Mayoral election date is
announced, fierce rivalry
expected during campaign
Elena Edwards & Phitsanu Thepthong
After 4 months of confusion and mixed messages, during which time
the city was without a fully functional elected mayor due to political
shenanigans, an election date, October 4, has been finally announced.
Candidates will be invited to register on September 3. According to Dr. Ken
Santhitham, who will serve as the Chiang Mai Election Commission’s director
during the run-up to the election, the process must take place with regard
to strict laws and regulations.
Political observers are suggesting that competition for the office of Chiang
Mai Mayor will be fierce, with strong rivalry between the two main opposing
camps, that of former mayor Dr. Duentemduang na Chiengmai and that headed by
Boonlert Buranakuporn, who was defeated in the last election by Dr.
Duentemduang in a landslide victory after his sudden resignation from his
position as mayor. Dr. Duentemduang held office for 2 years until May this
year, finally standing down for the good of the city to allow an election to
Candidates registering to stand will include Dr. Duentemduang, Wallop
Saetieo, Wiphawal Woraputhipong, Pornchai Jitnawasatien, Pichet Pisutthikul
and Tassanai Buranupakorn, cousin of Boonlert, who is unable to stand
following a 5 year ban on holding political office imposed by the EC
recently for inappropriate conduct during his election to the position of
president of the Chiang Mai Provincial Administration Organisation, (CMPO).
Since Boonlert’s ban, Tassanai has headed up the CMPO as its acting
175 election polls will take place in the municipal constituencies, with,
about 2,000 temporary staff reinforcing municipal employees to help cope
with the vote count and ballot box collections. Chiang Mai University’s
Convention Centre will be requisitioned for use in ballot collection and the
count itself. Total cost is expected to be around 7.3 million baht.
In the municipality’s newly issued Annual Report, Dr. Duentemduang states
that since the municipality’s administration was formed 74 years ago, the
city has gone, and is continuing to go, through many changes, with the
authority working to try to keep up with growth both in the business and
private sectors, influenced as they are by the national and global economic
situation. The small inner-city area served by the municipality, she
continues, has not changed, whilst growth and its related problems now
extend far beyond the area’s limits. As a result, and due to certain imposed
restrictions, many projects have not been completed. If her election
campaign is successful, she promises that she will continue with these
projects and many others, without abandoning Chiang Mai’s precious Lanna
traditions and culture.
During her term in office, successful projects have included the completion
of the Superhighway after years of stagnation, the prevention of flood
damage in the city with the dredging of the Ping River, the expansion of
drainage channels and ditches within the city area, and the dredging and
cleaning up of the canal. Major road improvements have been made, both on
sidewalks and on the road surfaces themselves. The moat around the old city
has been improved, with its walls strengthened to prevent soil from entering
the water, its channels being dredged and reordered, lamp posts have been
installed and grasses planted and bicycle routes designated. The area around
Thapae, the city’s ancient main gate has been rearranged and landscaped.
Much of the city itself has been greened, with intrusive billboards removed.
As regards public heath and education, pensions for elder people, the
disabled and HIV/Aids patients, financial support for victims of natural
disasters, extraordinary family expenses and advice and guidance have all
been provided as part of a project to enhance the quality of life of
children, women, elders, and disabled people.
Within the administration itself, a project to develop efficiency and good
governance has been initiated, involving workshops and educational seminars,
along with a project to simplify the collection of residential taxes
involving use of the Geographical Information System’s detailed maps of the
These and many other projects set up by Dr.Duentemduang during her term of
office have benefitted all sectors of the Chiang Mai community. Perhaps the
one thing which has been most appreciated by the expat community in this
city, (apart from her determination to end corruption in local politics), is
her reference to all residents of whatever origin as Kon Chiang Mai – Chiang
Mai people – and her support for and participation in efforts which are
being made to integrate the two communities to the benefit of both.
Foreigner ‘Land-Grab’ accusations worsen at Bangkok seminar
Following conflicting reports about illegal land-grabs by foreigners
in Thailand, speakers at a recently held seminar in Bangkok have made far-
reaching allegations which threaten to cause major problems for the
country’s expat communities. The issue became controversial due to rumours
that Middle Eastern investors were buying up Thai farmland through Thai
nominees to ensure food security in their home countries.
A speaker at the seminar, held by the Thailand Research Fund, began by
stating that over 90% of beach-front land in Phuket is controlled by
foreigners acting through Thai nominees, and that local Thais do not have
enough money to invest in such properties.
The same speaker, from the economics faculty at Sukhothai Thammathirat Open
University, also stated that the situation in Pattaya’s Chon Buri district,
Koh Samui and Hua Hin was similar to that of Phuket.
