NEWS
HEADLINES [click on headline to view story]:

Chiang Mai rings in the New Year

Happy New Year Chiang Mai

Thai veterans receive help from American veterans organization

Lucky residents move into new development built in honor H.M. the King

Northern economy seen to improve

Lhin Ping is a boon to Chiang Mai Zoo’s coffers

Lucky 9999 license plate goes for 1,810,000 baht

Carabao to perform in Chiang Mai to benefit the Thai Orchids Conservation Project

Spiritual unfoldment and meditation comes to Chiang Mai

Tour bus crashes into parked cars at Doi Suthep

Tulip Festival at Doi Pha Daeng in Chai Prakan

Honda Civic car on fire

Correction:

Thai police close 2009 with strong push against software piracy

Police shut down illegal gambling dens

 

Chiang Mai rings in the New Year

Supoj Thiamyoj
Wat Phra Thart Doi Suthep Rajaworamahaviharn was the scene of a Buddhist merit making ceremony to welcome the new year. Phra Thep Worasithacharn, the abbot of Wat Phrathart Doi Suthep wished all visitors to the temple good luck and good fortune and offered his blessing to His Majesty the King at the wat which houses famous relics. Chiang Mai governor Amornphan Nimanant joined in the ceremony which took place on midnight, December 2009
Boonlert Buranupakorn, the President of the Chiang Mai Provincial Administration Organization led the countdown to midnight for the crowd gathered at the party at Think Park on Nimmanhaemin road.
Tha Pae road, from Wat Saen Fang to Tha Pae gate was closed from 5 p.m. To 3 a.m. By the Chiang Mai Municipality so that residents and tourists alike could flock to the area to celebrate the final countdown. Mayor Tassanai Buranupakorn, led the celebration by hitting the sa budchai drums. Performances by well known artists and a display of fireworks at midnight culminated the celebration to usher in both the New Year.and the new decade.

 

Happy New Year Chiang Mai

We at the Chiang Mai Mail would like to take this time to wish all of our readers and residents of Chiang Mai a Happy New Year and a Happy New Decade. On this unusual New Year, featuring not only a “once in a blue moon” event, that is two full moons within a calendar month, but also a partial lunar eclipse, we can only hope that its a good omen for everyone in Chiang Mai for a prosperous, peaceful and happy new year. Take this time to look back at 2009 and send out thanks for all the wonderful experiences you had and the people that you shared them with and then turn and look to 2010 and feel the excitement of what will be. Happy New Year, Chiang Mai!


Thai veterans receive help from American veterans organization

By Peter Noyes
On December 24 the American Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW)organization’s Chiang Mai Post 12074, with the support from the Thai Veterans Service Organization of Chiang Mai, donated winter bedding and jackets to 50 needy Thai veterans in Ban Khun Yuam, Changwat Mae Hong Son. The VFW Post was represented by Post Commander Michael Holmes and VFW member Chalothorn “CD” Suwanswetr.

VFW Post Commander Michael Holmes donates blankets to needy Thai veterans. (Photo by Peter Noyes)

Commander Holmes told the group that the American veterans wanted to present the small donations to acknowledge the brotherhood that exists amongst veterans around the world. He specifically recognized the Thai veterans for the their contributions in making Thailand a country where American expats are so grateful to be able to live. The Thai senior veteran told the VFW and the Thai Service Organization that they were overjoyed to receive the donations, not only because of the winter weather, but because that it was further proof that their service to their country was not forgotten.

Members of the Thai Veterans Service Organization join hands with the Veterans of Foreign Wars Chiang Mai Post 12074 to donate blankets and warm clothing to needy veterans. (Photo by Peter Noyes)


Lucky residents move into new development built in honor H.M. the King

Tassanai Buranupakorn, Chiang Mai’s Mayor, gave a giant key and home address plaque to Kaewwan Wannarit, a resident from Ban Mai Pattaya Community, in front of her new home in the Tong Thin Thai Housing Project on December 24.

