NEWS
HEADLINES [click on headline to view story]:

Over 630,000 people to be affected by cold weather

Border Patrol seize illegally harvested teak in Mae Hong Son

Lost Canadian tourist rescued in Salween National Park

American resident drowns in Mae Ping

International Yipeng lamps disappear from the stage at Tha Pae Gate

Chiang Mai Tourist Police promote swine flu prevention

Chiang Dao opens a new Walking Street market

Swine flu outbreak might occur in cool season

Billy finds a home, and a friend, in Chiang Mai Zoo

ASEAN representatives meet to discuss energy sharing policies

Meteor shower coming November 17/18

Northern Ecotourism travel event educates and informs at Ratchapruek

Hand to Paw Animal Outreach and Care For Dogs join together to help dogs at temple in Mae An

Swiss man arrested on pedophilia charges

2 dead in head on collision at infamous stretch of road in Mae Rim

Three former police officers netted in major drugs and arms bust

University lecturer arrested in drug sting

2 workers killed at Chiang Rai Rajabhat University construction site

 

Over 630,000 people to be affected by cold weather

Nopniwat Kralierg
Over 633,000 people in more than 226,000 households are expected to be affected by cold weather in Chiang Mai, according to the Chiang Mai Disaster Prevention and Mitigation Office.

Prachon Pratchasakul, introduces the new center at the Disaster Prevention and Mitigation Office.

District officials from all over the province calculate that over 260,000 blankets and more than 86,000 jackets will be needed. Many organizations have contacted the office requesting aid for area residents.
On Sunday, November 1, the Disaster Prevention Office set up a new center in an effort to help find solutions to weather related problems that arise in the province, according to Prachon Pratchasakul, head of the Office. The center, which will be located at the Disaster Prevention Office, will be led by Chiang Mai Governor, Amornpan Nimanant. The President of the Provincial Administrative Organization, the new deputy director of the center, and officials from various government offices will all work towards greater cooperation between districts to help in mitigating the impact from forest fires, cold weather and air pollution.
 

 

Border Patrol seize illegally harvested teak in Mae Hong Son

Border Patrol and forestry officials inspect seized teak logs in Mae Hong Son.

Khajohn Boonpath
Illegally harvested processed teak logs worth millions of baht were seized by the Border Patrol, provincial police and forestry officials in two different sub-districts in Mae Hong Son Wednesday, November 11.
79 teak logs were found and seized by the BPP squads, Mae Ngao National Park officials , Ban Mae Koh forestry officials, local police and Sub Moei District Administration officials, in the forest near Ban Mae Lui, Tambon Mae Suad in Sob Moei district, Mae Hong Son.
Another further 150 teak logs were also confiscated by officials from the Huay Sing Forest Preservation and Protection Unit, the Salween National Park and BPP ranger forces based in Tambon Mae Sam Laeb, near Salween river banks.
337th Border Patrol (BPP) Company officials, led by Pol. Lt-Col. Sippanant, deputy superintendent of the 33rd BPP, based in Mae Sariang District, Mae Hong Son, believe that the teak is actually being harvested in Thailand’s national forests and is then transferred into Burma, opposite Tak’s Ta Song Yang district, to be processed. The processed wood is brought back into Thailand for transportation and sale.
The police suspect a joint effort between Thai nationals and the DKBA (Democratic Karen Buddhist Army) to illegally harvest golden teakwood from Thailand. It is believed that the abundance of landmines in the forests in Burma, plus increased vigilance by Burmese authorities, have brought the DKBA over the border into Thailand to harvest teak.
Officials report that due to the large number of logs seized in Mae Sam Laeb, it will take some time before enough equipment and elephants can be brought to the area to remove the teak.


Lost Canadian tourist rescued in Salween National Park

By Staff reporters
A Canadian tourist lost in the forest at Salween National Park used his mobile phone to contact his sister to send rescuers. Steve Bajula told authorities that he had arrived at Salween National Park at 10 a.m. on Tuesday, November 10 and parked his motorcycle about 1 km from the Park office and hiked into the forest from there.
He said he had walked through the forest taking photos until he realized that he could not find the way back. He hiked toward the mountain top until he obtained a signal on his mobile phone around 5 pm. He called his sister, Katherine Bajula who was staying nearby in Mae Sariang.
His sister contacted Jaraesak Nantawong, Deputy Director of Conservation Forest Area Administration Office 16 who then called on Mae Sariang police and Surasak Wutin, Head of Salween National Park to enlist the help of park volunteers, local villagers and the police and army to search for the missing man. The searchers found the lost tourist at a wayside hut, exhausted and muddy, around midnight, nearly 20 km from where he had parked his motorcycle.


