Vol. VIII No. 44 - Tuesday
November 3 - November 9, 2009



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by Saichon Paewsoongnern


NEWS
HEADLINES [click on headline to view story]:

Tassanai Buranupakorn takes office as Mayor of Chiang Mai

Majority of Chiang Mai residents feel Red Shirt activity has damaged tourism

19 North Korean migrants arrested in Chiang Rai

Chiang Rai drugs bust nets 30,000 Ya-bah pills

‘Gay Natee’ files complaint against new bar

Chiang Rai drug suspect arrested with 500,000 ‘speed’ pills

‘Pang Wan’ gives birth to healthy offspring: mother and son doing well

Handicrafts on offer at the OTOP Fair

Koalas at Chiang Mai Zoo move into their new home

Running in honor of H.M. King Bhumibol Adulyadej

Chiang Mai’s high season kicks off hoping for better times ahead

Chiang Mai Zoo aquarium introduces 100-year-old softshell turtle

 

Tassanai Buranupakorn takes office as Mayor of Chiang Mai

Supoj Thiamyoj
Tassanai Buranupakorn arrived at the Chiang Mai Municipality Office as the new Mayor of Chiang Mai. Accompanied by his uncle, Boonlert Buranupakorn, President of Chiang Mai Provincial Organization and a cheering red-shirted crowd of Rak Chiang Mai 51 members. Officially approved on the 29th, he revealed at his press conference, after making merit at the spirit house in front of the municipal building, that he hopes to comprise his administration team of both long standing members of the political community as well as the new generation of politicians.

Tassanai Buranupakorn, the new Mayor of Chiang Mai Municipality, greets the cheering crowd of his supporters after praying to the spirit house in front of the Office of Chiang Mai Municipality.
Tassanai did not mention any names as he said he must first introduce his new policies to the Municipal Council. Although, he added, that he did not plan on changing any members of his current team.
The new Mayor said that the key issues to be addressed will be to diminish the environmental damage and renew the landscape of the province, repair public utilities, and cooperate with the business sector to develop methods for attracting tourism to the province.
He plans on implementing measures to halt the spread of swine flu in the province as Chiang Mai’s economy and tourism could not risk another bad high season. He also felt it important to continue a good relationship with local civil servants as the development and improvement of Chiang Mai is the goal of every Municipal Officer.
He addressed the irregularities cited regarding his election and expressed confidence in his innocence and that he did everything according to the law.
 

 

Majority of Chiang Mai residents feel Red Shirt activity has damaged tourism

Staff reporters
Chiang Mai has long been famous for abundant natural attractions, traditional way of life and unique art and culture. However, tourism has been on a decline since 2006, affecting thousands of people who rely on tourism for income. Maejo University conducted a poll of 1,106 Chiang Mai residents between the 19th and 26th of October to gauge local opinions on the reasons for the decline and solutions to this problem.
50.5% of those surveyed felt that the perception that Chiang Mai is the center of the Red Shirt activity has damaged Chiang Mai’s tourism, that tourists feel it is not safe to travel to Chiang Mai. While 26.8 % believed that tourism has not been damaged by the Red Shirts but by the current economic crisis, 26.8% marked other. 29.4% of respondents felt that the statement that Chiang Mai was the center of Red Shirt activity was true, while 38.9% disagreed and that felt that only a few residents in Chiang Mai were supporters.
42.5% of those polled believed that the best way to improve Chiang Mai’s tourism industry was more publicity about the unique attractions Chiang Mai has to offer, 25.6% felt that improving the image of the province, the preservation of its culture and customs and the restoration of its tourist attractions would improve the situation. 12.7% believed that solving the political and social conflicts would addres the issue, 9.7% believed that more interesting activities should be arranged, and 9.6% have other opinions.
Of the respondents, 36% believed that natural attractions were the biggest draw for tourists to Chiang Mai, 28.5% believed it is the traditional ways of living, art and culture, 14.6% felt it is the nice weather during cool season, 10.1% felt that it was Chiang Mai’s temples and historical sites, while 8.2% marked other.


