NEWS
HEADLINES [click on headline to view story]:

Mayoral election date is announced, fierce rivalry expected during campaign

Foreigner ‘Land-Grab’ accusations worsen at Bangkok seminar

Local schools’ contest for prevention of dengue fever aims at public awareness

CMU holds health, disease prevention and wellbeing event

Home-made bombs thrown at PAD office by unknown assailants

‘One Innovation, One School’ aims to improve education in Thai schools

Cold drinks anyone?

Chiang Mai phone scam gang’s Phuket branch raided by police

Prem International gets even more’ international’

Victims of 2005 floods press for promised damage compensation

10,000 Shan villagers forcibly relocated, homes burnt

Russian H1N1 seed virus for vaccine trials mutates

 

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 take place.
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 president.
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 area.
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

CMM reporters
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 businesses.
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.

Nopniwat Krailerg
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

Siriporn Raweekoon
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 veterinary science.

Pictured 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 for pets.
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

CMM Reporters
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 schools.

Siriporn Raweekoon.
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 University.
‘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 educational system.
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?

CMM reporters
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).

Cory, 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. asianhealingartscenter.com


Chiang Mai phone scam gang’s Phuket branch raided by police

Staff reporters
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 cash.
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’

CMM reporters
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 Annaliisa.
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

Nopniwat Krailerg
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 taken.
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 caused.


10,000 Shan villagers forcibly relocated, homes burnt

Staff reporters
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 ethnic areas.


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 Medicine.
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)