arrested
for shoplifting by airport police whilst holding a lipstick and showing
it to her travelling companion, the Danish Embassy in Bangkok initiated
the warnings. Other embassies are now following suit.
The young woman is reported to have told embassy officials that police
were ‘aggressive and suggested that the easiest way to settle the matter
would be to pay a large fine’. As a result, the Danish Embassy, although
not prepared to discuss the matter, is now suggesting that nationals be
very careful when entering the duty free areas as there is a risk of
being arrested and charged. In the case of this happening, Danes are
being advised to refuse to pay any ‘fines’ demanded, and to contact the
embassy as soon as possible.
This latest report follows the case, in April this year, of two UK
tourists, both IT specialists, who were arrested after security guards
had searched their baggage, having accusing them of stealing a designer
wallet. No wallet was found during the search, but security personnel
insisted that the couple had been identified taking the wallet on CCTV.
The couple were told they would have to pay £7,500 or face a court
hearing and imprisonment, locked in a filthy cell after they had been
questioned, and later transferred to a small hotel outside the hotel’s
A translator, supposedly working with the police was assigned; the
following morning the couple were taken to the office of the local
police commander, where, according to them, all that was discussed was
how much they should pay to have the charges dismissed. They were told
that, if they did not pay, they would be taken to prison to await a
court hearing, and were then allowed back to the hotel.
The following day, they managed to contact the British Embassy, who
assigned them a Thai lawyer and told them that they were classic victims
of a ‘zig zag’ scam which had been operating in the airport for some
while. The couple finally paid the amount demanded, and were allowed to
leave Thailand with a document stating that there was insufficient
evidence to charge them. Back home in the UK, they are investigating the
possibility of legal action to recover the £7,500, (412,500 baht).
Meanwhile, the BBC has taken up the story, and the British Embassy are
now warning UK nationals to avoid moving or handling any items in the
airport’s duty free shops as there is a risk of their being arrested and
imprisoned. A number of letters to Thai newspapers have suggested that
passengers are regularly detained and made to pay in this manner.
Recently, an Irish scientist, her husband and their 1-year old son
managed to flee Thailand after she was accused of stealing an eyeliner
worth approximately £17 sterling.
‘Local to Global Strategy of the Northern Region’
(L-r) Wairak Walairat, director of Chiang
Mai’s Office of Commercial Affairs, Saranpoj Weeraprasert from Nakhon
Sawan’s Commercial Affairs Office, Pimol Pongkongkaew from Phitsanulok’s
Commercial Affairs Office, Metee Buapeung from Lamphun’s Commercial
Affairs Office and Patchari Pongpitak from Tak’s Commercial Affairs
Office, pictured presenting strategies for export promotion for
discussion and development
Representatives from the Ministry of Commerce’s Department of
Export Promotion met July 21 at the Centara Duangtawan Hotel with
businessmen and members of Offices of Commercial Affairs and Chambers of
Commerce from the 8 northern provinces.
The aim of the meeting was to share strategies and discuss a plan to
network trade in the north with its national and international
counterparts. Strategies for each region will be based on information
and ideas from local government and private organisations as well as
educational institutions; the goal will be the restructuring of export
projects and their budgets. The ‘Local to Global’ strategy will focus on
exports to the former Soviet Union, Africa, East Asia, China and
Each region’s products have been judged on quality and value, plus
potential for the increase of revenue in the long-term, based on an
analysis of market trends. For the northern region, 5 products have been
selected; spa products, rice products, home decoration and fashion
items, processed foods and jewellery and accessories. Each region is
expected to produce an export- oriented business plan based on the
selections, which will then be submitted to the Minister of Commerce for
examination before being forwarded as policy. Long-term business plans
are expected to allow for the 2015 incorporation of ASEAN member
countries into a single market, thus increasing the level of cross-
country competition in each sector. .
Products selected from other regions include foods, agricultural
products, fresh and processed vegetables, processed agricultural
products, fresh and processed fruits, silks, cottons, cassava products,
frozen sea food, rubber products and pearls.
During the meeting, deputy department chief Boonnaris Suwanpool, said in
his speech that the recession has impacted strongly on Thailand by
decreasing the country’s income from exports. For that reason, the
ministry is developing strategies to reinflate the sector and build up
efficiency amongst exporters. The strategies are expected to increase
export profits, increase the number of SME exporters and improve
Thailand’s regional traders’ ability to compete in the world market.
Xian hosts Thai agricultural fair to promote Thai fruits
The Thai Agricultural Products Fair 2009 in China’s Xian city
was opened recently by Weerachai Weeramethekul from the Office of the
Thai prime minister, , together with Wang Guo Long, vice-president of
international trade, with the aim of promoting sales of Thai fruits in
Xian. Weerachai also requested the cooperation of the Chinese government
in the importing of Thai fruit.
As Thailand imports a large quantity of apples from Xian each year; it
was considered that a fair in the city would provide an opportunity to
introduce more Chinese buyers to Thai local fruits such as longan and
mangosteen, which have already proved popular. The fair was also
considered to be a good opportunity to work with Chinese importers to
solve any import/export problems. Organised with cooperation between the
Thai Ministry of Commerce and the Ministry of Agriculture and
Cooperatives, the event is expected to result in more local Thai fruits
being exported to China, thus raising the income of farmers,
particularly in the north.
According to Phrae Radio’s report from Xian, the first Chinese
wholesaler to import Thai fruit, Liu Yian, stated that although more
fruit from Thailand is now being sold in markets across China, the time
taken in transportation worsens the quality of the product. This,
together with high Chinese import duties, reduces commercial viability.
She added that, to maximize sales, the fruit should be made available in
all stores across the city, not just in the markets, and that
cooperation should be established between Thai exporters and Chinese
wholesalers. Warehouses should be built and an advertising campaign
should be initiated.