19 North Korean migrants arrested in Chiang Rai

Nineteen illegal North Korean migrants were arrested October 29 while travelling by boat on the Mekong River in Chiang Saen district of the northern province of Chiang Rai.
A Thai Navy river patrol boat on duty along the Mekong to crack down on illegal goods and drug smuggling and found the suspect boat which was later found to be carrying 19 illegal North Korean migrants.
The boat pilot was a Lao national who confessed that he had been hired for Bt3,000 (US$85) to smuggle the 15 women and four men from the Lao PDR to Thailand.
Speaking through an interpreter, all of the party, aged between 12 and 70, are mainly from one family, all from Hamgyong province.
All 19 North Koreans would be detained and charged with illegal entry. (TNA)


Chiang Rai drugs bust nets 30,000 Ya-bah pills

CMM Reporters
Following an earlier tip-off, a team consisting of officials from the Mae Chan Administrative Organization and the Pha Muang Force of the 2nd Calvary Regiment was sent out in the early hours of October 20 to intercept a suspected drug trafficking felony taking place on the road between Muang district and Mae Chan district in Chiang Rai.
Three motorcyclists were observed passing by at 4:30 a.m. and officials ordered them to stop for a random search, but one of the men pulled a gun and began firing at the law officers. A shoot-out ensued which lasted about 5 minutes, after which time the officials went to inspect the area and found 30,000 amphetamine pills with the WY label contained in a bag and abandoned with a blue Yamaha motorcycle displaying Chiang Rai license plates. However, they found no dead or injured bodies at the scene.
All the items found were later sent to Mae Chan Police Station for forensic testing and further investigation.


‘Gay Natee’ files complaint against new bar

Nopniwat Krailerg
Natee Teerarotchanapong, otherwise known as “Gay Natee”, Chiang Mai’s well-known activist who has been fighting for the preservation of the cultural heritage in Chiang Mai and the northern region, handed in a complaint letter on October 20 to Chumporn Saengmanee, Chiang Mai’s Deputy Governor, with regard to a new gay bar that has opened for business in the area of Jang Hua Rin, Chiang Mai’s old city gate.

‘Gay Natee’ files complaint against new bar

The letter stated that the new gay bar “Power Boy” was inappropriately advertising using a large billboard with a pornographic image of a half-naked man, which was detracting from the Lanna cultural environment of Chiang Mai.
Natee, who is the secretary of the Chiang Mai Araya Group and the coordinator of the Chiang Mai Conservation Network, said that his organizations had requested that Chiang Mai’s Governor arrange for the billboard to be removed within 24 hours. The representatives from the group and the network also wanted to discuss with the owner of the club to arrange a change of the club’s name to something more suited to the province.
Chumporn Saengmanee said that he had forwarded the case to the organization in charge, which is the Chiang Mai Municipality, to make a decision regarding the appropriateness of the advertising board and contacted the Chiang Mai Muang District Chief Officer for cooperation in examining the case.
He added that it was impossible to follow the request to immediately remove the board due to rules and regulations. Additionally, he said that “gay bars”, which officially register as entertainment venues in a similar way as other types of entertainment businesses, have to operate according to both the law and morality.
In a subsequent interview with reporters, Natee said that the owner of the “Power Boy” bar had already taken away the allegedly pornographic advertising board, however he said he would still petition for a change to the club’s name, and added that he had bought a half-priced megaphone with the intention of using it for protest purposes outside of said bar.


Chiang Rai drug suspect arrested with 500,000 ‘speed’ pills

A local administration officer in this northern province was arrested Wednesday with 500,000 amphetamine pills as Deputy Prime Minister Suthep Thuagsuban instructed security personnel to tighten security along the Thai-Myanmar border to prevent drug trafficking.
Panya Sithong, 40, a member of local administration of Ngiew subdistrict in Chiang Rai’s Thoeng district was arrested, while he was about to delivering the drugs to his client in the provincial seat Tuesday night.
Police accused Panya of being a member of drugs trafficking network of the United Wa State Army (UWSA), an ethnic minority army along the Myanmar-Thai border.
Minister Suthep, on a mission to inspect the drugs situation in the northern province, said he instructed security agencies to step up security along the border to stem drugs influx from neighbouring Myanmar to Thailand.
In the wake of a major crackdown of the Myanmar junta on ethnic minority groups, Suthep said, the minorities military and militia forces need money for ammunition for their looming battle with the Myanmar armed forces, they are forced to release drugs to neighbouring countries to collect funds to buy weapons and ammunition.
Suthep said the government will install more drug scanners along the Thai-Myanmar border to detecting drugs smuggling across the border. (TNA)


