Gorgeous Thai beauty queens come to town
Five of the Miss Thailand World 2009 contestants
enjoyed a close and cuddly encounter with baby panda Lhin Ping at the Chiang
Mai Zoo on the first day of their visit to Northern Thailand.
All 25 of the contestants vying for the crown in the Miss Thailand
World 2009 contestants vying for the beauty crown visited Chiang Mai last
During their stay at the Kantary Hills Hotel on September 19-20, they spent
3 days visiting local tourist attractions in and around both Chiang Mai and
Lampang, shopping, and making public appearances. One aim of their visit was
to promote the concept of ‘beauty with brains and knowledge’.
bevy of beauties were fascinated by the variety and wonder of the marine
life in the salt water section of the aquarium.
The contest itself is organized by BEC Tero Entertainment Co.Ltd, on licence
from the UK’s Miss World Pageant. BEC will be celebrating their 25th
anniversary shortly in Chiang Mai. According to the organisers, funds raised
from the contest will go to schools’ and foundations’ charitable projects.
The final round of the contest will take place in Bangkok October 17, with
the winner representing Thailand at the final Miss World 2009 pageant to be
held in South Africa in December 12.
Mong triumphs in Japan
Tokyo - Mong Thongdee, a 12 year- old stateless boy born to
Burmese construction workers in Chiang Mai captured third place in a
Japanese paper airplane contest Sunday after his tearful pleas to be allowed
to attend prompted Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva to step in and order
officials to grant him a rare temporary passport for the event.
Thongdee prepares to release his paper plane during the individual indoor
flight duration competition at the All-Japan Origami Airplane Contest in
Makuhari, near Tokyo, Sunday, Sept. 20, 2009. (AP Photo/Shizuo Kambayashi)
Mong won a national paper airplane championship in Thailand in August 2008
after he threw a plane that flew for 12 seconds, and was later chosen to
attend the Japanese contest in Chiba, near Tokyo. But Mong, who lives in
Chiang Mai, is the son of Myanmar migrants who are stateless and so have no
legal right to travel abroad.
His first application to leave Thailand was denied, but after national media
coverage of him quietly sobbing after the refusal captured the hearts of
many Thais he was granted a temporary passport.
Mong appeared Sunday in a white T-shirt decorated with the Thai flag,
whipping his carefully folded airplanes high into the air during the
competition in front of hundreds of spectators.
He placed third in the division for elementary school students with a time
of 10.53 seconds. In an earlier exhibition, Mong’s airplane stayed in the
air for 16.45 seconds.
After the event he said he wanted his family back home to know he got third
place, and that he was grateful to the people who supported him.
On Saturday, his three-person Thai team won the group competition.
Contestants quickly fold their planes at the event, then throw them into the
Thongdee poses with a portrait of Their Majesties the King and Queen
together with his diploma after the individual indoor flight duration
competition at the All-Japan Origami Airplane Contest in Makuhari, near
Tokyo, Sunday, Sept. 20, 2009. (AP Photo/Shizuo Kambayashi)
Mong’s ethnic Shan parents have only temporary permission to live and work
in Thailand, so although he was born in the country he has only temporary
resident status. Under normal circumstances, if he left and tried to return,
his status would be revoked and he would be barred re-entry to the country
where he was born.
When his initial application for temporary exit papers was denied, the story
dominated the front pages of Thai newspapers, and a national lawyers’
council petitioned the court on his behalf.
Finally Prime Minister Abhisit intervened and guaranteed the necessary
paperwork for the young champion to travel.
His tale has led to fresh attention for those in his situation in Thailand,
who have less access to education and health care. Mong is on a list of
people who will be considered for repatriation to Myanmar in February 2010.
Unlucky for some – Thai gamblers arrested for illegal entry
Five Thai gamblers, who had temporarily left the country to spend
time and money at a casino just across the border in Laos were arrested when
they tried to re-enter Thailand without using an immigration checkpoint.
