Vol. VIII No. 50 - Tuesday
December 15 - December 21, 2009



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by Saichon Paewsoongnern


NEWS
HEADLINES [click on headline to view story]:

Chiang Mai creates world’s largest lantern in honor of HM King Bhumibol Adulyadej

Chiang Mai Zoo opens newly restored orangutan display zone

Baby Hippo missing from Chiang Mai Night Safari found dead

Bird flu clean up campaign kicks off in time for the tourist high season

Mae Hong Son sees tourism boost over holiday weekend

2 Wa drug traffickers killed in shoot out with Pha Muang Task Force

Local businesses encouraged to use open source software

Visitors for the Chambers of Commerce meeting could add up to 2 billion baht to the local economy

Mae Hong Son children with cleft lips receive “Beautiful smiles and voices”

 

Chiang Mai creates world’s largest lantern in honor of HM King Bhumibol Adulyadej

Nopniwat Krailerg
A 9 meter long Lanna lantern was the highlight of the event held in honor of King Bhumibol Adulyadej’s 82nd birthday at the 80th Anniversary Commemoration Public Park near Chiang Mai City Hall between December 1 and 5. Every corner of the park was decorated with the Lanna sculptures and Lanna animal lanterns.
The inside of the lantern was decorated with photographs of HM King Bhumibol Adulyadej. Lanterns are a traditional Lanna handicraft which reflects the belief that light helps guide lives to happiness and prosperity. The world’s largest lantern was created to represent Chiang Mai residents’ love, gratitude and loyalty to the King as well as to publicize his kindness and vision that has enabled the country.

 

Chiang Mai Zoo opens newly restored orangutan display zone

A male orangutan enjoys special food at the opening
of the newly restored orangutan habitat.

Nopniwat Krailerg
Orangutans at the Chiang Mai zoo can now enjoy their newly refurbished and orangutan friendly enclosure. The enclosure has been expanded to suit orangutan’s need for space. Tanapat Pongpamorn, the President of Chiang Mai Zoo, presided over the opening of the zoo’s newly restored orangutan display zone on December 10.
The new home for the orangutans is set in 3,310 sq m of space, nearly the same size of their natural habitat. There are both real and fake trees, as well as exercise equipment for them. The display zone has also been re-decorated and installed with educational signs and games for zoo visitors.
Orangutans are nearly extinct, with only 50 or 60,000 left in an ever decreasing habitat. Orangutans live in rainforest and mangrove forests and generally eat plant material. Orangutans can live up to 50 years and the male can weigh up to 90 kg. Due to their long period of gestation, around 270 days and the fact that baby orangutans are not weaned until they are two or three years old, their population does not increase very rapidly. Indonesia, where orangutans originate, has one of the fastest rates of deforestation in the world.


Baby Hippo missing from Chiang Mai Night Safari found dead

The body of the baby hippo being readied for return
to the veterinary hospital at the Chiang Mai Night Safari.

Kanayuth Danmek 
The one month old female baby hippopotamus that went missing from the Chiang Mai Night Safari veterinary hospital on Thursday, December 3 was found dead on Monday, December 7. Fifty zoo staff members and the Hang Dong police conducted a search of the 819-rai area before a police team using a sniffer dog found the baby hippo in the sewer less than 100 meters away from the veterinary hospital.

The search team from the Night Safari pulls the body of the baby hippo out of the sewer on Monday December 7.
The 30 cm long ailing baby hippo had been taken to the veterinary hospital after its sibling had been killed in an attack by the mother. The hippo, who suffered from lung issues caused by inbreeding, was being treated in a fiberglass container of warm water and was kept behind a one meter high steel fence. The security guard assigned to guard the hippo fell asleep, when he awoke the hippo was no longer there.
Narong Tananuwat, who manages the special zone of the Chiang Mai Night Safari, said “The accident was related to internal conflicts at the zoo” and that “staff would face punishment for the negligence that led to the death of the hippopotamus”. Chiang Mai University veterinarian Chatchote Thitaram and Night Safari veterinarian Anurut Angsusing examined the body of hippo and said she had died of suffocation and starvation over a period of two days.


Bird flu clean up campaign kicks off in time for the tourist high season

Swine flu also update for Mae Hong Son

Volunteers from the Livestock Development Department don protective gear in preparation to hand out disinfectants for farmers to use to fight bird flu.

