Vol. VIII No. 37 - Tuesday
September 15 - September 21, 2009



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by Saichon Paewsoongnern


NEWS
HEADLINES [click on headline to view story]:

Mayoral contenders swear to conduct fair and honest elections

7 universities to cooperate in swine flu prevention

Unexplained death of young UK expat

700 illegal taxi drivers nabbed at Suvarnabhumi Airport

Municipality pilots pet health services, plans dog population controls

‘Patients beyond Borders’- new guidebook to Thai medical facilites

Study indicates Chiang Mai has high suicide rate

Honest cleaner hands in 1 million baht’s worth of diamond jewellery

Crackdown on back-to-back 60-day tourist visas

US Consul General launches Facebook page to strengthen Northern Thai/US relations

Chiang Mai’s 4-year economic strategy bases on MICE

 

Mayoral contenders swear to conduct fair and honest elections

Supoj Thiamyoj
On September 7, the last day of registration, 3 more candidates applied to stand in the upcoming mayoral election, bringing the total number to 10. No.8, businesswoman Ari Udomsirithamrong, no. 9, general worker Barami Pojanamtooros and no. 10, lawyer Tepyothin Chaiyarat are all newcomers to local politics.
After the final registration session ended at 6.30 p.m., the candidates’ applications and documents were forwarded by Chiang Mai Municipality to the Chiang Mai Provincial Election Commission for an eligibility check, the result of which will be announced within 7 days.
Since the beginning of the registration process on September 4, Chiang Mai has seen the start of election campaigns in various forms throughout Muang district, including posters of the various candidates and loudspeaker vans manned by their supporters.
Several well-known candidates are running for election, with the former mayor, Dr. Duentemduang na Chiengmai running for re-election. All the candidates have strong supporter bases; as a result this is expected to be one of the closest and most competitive in the history of Chiang Mai city mayoral elections, with the final result eagerly awaited by residents and business people alike.
Later, a seminar was held for all mayoral candidates, given by Pongpan Rewtongtawee, the director of the Election Commission, during which guidance was given as to laws, regulation and procedural matters regarding the election itself in order to ensure that all candidates were able to conduct their campaigns in a proper manner and avoid being disqualified.
At the end of the seminar a ceremony was held whereby seven candidates together with representatives of Dr. Duentemduang na Chiengmai, Wallop Saeteaw and Ari Udomsiritamrong took part in the swearing of an oath of loyalty and declaring their moral and social contract of honor to the community and nation.
They drank scared water and swore that they would work towards a lawful and fair election on October 4.

Mayoral aspirants take the oath of loyalty,
swearing to conduct clean and fair elections.

 

7 universities to cooperate in swine flu prevention

University and school students shown wearing masks
to prevent the spread of the H1N1 virus on their campuses.