American resident drowns in Mae Ping

CMM reporters
A 40 year old American resident of Chiang Mai, Michael Snyder, drowned in the Mae Ping River at the Old Nawarat Bridge near Duke’s Restaurant early morning on Saturday, November 7. Pol. Col. Witsit Suesri, an inspector at Mae Ping Police Station, reported when police arrived at the scene they found Panrueng Suttidachanant, the 30 year old wife of the deceased, sobbing that her husband had drowned.
She told police that they had only recently married in April and had been running a restaurant called Veggie Corner, located on Ratchadamnoen Road. She explained that her husband had gone out on the morning of the 6th and hadn’t returned home. When she went to look for him, she found him playing snooker. They argued when she asked him to return to help her with the business so she returned to the restaurant alone.
She told police that when her husband came to pick her up at closing time, they argued again. Stopping at the bridge on the way home, she said he got up on the railing and told her he would jump in to prove his love to her. She asked him to come down and talk but he jumped into the river and consequently drowned. Police arrived on the scene at 1:50 a.m., shortly after he drowned.
Louise Snyder, mother of the deceased, released this statement to the Chiang Mai Mail: “What can we say on the loss of someone so dear to me and his entire family, all his friends, Micheal we will miss you forever!! no words can say how we feel, but know that we are praying to you to help us get through this time of tremendous sorrow, our hearts are so heavy, we love you and will forever think of you. You may not be with us in body but you are with us in spirit and will always be in our hearts!
He is gone from what we know as our world
Now but a memory to treasure in our hearts & mind”


International Yipeng lamps disappear from the stage at Tha Pae Gate

Nopniwat Krailerg
15 lamps, donated by the offices of the Japanese and Chinese Consul Generals, were stolen from the stage at Tha Pae gate after the Loy Krathong festival.

A few of the Japanese lamps that disappeared from the stage at Tha Pae Gate

Local officials called out for the return of the lamps as the cultural artifacts, which were donated to the event, were intended for display at the upcoming 5th Lanna-Japan Cultural Exchange event to be held November 17 to 30.
Officials called for witnesses to come forward to report the whereabouts of the lamps. Anyone with information regarding the theft should contact the Office of the Chiang Mai Municipality.


Chiang Mai Tourist Police promote swine flu prevention

Pol. Col. Yuttasit Boonklam, Inspector of Chiang Mai Tourist Police (center, in black shirt) in a group photo with 20 Tourist Police Volunteers at Tha Pae Gate.

By Supoj Thiamyoj
Chiang Mai’s police mascot joined the city’s Tourist Police, led by Inspector Pol. Col. Yuttasit Boonklam, and 20 Foreign Tourist Police Volunteers, in handing out masks and sanitizer gels to tourists and residents in a bid promote methods of preventing the spread of swine flu, or the (A)H1N1 virus.

Chiang Mai Tourist Police Volunteers set up booths to give guidelines for swine flu prevention to tourists and residents.

In cooperation with the Chiang Mai Provincial Public Health Office, Chiang Mai Provincial Administrative Organization and Chiang Mai Municipality, the Tourist Police joined in organizing the campaign at Tha Pae Gate on Sunday, November 8. The Ministry of Health has recently warned of a new outbreak of the flu reaching Thailand and has encouraged all regions to further swine flu prevention education.


Chiang Dao opens a new Walking Street market

CMM reporters
A new Walking Street market was opened in Chiang Dao October 29 to commemorate the district’s 100 year anniversary.

Supoj Homchuen, Chiang Dao District Chief Officer, announces the opening of the new Walking Street.

The road from the Intaram Temple to the intersection 500 meters away will be closed to through traffic every Thursday from 3 p.m. to 10 p.m. Supoj Homchuen, Chiang Dao District Chief Officer, announced that while spaces must be reserved, anyone is allowed to sell without having to pay a fee. Officials hope that the new walking street will promote tourism to the area and boost revenue in the community.
Interested parties may call 05345-6022–3 or 05345-5079 to reserve a space.


Swine flu outbreak might occur in cool season

Nopniwat Krailerg
Chiang Mai Province has seen 4 deaths and 3,705 cases of swine flu, or A(H1N1), since April 29 of this year, according to Dr. Surasing Wisarutrat, Deputy Chief of Chiang Mai Provincial Public Health Office.

Dr. Surasing Wisarutrat, Deputy Chief of the Chiang Mai Provincial Public Health Office, discusses swine flu cases in the province.

