Vol. IX No. 6 - Tuesday
February 9 - February 15, 2010



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by Saichon Paewsoongnern


NEWS
HEADLINES [click on headline to view story]:

Kawila Army camp besieged by Red Shirt demonstrators

Chinese New Year Festival to be held at Warorot Market February 14 & 15

Antique Imperial Chinese robes on display

Seminar on astronomy and astrophysics held in Chiang Mai

Lampang benefits from new Bangkok Air flight

Life for the disabled in Chiang Mai

Santi Music School praised for its high standards

Chiang Mai Municipal Council holds its first meeting

Saving Tigers in Year of the Tiger

Chiang Rai border shoot out leaves one dead

Drought at Doi Tao Lake causes drop in tourists

Chiang Mai swine flu update from Public Health Office

 

Kawila Army camp besieged by Red Shirt demonstrators

Nopniwat Krailerg
Kawila Army Camp was besieged by hundreds of red shirted protestors on February 4, causing traffic chaos in the area in protest against the recent order to desist protesting in front of the Provincial Police Region 5 Headquarters. The protestors planned to meet with the Governor to lodge their complaint.
The group of demonstrators, consisting of members of the Rak Chiang Mai 51 Group, red-shirt federation members, and National United Front of Democracy Against Dictatorship (UDD) members in Chiang Mai and from Lamphun province rallied about 500 people to protest in front of the army camp on the Chiang Mai Lamphun Road in Wat Ket.
Former Pol Lt Col Supol Chumooncharoen submitted a letter in protest of the coup to Lt Col Cherdsak Ketsom, who was on duty at the Kawila Camp. The leaders of the protestors then took turns on car stage to criticize the last coup staged by the military.
They said the 2007 Constitution, drafted and imposed after the military coup should be dropped and expressed their disapproval of any future coups.
The protest caused severe traffic jams on the Chiang Mai-Lamphun road, making the road impassable for several hours. The police asked them to leave the areas and they regrouped at the Grand Warorot Hotel.
Petchawat Wattanapongsirikul of Rak Chiang Mai 51 announced to members on Community Radio Station 92.to rally in front of Chiang Mai City Hall and demand to meet with Pairote Saengphuwong, Deputy Chiang Mai Governor. He said that the recent protests against the head of the Provincial Police Region 5 chief at the bureau had caused traffic jams and that per the government’s order, the group had pulled out of the area. However, he added that they were not satisfied with this result and sought clarification from the Deputy Governor.

Demonstrators from the Rak Chiang Mai Group 51, red-shirt federation, and UDD in Chiang Mai, submitted a letter of complaint to Lt-Col Cherdsak Ketsom of the Kawila Camp, in protest of the coup and to voice disapproval over future coups.

 

Chinese New Year Festival to be held at Warorot Market February 14 & 15

Nopniwat Krailerg
The Chinese New Year Festival will be held at Chiang Mai’s Warorot Market on February 14 and 15 and organizers proclaim it to be bigger and better than previous festivals.

Colorful Chinese dragon parades for Chinese New Year. (AP Photo/Tourism British Columbia,Tom Ryan)

The area will be decorated with Chinese lanterns, auspicious signs, and sayings, with spectacular displays of Chinese acrobatics from Wat Saolin, a giant lucky basket of oranges and Chinese biscuits for charity, and a parade featuring a fire dragon more than 40 meters long.
Chinese food shops, booths and restaurants will set up market style for the two day event. Mayor Tassanai added that this year’s Chinese festival is the City’s 8th, offering entertainment for visitors and residents alike. In addition, there will be a lion dancing troupe, a parade of Chinese divinities, Chinese music, and a parade of Thai –Chinese clubs and associations from Chiang Mai.
The parade will start at 9.00 a.m. on February 14, at Tha Pae Gate, move along Tha Pae road, turn left on Witchayanon Road, and end at the main stage in the Warorot market. The celebrations will conclude on February 15, and will offer shows featuring Thai-Chinese art and culture, a kitty young children’s contest and Miss China Town Chiang Mai.

A local Thai-Chinese girl in the traditional Chinese cheong-sam will celebrate Chinese New Year on February 14 at Warorot Market.
Tassanai Buranupakorn, Mayor of Chiang Mai Municipality, accompanied by Dr. Ju Wei Ming, Chinese Consul General in Chiang Mai, and Chalermsak Suranant, director of the Tourist Authority of Thailand (TAT) Chiang Mai Office, Noppadol Arnonthawilas, president of Thai-Chinese businessmen Association in Chiang Mai, announced the upcoming Chinese festival at the press conference held recently at Chiang Mai Samakhee Foundation.Dr. Ju Wei Ming, Chinese Consul General said the festival will promote Thai – Chinese culture and improve Thai-Chinese relations.


