Vol. VIII No. 36 - Tuesday
September 8 - September 14, 2009



Home
Automania
News
Business
Book-Movies-Music
Columns
Community
Art, Music & Culture
Happenings
Dining Out & Entertainment
Features
Social Scene
Sports
Chiang Mai FeMail
Daily Horoscope
Cartoons
Happy Birthday HM Queen Sirikit
Current Movies in
Chiangmai's Cinemas
Advertising Rates
Classifieds
Back Issues
Updated every Tuesday
by Saichon Paewsoongnern


NEWS
HEADLINES [click on headline to view story]:

All’s well that ends well after PM Abhisit intervenes

Mayoral election process begins with candidate registration

Massive road-widening plan results in fierce civic group opposition

Chiang Mai to get new district

Canadian expat found hanged, suicide assumed

Further major drugs bust in Tachilek

Police Region 5’s centenary event focuses on drug usage

Chiang Mai hopes its workshops will reverse drop in tourist numbers

David Crisp murder suspect changes plea at hearing

Fire Control Office seminar reports on cooperation project

Breaches of alcohol laws found in all Nimmanhaeminda restaurants and bars

Chiang Mai tourism gets boost from Washington media

South China’s Sipsongpanna region to cooperate with Thailand

Northern region’s economy expected to revive by year end

 

All’s well that ends well after PM Abhisit intervenes

CMM reporters
A 12 year- old stateless boy born to Burmese construction workers in Chiang Mai will not now miss out on representing Thailand at an international origami paper plane contest in Japan next month, after the intervention of PM Abhisit Vejjajiva.
Mong Thongdee was the winner of last year’s national ‘oriplane’ contest organised by the National Metal and Materials Technology Centre in Bangkok, but, as a stateless person, is not legally permitted to travel outside the country or hold a passport.
The headmaster of Ban Huay Sai school, where Mong is a pupil, had asked the Interior Ministry to allow the boy to travel to Japan and represent his country at the bi-annual ‘oriplane’ contest., but was told by officials that allowing a stateless person to leave the country would ‘affect national security’ and that if Mong could not obtain a travel permit, the runner-up in the contest, a Thai boy, would be sent to Japan to represent Thailand.
A spokesperson from the Interior Ministry ruled out giving the young champion Thai citizenship as ‘he was born to migrant labourers’.
However, even although the Foreign Ministry recently agreed to provide a temporary passport, the Interior Ministry were still refusing to grant Mong the necessary official certificate which would permit him to travel overseas, stating that if he wished to compete, it must be as a Burmese national representing Burma.
A lecturer in law from Thammasat University, Phunthip Kanchanachittra Saisoonthorn, has noted that the case reflects the prejudice in Thai society against stateless people, adding that ‘Every child has the freedom and the right to education. Refusing to grant him Thai nationality is understandable, but denying him educational opportunities is unacceptable’.
Mong himself said, ‘I believe I can win the prize there. I would feel so sad if I can’t get to Japan’ When asked what he would like as a reward if he won the contest, his answer was, ‘I need Thai nationality, and some toys’.
Late last week, the tearful child flew from his home in Chiang Mai to Bangkok to plead with the Interior Ministry and the Thai PM to allow him to travel. To Mong’s joy, Abhisit intervened and guaranteed the necessary paperwork for the young champion to travel. Dependent on the Japanese Embassy issuing him an entry visa, Mong will leave for Japan on September 16 to compete in the contest, to be held in Chiba on September19-20.
‘I am delighted to get permission to travel. I’d like to thank the Thai people for their support. I also would like them to get behind my effort to win the prize’, said the 12 year-old champion.

 

Mayoral election process begins with candidate registration

Supoj Thiamyoj
The first session of candidate registration for the mayoral election was held on September 3 at the municipality’s offices, attracting a large number of cheering supporters and causing traffic chaos in the area. The registration sessions ended on September 7, with the election itself to be held on October 4. An estimated 60% of Chiang Mai residents are expected to turn out to vote.

The 7 candidates who registered on the first day are, with their numbers; 1 - Dr. Duentemduang na Chiengmai; 2 - Tassanai Buranupakorn; 3 - Petai Techoral; 4 - Wallop Saetiew; 5 - Wichai Wongchai; 6 - Pornchai Jitnawasatian and 7 - Wipawan Worawutpong. Their qualifications to run will be checked within 7 days, with any who do not meet the requirements being disqualified.
Manop Sakdatorn, head of the provincial Election Commission, (EC), stated that the commission will provide procedural advice and guidance to the candidates and that the election itself would be carried out in a fair and lawful manner.