Bangkok and Chiang Rai residents Sornsit Suppakijjayothin, Kritsana Tongmul,
Jurirat Kambao, Nutchanat Saengsuwan and Apiwat Kaewsuwan were arrested
close to Panit Lan Chang port in Chiang Rai’s Chiang Saen district by
officers from the Chiang Saen Water Police, having crossed the Mekong River
using a boat thoughtfully provided by the casino. All 5 were assured by
casino employees that the route would be clear of the Thai authorities.
In addition to losing approximately 100,000 baht at the gaming tables, the
unfortunate 5 were arrested and charged with illegal entry to Thailand, as
they had not used the proper channels.
CMU hosts ‘Road Map to
An academic meeting focusing on the promotion of Thai universities
in the field of cyber-technological learning systems was held September 11
at Chiang Mai University’s Information Technology Service Centre, headed up
by Asst. Prof. Dr. Pong-In Rakariyatham, vice president of CMU’s Academic
Prof. Dr. Pong-In Rakariyatham, vice president of CMU’s Academic Affairs
department, shown during his opening speech
The aim of the meeting was to introduce an efficient and
internationally-recognized online learning system leading to the recognition
of Thai educational institutes as world-class cyber-universities. About 40
directors and administrators of educational institutions attended to
exchange experiences and ideas so that effective educational policies could
In his opening speech, Asst. Prof. Dr. Pong-In noted that learning
techniques had been greatly influenced by the IT revolution and e-learning,
which had significantly increased educational potentials for students
However, he added, although a number of Thai universities had made
preparations for e-learning programmes, the systems managements needed to be
integrated into an educational system utilising information technology in
support of life-long learning. This system should operate on flexibility and
continuality, and be supportive of resource sharing, as well as having
quality and standards. To develop such an educational system as an essential
learning tool, all higher educational institutions should be required to
cooperate in the creation of online distance learning programmes.
Police raid Burmese NGOs’ offices, arrest 10 women
Chiang Mai police recently raided several offices belonging to
exiled Burmese opposition groups and arrested 10 Burmese women who were
attending a capacity-building workshop. Local offices of similar groups and
media organisations have remained closed since the raid.
According to a Burmese source, police were provided with information and
photos if the locations raided, which included the Human Rights Education
Institute of Burma, the Burmese Women’s Union and the National Health and
Education Committee, three of a number of exiled Burmese groups which have
opened NGOs and legal advice centres in Chiang Mai during recent years.
No explanation has yet been given as to why local police are targeting
Burmese opposition groups and human rights workers. According to a
diplomatic source, Western embassies in Bangkok are watching the situation
Flash floods in Nan kill
1 adult, 3 children
One man and three children were found drowned after a 2 hour
tropical downpour in Nan province resulted in flash floods inundating a
In the early evening of September 12, one man and a child were swept
away whilst tending a buffalo in a field next to a local klong. Police
and a team from the provincial Disaster Prevention and Mitigation
Centre, having driven over an unstable route through the mountains to ,
searched with village volunteers for 3 hours before finding the body of
Meng Saekong, 34, who had suffered a severe head wound before drowning.
Almost immediately an urgent report was received concerning 2 young
children who had been seen swimming in a klong in nearby Song Kwae
village before the flash floods hit and who were now missing. Several
hours later, the two children, Numplai Wannasudee and Kongpop
Wisetkantarakorn, aged 2 and 4, were found, still breathing, and were
rushed to hospital. Tragically, both died later from pulmonary oedema.
Nan governor Weerawit Wewattanawanit said he had received a report
earlier about a landslide at the road between Nan and Ban Luang, and had
arranged for the damage to be made good. The families of the dead and
missing would be given financial assistance, and leaders of villages in
endangered areas have been requested to monitor against landslides and
Swiss man found dead at rented house
A Swiss man was found dead September 13 in a rented
house in Chiang Mai’s San Phi Sua sub-district. According to
local police, the condition of the body suggested that Waynie,
51, had been dead for at least a week. The cause of death has
yet to be determined by autopsy.
Police and an on-call doctor had been called to the scene by
neighbours and the owner of the rental property, Rattana
Promjaiya, who had been alerted by a strong smell. Rattan told
police that she had not seen the dead man for 4 days, and had
assumed that he was travelling. No injuries were found on the
Chiang Mai hotels and restaurants receive municipal awards
Permanent secretary of the Chiang Mai
Municipality Dr. Ken Santitham presented the awards to representatives
of the hotels and restaurants.
