Motola takes first steps
with artificial leg
Unfortunately she bent the prosthesis when she lay down on it
Lampang, (AP) Motola, an elephant who lost a foot and part of her leg
when she stepped on a land mine 10 years ago, happily if tentatively stepped
out Sunday 16, August after being fitted with an artificial limb.
In her first stroll with the permanent prosthesis, the 48-year-old female
walked out of her enclosure for about 10 minutes, grabbed some dust with her
trunk and jubilantly sprayed it in the air.
Salvala, founder of Friends of the Asian Elephant Foundation, consoles
Motola, after artificial leg experts measure its foot at the Elephant
Hospital in Lampang province, Saturday, Aug. 15, 2009. Thai experts made an
artificial leg for the pachyderm which was attached the next day. (AP
‘It has gone very well — she has walked around twice,’ said Soraida Salwala,
secretary general of the Friends of the Asian Elephant, a private group.
‘She has not put her whole weight on it yet but she’s OK’.
Motola had a minor setback, damaging the device attached to her left front
leg last Thursday. Soraida Salwala of the private group Friends of the Asian
Elephant said that Motola who weighs three tons bent the prosthesis when she
lay down on it.
Soraida said the device was removed for repair by its makers, the Prostheses
Foundation. It was to have been reattached on Saturday.
Motola was injured in 1999 while working at a logging camp near the Myanmar
border, a region peppered with land mines after a half-century of
insurgency. Her mangled left front foot was subsequently amputated.
She had been wearing a temporary device for three years to strengthen her
leg muscles and tendons and to prepare her for the permanent prosthesis.
Soraida said Motola has otherwise been in fine health and that her once bony
frame now weighs more than 3 tons. Her initial operation used enough
anesthetic to floor 70 people — a record noted in the 2000 Guinness Book of
World Records. The artificial leg was made by Chiang Mai’s Prostheses
Foundation, which also makes cheap and efficient artificial limbs for human
Soraida’s group established the Elephant Hospital in northern Thailand,
where Motola was being treated, in 1993. The world’s first such facility,
the hospital has treated thousands of elephants for ailments ranging from
eye infections to gunshot wounds.
Mine injuries are only one of many problems facing the domesticated giant,
whose numbers have dropped from 13,400 in 1950 to today’s estimated 2,500.
The number of wild elephants has also dropped dramatically. Traditionally
the truck, taxi and logging worker of Thailand, the elephant’s role has been
eroded due to modernization. One saving grace has been tourism, which
employs many elephants for trekking and other activities.
His Majesty the King warns, “If you don’t unite,
our country will fall”
His Majesty the King on Friday expressed grave concern in his speech given
to members of the National Research Council of Thailand that the country is
“falling into ruin” and moving without direction due to the lack of
cooperation among different sectors of society, but people could still save
it from sinking further.
He said ‘these days I feel that our country could fail, because nobody is
working in harmony. They are competing with each other and no one
understands what the other is doing,’
‘I want to assure you that if everybody who is competent and has good
intentions works together, then we can make our country truly prosperous. So
I ask all of you to cooperate, because if you don’t our country will fall,’
said the King.
‘Our country will not collapse if everybody works together, especially all
knowledgeable people,’ he said.
ownership by Thai nominees and partners under threat
A draft bill will be submitted to the cabinet next month by the
Ministry of Agriculture and Cooperatives which may threaten the security of
all foreigners who have funded land purchases for their Thai partners.
Following reports that foreigners have been involved in large-scale land
grabs of farmland and rice paddies through the use of Thai nominees, the
ministry has drafted a bill aimed at protecting Thailand’s farmland from
Recent rumours suggested that transnational corporations, mainly from the
Middle East, have been purchasing farmland through proxy Thai corporations
for the purpose of improving their home countries’ food security. Although
Thai media reports last week noted that an investigation carried out in 20
provinces found that no such infringements of the law have taken place, the
new law will further strengthen the existing law forbidding foreigners to
own land through business registration or joint investment with Thai
Approximately 60 million rai of agricultural land will be fully protected by
the bill, with areas already designated for the building of reservoirs. A
fund will be set up to buy back land from foreign owners, with finance also
being made available for farmers who wish to develop the land for
agricultural purposes. Any land found to be held by foreign businesses
through Thai nominees will have its sale immediately revoked, with a resale
arranged by an authorised local committee.