Supoj Thiamyoj & Nopniwat Krailerg
7 universities in Chiang Mai have announced their cooperation in a project aimed at preventing the spread of swine flu in educational institutions and adjacent communities and raising public awareness of the maintenance of good health and risk-free conditions.
Chiang Mai University, Chiang Mai Rajabhat University, Maejo University, Payap University, Rajamangala University of Technology Lanna, Far Eastern University, and North College Chiang Mai initiated the project at CMU’s Information Technology Service Centre, witnessed and welcomed by Chiang Mai deputy governor Chumporn Saengmanee and Assoc. Prof. Dr. Amnaj Yusook, the vice-president of CMU’s Office for Student Development and Special affairs.
According to Dr. Amnaj, the H1N1 virus spreads easily and rapidly, and has now reached many parts of the country, including many local educational institutions and communities. Although responsive measures have been taken by public health offices, the spread has not been contained, and a recurring breakout is expected within the next two months. Educational institutions, within which a large number of young people gather, are at high risk. .
For the efficiency of swine flu prevention methods, every sector needs to be well-prepared to support government strategies and those of other concerned organisations.
The 7 universities’ combined project is aiming at full and informed cooperation with the Office of Higher Education Commission and the Thai Health Promotion Foundation in organising activities for students and employees to promote swine flu prevention. The communities around CMU’s campus will also be invited to participate in spreading information about the disease and its prevention.
Meanwhile, Dr. Surasing Vissarutrat from the Chiang Mai Provincial Public Health Office has announced that, in Chiang Mai between April 3 and August 30, 2,257 swine flu suspected cases have been recorded with 1,318, confirmed victims and 2 deaths.
Muang district has the highest number of infections, followed by San Sai and Hang Dong respectively, with every Chiang Mai district having at least one infected resident. 52.8% of patients are school students, 17.98% are university students, and 10.93% are adult workers. Laboratory statistics reveal that there have been 1,318 people infected with the H1N1 and 106 with seasonal flu. Age-related statistics show the highest infection rate has occurred in the 15-25 year-old group, which has 447 confirmed cases, with the 10-14- year-old group and those between 5-9 years old also showing higher than average infection rates. The youngest confirmed victim was 7 months old and the oldest 76.
Meanwhile, the start of human trials on the Thai-developed H1N1 vaccine has now been postponed for 3 days by the Government Pharmaceutical Organisation. The delay is being imposed due an abscess found on the lung of one of 12 guinea pigs which had been injected with the prototype serum. the Russian vaccine development team had found similar problems. According to Dr. Vichai Chokewiwat, the organisation’s director, the Russian vaccine development team had found similar problems. He added that initial tests by Thai experts on the lung sample had found no link with the trial vaccine. However, detailed scientific analysis is continuing.
The human trials of the vaccine, now due to begin on September 24, have encountered another problem in that, of the 24 volunteers who came forward, only 2 met the testing requirements.


Unexplained death of young UK expat

CMM reporters
A UK expat living in Mae Hong Son’s Pai district was found dead in bed at a Chiang Mai guesthouse by his girlfriend.
Richard James, 33, with his partner Praweenuth Kuhamukhad, owner of a restaurant in Pai, had arrived by motorcycle in Chiang Mai on September 8, checking into a local guesthouse in the city. The couple spent the later part of the evening in their room, going to bed after drinking beer. Praweenuth woke at 7 a.m. the following morning and found that Richard had died during the night.
The body has been sent for autopsy at a local hospital. Results are not yet available, but local police suspect that a heart attack may have been the cause of Richard’s death as there were no wounds on his body.


700 illegal taxi drivers nabbed at Suvarnabhumi Airport

More than 750 unlicensed taxi drivers and over 400 illegal tour guides have been arrested since July 31 as a result of an ongoing crackdown at Suvarnabhumi Airport by the authorities.
According to airport director Niran Thiranartsin, the joint operation of personnel from the department of Land Transport, police and security personnel arrested 759 unlicensed taxi drivers between July 31 and September 8 and 409 illegal tour guides from August 9 to date. Each faces a maximum fine of 1,000 baht. Police are gathering more evidence to file charges against repeat offenders, who may face harsher punishments as a result.
About 50 additional closed circuit television cameras are being installed at the inbound passenger area and the second floor of the passenger terminal, with the
installation expected to be completed at the end of this month.
Faced by a number of negative reports in the international media about malpractice problems and scams taking place at the airport, Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva has ordered airport officials to resolve the problems in order to restore confidence among foreign tourists. However, according to reports, a large number of illegal practices are continuing at the airport, with Niran stating that, ‘The situation remains serious despite the initial success of the security team in tackling the problem. Illegal operators still need to be targeted and we have to keep on seriously enforcing security measures’ (TNA) 


Municipality pilots pet health services, plans dog population controls

Supoj Thiamyoj
On September 4, a team of officials from the veterinary division of Chiang Mai Municipality’s community health support services were sent to Nong Hoy community, where they gave health-related services to a large number of pet dogs brought by their owners.

Veterinarians from Chiang Mai Municipality’s community support services went to Nong Hoi community to provide health- related services such as vaccinations and sterilisation advice and injections to local dogs and canine health advice to their owners.
Treatments included rabies vaccinations, birth control advice and injections and flea and tick control medicines. Basic health treatments and a dog registration scheme were also provided. The owners of registered dogs were given records of their dogs’ medical histories and vaccinations, with the information also being recorded by the municipality for use in the planning of owner and homeless dog population controls and canine heath monitoring.
Following the pilot session at Nong Noy, the project will be expanded within the municipal area to all communities and their residents.