‘Pang Wan’ gives birth to healthy offspring: mother and son doing well

Nopniwat Krailerg
A 20-year-old heavily pregnant elephant named “Pang Wan” from Huay Poeng Elephant Camp was brought to the Elephant Conservation Center in Lampang on September 21, and during the night of October 10 she gave birth to a healthy male calf of 80kg in weight and 90cm in height.

20-year-old elephant “Pang Wan” from Huay Poeng Elephant Camp gave birth to a healthy male calf, with 80 kg in weight and 90 cm in height, at the Elephant Hospital in the center.

According to Dr. Sittidet Mahasawangkul, the head of the Elephant Hospital in the center, “Pang Wan” is now taking better care of her calf, in contrast to her earlier hostile behavior towards the baby elephant. As observed by the vets, “Pang Wan” is always around her newborn, which is also becoming stronger physically as it is now being fed by its mother.
The vet additionally said that proper food in larger quantities would be provided to “Pang Wang” for her own health as well as to increase the nutritional benefits of her milk for the calf.
The elephant hospital is also initiating the “Elephants’ Milk Bank” project for storing milk for newborn elephants.
There are currently 4 elephant-trapping pens with female elephants and their newborns at the Elephant Conservation Center in Lampang’s Hang Chat district. Visitors are welcome everyday from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.


Handicrafts on offer at the OTOP Fair

Staff reporters
The Community Development Department cooperates with Central Airport Plaza in hosting the “OTOP” products sale event between October 19 and November 4 at the Lan Muan Jai in the Central Airport Plaza department store. The event is to be held as new marketing channel for sale of the products from the communities to boost the economy and help raise the incomes of the local people.
The great selection of OTOP (One Tambon One Product) products, including foods, drinks, clothing, consumer goods, accessories, souvenirs and herbal products, from 4 regions of Thailand will be available for purchase. The art and cultural performances will be presented to the interested Thais and foreign tourists, and the attendees can also join many fun activities in the event.
A large selection of OTOP (One Tambon, One Product) goods will be on sale at Lan Muan Jai in the Central Airport Plaza department store from October 19 to November 4. The Community Development Department, in cooperation with Central Airport Plaza, is holding the event to help raise the incomes of local artisans and boost the economy.


Koalas at Chiang Mai Zoo move into their new home

Takaharu Saito, left, Managing Director of Thai Lotte,
and Tanapat Pongpamorn, right, Director of the Chiang Mai Zoo,
in the ribbon cutting ceremony for the koalas’ new home.

Jedsadapong Wongkiew
Chiang Mai Zoo koalas can now move back into their newly refurbished, more natural habitat after the official reopening took place on October 28. Thai Lotte, the distributor of the Koala’s March food product, sponsored the renovation of the display area as well as the construction of a new arch and signposts.

The koala cub “Chiang Muan”

The company also generously donated a 600,000 baht, or assistance for two years supply of food for the 6 resident koalas, which was handed to Tanapat Pongpamorn, the Chiang Mai Zoo’s Director, by Takaharu Saito, the Managing Director of Thai Lotte.
Two koala bear cubs were born at the zoo in the past two years, Ken, a male and Chiang Muan, a female. The zoo now has three pairs of koalas, 3 females and 3 males. Koalas have unique eating habits in that they receive 90% of their hydration from eucalyptus leaves and rarely drink water. An adult koala can consume between 200 and 500 grams of eucalyptus leaves a day, and are slow moving creatures as the tough leaves take time to digest.