Worryingly, the bill will also address land ownership by foreigners married
to Thais, with all land purchases by Thais with foreign partners being
investigated by Land Department officials and a local farmland protection
panel. Appeals against investigator’s decisions will not be allowed.
The bill, at present in draft form, will be put before the cabinet next
month. It will then be submitted to for parliamentary approval, and is
intended to become law by the end of this year.
Chiang Mai night clubs, bars agree to uphold the law on drugs and safety
As part of Chiang Mai’s war against drugs, a meeting was held August
19 at the Pornping Hotel by the Chiang Mai Provincial Office for Drug
Control in conjunction with the Chiang Mai Provincial Public Health Office
with the aim of informing entertainment venue owners and managers of the
government’s strategies for drug prevention and the solution of problems
caused by drug usage.
Saengpuwong, Chiang Mai deputy governor.
Also in focus following the disastrous night-club fire on New Year’s Eve in
Bangkok were safety concerns. Operators were urged to ensure that evacuation
routes in their premises were in working order and that all electrical
systems were correctly installed and regularly checked.
During the meeting, representatives from the entertainment sector signed an
agreement stating that all venues would operate within the law, cooperate to
prohibit drug sales and use in their premises and maintain safety standards.
Chiang Mai deputy governor Pairoj Saengpuwong demanded that the businesses
cooperate with the Ministry of Interior, as the economy of Chiang Mai
depends on tourism, at present badly affected by political unrest, swine flu
and the world recession. A reputation for unreliable safety standards would
damage the tourism sector still further.
Police seize RCM 51’s
community radio station broadcasting equipment
As a result of non- compliance with a warrant issued April 15
shutting down broadcasts from Rak Chiang Mai 51’s community radio station
based at a local hotel, 100 police from stations in Muang and nearby
districts raided the premises at 7 a.m. on August 20.
policeman is pictured climbing the Red Shirt radio station’s antenna to
A quantity of broadcasting equipment was seized, including a transmitter,
microphones, a computer, a control mixer and an 18 metre antenna.
Broadcasts from the radio station had violated criminal law in that they had
been illegally used to incite violence and protests against the government.
Shortly after the arrival of police, who had blocked the entrance to the
hotel, 400 Rak Chiang Mai 51 supporters gathered outside the premises and in
the hotel’s lobby. A stage was set up on the forecourt as more supporters
Subsequently, it was found that the radio station was still on the air,
using new equipment purchased with donations of 600,000 baht given by Rak
Chiang Mai 51 members. Later that day, an unsuccessful attempt was made to
contact fugitive ex-PM Thaksin Shinawatra to request his support.
Pollution on the agenda at CMU seminar
Deputy governor Chumporn Saengmanee,
pictured presided over the opening
of a seminar entitled, ‘The pollution crisis, impacts and solutions’, at
Chiang Mai University’s Convention Center.
According to a report given during a seminar at Chiang Mai
University’s Convention Centre by deputy governor Chumporn Saengmanee,
the ongoing pollution problem in Chiang Mai is the combined result of
burning, vehicle emissions and construction projects. The health of
residents is put at risk, with respiratory diseases, including lung
cancer, on the increase. Residents need to stop burning garbage and
restrict the use of their vehicles by taking public transport.
The provincial authority requires all local administrative organisations
to dispose of waste by processing into bio-fertiliser for use in
agriculture. To facilitate this process and reduce pollution in general,
a Memorandum of Understanding was recently signed between the department
of provincial administration and the department of local administration
with the aim of introducing intensive strategies for the solution of the
Breakdown given of development of swine flu in Chiang Mai
Siriporn Raweekoon/ Nopniwat Krailerk
Chonlisa Chariyalertsak, head of the Disease Prevention
& Control Section at Chiang Mai Provincial Public Health Office,
recently presented a breakdown of the development of HIN1
infections in the city since the beginning of the outbreak on
Chariyalertsak, head of the Disease Prevention & Control Section
at Chiang Mai Provincial Public Health Office
A low rate of infection averaging 3 new cases per day prevailed
until July 2, which then increased as the virus spread until, by
August 5, 580 people had tested positive for the virus. Inner
city centres of infection have now spread to outlying districts,
and the drug Oseltamivir has been supplied to 17 clinics in
Muang, Mae Rim, Doi Saket, San Sai, Jom Tong, Chiang Dao, San
Kampaeng, Mae Tang and Mae Jam.