‘Patients beyond Borders’- new guidebook to Thai medical facilites

CMM reporters
Healthy Travel Media and the Tourism Authority of Thailand, (TAT), have jointly announced the launch of Patients beyond Borders’ Thailand edition, to be published this month in the English language for international distribution.
Produced in collaboration with TAT and supported by hospitals and related government and private organisations, the 222-page guidebook will feature 32 pages of colour inserts and offer an in-depth overview of Thailand’s international hospitals, selected health travel agents, nearby recovery and guest accommodations, and area travel information.
According to the CEO of Healthy Travel Media, Josef Woodman, ‘As one of the original countries to support and promote medical tourism, it’s easy to see why Thailand’s excellent healthcare system and unsurpassed hospitality have positioned the country as a robust destination for medical and wellness travel’.
Thailand was one of the earliest international medical tourism hubs, first as a destination for cosmetic surgery, and, in the past decade, as one of the leading destinations for patients seeking medical care abroad. Last year Thailand welcomed 1.2 million patients from more than 190 countries for a wide variety of procedures. Costs of medical procedures in Thailand are considerably lower than those in North America, Europe, and the Middle East.
‘Thailand has emerged as one of the world’s major destinations for medical services. The combination of first-class medical facilities, five-star hotels and serviced apartments, spas, wellness clinics, and myriad tourist attractions has contributed to the country’s popularity’, according to TAT’s deputy governor for marketing communications Juthaporn Rerngronasa, ‘We are pleased that our partnership with Patients Beyond Borders will further advance awareness of Thailand as an important destination for medical tourism’.
Patients Beyond Borders’ Thailand edition will be available in bookstores and at online retail channels throughout the world. The eBook edition will be available through Kindle, Sony Reader, ebrary, and Lulu. Booksellers wishing to carry it should contact Publishers’ Group West at www.pgw.com.


Study indicates Chiang Mai has high suicide rate

Supoj Thiamyoj
A study of suicide totals undertaken by the Department of Mental Health in 2008 has revealed that, out of a total on Thailand of 3,792 successful suicide attempts, 245 were in Chiang Mai.
The majority of suicide victims were male elementary school graduates who had not undertaken further education, and were within the age group of 20-49 years. Family arguments or either physical or mental illness were the most common causes.

Kittiwan Tiamkaew, chief of the Child and Adolescent Psychiatric Clinic at Suanprung Hospital, during her report outlining the need for prevention and care for potential suicides.

As a result, projects to control the incidence of suicide as a last resort will be initiated, with the use of campaigns, exhibitions and the publicising of mental health consulting services by the Department’s participating hospitals. The aim of the projects will be to educate the general public in awareness of the issue and its seriousness, and to provide means by which individuals can help and advise those at risk from themselves.
September 10 has been designated by the World Heath Organisation as World Suicide Prevention Day. This year’s slogan is Suicide Prevention in Different Cultures. Suicide is a major issue in the public health sector and ranks in the WHO’s list of the top ten causes of death worldwide. The WHO’s statistics show that each year 1 million people die from suicide, with the numbers expected to increase. The International Association for Suicide Prevention has also reported that 3 % of deaths worldwide result from successful suicide attempts.
For more information about mental health services and suicide prevention, please contact Suanprung Hospital on 053-276-750 or visit www. suanprung.go.th.


Honest cleaner hands in 1 million baht’s worth of diamond jewellery

Supoj Thiamyoj
A recent discovery by an honest cleaning lady at the Kantary Hills Hotel has resulted in 1 million bahts’ worth of diamond jewellery being returned to its legitimate owner.

Chuleekorn Watcharasurank, right, operations manager of the Kantary Hills Hotel, returning the 1 million bahts’ worth of diamond jewellery to its owner Wuthikrit Pisitkul, witnessed by representatives from Chiang Mai police, the hotel’s management and the honest cleaner, Saowanee Siri-ang, 2nd right.
At the beginning of this year, Wutkrit Pisitkul, a diamond trader and jeweller from Bangkok, mislaid his precious possessions whilst staying at the hotel. Several months ago, Saowanee Siriarng was sent to clean the suite and was amazed to find the diamond jewellery in a box hidden in a corner of the room’s safe. She immediately reported her discovery to Chuleekorn Watcharasurank, the hotel’s operations manager, and a press conference was eventually arranged at which the goods were handed back to their grateful owner.