A number of Chiang Mai hotels in the municipal area have been
granted honours certificates by the municipality’s Environmental Health
Office for their excellent services to visitors. The awards were
presented recently at a ceremony held at the Chiang Mai Grandview Hotel.
Winners of gold awards in the ‘200 rooms plus’ category were the
Empress, the Chiang Mai Orchid, the Imperial Mae Ping, the Chiang Mai
Plaza, the Dusit D2, the Centara Duangtawan and the Chiang Mai
Grandview. In the ‘60-200 room’ category, gold awards were received by
the Royal Princess, the BP Chiang Mai City, the Oasis, the Suriwongse,
the Star, the Park, the Ratilanna, the Downtown Inn and the Maninarakorn
with, in the smaller ‘60 room’ category, Tamarind Village, the Eurasia
and the Bodhiserene also receiving gold awards. One silver award was
made, to the Chiangmai Ratanakosin.
Restaurants in the hotels were also examined, resulting in 32 hotels
being granted ‘Clean Food Good Taste’ certificates.
Science and Technology
seminar held at CMU
Assist. Prof. Dr. Amarin Boontan, left,
deputy director of the Institute for Science and Technology, Research
and Development , with Assoc. Prof. Dr. Daoroong Kangwanpong, right,
CMU’s vice president for Research and Academic Services, are seen
cutting the ribbon to mark the opening ceremony of the seminar held at
CMU on September 15.
A seminar focused on science and technology was held at Chiang
Mai University (CMU) September 15, the 45th anniversary of its founding
and the 22nd anniversary of its Institute for Science and Technology
Research and Development. During the seminar, entitled ‘2009 Science and
Technology for a Strong Community’ and presided over by Assoc. Prof. Dr.
Daoroong Kangwanpong, the CMU’s vice president for Research and Academic
Services, a number of the centre’s research papers were presented.
The event was aimed at encouraging new innovations in the field in order
to stimulate Thailand’s economy and establish Chiang Mai as a centre for
science and technology. A further aim was to link government and private
sectors with financial resources in order to fund research and studies.
A number of funding organisations set up informational displays, with
the centre’s projects also being exhibited and consultations on
intellectual property rights being made available.
Planning conflict between history and development in Chiang Mai
A conflict has arisen between the need to protect designated
historical areas of Chiang Mai according to established government
preservation and improvement guidelines and the road-widening scheme
proposed last year by the current government.
Mai deputy governor Pairote Saengphuwong chaired the city planning
meeting at City Hall on September 14.
In 2003, the then government set up protocols for the preservation of
Rattanakosin era and older cities in order to protect historical sites
from redevelopment or demolition. A number of historic locations were
designated, with each receiving draft measures covering various areas
regarded as having cultural value. The draft measures for the designated
ancient areas of Chiang Mai city included control over land use,
construction, building modifications, or any action that could cause
damage to the ancient environment and its structures, elements and
objects of cultural value.
Unfortunately, many of the culturally significant areas and structures
in the city, including the city walls, its moat and gates, numerous
temples and original old quarters were excluded from the lines of
In an attempt to discuss and remedy the omissions, a meeting was held
September 14 between Chiang Mai deputy governor Pairote Saengphuwong and
representatives from involved organisations including the Provincial
Office of Natural Resources and Environmental Policy and Planning, the
Chiang Mai Department of Public Works and Town and Country Planning, the
Chiang Mai Provincial Land Office, the Chiang Mai Provincial Culture
Office and the Chiang Mai Provincial Buddhism Office.
Points raised included a request to place Kaeo Nawarat, Charoenmuang,
Bamrungrat, Tha Pae, Charoen Prathet, Ratchawong, Chang Phuak,
Nimmanahaeminda, Suthep and Huai Kaeo areas under protection in order to
remove them from the road-widening project. Chareonrat Road has already
been removed as it was one of the originally designated protected areas.
However, no formal conclusions were arrived at, and the meeting closed
with all representatives being asked to review the points raised for
further discussion at the next meeting.