Advice on prevention of the spread of the virus includes wearing
masks in crowded places, taking at least 7 days off work if
feeling ill, regularly washing hands with a disinfectant soap
and eating hot food. Large events are being discouraged; if
unavoidable, participants should be provided with sanitiser gel
and masks. Places of business and shops should educate their
staff in preventative measures and allow them to wear masks. The
Public Health Office is organising promotional displays at major
stores in the city in order to inform the public.
Excess longan fruit and products trucked to China via Tesco-Lotus
With longan fruit and its products flooding the market at
present, Tesco Lotus together with the Chiang Mai Provincial
Agricultural Office and the Office of Commercial Affairs seem to
have found a solution to the over-supply by arranging to truck 200 tons
of the produce, worth approximately 7 million baht, to 40 Tesco-Lotus
stores in Shanghai and Beijing.
safely! One of the trucks containing the excess longan fruit which will
eventually be delivered to Tesco-Lotus stores in Beijing and Shanghai.
The trucks will leave Chiang Mai on the long journey north on August 28,
taking with them the hope that sales in China’s two largest cities will
encourage more exports of the delicious fruit and its products in the
Between 10 and 20% of this year’s excess crop remains in storage, with
Tesco-Lotus planning to buy up more fresh and processed fruit for sale
in its stores in China, the UK and Europe.
CMU’s Science Week opens on National Science Day
(L-r) CMU’s Dean, Prof. Dr. Pongsak
Angkasith, pictured with Chiang Mai governor Amornpan Nimanant and the
Chinese Consulate-General in Chiang Mai Shu Weiming.
August 18, Thailand’s National Science Day, saw the opening of
the annual Science Week event in Chiang Mai, together with identical
events in 22 northern regional educational areas within 8 provinces
including Chiang Rai, Chiang Mai, Nan, Phayao, Phrae, Mae Hong Son,
Lampang and Lamphun.
Students shown examining pictures on display and copying this year’s
National Science Day’s slogan, ‘Science Proceeds, Thailand Progresses’.
Guests of honour at the opening included Chiang Mai governor Amornpan
Nimanant, the Dean of CMU Prof. Dr. Pongsak Angkasith, the Chiang Mai
Chinese Consul-General Shu Weiming, and the Japanese Consul-General
All the events, entitled ‘Science Proceeds, Thailand Progresses’, are
organised by Chiang Mai University’s Faculty of Science with the
cooperation of the Ministry of Science and Technology, and run for 3
days with the aim of encouraging the study of science and technology in
students, young people and the general public. Activities include
competitions for the best science project and scientific and
National Science Day was inaugurated in 1934, in honour of HM King Rama
IV, internationally known for his work in astronomy and modern science
and revered in Thailand as the ‘Father of Science’.
Government to provide free
education to the disabled from 2010
The Thai Minister of Education Jurin Laksanavisit recently
announced that, beginning in 2010, all disabled people will be entitled
to free education up to graduation with a bachelor’s degree from either
state-run or private universities.
The scheme’s expenses will be covered by the offices of the Basic
Education Commission and the Higher Education Commission, and a
regulation of the Committee on Education for the Disabled has been
signed by the minister to enforce the new scheme.
University councils will have until the beginning of next year to plan
details such as how many disabled students they are able to take and the
specific studies which will be provided under the scheme. Three sign
language courses covering basic use, communication and practice have
also been inaugurated, and will include 42 hours of study over 1 week.
They will be open both those with hearing as well as to the deaf, and
are being run by the Association for the Deaf.
Chiang Mai school holds
event to encourage reading
Maeon district’s Wattanothai Payap School held a reading
festival on August 14 in honour of HM Queen Sirikit, with the aim of
developing the habit of reading amongst its students, teachers and
directors. A variety of interesting activities were set up to encourage
good reading habits and a love of knowledge, including an exhibition
aimed at promoting reading, a ‘Reading is Life’ talk, student debates
and a bookstall.
The ‘fun’ element was also present, with a singing contest, a marching
band performance by the champion combined bands of Montfort and Regina
Coeli colleges and other performances.
The event was organised by Area 1’s Office of the Basic Education
Commission, with cooperation from 6 Chiang Mai educational service area
offices. The organisations involved hope that it will encourage schools
and universities to regularly host reading- related activities and
publicise the need to acquire knowledge amongst other institutions and
the general public.