The director of Chiang Mai’s Election Centre Ken Santitham,
shown confirming the regulations affecting the mayoral election
process before the registration of candidates began.


Massive road-widening plan results in fierce civic group opposition

A protest sign in Soi 4 off Charoenmuang Road, saying,
‘ Stop the Road Expansion’.

CMM reporters
The release last year of a new city plan for Chiang Mai by the Ministry of the Interior’s Department of Public Works and Town and Country Planning has resulted in concerned local residents working to derail the project through the formation of Raksa Ban Raksa Muang, a committed opposition group with members from all sections of the communities affected.
The city plan, about which local residents have not been consulted, involves the drastic widening of 35 major roads in the downtown city area, including Thapae Road. This will result in a large number of temples and historical sites being destroyed or otherwise affected, the loss of homes and businesses on a large scale, and affect tourism by destroying the ambience of the traditional areas.
Raksa Ban Raksa Muang group are also concerned about the growth of policies projecting the future of the ancient city as a ‘regional hub’ for the commercial development of the Mekong sub-region with its projected road and rail links from China to northern India.
At present Chiang Mai has no planning controls which regulate land use and new construction, leading to fears that loopholes in the law might lead investors to build high-rises banned under a previous law. The Ministry’s National Comprehensive City Plan Committee includes representatives from state agencies and the real-estate sector, but none from academic, NGO or resident organisations.
Another major concern is the increased pollution caused by the funnelling of more road traffic into the city areas, together with the negative effect on wind dispersal of pollutant particles by the construction of more high- rise buildings and the severance of traditional communities by superhighway style access roads. It is feared that the lack of an integrated public transport system in Thailand’s second-largest city would result in a large increase of the number of private vehicles on the projected new roads.
Since the city plan was released at short notice and with inadequate information last August, the Raksa Ban Raksa Muang group have been working to raise awareness amongst the affected communities. Initially, and with support from the Urban Development Institute Foundation, volunteers distributed leaflets and talked to residents. Public meetings were, and are still, being held, and have resulted in an unprecedented network of citizens from all classes, determined to protect the city, their homes, their businesses and their lives.
The group’s battle against officialdom is continuing, with delaying tactics and postponements from the Bangkok authorities, who initially issued statements that, due to the massive budget required, the plans would probably not be implemented. Attempts to derail the civic group’s progress continue to be made, even although the provincial administration is reported to have agreed to remove 27 roads from the plan and reduce the proposed width of 5 others. A letter sent by the Chiang Mai governor the director-general of the Public Works and Town and Country Planning Department in early July states that, ‘after a meeting with representatives of local governing bodies including municipalities and tambon administrative organisations around the province, the majority have agreed to continue the drafting process’.
At the present moment, Raksa Ban Raksa Muang are awaiting the arrival of the verdict from the Comprehensive City Plan Committee following the previous Thai National Human Rights Commission’s issue of a recommendation that the plan should be cancelled as requested by the group. The commission also recommended that any projected high-rise projects in Chiang Mai should be put on hold until a viable city plan was devised and, surprisingly, suggested a reorganisation of the National Comprehensive City Plan’s committee to include community, academic and NGO groups.
An urban planning specialist from Chiang Mai University has noted that the flawed plan has resulted in a case study for Thailand, in which ordinary people in an urban area are saying say no to unchecked growth in the Bangkok style, with its heavy traffic, high rise buildings, layers of roads and superhighways and destruction of heritage, history and tradition. She states that ‘One of the charms of an old town is its narrow roads that fit with constructions that are not too big, more on a human scale. Unfortunately, we have been trying to impose modernisation on top of the old city. Had there been better planning, Chiang Mai would have long ago been selected as a World Heritage Site’.

A local politician has erected a sign which announces the launch of a campaign opposing the road-widening scheme in its entirety.