Exploding tankers and collapsing oil-rigs at Expats’ Club meeting
A very different and fascinating talk entitled,
‘Failures I Have Known’, given by Dr. Neil Robinson, an eminent
expert in materials engineering specialising in the
determination of the causes of mysterious structural failures,
had Chiang Mai Expat Club members on the edge of their seats at
the last meeting. Dr. Neil shared his memories of intriguing
detective work he had undertaken, ranging from exploding tankers
to collapsing oil-rigs to destructive toilets –a thoroughly
entertaining and informative talk which generated a lively
question and answer session.
The meeting closed with a reminder to members that tickets at
250 baht each would be required for the next scheduled meeting
to be held September 26 at the Shangri-La Hotel in the form of a
celebratory Birthday Breakfast Bash to mark the 4th anniversary
of the founding of the club. A lavish breakfast will be offered
together with musical entertainment.
Japanese government grant to provide new dormitory for hill-tribe school
The Japanese government, under its Grant Assistance for
Grassroots Human Security Project Scheme, (GGP), has provided
2,987,000 baht for the construction of a student dormitory at
Suksasongkraw Maechan School in Chiang Rai’s Maechan district.
The Chiang Mai Consul-general of Japan, Junko Yokota was the
guest of honour at the building’s inauguration ceremony on
In the mountainous areas of Northern Thailand, many
underprivileged hill tribe children do not the opportunity to
receive formal education, as their parents cannot afford school
fees and live in remote locations far away from the schools. The
Suksasongkraw Maechan School is a government welfare boarding
school at primary, second and high school levels, established
with the aim of giving underprivileged children an opportunity
to pursue higher education, obtain better jobs, and live more
The school at present holds 908 students, all of them in
residence, which exceeds its boarding capacity creating an
uncomfortable and overcrowded environment for the children. The
new dormitory is intended for boys, and will increase the
available sleeping space, ensuring that the children will
benefit from a more conducive educational environment.
Leading Thai think-tank - welfare state is only way forward
A leading Thai academic think-tank has suggested that
the only way to heal the political rift gaining ground in the
Kingdom is for the government to establish a welfare state aimed
at reducing the ever-widening gap between rich and poor.
At a recently held Bangkok seminar entitled ‘The Way Out for
Thailand’, hosted by King Prajadhipok’s Institute (KPI) the Thai
Journalists Association and the Thailand Development Research
Institute (TDRI), vice-chairman of TDRI Nipon Puapongsakorn and
its research director Somkiat Tangkitvanich introduced the
welfare state proposal on the grounds that it would stabilise
Nipon explained that, over many years, unfair distribution of
wealth had been linked with the distribution of political power
and the increase in the income gap between rich and poor. He
continued that attempts by successive governments to narrow the
gap had only resulted in its worsening due to the implementation
of populist policies connected with political power.
The think-tank suggests that a proportion of Thailand’s annual
GDP should be used to provide welfare schemes funded by tax
reform, cutting government expenses, the tightening of
concession-bidding procedures and the overhaul of the hugely
expensive medical welfare scheme for government employees.
Increasing poverty amongst Thais was one of the major causes of
the recent political disruptions and of the 2006 coup, caused by
extreme populist policies aimed at levelling income
The think-tank will present the academics’ conclusions to the
government, according to KPI secretary-general Borwornsak
Uwanno, who added that ‘I believe Thailand will go through a
major change. If we’re not prepared, the situation could go the
same way as it did in the May 1992 or the October 1973
Stateless girl wins trip to Chengdu in panda-naming contest,
travel permission refused
Following the media uproar about Mong Thongdee, the
stateless boy who, until the intervention of PM Abhisit, was
forbidden to travel to Japan to represent Thailand in an Origami
paper plane contest, another young stateless Lahu student is
being refused permission to take up her 3rd prize trip to China
which she won in the recent panda-naming contest.
Naroi Jatoeng, 15, was born to hill tribe parents living in a
remote part of Chiang Mai province’s Mae Ai district. Her
parents are descendents of Lahu tribespeople who were granted
Thai citizenship and themselves have Thai nationality, but
Naroi’s birth was not registered, leaving her without any way to
prove her identity. Her parents were simply not able to afford
the trip to Mai Ai’s district office to report her birth, nor
the births of her 3 siblings.