Antique Imperial Chinese robes on display

Jedsadapong Wongkiew
Beautiful designs embroidered on woven silk robes, skirts, banners, sleeve bands, shawls and covers are now on show at an exhibition of the clothing of China’s 19th century Emperors.

Panya (toy) Suwan, left, and Ron Simpson organized the exhibition of antique Imperial Chinese clothing.

The grand opening of the exhibition took place on February 1 at Lost Heavens on Thapae road. Displaying clothing dating back 120 years to the Qing Dynasty, the exhibition features antiques belonging to Ron Simpson and Panya (Toy), Suwan.
Ron added that while normally these kinds of exhibits would be shown at Bangkok’s River City or in London they decided to bring it to Chiang Mai for those interested in Chinese antique textiles.
The exhibition will be held February 2 -20, Monday – Saturday, between 11.00 a.m. to 7.00 p.m., (closed on Sunday), admission is free of charge.


Seminar on astronomy and astrophysics held in Chiang Mai

Supoj Thiamyoj
The National Astronomical Research Institute of Thailand (Narit) held the “Thailand-Korea Joint Seminar on Astronomy and Astrophysics” from February 1- 5 at the Chiang Mai Grand View Hotel. The seminar was hosted by Narit to boost international cooperation on astronomy and astrophysics between Narit and the Korea Astronomy and Space Institute (KASI) and the Astrophysical Research Center for the Structure and Evolution of the Cosmos, Sejong University (ARCSEC). The event was attended by more than 100 Korean and Thai researchers, and students.

Sirichai Kianmeesuk, Deputy Permanent Secretary of Ministry of Science and Technology addressed attendees of the Thailand-Korea Joint Seminar on Astronomy and Astrophysics on February 1, at Chiang Mai Grand View Hotel.

Sirichai Kianmeesuk, Deputy Permanent Secretary of Ministry of Science and Technology was joined by Deputy Governor Chumporn Sangmanee and Associate Professor. Boonrucksar Soonthornthum, the Director National Astronomical Research Institute of Thailand attended the opening ceremony. Deputy Permanent Secretary Sirichai addressed the crowd, discussing the agreement signed in 2008 to boost cooperation on astronomy research between Thai and Korean researchers.
Research projects from 25 Korean scientists and 16 Thai scientists were presented to the gathered crowd of students, scientists and lecturers.
Deputy Permanent Secretary Sirichai added that this seminar was expected to facilitate networking on research and research groups between Thailand and Korea, including the telescope set up at the national observatory tower in Chormthong district, Chiang Mai.
He added that this seminar also would bring maximum benefit to Thai and Korean researchers, students and their exchange programs.

More than 100 Thai and Korean researchers and students attended the seminar.


Lampang benefits from new Bangkok Air flight

The Lampang Airport welcomed the inaugural flight of the new Bangkok – Lampang route operated by Bangkok Airways with daily flights starting from February 1, 2010.
After the previous service had been cancelled due to losses, visitors from Bangkok had to travel to Chiang Mai before transferring to a Lampang flight.
The two and a half hour flight departing from Suvarnabhumi Airport carries 66 people according to Damrongwuth Viriya, senior director of Bangkok Airways, who added that the air fare was 2,000 baht a passenger. The flight makes a stopover in Sukhothai with the Lampang – Sukothai leg costing 1,090 baht. (PRD)


