Vol. VIII No. 34 - Tuesday
August 25 - August 31, 2009



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by Saichon Paewsoongnern


NEWS
HEADLINES [click on headline to view story]:

Motola takes first steps with artificial leg

His Majesty the King warns, “If you don’t unite, our country will fall”

Foreigner-funded land ownership by Thai nominees and partners under threat

Chiang Mai night clubs, bars agree to uphold the law on drugs and safety

Police seize RCM 51’s community radio station broadcasting equipment

Pollution on the agenda at CMU seminar

Breakdown given of development of swine flu in Chiang Mai

Excess longan fruit and products trucked to China via Tesco-Lotus

CMU’s Science Week opens on National Science Day

Government to provide free education to the disabled from 2010

Chiang Mai school holds event to encourage reading

 

Motola takes first steps with artificial leg

Unfortunately she bent the prosthesis when she lay down on it

Apichart Weerawong
Associated Press

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.

Soraida 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 Photo/Apichart Weerawong)
‘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.
Motola.
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 amputees.
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.


Foreigner-funded land ownership by Thai nominees and partners under threat

CMM Reporters
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 foreign ownership.
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 nationals.
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

Siriporn Raweekoon
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.

Pairoj 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

Nopniwat Krailerg
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.

A policeman is pictured climbing the Red Shirt radio station’s antenna to remove equipment.
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 arrived.
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.

Siriporn Raweekoon
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 annual problem.


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 June 10.

Chonlisa 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

Siriporn Raweekoon
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.

Drive 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 future.
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.

Siriporn Raweekoon
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.

CMU 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 Junko Yokota.
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 technological inventions.
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

CMM reporters.
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

Siriporn Raweekoon
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.



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