Subsequently, an executive at the Phuket Land Office, who asked not to be
named, said that the office could confirm that all land on the island,
including at least 98% of the beachfront plots, was legally owned by Thais,
and that all land title deeds had been issued legally, noting that local
wealthy Thai investors preferred to invest in hotels and other hospitality
Moving on to Chiang Mai, she noted that foreigners had used loopholes in the
law to purchase more that the legally allowed number of condominium units,
and that, according to evidence, foreigners were marrying Thais in order to
be able to place their holdings in their wives’ names and thus avoid the
law. Similar problems were also noted in Rayong, with avoidance of the law
and foreign land ownership increasing through use of the loophole of
marriage with Thai nominees.
Legal land leaseholds also came under her scrutiny, with usufruct leases,
(for life), being described as ‘over long’, and Thai lawyers were accused of
finding legal loopholes which allowed foreigners to take control of Thai
land. Village headmen, she stated, were arranging sales of prime state land
given to villagers for farming.
Another speaker, from the Community Organisations Development Institute,
suggested that funds had been provided by the Hmong community in the USA to
enable Hmong tribespeople in Nan province to buy land and grow rice for
shipment to the USA. A further speaker from the same institute said that
investors from Taiwan had purchased orange groves, the produce from which
was being sold in Taiwan.
Local schools’ contest for prevention of dengue fever aims at public awareness
Ken Santitham, permanent secretary for the
Chiang Mai Municipality,
pictured after awarding prizes to representatives from the winning schools.
The permanent secretary for the Chiang Mai Municipality Ken
Santitham recently presented awards and prizes to 12 Chiang Mai schools
which were considered to have developed the most effective measures against
the spread of dengue fever.
In his speech, Ken noted that the contest had been organised to raise the
profile of the disease amongst the general public, as heavy rain and global
warming are major factors in the spread of the mosquito-borne disease. 22
schools in total were involved; 11 of which were in the municipal area.
Winners in the municipal area were Wat Pa Pang School, which took the first
prize of 4,000 baht, with runners-up Wat Muen-ngern Kong Municipal School
and Wat Puak Chang Municipal School each receiving 2,000 baht. A consolation
prize of 1,000 baht each was given to Dok Ngern Municipal School, Wat Don Si
Chai Municipal School, and Wat Ta Satoi School. Outside the municipal area,
Regina Coeli College won first prize and runners-up were Santi Sueksa
School, Wachirawit School and Phingkarat School, with Tammarat Sueksa School
and the Prince Royal’s College receiving consolation prizes.
CMU holds health, disease
prevention and wellbeing event
An event covering all aspects of health and disease prevention took
place at Chiang Mai University’s Faculty of Medicine on August 22, Mahidol
day, organised with the cooperation of the university, its student
association and its 6 health sciences faculties, including the faculty of
are students and representatives from CMU’s Faculty of Medicine giving tests
to establish blood groups and for the disease thalassaemia.
The event, ‘Health Lovers’ Rendezvous’, was staged to provide up-to-date
information on many aspects of health care through the use of medical
services, exhibitions and displays, presentations by experts and the giving
of guidance and advice about both health and careers in medicine.
Amongst services offered were medical and health advice and instruction on
the human body from the Faculty of Medicine, blood pressure testing and
advice on breast cancer and birth control from the Faculty of Nursing,
instructions on making hand-washing gel and cream from the Faculty of
Pharmacology, tests to establish blood groups and for the disease
thalassaemia from the Faculty of Medical Technology and dental check-ups
from the Faculty of Dentistry. Man’s best friend was not ignored, with the
Faculty of Veterinary Science giving rabies vaccinations and heath check-ups
T-shirts and other items were on sale, with profits going to 3 funds;
Maharaj Hospital’s fund for homeless patients, the Faculty of Veterinary
Science’s Small Animal Hospital’s fund for homeless pets, and a dental
project which provides false teeth to the impoverished.
Mahidol Day celebrates HM King Ananda Mahidol, (1933-1946), who is regarded
as the father of modern medicine in Thailand.
Home-made bombs thrown at
PAD office by unknown assailants
An attack by 20 unknown persons wearing crash helmets and armed with
batons took place on Sunday 23 during a merit-making ceremony held at the
Chiang Mai office of the People’s Alliance for Democracy on Kong Sai Road.
Attempts were made to attack those taking part in the ceremony, during which
two home made bombs were thrown into the compound, damaging two cars and a
glass door. A 60-year old woman suffered a broken leg during the panic which
followed the two explosions.
According to local police, the bombs were of the ping-pong type. Reports
suggest that the community radio station operated by Rak Chiang Mai 51 had,
that morning, urged their supporters to gather for a protest and had advised
them not to wear red. .
Recently, police raided the community radio station and confiscated
equipment, but were unable to stop the broadcasts as new equipment had al
ready been purchased and was operative.