Life for the disabled in Chiang Mai

By Criis on Huay Kaew
I am what they call an incomplete paraplegic , I use a chair predominately but I can walk with the aid of a walking stick but very slowly so I can walk up and down stairs as long as there is a railing or a shoulder to lean on.
 The Chiang Mai Airport is fine, the airport has disabled access to all areas and disabled toilets , then you hit the transport issue , for people with mild disabilities like those that use a walking stick or similar it is no problem. We can hop in a tuk tuk taxi or songtaew. People confined to a wheelchair are limited to taxis and some song taew if the driver will let you sit in the front and put the wheel chair in the back.
 Those that use an electric wheelchair would have the most difficulty because they are so heavy, I don’t know how they get around.
 I’ve only stayed in two places in Chiang Mai, the first I climbed three flights of stairs to get to my room however my current location suits me fine although it’s not totally handicapped accessible. I was told there is one place in town that accommodates wheel chairs with accessible toilets. Obviously Bangkok has many places.
 To get around town I use a tuk tuk , however to push around the streets on sidewalks is nearly impossible. I don’t think there is a 50 meter stretch anywhere that doesn’t have obstacles or the sidewalk just simply doesn’t exist. So it’s onto the road, staying close to the gutter in fear of getting hit by a car or motorcycle. The kerb and guttering is almost a foot high on most streets so it is almost impossible to hop up in a chair as I can do with most single steps up to 1/2 a foot high. So it’s necessary to find a pole or parked car to lean on and get out of the chair to step up onto the sidewalk.
 Most clubs and restaurants at least have a stair or two within their establishment that has to be negotiated which can make it difficult for the disabled. However there are plenty that are street level and have an accessible table, the staff are almost always most helpful to me in moving chairs and other furniture. Toilets are the biggest problem for wheelchair bound people, doorways are always too narrow and there is just not enough room to get the chair into the cubicle.
 As with tourist attractions, Wats that I have been to all have stairs, there is a lift up to Doi Suthep, and ramps up to the main area and lookout. Elephant rides are possible, plenty of Thai people will help get you onboard. I’ve only done that once, the long neck village at Mae Rim is rough but accessable. The Chiang Mai Zoo is ok, a bit hilly, but you can catch a small bus around
 Chiang Mai Univesity is ok to get around as they have paths and ramps and disabled toilets. Oddly, however, they have no lifts; so I climb two flights of stairs to attend class.
 As in most countries there is always someone willing to help if you ask , in Chiang Mai if I’m pushing up a small incline I find people always rush up behind me to give me a push. The concrete paths and walkways always have a hole or crack to negotiate which makes it difficult. 
While I have no hesitation recommending Chiang Mai to a disabled person but only if they are very independent, since most people don’t travel alone they should have no problems if they have a Mai pben rai attitude and are willing to take the good with the bad.


Santi Music School praised for its high standards

Santi Music School Press Release
Noted local music school, the Santi Music School run by Ajarn Santi, Saengthon, recently underwent evaluation by a former lead inspector of schools from the United Kingdom. He spent 3 weeks at the school, evaluating the students’ progress, teachers and management.
He concluded that overall standards are good, with especially high standards in drumming, electric guitar, individual voice and advanced piano. Students’ achievements are very good in piano overall and in drumming and guitar and good in voice training including the choir.
He added that teaching standards in the school is very good and that it is a significant strength for the school. Overall students make very good progress in their learning, except in a few isolated cases where assessment is not used effectively or language is a barrier to new learning.
The inspector felt that students generally have very positive attitudes towards the school and to learning. Students also develop very good relationships with their peers and with staff and these are strengths of the school in helping to raise standards. The school offers a very good, wide, rich and varied curriculum for its students and that the general atmosphere is conducive to learning.
The Santi Music School plans to use the evaluation to better increase its already high standards of teaching to help students achieve their full potential, gain self confidence and expose students to the joys of music.


Chiang Mai Municipal Council holds its first meeting

By Nopniwat Krailerg
The Chiang Mai Municipal Council held its first fully attended meeting on February 3, the first ordinary session this year where all 24 council members attended for the first time since Tassanai Buranupakorn was announced as the new mayor.

Chiang Mai Mayor Tassanai Buranupakorn addresses the Municipal Council Members in the first full meeting of the Council.
The first two meetings failed to materialize as only a few Council members showed up each time, Mayor Tassanai was unable to present his administration’s policies and as a result, his confirmation as Mayor of Chiang Mai was delayed But this latest meeting, which was chaired by the President of the Municipal Council went smoothly and the Council members were informed about follow- up plans, evaluation of the Municipality’s projects during fiscal year 2009 as well as Chiang Mai Municipality’s plans for the next three years (2010-2012), including the approval of the reserved funds for projects and other issues.

The full complement of the Chiang Mai
Municipal Council attends the Council meeting on February 3.