Kanayuth Danmek & Khajohn Boonpath
A campaign to clean up possible bird flu infected areas was launched on November 13 by the Chiang Mai Provincial Livestock Office, Chiang Mai Municipality and local administrative organizations. Boonlert Buranupakron, President of Chiang Mai Provincial Administrative Organization (PAO) presided over the launch at the 700 Years Stadium.
Weerachat Khuanrat, the Chief of Chiang Mai Provincial Livestock Office, said that the government has asked provincial authorities to initiate clean up campaigns four times a year in a bid to keep the virus under control.
“The change between rainy and winter season causes poultry to molt and the weather can weaken their immune systems. Moreover, research from the Department of National Parks, Wildlife and Plant Conservation has found that the period from August to November, large flocks of migrating birds make their home in Thailand. Increased numbers of wild birds can be an important factor in the risk of transmission of the H5N1 bird flu virus,” he noted.
The campaign will promote awareness to poultry and agriculture farmers about the increased need for vigilance and plans to distribute to farmers the chemicals necessary to keep the disease in check.
Meanwhile, Mae Hong Son has had 97 confirmed swine flu patients with Pang Ma Pha bearing the brunt of the virus with 49 infected people. Wittaya Kaewparadai, Minister of Public Health, visited Srisangwal Hospital on November 15 to observe and advise the hospital on a health plan to help prevent the spread of swine flu in the province.
The Minister said that there have been an estimated 6 million people affected by the swine flu nationwide but added that with the start of the cool weather and the tourist high season with its higher concentration of crowds, the Ministry is concerned that the virus may spread. He reiterated the importance of education for residents and tourists in swine flu prevention measures such as washing hands and wearing masks.
Teams of specialists have been set in place at 96 provincial hospitals across the country and the Department of Medical Services has set up a 24 hour hotline staffed by specialists to advise doctors treating high risk patients. High risk patients for the swine flu include those with respiratory ailments such as asthma, heart disease, diabetes, the elderly and the very young. The death toll due to confirmed swine flu cases has reached 185 since the virus first appeared in Thailand.

Representatives from Mae Hia Municipal district, in Chiang Mai joined
the campaign “To clean and To disinfect H5N1 in risk areas”.


Mae Hong Son sees tourism boost over holiday weekend

Khajohn Boonpath
 Mae Hong Son’s Director of the Tourist Authority of Thailand (TAT), Chanwit Nakasuwan, announced that the recent long holiday weekend for H.M. the King’s birthday was a boon to Mae Hong Son area tourism. He estimated that 50,000 people visited the province’s popular attractions. Pai, Pang Ung, Ban Rak Thai, home of Chinese ex-KMT soldiers, Pla cave, the Bua Tong sunflower fields and Kaew Komon cave were the top tourist destinations.
The director revealed that an estimated 225 million baht flowed into Mae Hong Son province from tourism beginning December 5.The Walking Street Market in Mae Hong Son’s Muang district proved to be a hugely popular attraction, with the city center streets quite crowded with tourists and their vehicles, keeping local traffic police quite busy.


2 Wa drug traffickers killed in shoot out with Pha Muang Task Force

Two other arrests yield 120,000 yabaa tablets

Supoj Thiamyoj / Nopniwat Krailerg/ Kanchanit Manukkong & Kanayuth Danmek
Acting on a tip off that a major drug delivery was expected, Major General Prakarn Chonlayuth, Commander of the Pha Muang Task Force, ordered troops to patrol the area of Mae Ai district that borders Burma. On Sunday, December 6, the patrol encountered 5-6 uniformed and armed men presumed to be members of the United Wa State Army near the village of Taton, also known as Laota.

Pha Muang Task Force patrol view the body of one of the Wa Army soldiers, and the cash and weapons found with him.
The Task Force patrol attempted to arrest the men but a ten minute shoot out ensued. After the remaining men fled, the patrol discovered the bodies of two men wearing the uniform of the Wa army, one AK-47 and 1.7 million baht in a black bag. It is believed that the men had crossed the border to collect earnings from drug sales in Thailand. The Task Force suspects that local influential people are involved in drug trafficking with the Wa army and plan to take action to halt the sales of drugs across the border in that area.
On the 2nd, Police arrested a man with 80,000 Yabaa pills hidden in plastic bags in the fuel tank of a Mitsubishi pickup truck in Chiang Dao. Kanchanaburi resident, Pairat Posawaeng, 38, was stopped in a routine traffic stop at a police checkpoint near the Chaiprakarn District Police Station, police were alerted by his suspicious behavior and decided to search the vehicle where they discovered the drugs. Pairat has been charged with possession of a Class A drug with intent to sell.
Pairat confessed to police that he had been hired by two men in Kanchanaburi, Akom Nilsawat and Narongchai Klaigek, to travel with them to Fang in a black Nissan pickup truck. In Fang, they picked up the Mitsubishi, which Pairat drove back while the two men led in the Nissan. Police are on the lookout for the black Nissan since it had already passed through the checkpoint when Pairat was stopped. Pairat has a record of arrest for drug use in Kanchanaburi.
Police believe that this group, operating out of Kanchanaburi, Suphan Buri and other Central provinces, are obtaining the drugs from the Wei Sia Kan gang based in the border area adjacent to Chaiprakarn, Fang and Tadon districts in Chiang Mai. The value of the confiscated Yabaa could be as high as 16 million baht.
On December 9 the Pha Muang clashed with another group of drug smugglers in Ban Huay San, Mae Ai district, resulting in the arrest of Lang Shang, 28, who was found in possession of 40,000 yabaa pills. He told members of the task force that he had been hired to transport drugs for 10,000 baht each trip.
Major General Prakarn Chonlayuth, Commander of Pha Muang Task Force, Third Army Region ordered the military rangers’ task force from the Third Army Region’s Operations Center, the 4th Calvary Regiment to set up roadblocks until December 12 as the unit had received a tipoff that a drug gang was planning to bring large amounts of drugs over the border.