Crackdown on back-to-back 60-day tourist visas

CMM reporters
A further crackdown on 60-day tourist visas by Immigration authorities has been announced through Thai Embassies and Consulates in neighbouring countries and will be effective immediately. Applicants will be subject to increased screening and may have their re-entry visa refused.
The announcement reads as follows: ‘As there have been a number of visa applicants entering Thailand who have misused tourist visas to illegally seek employment during their stay and, upon expiry, sought to re-apply for tourist visas at Royal Thai Embassies and Consulates in neighboring countries, requests for visa renewal by such applicants are subject to rejection as their applications are not based on tourism but on continuing their illegal employment. This is in accordance with the Immigration Act, B.B. 2552 which stipulates that visa applicants are required to clearly express their purpose in visiting Thailand. Should it be found that any applicant’s intention is being concealed, the application will be rejected. Please be informed that the intention of applicants in recent years to repeatedly depart and re-enter Thailand by the use of renewable 60-day tourist visas issued by Royal Thai Embassies and Consulates in neighbouring countries will be considered as a concealment of the applicant’s real purpose in visiting Thailand. As a result, their visa applications will be rejected’.
The notice continues with the advice that foreigners living in Thailand should obtain a Non-Immigrant visa, which can be extended up to one year by the Thai Immigration Bureau.


US Consul General launches Facebook page to strengthen Northern Thai/US relations

CMM reporters
To highlight the 60th anniversary of diplomatic relations between northern Thailand and the USA, Consul-General Michael Morrow has launched an innovative Facebook page with the aim of expanding the consulate’s outreach in cyberspace to northern Thais and strengthening relations between the two countries.
Consular celebrations for the 60th anniversary will begin in December, continuing the objectives of bonding with the general Thai public which have been in focus during this landmark year. The Consul-General is inviting local people to register as ‘Fans’ on the Facebook page in order to stay in touch with the Consulate’s news and activities including the latest highlights from the USA. He is also hoping that everyone will follow his weekly diary, to be published on the page every Wednesday.
At the launch, the Consul-General explained that, ‘The American people are proud of the bonds they have formed with northern Thailand, which date back to the mid 1800s. In this era, where technology allows wider channels of communication, we see Facebook as a dynamic new way to reach the people of northern Thailand with information about America and the importance of U.S.-Thai relations’.
The US Consulate’s Facebook page can be accessed at www.facebook.com.


Chiang Mai’s 4-year economic strategy bases on MICE

Nopniwat Krailerg
The development during the next 4 years of Chiang Mai as a MICE centre both for the province and for the north will involve long and short-term plans targeting the business and conference sectors, according to Chiang Mai governor Amornpan Nimanant.
A ‘Market Focus’ approach will be initiated, based on appropriate products and services for each targeted group. Tourist attractions and facilities will be improved and quality tourism personnel will be encouraged, with alternative activities and events being launched. Chiang Mai is expected to become a world-class destination and centre for cultural, ecological and sustainable tourism, offering hand-made products, health and spa services, and, most importantly, international conference and trade show facilities.
An overall 32,000 hotel rooms are available in the province, with the conference centres in its 5 star hotels able to accommodate 500-2500 people. A number of further facilities are under construction, including the new Chiang Mai International Exhibition and Convention Centre which will be able to host at least 5,000. Ait transportation facilities are more than adequate, with Chiang Mai International Airport serving 1500 international and 10,000 domestic flights per year. By the middle of 2010 it is expected that at least 12 airlines will provide direct flights to Chiang Mai.
In October, ‘Chiang Mai MICE City’ will be presented in Chengdu, China, during a meeting of delegates including the prime ministers of 10 countries. Later, in Chiang Mai, the Travel Agents Federation of India conference will take place, bringing in 1,000 Indian tourism operators and creating more MICE business opportunities with India. At the end of this year, Lanna Ratchaphruek will be held, attracting representatives from the 4 Greater Mekong Sub-region countries to Chiang Mai.



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