“Although the number of swine flu patients in Chiang Mai has continued to increase over time, recently the province has only had a few swine flu cases per week. The most in one week was 37 patients, in contrast to prior outbreaks with 200 patients a week. The slow increase was due to school holidays and hot weather,” said Dr. Surasing.
He expressed concern that there could still be an outbreak in the upcoming cool weather and reminded people to remain vigilant in preventing the spread of the disease. He reiterated the importance of staying home when sick, wearing a face mask and washing hands in order to help prevent the spread of the flu.
With the onset of winter there have been swine flu outbreaks in Korea, Japan, the United States and European countries, he added. He also warned people in high risk categories, those with heart, lung, kidney and liver diseases as well as pregnant women, to be extra cautious as they have a higher chance of complications or death from the flu.


Billy finds a home, and a friend, in Chiang Mai Zoo

Billy and Chaiyo raise hopes for a new addition to the Chiang Mai Zoo.

Nopniwat Krailerg
Billy, a 19 year old male elephant donated to Chiang Mai Zoo by the Khao Kheaw Open Zoo in Chonburi was introduced to 12 year old female elephant Chaiyo November 5 at the Chiang Mai Zoo’s new 10 million baht elephant enclosure. Officials hope that the two elephants will mate and produce a calf.
Tanapat Pongpamorn, Chiang Mai Zoo’s Director, and Nipon Wichairat, the assistant director for public relations, released the zoo’s newest member into the newly renovated elephant enclosure in a bid to increase the zoo’s elephant population. Officials also hope that this will disprove any rumors regarding the Zoo’s breeding practices with its elephants.
Both elephants seem to like each other very much and, so far, spend time with each other, enjoying the new enclosure and the pool that was recently added, the Zoo director added. He hopes that the Zoo will soon be able to welcome a baby calf elephant to its population.


ASEAN representatives meet to discuss energy sharing policies

Supoj Thiamyoj & Nopniwat Krailerg
Representatives from the 10 ASEAN countries met in Chiang Mai November 9 to discuss energy policies and promote regional cooperation in the use of energy resources. The Minister of Energy, Dr. Wannarat Charnnukun, presided over the opening ceremony of the 11th Forum of Heads of ASEAN Power Utilities/Authorities (HAPUA) held at the Holiday Inn Chiang Mai.

Minister of Energy Dr. Wannarat Charnnukun presided over the 11th Forum of Heads of ASEAN Power Utilities/Authorities (HAPUA).

95 representatives from the 10 ASEAN nations; Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Philippines, Singapore, Vietnam, Burma and Thailand, attended the three day event. Participants discussed ways of linking the power supply systems of the member countries in a bid to facilitate the trade of electricity and natural resources, such as coal and gas, between neighboring countries. The Minister said that construction of nuclear power plants would have to take into consideration economic, technological and safety issues.
According to Minister of Energy, as ASEAN countries’ resources are shared, each country will have access to energy reserves for use in emergency situations and the costs of maintaining energy reserves can be reduced. Examples cited were Burma and Laos which have large supplies of water for generating electricity as well as natural gas resources. Aiding these countries in developing power plants could then result in a boost to their economies by selling power on to countries with a higher energy usage. The Minister explained that currently Thailand can produce 22,000 megawatts of electricity and expects to be able to produce 51,000 megawatts by 2021.
Dr. Wannarat continued by expressing his belief that the current conflict between Thailand and Cambodia would not affect Thailand’s sales of electricity to Cambodia. The partnership, which has been in effect for the past 3 years, was established by a MOU (memorandum of understanding) and would not be affected by politics. Thailand sells 40 megawatts each day to Cambodia, earning the country up to 2.5 billion baht a year.


Meteor shower coming November 17/18

Staff reporters
Provided it’s a clear night, the early hours of November 18 promise a meteor shower for sky gazers in Thailand. The Leonids meteor shower, which visits us every year, could produce as much as 500 “shooting stars” every hour.
The first peak is expected just after midnight Wednesday, November 18, but sky watchers should be able to start seeing the shower beginning late Tuesday night, November 17. There should also be a second peak period between 3:40 a.m. and 5 a.m. according to the International Meteor Organization’s website < http://www.imo.net/calendar/2009#leo >.
“Clearly, the evening to early morning UT hours of November 17/18 are likely to be of greatest observer interest. Luckily, new Moon on November 16 ensures perfectly dark skies for covering whatever events happen,” the site writes, adding that Asia will be the best place to watch the event.
Quoting NASA, Wikipedia writes: “The Leonids are a prolific meteor shower associated with the comet Tempel-Tuttle. The Leonids get their name from the location of their radiant in the constellation Leo: the meteors appear to stream from that point in the sky. The 2009 display peaking on November 17(/18) may produce more than 500 meteors an hour.”
People should be able to enjoy the spectacular phenomenon with the naked eye.