Running in honor of H.M. King Bhumibol Adulyadej

Staff reporters
Five runners plan to run 960 km from China to Thailand between November 5 and December in honor H.M. King Bhumibol Adulyadej’s 82nd birthday. The runners, Pol. Sen. Sgt. Maj. Plam Promchapa, Chachet Kittisopon, Satit Saisongtham, Sgt. Sakchai Donchada and Po. Banlang Kantapol, will run 235 km from Chiang Rung to Mohan in China, 190 km from Boten to Huay Xai in Laos with the remainder of the run to take place in Thailand.
Not only do they wish to honor H.M. The King but also hope to promote tourism and strengthen ties between Laos, China and Thailand. They will pass through Chiang Rai, Phayao, Lampang, Phrae, Uttaradit, Phitsanulok, Nakhon Sawan, Chainat, Sing Buri, Ang Tong and Ayutthaya to the finish line at Sanam Luang in Bangkok, where they will attend Father’s Day events to celebrate the King’s birthday. Residents are encouraged to join the short-distance running when the runners pass through their provinces. Interested people can come to the arranged locations to sign in the books to wish the King a long life and happy birthday.


Chiang Mai’s high season kicks off hoping for better times ahead

Nopniwat Krailerg
Chiang Mai’s Governor, Amornpan Nimanant, presided over the opening ceremony for Chiang Mai’s high tourism season on October 21 at the arrivals terminal of Chiang Mai International Airport.

Amornpan Nimanant, Chiang Mai’s Governor, presents a Bo Sang umbrella to a tourist as a souvenir from Chiang Mai. (Photo by Jedsadapong Wongkiew)
The ceremony, titled “Time to… Moving in Chiang Mai!” was attended by many honorary guests including Pol. Maj. Gen. Sommai Kongwisaisuk, the Commander of Chiang Mai Provincial Police, Boonlert Booranupakrn, the President of Chiang Mai Provincial Administrative Organization, and Chalermsak Suranant, the Director of the Chiang Mai Office of the Tourism Authority of Thailand.
The event featured special performances by Thai traditional musical groups to welcome the passengers of a Thai Airways flight from Suvarnabhumi International Airport, the first international arrival of the day at Chiang Mai airport. All the tourists were presented with garlands by Chiang Mai’s Governor and the honorary guests in a Thai-style welcoming ritual.
According to the Chiang Mai Governor, the ceremony marked the official opening of the ‘high season’ for the city’s tourism and Amornpan requested that Chiang Mai residents cooperate as nice hosts, presenting the genuine Chiang Mai ways and Thai hospitality, so that the city and region can reach the status of a world-class destination.
He also added that the people of Chiang Mai should strive to maintain high standards of services, to not take advantage of the tourists, and should work together to overcome the past three years of declining tourist numbers.
During this coming high season Chiang Mai has many interesting events to offer visitors and residents including the Yipeng Festival in November, the Father’s Day celebration, the countdown to 2010 party, the Winter Roses festival and the Red Cross Society event in December.
Next year’s attractions include the Bo Sang umbrellas festival in January, the Ban Tawai carving works event, the flowering and ornamental plants show in February, the Chiang Mai and districts products show in March, a Lanna art and culture event, the traditional Songkran festival in April and the Intakil Festival in May.


Chiang Mai Zoo aquarium introduces 100-year-old softshell turtle

CMM Reporters
The last and largest narrow-headed soft shell turtle, known as Sumo, over one hundred years old, weighing 130 kg and with a 1.5 m diameter shell was introduced to the public at the Chiang Mai Zoo Aqurium by the Zoo’s director, Tanapat Pongpamorn and Roj Thuwanalin, the Executive Director of Marinescape Thailand Ltd.

The female softshell turtle “Sumo” or “the Great Grandmother”, the newest member of Chiang Mai Zoo Aquarium.

According to Roj Thuwanalin the female softshell turtle, worth more than two million baht, is also known as “the great grandmother” due to her great age. She was raised and owned by an anonymous donor who decided to loan her to the aquarium for display in order to provide young people a good opportunity to learn about this nearly extinct animal.
Sumo has unusual markings on her neck and shoulders, resembling the images of pagodas. She is in good physical condition, eating up to 20kg of small fish a week, and could live up to two hundred or three hundred years old.



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