Saving Tigers in Year of the Tiger

The conservation group WWF (formerly the World Wildlife Fund) has warned that the tiger population in Southeast Asia’s Greater Mekong Region has dwindled more than 70 per cent in 12 years from an estimated 1,200 in 1998 to around 350 today, thanks to the growing demand for tiger body parts used in traditional Chinese medicine, a trend which threatens the region’s Indochinese tiger population.
In light of the sharp decline of the tiger population at such an alarming rate, Thailand’s Huai Kha Kheang and Thung Yai wildlife sanctuaries, comprising nearly 6,500 sq km (some 2,500 sq miles) of forests bordering Myanmar, is billed as a remarkable effort to save the big cats.
According to official statistics, there are around 250 Bengal tigers in Thailand, with the number of striped tigers at Huai Kha Khaeng Wildlife Sanctuary alone having increased by almost double since 2007.From an aerial photo survey, around 80 Indochinese tigers are currently found at Huai Kha Khaeng, and another 20 at Thung Yai Naresuan Wildlife Sanctuary.
“From the [aerial] survey, we see around almost 10 new-born tigers in both Huai Kha Khaeng and Thung Yai Naresuan every year,” said Dr Anak Pattanawiboon, director of Wildlife Conservation Society (WSC) Thailand Program. According to Sunthorn Chaiwattana, chief of Huai Kha Khaeng Wildlife Sanctuary, the decline in the wildlife population is mostly due to hunting by humans, an activity which must be reduced to enhance the quality of wildlife. By doing so, smart patrols with MIST technology, a spatial management information system from Africa, has been applied at Huai Kha Khaeng sanctuary to drive away poachers and help stabilise the tiger population and other animals.
Strange behaviours of animals and their hunters will be monitored and recorded in the natural landscapes where animals walk past or while they are on the prowl, and where hunters wait to trap the living creatures. After each patrol, reports are made to a monthly meeting to review for an improvement on further effective prevention on incessant poaching.
As tigers sit at the top of the food chain as the primary predator, the growing tiger population indicates growing numbers of lower species hunted by tigers such as bulls or wild deer, which also signifies the quality of such the environment and its proper habitat maintenance.
Dr Anak, the director of WSC Thailand Program, said it was fortunate officials at Huai Kha Khaeng Wildlife Sanctuary took the matter of increasing the tiger population seriously. “Due to the official seriousness, the outcome of the work is tangible and intense, which can become one of the conservation models for saving tigers,” the director said.
Huai Kha Khaeng Wildlife Sanctuary targets its tiger population density to be five tigers per 100 sq km within seven years, from a density of 2.39 tigers at present.”The tiger population density keeps increasing, from previously we used to have a density of only 1.7 tigers per 100 sq km,” said Saksit Simchareon, head of Bengal tigers research team.
Due to its accomplishment on saving the tigers and to follow the Kathmandu Global Tiger Workshop last year, Thailand is currently hosting the 1st ASIA Ministerial Conference (AMC) on Tiger Conservation, participated by environment ministers from 13 Asian nations, while it plans to offer its successful smart patrol model to preserve the big cats for other countries to follow.
The conference, held in the Prachuap Khiri Khan resort town of Hua Hin from January 27-30, aims to persuade countries to set tiger population targets, double the animal numbers by 2020 and announce an action plan for a September tiger summit in Russia.
According to WWF, the global wild tiger population now stands at an all-time low of 3,200, down from an estimated 20,000 in the 1980s and 100,000 a century ago. (TNA)


Chiang Rai border shoot out leaves one dead

Staff reporters
The Pha Muang Task Force clashed with drug traffickers crossing the border in Mae Chan District, Chiang Rai province, killing one. A unit of the Task Force was patrolling the area near Ban E-Kor in Mae Chan District when they encountered 6 men who opened fire on the unit. The members of the Task Force returned fire, resulting in a 10 minute firefight with the drug traffickers. The traffickers fled back across the border leaving one of their members dead at the scene and abandoning a .38mm weapon, a small amount of heroin and 3.1 million baht in cash.


Drought at Doi Tao Lake causes drop in tourists

Vendors at Doi Tao Lake have complained to authorities that drought has caused a drastic drop in water levels at Doi Tao Lake, causing a drop in tourists and radically decreased sales of fish. The vendors stated that the dry season and concomitant drop in water levels began earlier than normal this year.
According to the vendors at the lake, normally they can sell between 1000-1200 baht a day but that has dropped to 200- 700 baht a day, adding that losses began as the price of fish rose due to the increase of oil and petrol prices
Doi Tao Lake, a manmade reservoir located 133 km south of Chiang Mai city along the along Chiang Mai-Hot-Doi Tao route. The large reservoir with lush green trees is situated beyond the Bhumibol Dam in Tak province. It was used for agriculture and fishery irrigation. This great body of water offers many recreational opportunities like rafting and fishing during the rainy and cool seasons. (PRD)


Chiang Mai swine flu update from Public Health Office

Staff reporters
The Chiang Mai Provincial Public Health Office disclosed that the number of swine flu (H1N1 virus) patients is still high and that they have asked schools with confirmed cases to refrain from engaging in activities with other schools so as to limit transmission.
Dr. Surasing Wisarutrattana, Deputy Chief of the Chiang Mai Public Health Office, reported 85 cases in the week of January 19-25, with most of the patients being students aged 5-14. The Public Health Office is keeping a close watch on those schools which seem to be at high risk for H1N1 transmission.
Last month, it was found that the number of H1N1 patients was quite high, particularly among the school students; he added.
Chiang Mai Provincial authorities have received about 10,000 doses of the vaccine to be given to high - risk groups from now through March. A second round of vaccinations will be given in June.



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