Northern Ecotourism travel event educates and informs at Ratchapruek

Staff reporters
Ecotourism in the north got a boost at the first Northern ECO & Adventure Travel Mart, held at Ratchapruek (Royal Flora Park) from November 6 to 8. The widely attended event was designed to bring together northern ecotourism and sports related travel businesses, Bangkok and nation-wide tour operators, and the media in a bid to increase tourism to the north.

Ethnic hill tribes are represented at a booth at the Eco & Adventure Travel Mart.

The opening ceremony of the Tourism Authority of Thailand hosted event was presided over by Pairote Saengphuwong, Chiang Mai’s Deputy Governor, together with Akkaphol Prueksawan, deputy governor of TAT for tourism products.
The exhibition, held inside the export center, featured tribal cultures and tourism activities from around the region as well as the “7 green concepts of tourism” found in the Green Zone. The event featured package tours and special deals for rock climbing, camping, horseback riding, four wheeling and ATVs, motocross, elephant camps and music camps.

A female presenter welcoming the visitors into the Green Tourism zone.

Ecotourism aims to include programs that minimize the negative aspects of conventional tourism on the environment all the while enhancing the cultural integrity of local people. The TAT hopes that this event, the first of its kind, will help promote the North not only as a tourist destination but one for the ever growing ecotourism sector.
The Thailand-based Northern Eco and Adventure Mart will turn into an annual event from next year. Organisers said one of the reasons for the change in frequency from a biennial show was an anticipated boost in funding from the Tourism Authority of Thailand.


Hand to Paw Animal Outreach and Care For Dogs join together to help dogs at temple in Mae An

By Sandra Clyburn
Caring for dogs, providing service and community awareness is the mandate of both Hand to Paw Animal Outreach Programme and Care for Dogs. Several months ago these two organizations established a partnership to support the local community in the area around Prem International School.

Students from Prem bathe local dogs.
Students from the school became active and dedicated members of Hand to Paw. They have worked diligently and with dedication providing care and lots of love to the dogs that call the local temples home. They are also actively pursuing fundraising activities to financially support the temple projects.
On Saturday November 7, Care for Dogs and Hand to Paw met at the temple in Wat Mae An. The mayor of Mae An, K. Rathad advertised throughout the local area and encouraged people from the village to come to the temple and bring their dogs. This was a first in this community and the students were surprised by the large turnout.

Care for Dogs volunteer administers a vaccine to a local dog.
The CAS students acted as translators, bathed the dogs and sprayed them for ticks and fleas. They provided demonstrations on tick removal and also noted any possible minor injuries that required attention: dog bites, the beginning of mange, etc. At the same time vaccinations for parvovirus, heartworm, distemper and leptospirosis were administered. Care for Dogs and Hand to Paw will return again at the end of the month to continue the vaccination program. Many of the villagers listened attentively to the seminar explaining the benefits of sterilization and the importance of having this procedure conducted in a safe manner by a qualified veterinarian. As a result, at least 15 female dogs have been designated for spaying. In the next 1-2 months Hand to Paw, with the support of Care for Dogs, will facilitate the process. The dogs will be transported to the vet clinic where the procedure will be performed. They will then be returned to their owners for care and a regimen of antibiotics. Truly a partnership in action working towards a sustainable future.


Swiss man arrested on pedophilia charges

Staff reporters
Chiang Mai police arrested 54 year old Swiss citizen Joseph Cornell Velisbat at the Grand Bai Toei Hotel Wednesday, November 11 and charged him with the molestation of minors under the age of 15 years old. Police were led to the Swiss man by a 14 year old boy who had been staying with him in his hotel room. The boy told police that he was told he would be paid for spending time with Mr. Velisbat.
The police noted that Mr. Velisbat has been coming to Chiang Mai and Phuket since 2005 and it is believed that on his many trips to Thailand he regularly invited boys from the age of 14 to 16 to his rooms for intercourse.
The investigative officers from Provincial Police Region 5 have found another victim and are attempting to locate all boys who have had contact with Mr. Velisbat. They also plan to locate the middlemen who acquired the victims for the Swiss man and promised to subject all those involved to prosecution and punishment.


2 dead in head on collision at infamous stretch of road in Mae Rim

Wiang Haeng district students also injured in minibus accident

The van that crashed into the pickup truck, killing both drivers.