An official letter of permission to travel outside Chiang Mai
province for seven days allowed Naroi go to Bangkok to collect
her prize of 100,000 baht and a trip to Chengdu, but she still
will not be permitted to leave Thailand, presumably because she
is considered, as was Mong, a threat to security. .
Last week, Chiang Mai deputy governor Pairoj Saengpuwong said
Article 23 of the Nationality Act held the answer to Naroi’s
problem. Under the act, overseas travel was permitted if those
without Thai citizenship had the status of highlanders.
Authentic documentation, however, would have to be produced,
proving that Naroi’s parents were highlanders, even although
they are accepted as such in their locality and are Thai
At the time, the director of Chiang Mai Zoo Sophon Damnui said
he was shocked by the news, but promised that the young girl
would receive cash equal to the value of the prize if she was
not allowed to take the trip.
Naroi’s school in Pakui village has promised to give her all the
support it can, and it may now be possible for her to be granted
Thai citizenship provided the correct documentation is filed.
Mae Ai district’s senior permanent secretary, Manas Suriyasingh
has promised a review of her situation in order to give her
legal assistance, and the local headman has promised to sign an
affirmation of her status as the child of Thai citizens.
However, the necessary paperwork, DNA testing and checking which
will result in Thai citizenship being awarded will take over a
year to complete, meaning that Naroi will not be able to fulfil
her dream of taking her ‘trip of a lifetime’ to Chengdu. Perhaps
the Thai Prime Minister would like to intervene again?
Threat from Chinese dams to
Mekong biodiversity increases
Local villagers living along the banks of the Mekong are
suggesting that the ecology of the river is being destroyed by
unseasonably variably levels of river water caused by the
Chinese dams upstream, which are disrupting the fish
seasonal migrations and drastically reducing its numbers.
Following the disastrous and unexpected surge in river water
last August which caused extensive flooding in the Chiang Rai
area and which was blamed on the opening of sluice gates in
several of the massive dams in Yunnan province, fishermen have
become aware of a major decrease in their catches, a sign that
fish are unable to adjust to changes in their natural
Although China is considered locally to be the main culprit, the
Thai government is also being held responsible as it has taken
no action against what environmentalists and the United Nations
have described as ‘the greatest threat to the already
beleaguered Mekong, one of the world’s major rivers and a key
source of water, transport and food for the region’.
China is constructing a series of 8 huge dams across the upper
part of the Mekong in Yunnan province. The recently completed
Xiowan Dam is the tallest in the world and has a storage
capacity equal to the combined capacity of all the reservoirs in
South East Asia.
Kantary Hill Hotel celebrates 1st anniversary in Chiang Mai
The popular and very stylish Kantary Hills Hotel has now
been in business off Nimmanhaeminda Road for its first
Kantary group’s director Wiwat Tangjitkobboon has foreseen a
bright future for Chiang Mai’s hotel and tourism business.
According to the Kantary Group’s director, Wiwat Tangjitkobboon,
all 6 hotels in the group are doing well in spite of the world
recession, although visitor numbers have shown a slight decrease
at 80% of capacity instead of the anticipated 85-90%. Wiwat has
no concerns regarding reservations during the upcoming high
As the hotel business in general involves fierce competition
involving promotions, price-cutting, discounts for packages,
free gifts and other inducements, the Chiang Mai hotel has
invested heavily in PR, attracting more seminar and business
clients and, most importantly, focusing on continual
improvements in its service standards in order to attract
Wiwat expects the number of foreign visitors to the city to
increase from the start of 2010, as the political issues and
economic crises which have led to the downturn should be
receding. His confidence is mirrored with the opening of the 7th
Kantary Hills Hotel in Prachin Buri and the construction of the
8th in Hua Hin.
As regards the Chiang Mai Kantary Hills, he believes that it is
unique in the city due to its location, the design concept of
its rooms, its excellent service, its conference and meeting
facilities and its fine restaurants.