Chiang Mai to get new district

Supoj Thiamyoj
The Thai cabinet has approved the creation of a new Chiang Mai district, Wat Chan, bringing the total number to 25. In order to provide a temporary district office for the new local administration, the local SUPPORT arts and crafts centre will be renovated with the help of a grant of 500,000 baht from the Chiang Mai provincial authority.
As soon as the district is officially established, a permanent district office will be built, located in Mai Pattana village in Jam Luang sub-district’s National Preserved Forest area.
The establishment of the new district was confirmed July 7 by HM King Bhumibol, who gave its official name as ‘Galyani Vadhana’, in honour of the late Princess. It will finally be made official by an announcement from the Office of His Majesty’s Principal Private Secretary.


Canadian expat found hanged, suicide assumed

Supoj Thaimyoj
The body of a 61 year-old Canadian expat living in Lampang with his wife and her son was found hanging from a beam in his home on the morning of August 29.
According to Noi, his wife, Rudi Weber had gone out to a bar at 6 p.m. the previous evening, and had returned at around 10 .p.m. As was his usual routine when drinking, he had gone to bed in another room so as not to disturb her. When she tried to open the door the following morning, it was locked. On breaking it down with the help of a neighbour, Noi found her husband had hanged himself, with the TV screen frozen on an image of a car falling over a cliff.
Police have found no evidence of a struggle, and are assuming that Rudolph killed himself due to depression caused by his inability to find a job and a lack of expected Canadian welfare payments with which to support himself, his wife and her 14 year-old son.
Another probable cause for his depression was that, in 2008, Rudi’s daughter, who had been living in Lampang with the family, died in a motorcycle accident, a tragedy which seriously affected her father. According to a friend of the family, Rudi had been living in Thailand for many years without a visa, possibly because he was unable to raise the amount necessary for a ‘marriage’ visa in order to stay legally.
The body was sent for autopsy at Lampang Hospital to establish that no foul play was involved; however, to date, no autopsy report has been released. Recent reports state that Rudi’s body has been returned to his wife and cremation has already taken place.
Rudi was a Canadian Army veteran, and had served as a UN peacemaker in the Middle East, coming to Thailand some years after his demob.


Further major drugs bust in Tachilek

CMM reporters
As the incidence of drug-smuggling across the Burmese border accelerates, reports state that another huge haul of more that 700 kilogrammes of heroin and approximately 3 million methamphetamine pills have been seized in the Burmese border town of Tachilek, opposite Mai Sai.
Last week, Burmese anti-drugs police acting on information received raided two houses in the town, arrested 4 men and confiscated the drugs, two guns and a supply of ammunition.
This latest raid follows another last month, in which equally large quantities of illegal narcotics were seized in Tachilek. Burma is one of the world’s largest producers of both heroin and methamphetamine pills, with the majority of its production being smuggled into Thailand to supply both domestic users and the illegal marketplace in Europe and the USA.


Police Region 5’s centenary event focuses on drug usage

Pol Lt Gen Somkid Boonthanom, 3rd right, Chief of Provincial Police Region 5 together with representatives of the Office of Narcotics Control Board (ONCB) attended the opening ceremony of Police Region 5’s centenary event.

Supoj Thiamyoj
At an event held August 29 and 30 at Airport Plaza to celebrate the centenary of the founding of Chiang Mai’s Police Force Region 5, the focus was on the war against drugs in order to raise public awareness of the harm caused by drug usage and addiction.
The 8 Northern provinces are the responsibility of the Region 5 police as regards drug smuggling, dealing and usage, up to and including the Burmese border areas. In order to involve the general public, information regarding the government’s ‘5 borders’ strategy as a preventative measure against drugs in the community, together with the results of drugs busts, seizures and arrests by police and related organisations were displayed at the event. Talks on anti-drug policies and performances by local children were also given, with the aim of involving those most at risk from drug usage, the city’s young people.
Thailand’s police force was inaugurated during the reign of King Rama IV, and was modelled on the Western system, an early example of ‘taking the Best from the West’. Its operations were expanded during the reign of King Rama V, with provincial divisions being instituted and the Chiang Mai division being initially known as the Provincial Payap Police.