Jedsadapong Wongkiew
A head on collision between a minivan carrying students from Mae Tang and a pickup truck carrying teachers from Ban Kae Noi School resulted in the deaths of the drivers of both vehicles on the morning of Monday, November 9.
The accident occurred at an infamous stretch of road called the Ban Mo curve, in Mae Rim’s San Pong sub-district. The van’s driver, Janlong Puanpan, died at the scene and Noppadol Poomrueng, the truck’s driver and also a teacher at Kae Noi School, died en route to the hospital.
8 of the passengers from both the minibus and the truck were injured in the accident, most of them severely, and sent to Nakhon Ping Hospital in Mae Rim for treatment. The pickup truck also hit a motorcycle, injuring two more people.
Police are still investigating the cause of the accident. They have not yet determined if the accident was due to the minivan driver either dozing off at the wheel or possibly losing control of his vehicle when other vehicles cut in front of him. The narrow, twisting stretch of road is the site of many accidents and is well known to locals as the haunted curve.
Meanwhile, 6 students from Wiang Haeng Wittayakom School were injured when the minibus they were riding in overturned in Chiang Dao’s Ping Khong sub-district. The students, all male, and their two teachers were traveling to an academic event in Fang when the accident occurred on Monday, November 9 at 10 a.m.
Muangchai Kambua, 18, was the most severely injured with a head injury that caused a loss of consciousness. He and the other 5 students, who were only slightly injured, were all taken to the Chiang Dao Hospital for treatment. The two teachers in the van were uninjured.
Police are still investigating the cause but believe that Teeradet Fahlert, a teacher at the school, may have dozed off while driving, causing the car to swerve into the other lane, hit a tree and overturn.


Three former police officers netted in major drugs and arms bust

Staff reporters
Three former police officers were arrested on drug and arms smuggling charges in Chiang Mai on Monday, November 9 Pol. Lt. Gen. Wut Liptapanlop, Commissioner of Narcotics Suppression Bureau Region 5 Police reported.
Former Police Senior Sgt. Maj. Sriyont Kankeng was found with 40,000 yabah tablets stuffed into computer parts in a car by the combined task forces of the Narcotics Suppression Bureau Police, the Provincial Region 5 Police, the Highway Police and members of the Army Area Region 3. The former policeman had planned on delivering the drugs to Bangkok when he was arrested at the Chiang Mai Transport Station.
His arrest led police to the capture of a further 6 members of the gang, including 2 former policemen, and the confiscation of a large cache of weapons and ammunition. Police found 3 M16 rifles with 3,000 rounds of ammunition, one 11 mm hand gun, 48 pieces of TNT weighing 1 lbs., 54 pieces of PETN (used to make priming cords for explosives) and 27 rounds of ammunition for an M79 grenade launcher. The gang traded arms for drugs with gangs from neighboring countries and then sold the drugs on in Thailand.


University lecturer arrested in drug sting

CMM reporters
A North-Chiang Mai University lecturer was arrested Sunday November 8 in an undercover sting operation after police received a tip that Suttichat Pattakul had been selling yabah to local youth.
The sting took place at the lecturer’s house in Hang Dong district after the police made arrangements to meet him there in the early hours of Sunday morning. After finding 40 yabah tablets on Suttichat, Pol. Capt. Nopparit Kanta and his team from the Office of the Narcotics Control Board Region 5 arrested the 31-year-old lecturer and charged him with possession of a Class A drug with intent to sell. He was taken to Hang Dong Police station for prosecution where he admitted to police that he had been taking yabah to relieve stress but that he had been selling drugs only to a few friends.


2 workers killed at Chiang Rai Rajabhat University construction site

Chief engineer charged with negligence

Staff reporters
Two construction workers were killed and two more severely injured when the scaffolding they were working on collapsed at the site of the new international conference building under construction at Chiang Rai Rajabhat University, Tuesday afternoon, November 10.
Pol. Capt. Peerapat Oonnantakat, Inspector of Ban Doo police station reported that the four workers were on the scaffolding guiding a steel beam into place over a pillar of the unfinished building when the pillar collapsed. Sak Suwannakan and a man known only as Auan died on the way to the hospital after falling 10 meters. Kandit Kason and Rattakorn Jaiprom remain in hospital with severe head and leg injuries.
Wiboon Koichoosakul, the engineer in charge of the site and partner in the construction company Chiang Rai Benjapol, said that the accident was due to strong winds which caused the beam to slip off balance and fall on the scaffolding resulting in the collapse of the scaffolding. His company has pledged full financial assistance to both the injured and the families of the deceased in covering hospital and funeral costs.
While police have charged Wiboon with causing death through negligence they continue to investigate the cause of the accident.