Supoj Thiamyoj
The first four residents moved into their new homes at the Tong Thin Thai Housing Project, built in honor of His Majesty King Bhumibol Adulyadej’s 84th birthday. A special nationwide project to provide homes for underprivileged people, the houses in the project were sponsored and constructed by the Chiang Mai Municipality.
The entire project is due for completion in 2011, but the first four residents received their home ownership papers and new house number plaques as well as keys from Mayor Tassanai Buranupakorn in a ceremony on December 24.
Those interested in donating to the project can contact Chiang Mai Municipality’s Social Welfare Division at 053 -259022-3.


Northern economy seen to improve

Staff Reporters
The north of Thailand has seen growth in the local economy in the third quarter of 2009 due to increased investment, construction and tourism, Chantawan Sucharitkul, senior director of the Bank of Thailand’s northern regional office revealed recently. Government measures to increase spending and income have resulted in increased income in the agriculture sector as well as consumer spending and has boosted expectations that economic conditions in the north will continue to improve in 2010.


Lhin Ping is a boon to Chiang Mai Zoo’s coffers

Supoj Thiamyoj
In response to the large numbers of visitors, the Chiang Mai Zoo has extended the period for 7 month old panda cub, Lhin Ping to visit the outdoor enclosure with visiting hours now open from 8:30 a.m. to 9:30 a.m. and 6:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m., from January 3 to February 21.

(Left to right) Naruetat Charoensettasilp, Director of Chiang Mai Zoo Aquarium, Sopon Damnui, Director of Zoological Park Organization of Thailand, and Tanapat Pongpamorn, Director of Chiang Mai Zoo, announce the latest revenues for the Zoo.

The popularity of Lhin Ping has increased the Zoo’s revenues, Sopon Damnui, Director of Zoological Park Organization of Thailand, added, saying that the Zoological Park Organization has seen a total of 50 billion baht in revenue from 5 parks nationwide with the Chiang Mai Zoo accounting for 122 million baht of that. In 7 months, the revenues from the panda enclosure alone have reached 86 million baht and its expected that the number of visitors to the zoo for reached 150,000 during the cool season.
Suwit Khunkitti, Minister of Natural Resources and Environment, plans to travel to China after the New Year negotiate with the Chinese government for an extension of Lhin Ping’s stay at the Chiang Mai Zoo. Sopon added that he plans to personally visit the Chinese Embassy to request the Ambassador’s help in the matter. Sopon is hopeful that the extension will be granted as the Chinese government has expressed satisfaction at the Zoo’s management of the pandas.


Lucky 9999 license plate goes for 1,810,000 baht

Several victims of road accidents receive donations from the fund set up by the Land Transport Department.

Jedsadapong Wongkiew
Lucky license plate number 9999 sold under auction for 1,810,000 baht, with proceeds to be donated to the Department of Land Transport’s fund for road accident victims. The winning bidder for the favored license plate was Municipal City Council member Kasem Parameesilkajorn at the December 19 and 20 auction of license plates and commemorative Lhin Ping images held at the Empress Hotel by Chairat Sa-nguansue, Director-General of Department of Land Transport. More than 1200 people registered for the auction, and on auction day another 300 showed up for a chance to bid on one of the 301 lucky number license plates and images of the panda, Lhin Ping that were available.
Assathai Rattanadilok Na Phuket, Director of the Chiang Mai Provincial Land Transport Office, said that the auction had better than expected result, earning around 20 million baht, adding that he believed it was due to the special blessings conferred on both the license plates and the Lhin Ping images.
This is the third time the Department of Land Transportation has auctioned off lucky license plates, earning 22 million baht the first year and 18 million baht on the second auction.


Carabao to perform in Chiang Mai to benefit the Thai Orchids Conservation Project

Nopniwat Krailerg
A three hour concert featuring Carabao, Pu Pongsit Kampi and Baowee will be held at the 700 Years Stadium on February 5. In addition, 6 of the performers from the Academy Fantasia reality show will perform at the Mae Jo University Stadium.