Chiang Mai hopes its workshops will reverse drop in tourist numbers

Nopniwat Krailerg
Chiang Mai province’s long history is reflected in this modern age by its art, culture, customs and traditions as well as its famous tourist attractions popular with both Thai and foreign visitors. However, in the past several years, tourism and, as a result, the city’s economy has been badly affected by a series of disasters including political unrest and violence, the world- wide recession, the H1N1 virus, pollution, scams and unfavourable comments by Foreign Offices and the world media.
In an effort to stimulate tourism in the province, and particularly in the city, the Provincial Administration Organisation will host a workshop programme entitled ‘The Future of Chiang Mai’s Tourism is in the Hands of the Chiang Mai People’.
The municipality feels that, in recent years, the main reason for the decline in Chiang Mai’s tourism is a similar decline in the province’s authentic identity through a rise in consumerism and a decline in spirituality. Richer natural and cultural resources publicised by other areas in the north have also taken their toll on the numbers of visitors to the city and its immediate surroundings. In spite of the advances made in the last several years in returning the major festivals of Songkran and Loi Krathong to their religious roots, and the greening and cleaning of the city for the benefit of its visitors as well as its residents, Chiang Mai has lost between 30 and 40% of its income from tourism.
Although no details of the workshops’ content have yet been given, the municipality hopes that the programme will assist and inspire those in the tourism sector to work together to reverse the decline and bring back prosperity to the region and the industry, in spite of unfavourable economic and political issues and negative publicity.


David Crisp murder suspect changes plea at hearing

CMM reporters.
At a hearing held recently in Chiang Mai, Chatchai Tarasaksit, who at the time of his arrest had confessed to his part in the killing of Chiang Mai musician David Crisp, surprised lawyers and David’s family by changing his plea to ‘not guilty’. A second man, Awoei Yaepiang, confirmed his ‘guilty’ plea, while the third man involved in the murder is still on the run, reputedly in Burma. All three accused were known associates of David’s.
According to police, Chatchai has also been arraigned on a different charge, with his trial for another murder taking place in March next year. Relatives of David had been told by officials that both men, if convicted, would face the death penalty; however, the British Embassy in Bangkok recently noted that a guilty plea could win favour from the judge, resulting in a custodial sentence for Awoei.
David’s brother, Andrew Crisp, has been informed recently by police that more witnesses will be interviewed over the next several months, and has stated that,
‘The Thai legal system is not very forthcoming when dealing with people outside of the country. Even our Thailand friends haven’t received much information, so that which we have received has been very limited. All we can go is allow the proceedings to continue. As nothing can bring my brother back, I shall not be coming to Thailand for the trials’.


Fire Control Office seminar reports on cooperation project

Siriporn Raweekoon
Following cooperation between government and private sectors regarding research into the causes of pollution in the Ping River valley and in the city itself, it has been decided that the main contributory factors are forest fires and the burning of domestic and agricultural rubbish in village locations.

Fire Control Operations Divisions’ Officer Director Surapol Leelawaropas.
At a recent seminar held at the Lanna Palace Hotel hosted by the Fire Control Operations Divisions’ Office 16, the organisation’s director Surapol Leelawaropas introduced the results of a project which brought together a network of 172 volunteers from 250 villages in Chiang Mai and Lamphun provinces and trained them in the causes of pollution and their prevention within the local community. The insights gained through the project will be used to develop more effective methods of prevention. After the seminar ended, a full record of the activities of the villages and volunteers registered by the project was given to all participants as a reference tool.
The Fire Control Office will expand its network across all 8 Northern provinces at a future date, encouraging local residents to cooperate in a similar manner to minimise the effects on the environment of uncontrolled burning.


Breaches of alcohol laws found in all Nimmanhaeminda restaurants and bars

Nopniwat Krailerg
Recent investigations under the 2008 Alcohol Control Act into the operations of clubs, bars and other entertainment venues were the subject of an August 23 press conference held by the Provincial Public Health Office, and the Office of Alcoholic Beverages.
According to the two offices’ report, all restaurants and entertainment venues in the Nimmanhaeminda and Atsadatorn roads were found to be violating the law forbidding the advertising of alcoholic beverages without an accompanying reference to good social values. The penalty for the infringement is either 1 year’s imprisonment, a fine of 500,000 baht, or a 50,000 baht per day fine until compliance.
Many venues were also found to breaking the law as regards promotions and special offers, for which the penalty is 6 months’ imprisonment or a 10,000 baht fine. All advertisements and promotions were suspended by the investigating officers.
After the press conference, local administrative officials from the Customs department, the police and the public heath office together with officials of the Don’t Drink Club from 8 Northern provinces, visited the areas again with the aim of bringing charges against entertainment venue owners still in breach of the law.
The investigations are scheduled to continue, with a fortnightly report from members of the Don’t Drink Club being filed with the Alcoholic Beverages office.