‘One Innovation, One School’ aims to improve education in Thai schools
Students from Uttaradit province shown
presenting their innovative method
of producing biogas from fresh garbage and animal faeces for use in
An event aiming to improve efficiency amongst northern teachers
in Thai schools was held recently at the Lotus Pang Suan Kaew Hotel,
organised by the Teachers’ Council of Thailand and Chiang Mai Rajabhat
‘One Innovation, One School’ was initiated as a contest in 2004 in order
to encourage Thai teachers to create new, modern and innovative teaching
and learning techniques that are appropriate for each school, leading to
more effective education, cooperation among teachers and learners and
effective student participation. The project annually selects innovative
ideas and educational methods as models for the improvement of the Thai
This year, Chiang Mai Rajabhat University’s Faculty of Education is
responsible for selection in the northern region. Categories included
curriculum, learning management, learning sources, instructional media
and technology, evaluation systems, management and administration
systems, psychology, and art and culture.
Form the regional-level round, 89 out of 114 innovations from 17
northern provinces were selected for the national competition to be held
on next year’s Teachers’ Day, January 16.
Cold drinks anyone?
For many of who attended the last Chiang Mai Expats’
Club get-together at the Shangri La Hotel, the meeting’s
well-known speaker, Cory Croymans-Plaghki, was much more than
just an interesting guest. Her talk proved to be a very
thought-provoking guide to the possibilities of a new, improved
and far healthier lifestyle through following the principles of
Traditional Chinese Medicine, (TCM).
right, shown just being happy with her friend and co-worker in
Reiki training and practice, Christine.
Cory herself is living proof of the effectiveness – and wisdom –
of following the TCM-based advice given by her doctor as, having
had severe, life-threatening health issues nearly 20 years ago,
she is now, very obviously, a lively, healthy and motivated
woman with a real zest for life.
However, for most of the listeners, living as they do in the
heat and humidity of Thailand, the hardest advice to follow
would have been to stay away from any cold drinks in order to
preserve health! But, taking time to think about her
suggestions, and a little more time researching the origins and
principles of Chinese medicine, the benefits of this ancient
method of diagnosis and treatment should become apparent.
Cory is on the board of the New Life Foundation, which was
founded by and is under the patronage of HRH The Princess
Mother, and presently cares for around 1,200 people in Northern
Thailand who have a physical or mental handicap. She is also a
Reiki master, teaching the famous Japanese healing technique and
giving generously of her time giving healing to patients in
local hospitals. She is also president of the Chiang Mai chapter
of Soroptimists International.
For more information about the TCM principles, about how you can
help support the work of the New Life Foundation with your
donation, about the Chiang Mai Soroptimists ,or about Reiki
training, please contact Cory on asianhealingartscenter
@yahoo.fr or visit her fascinating website at www.
Chiang Mai phone scam gang’s Phuket branch raided by police
Following the recent report in this paper of the arrests in
Chiang Mai of 94 mostly Chinese and Taiwanese nationals involved in a
massive phone scam, further investigation by police has uncovered an
identical operation taking place in Phuket.
As a result, 6 luxury homes on the holiday island were raided by police
from Bangkok and local stations, with the arrest of 40 Chinese and
Taiwanese nationals and the seizure of hardware, databases with personal
information on Chinese and Taiwanese consumers, a large number of VoIP
phones, mobiles and modems, 31 passports, 12 laptops and 200,000 baht in
As with the Chiang Mai fraudsters, scripts were used by the gang to
convince their victims to transfer money, including posing as debt
collectors, bank workers or police officers. Complicated phone systems
were set up to conceal the Thai origins of calls made to victims in
China and Taiwan. According to Pol. Maj. Gen. Panya Mamen, the gang has
scammed more than 1 billion baht since it began its operations in
Phuket. The vast profits from the scam were used to buy property, using
Thai nominees, and large amounts of money had been transferred between
China, Thailand and Taiwan.
Prem International gets even more’ international’
The new school year at Prem Tinsulandonda International School
has finally arrived and as students and staff adjust back into the
routine of Prem life, they can look back on what is always a very
exciting- yet equally busy- stage of the academic year.
One aspect of Prem life that is often taken for granted is the diversity
of new students who travel from the further reaches of the globe to take
advantage of the school’s offerings. Not only does the arrival of these
students reflect a growing awareness of Prem’s popularity throughout the
world, but the new students also offer the Prem community an opportunity
to learn from the differing backgrounds that play a big part in forming
the unique culture of the school. This also reflects a growing interest
in Chiang Mai as an increasing number of expatriates move into the area.
Such influences show great promise economically and socially for Prem
and also for Chiang Mai, as it continues to cement its reputation as one
of Thailand’s major cities.
Denmark, Bhutan, India, Switzerland, Bangladesh, Nepal and Zimbabwe are
just a few examples of the forty-eight different nationalities that are
represented by Prem’s ever growing student body.