The Foundation of Native Thai Orchids led by Gen. Picharnmek Muangmanee, 2nd from left, and Dr. Chao Duangduen na Chiengmai, 2ndfrom right, Chairwoman of the Chiang Mai Cultural Council, show some of the native orchids that the organization hopes to protect. With them is Itthiruth Sinthuraks, MD of CIA, right.
The events and a golf tournament are sponsored by the Foundation of Native Thai Orchids and the Creative in Action Company (CIA) to raise funds for the Thai Orchids Conservation Project initiated by Queen Sirikit.
According to Ittiroj Sinturat, Managing Director of CIA, the arrangements for the Carabao led Bao-Parn Concert have taken about 3 months. It is to be the north’s largest concert yet and Carabao’s biggest in recent years, with magnificent sound and light systems. The tickets for the Academy Fantasia concert are priced at 300 baht and for the Bao-Parn concert range from 200 baht, 300 baht and 400 baht.


Spiritual unfoldment and meditation comes to Chiang Mai

Rajesh and Jasmini Ananda, (2nd from the right and far right) founders of the Foundation for International Spiritual Unfoldment (FISU) explain meditation practices and the need for the unification of mind, body, and spirit that meditation can help bring to its practitioners to Chiang Mai Mail editors, Phitsanu Thepthong, far left and Shana Kongmun, 2nd from the left.

By Shana Kongmun
FISU, the Foundation for International Spiritual Unfoldment is now offering courses in Chiang Mai for those who find the hustle, bustle and stresses of everyday life overwhelming at times. Based in London with centers in Hong Kong, Cyprus, Greece, South Africa, and soon, the United States, Chiang Mai is their latest expansion into offering a meditation program based on individual personality and needs. The spiritual unfoldment meditation school of thought holds as a key principle that since each person is an individual, spiritually, mentally and physically, they must therefore be treated individually when it comes to the way they should practice meditation on that path to spiritual unfoldment. The focus is on the practice of daily meditation to learn relaxation which preserves energy offers more mental energy and endurance to cope with stressful situations. Non-denominational, FISU seeks to encourage people to not only use meditation techniques for relaxation but to help them develop a keener understanding of their own spiritual and religious beliefs.
FISU leader Rajesh Ananda and his wife Jasmini were recently in Chiang Mai to give talks and to help establish the latest center. They are both very excited about the latest expansion, explaining that the Buddhist tradition of meditation is compatible with their own system and that they believe their system of meditation and conscious effort in one’s life can offer an alternative to the more intensive methods of Vipassana meditation currently available in Thailand. Anyone interested in learning more should contact FISU at www.fisu.org.


Tour bus crashes into parked cars at Doi Suthep

A tour bus carrying foreigners and Thais crashed
into parked cars on Doi Suthep December 28.

A Bangkok based tour bus carrying ten Thai and American tourists crashed into parked motorcycles and cars at Doi Suthep on December 28 when the bus slipped out of gear. The bus driver told police that the hand brake on the bus was faulty and he had to put it in gear in order to park the bus on the mountainside. However, the bus slipped out of gear and the driver was forced to turn the wheel in order to hit parked motorcycles and cars instead of going over the side of the mountain. One woman sitting in her car was injured while others only sustained minor injuries.
Police have taken both bus and driver into custody to determine if the driver was careless or the bus company at fault for faulty maintenance.


Tulip Festival at Doi Pha Daeng in Chai Prakan

20,000 imported tulip bulbs in bloom at Doi Pha Daeng for the cool season.

Nopniwat Krailerg
About 20,000 imported tulip bulbs imported from the Netherlands and China were planted over 2 rai at Doi Pha Daeng in November. The tulips are in bloom now and so the Provincial Administrative Organization (PAO), in cooperation with Cha Pra Kan District, held a Tulip Festival in Doi Pha Daeng from January 1 to January 3. The hillside is covered red, white, purple and yellow flowering tulips of four different species, leaving a majestic view for those driving the Chiang Mai – Fang road.
According to Boonlert Buranupakorn, President of the PAO, 9 local administrative organizations as well as government units and the private sector have been in cooperation to boost Chiang Mai’s tourism. He expressed confidence that the province would see no less than 500 million baht as revenue from tourism during this year’s high season, and Chiang Mai’s charm as a beautiful tourist city would be restored and expected to draw more visitors next year.