Pictured are bars and restaurants in the area behind Tesco Lotus, all of whom were discovered to have been ignoring liquor advertising laws


Chiang Mai tourism gets boost from Washington media

CMM reporters
Chiang Mai’s beleaguered tourism industry is set to receive a boost from some unexpected but more than welcome publicity in that highly-respected and widely circulated broadsheet, the Washington Post.
The article, ‘Where to go and what to do in Chiang Mai, Thailand’, appears in the Post’s Travel section, and will, no doubt, be read by many in governmental and related sectors who are in need of a well-earned rest from the political scene!
All economic strata are covered, with advice on airlines including the low-cost carriers as well as the national airlines; information on hotels from the Chedi and Le Meridien to the Eagle Guest House and its eco-friendly tour office, both beloved by backpackers. Several restaurants and the Anusarn Market complex are mentioned, stressing traditional Thai dishes.
Tours around the area are covered as well, both group and individual, from 2-day treks into the mountains to ready-made local city tours. The Night Bazaar is noted as a spectacle as well as a souvenir destination, with the comment, ‘Don’t be surprised to see a Thai T-shirt vendor haggling in passable Hebrew with an Israeli tourist as whole pigs’ heads wait to be sold at the food market next door’. Only in Chiang Mai.


South China’s Sipsongpanna region to cooperate with Thailand

Siriporn Raweekoon
At a business seminar held August 26 at the Imperial Mae Ping Hotel, a trade and investment-oriented memorandum of understanding was signed between representatives of Thailand and the South Chinese region of Sipsongpanna (Xishuangbanna), witnessed by the governors of both provinces.

Dao Linyin, governor of Sipsongpanna Autonomous Prefecture, was a guest of honour at the ‘Business and Investment Opportunities in Xishuangbanna’ seminar at the Imperial Mae Ping Hotel on August 26.

According to the Chiang Mai governor, China is Thailand’s long-term business partner. Thai businesses in Sipsongpanna include real estate, gold and jewellery, motorcycle parts, foodstuffs and entertainment venues. Last year, trade between the two provinces totalled over $36 million, with an expansion rate of 16.7%. However, during the last 7 months this total fell by 20%. The governor requested that the two countries should cooperate in restoring the lost revenue, adding that the visit to Chiang Mai by Sipsongpanna’s governor would strengthen still further the relationship between China and Thailand as well as improving cooperation between Chinese and Thai business operators.
Sipsongpanna, with its capital Jinghong, has a population of 1.7 million, and boasts well-developed logistics including land, air and river transportation routes between the Mekong sub-region countries. The province is China’s largest rubber producer.
Opened to trade some 30 years ago, its annual GDP is now approximately $1,540 million, with thriving businesses including ecotourism, science and education. The province will cooperate with Thailand in the agriculture, public utility industry, tourism, education, and culture sectors, and is prepared to offer tax reductions and other privileges to investors.


Northern region’s economy expected to revive by year end

The senior director of the Bank of Thailand’s Chiang Mai office Chantawan Sucharitkul spoke recently at a seminar held at the bank’s office and entitled ‘Economic Conditions and Northern Industry Trends’.

Siriporn Raweekoon
According to the senior director of the Bank of Thailand’s Chiang Mai office Chantawan Sucharitkul, during a seminar on local economic trends, the northern region has not been as seriously affected by the world recession as has the remainder of Thailand, due to the reliance of the majority of local businesses on the internal market. .
However, the tourism sector in the city has been severely affected by a combination of political unrest and violence, the H1B1 virus, the high baht and bad publicity in the world media, causing a strong decline in visitor numbers during the first 5 months of the year. Numbers increased considerably in July due mostly to meetings and seminars being held in the city, and continued the upswing in August. As a result, overall year-end results for Muang district are expected to be positive.
An increase in investment in the region is not expected at present, although export orders in the electronics sector are rising, and the agricultural sector is improving. Unemployment in the region remains lower than the country’s average.



Chiangmai Mail Publishing Co. Ltd.
189/22 Moo 5, T. Sansai Noi, A. Sansai, Chiang Mai 50210
THAILAND
Tel. 053 852 557, Fax. 053 014 195
Editor: 087 184 8508
E-mail: [email protected]
www.chiangmai-mail.com
Administration: [email protected]
Website & Newsletter Advertising: [email protected]

Copyright © 2004 Chiangmai Mail. All rights reserved.
This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

Advertisement