One new arrival, Annaliisa, has begun life at Prem this year, having
travelled to the school from Helsinki in Finland. Annaliisa initially
intended to go to a school in South East Asia through the ‘Rotary’
exchange program, but stumbled across Prem when searching the Internet
for boarding schools in the area.
‘When I came to Prem’, she said, ‘it was because I wanted to change my
life, to start working and organising my like again. I’ve been here for
one week now and I love it! I used to think my old school was great but
Prem is even better. I arrived with the idea of spending one year at
Prem. Now I am considering changing my subject selections so that I can
stay and graduate from the school’.
Since being at Prem, the new boarders seem to be settling in well. Zach
from the USA, TZ of Bhutan and Annaliisa all commented on the
friendliness of the staff, with TZ enthusing about the pleasure the
teachers enjoy in working with the students. ‘The House Parents are
really caring and they want you to feel well. And you do! All the
students are open-minded, and if you need help with something, they help
you. In only one week I’ve found really great new friends!’ added
Walking around the boarding clusters and joining the students during
their free time, it is great to see so many cultures working so well
together in one place. As word of mouth spreads further about Prem and
what it can offer international students, one can’t help but feel a
sense of excitement about the rich benefits such students can bring to
the school, and Chiang Mai as a city.
For more information about boarding at Prem, please contact Chris Hall
at [email protected]
Victims of 2005 floods press for promised damage compensation
A complaint has been filed with the Chiang Mai governor Amornpan
Nimanant by Boonnan Tulapanpong, a local reporter, on behalf of
residents in the Kawila community who have not yet been financially
compensated for damage caused during major floods in 2005. Residents
have previously filed several requests for the promised compensation.
The governor of Chiang Mai at the time of the floods, Wichai Srikwan,
had assured residents that he would contact the Department of Disaster
Prevention and Mitigation concerning a budget for compensation of
victims in the Kawila area. Subsequently, Wichai was appointed permanent
secretary to the Ministry of the Interior, and no further action was
Boonnan states that a further letter had been sent to the Prime
Minister’s office in January this year. The office had replied in May,
saying that the matter would be investigated. However, he also notes
that it is 4 years since the floods, and that the Kawila community is
the only one whose residents have not yet been compensated for damage
10,000 Shan villagers forcibly
relocated, homes burnt
The Shan Women’s Action Network (SWAN) and the Shan
Human Rights Foundation (SHRF) have reported that 10,000 Shan
villagers have been forced to relocate and their homes burnt
down by the Burmese Army since the end of July.
Three villagers have been killed, one a young woman who was shot
when she tried to recover her possessions from her burning home.
Another woman had her throat cut, and a man was shot Over 100
others were arrested and tortured. A woman was raped in front of
her husband by an officer and three subordinates.
At a press conference in northern Thailand, SHRF director Kham
Harn Fah stated that the relocation, involving 40 villages, had
been carried out ‘cold-bloodedly and systematically’. Charm
Tong, a founder of SWAN, said, ‘It was very cruel. For many
years, the junta’s troops have used rape as a weapon of war’ She
noted that while the international community was expressing its
disgust at the sentencing of Aung San Suu Kyi, the Junta was
continuing with its crimes again humanity in the country’s
Russian H1N1 seed virus
for vaccine trials mutates
Bangkok (TNA) - The seed virus strain imported from
Russia to produce a vaccine against the H1N1 virus has mutated,
causing vaccine production to be delayed, according to Prof.
Theerawat Hemajutha of Chulalongkorn University’s Faculty of
Prof. Theerawat said genetic decoding of the virus by Mahidol
University found that a mutation had occurred in the seed virus
from Russia that was to be used for Thailand’s vaccine trials.
Concerned government agencies concerned met at the Food and Drug
Administration offices last Tuesday and discussed the issue,
concluding that the vaccine production and trials should be
delayed as the seed virus strain was unstable.
The meeting has reported the issue to the Ministry of Public
Health’s ethics committee, who will make the final decision
whether or not to continue with the vaccine production. However,
the trials may continue by using seed virus from China.
In addition, there is a problem of an unexpectedly low yield of
hen egg virus culture, Thailand has also not yet determined the
location for the vaccine pharmaceuticals laboratory for full
production of the vaccine following successful trials.
With a population over 60 million, Thailand should produce
sufficient vaccine to treat approximately 40 million, two-thirds
of the populace. If existing vaccine production for livestock is
upgraded to produce vaccine for human use, it will take some 17
months to meet the production target. However, if a new factory
must be built, it will take 74 months—more than six years.
Meanwhile, the Ministry of Public Health has begun distributing
Oseltamivir children’s formula to state hospitals countrywide,
with the aim of helping young patients in the provinces gain
access to the treatment before their conditions become
aggravated. However, in some western countries, distribution of
the drug to children has been discontinued due to the
development of serious side-effects in the young. (TNA)