Honda Civic car on fire

A Honda Civic caught fire near the Padead Bridge on December 30. The driver of the car parked his car immediately upon seeing smoke come from the engine compartment and called firefighters for help. Two water trucks from the Padaed sub-district fire station and the Chiang Mai fire station extinguished the blaze within 15 minutes. Since the vehicle was not NGV powered, firefighters presumed that poor maintenance was the cause of the fire.


Correction:

Chiang Mai Mail incorrectly identified the award received by the ThailandFreunde Chairman as the EU Tolerance Award when the correct name is the European Tolerance Award in the article titled “ThailandFreunde Chairman receives EU Tolerance Award” published in the December 22 issue. The European Cultural Forum was mistakenly named as the Cultural Forum of the European Union. Our apologies for any confusion these errors may have caused.


Thai police close 2009 with strong push against software piracy

Bangkok (December 28, 2009) –With only days remaining in 2009, Thai police officers continue to make progress in their efforts to reduce software piracy among companies that use unlicensed software products.
Since the start of this month, the Economic and Cyber Crime police division (ECD) has found 27 million baht of unlicensed software being used at companies in the telecom, automotive, design, publishing, construction and manufacturing sectors. Police officers also found nearly 300 PCs in December loaded with unlicensed software, including products made by Adobe, Autodesk, Dassault Systems Solidworks, Microsoft, Siemens and Thai Software Enterprises.

Police crackdown on copyright crime across Thailand.
In one particularly substantial bust, police officers found 131 PCs loaded with a wide variety of unlicensed software products. This company operates a large manufacturing facility in Samut Sakorn.
“We see this as a strong ending to a strong year of software piracy police enforcement,” said Police Colonel Sarayuth Pooltanya of the ECD. “As we continue to get a steady-stream of tips, evidence and intelligence about companies that are violating the Thai Copyright Act, we fully anticipate more success in 2010 in reducing Thailand’s software piracy rate.”
The Thai anti-piracy net is catching a wide variety of companies, say police. Companies large and small based in Bangkok and a variety of provinces, operating in a wide range of sectors, are finding themselves under pressure to adhere to Thai Copyright Act B.E. 2537.
Among the recent noteworthy police raids are a hi-tech firm in Nonthaburi that was caught using unlicensed software on 34 PCs and a company in Chon Buri that was caught manufacturing items for the auto and electronics industry using 45 PCs loaded with high-value design software worth nearly 11.5 million baht. The company in Chon Buri is listed on the Korean stock exchange and operates a highly regarded, award-winning research and development department. In addition, police officers found nine million baht worth of unlicensed software at company with listed assets of nearly four billion baht and annual profits of nearly 200 million baht. This company, which operates in Samut Sakorn, owns numerous patents for their product designs.
Police also note that while some of the internationally developed software products pirated in Thailand have higher values, there is no product that is pirated more frequently than made in Thailand software products. Police say that more than 90 percent of the raids in 2009 included software products developed and copyrighted in Thailand.
“With a software piracy rate of 76 percent, it is only natural that we have a wide variety of violators using a wide variety of software products, including those made in Thailand,” said Police Colonel Sarayuth. “Police enforcement efforts are especially important given the government’s emphasis on building a creative economy through development of intellectual property.”
Those who report the use of unlicensed software by calling 02-714-1010 or by reporting it on line are eligible to receive an award of up to 250,000 Thai Baht. The identity of the caller is protected. More information is available online at www.stop.in.th.


Police shut down illegal gambling dens

Some of the business owners arrested
for running illegal gambling dens in Chiang Mai city.

Nopniwat Krailerg
A December 26 crackdown on illegal gambling saw a raid of suspicious restaurants and shops throughout Chiang Mai’s Muang district by Chiang Mai Provincial Police led by Deputy Commander, Lt. Col. Weerawut Niamnoi. 20 establishments were found to be offering illegal gambling. 10 people were arrested and charged with illegal gambling and about 1000 football betting sheets were confiscated.
Provincial Police Region 5 Commissioner Somkid Boothanom requested the crackdown in order to fall in line with general policies and laws. He added that parents need to be more vigilant in teaching their children about the dangers of gambling and the problems that can arise from gambling.