Third Region Army Commander Lt. Gen. Thanongsak Apirakyothin and Commissioner of Provincial Police Bureau, Region 5 Pol. Lt. Gen. Somkid Boonthanom announced the arrest and drug seizure drug arrest at Pha Hong checkpoint in Chaiprakarn district in Chiang Mai.


Local businesses encouraged to use open source software

(L - R) Pongsak Ariyajitpaisarn, President of SIPA Chiang Mai, Santipab Panpikul, Founder of Santipab Pack Print, Panu Kwanyuen, Chiang Mai Deputy Chief Prosecutor, Narong Kongpraset, the President of Chiang Mai Chamber of Commerce, and Araya Lyeprawatt, Assistant Treasurer of Chiang Mai Chambers of Commerce were all speakers at the seminar.

Jedsadapong Wongkiew
The police have shut down many businesses across the country for running illegal software since the start of a campaign against software piracy on October 26. The operators of businesses found using pirated software can receive from 6 months to 4 years in prison and 100,000 baht to 800,000 fines. In order to aid local businesses the Chiang Mai Chamber of Commerce, in cooperation with the Software Industry Promotion Agency (SIPA), hosted the seminar “Alternative Office Software for Business Operators” on November 24 at the Empress Chiang Mai Hotel.
At the event, it was recommended that local businesses switch to open source software, such as Open Office, a Thai language version has been developed in cooperation with SIPA, NECTECH and Software Park. The Electrical Generating Authority of Thailand (EGAT) is one of the numerous businesses that have made the switch to this program.
Narong Kongprasert, the President of the Chiang Mai Chamber of Commerce, hosted the event where lectures were offered by experts on office software and intellectual property laws.
Open Office fully supports all office related needs and is available in Thai fonts. Free customer service is offered and there are no maintenance costs. For help and support, please call 1111, SIPA Call Center, or visit www.thaiopensource.org, www.sipa.or.th.


Visitors for the Chambers of Commerce meeting could add up to 2 billion baht to the local economy

The recent meeting of all provincial Chambers of Commerce could bring up to 2 billion baht in income for the city from the estimated 2,000 people expected to attend but Narong Kongprasert , the President of the Chiang Mai Chamber of Commerce, expressed fears that political conflict could adversely affect the meeting and damage the revival of Chiang Mai’s economy at that time.

Narong Kongprasert , the President of the Chiang Mai Chamber of Commerce (Photo by Supoj Thiamyoj)
The Chiang Mai Chamber proposed several new projects at the meeting; the construction of a high-speed double rail system, the establishment of Chiang Mai as the center of regional aviation, and the development of border trade at Chiang Dao district. The members of the various chambers and Governors who attended discussed regional proposals as well as national economic strategies in a bid to speed up the economic recovery. (PRD)


Mae Hong Son children with cleft lips receive “Beautiful smiles and voices”

Khajohn Boonpath
“Beautiful smiles and Voices”, the program to treat children with cleft lips, celebrated its 5th anniversary on November 16 with Wittaya Kaewparadai, Minister of Public Health, presiding over the the program, this year in honor of Princess Sirindhorn’s 50th birthday, at the Srisangwal Hospital in Mae Hong Son. With a budget of 32 million baht, sponsored by the Thai Red Cross and the National Health Security Office (NHSO), the program has provided surgery and speech therapy for 5,300 children with cleft lips since 2005.
In Mae Hong Son, the program has treated 160 patients since 2006, of those 40 children from refugee camps, according to Dr. Suwat Kittidilokkul of the Mae Hong Son Public Heath Office. 106 of those were treated for cleft lips while 54 had plastic surgery for other issues. There are still 54 patients on the waiting list and they hope, with the help of the specialized medical teams from the Thai Red Cross, Chiang Mai University’s Faculty of Medicine and Maharaj Nakorn Chiang Mai Hospital to treat them by March, 2010 when the program hopes to have treated 376 more children nationwide.
Children in the more isolated areas and poorer families often went untreated prior to the implementation of the program according to Dr Suwat, with perhaps only 2 or 3 in the entire province being treated each year. The lack of specialized medical training also contributed to the problem. However, with the implementation of the program, Mae Hong Son’s children can now enjoy “beautiful smiles and voices”.



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