Vol. IX No. 7 - Tuesday
February 16 - February 22, 2010



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by Saichon Paewsoongnern


NEWS
HEADLINES [click on headline to view story]:

Local community petitions Administrative Court to stop high rise construction

Chiang Mai Iam aims to improve life in Chiang Mai

Local VFW Post honored for support by Thai Army

Immigrant labourers have until February 28 to obtain work permits and prove nationality

International Art Exchange Thailand –USA Exhibition at CMU Art Gallery

Japanese Government provides help to promote organic farming in Phayao

Two French suspects charged in November 2009 murder of Thai woman in Mae On

Fire at Wat San Pakoi destroys assistant abbot’s historic residence

Funeral Rites for 104 year old former abbot of Wat Tha Champee

Processed golden teak seized in Mae Hong Son

 

Local community petitions Administrative Court to stop high rise construction

Supoj Thiamyoj
Ban Chang Kien community members have filed a letter of complaint with the Administrative Court accusing a nearby high rise construction site of negatively affecting the quality of life of residents in the area.
Nathee Theerarojanapong joined about 10 representatives of the community, calling themselves the Khon Hug Chang Kien or the Love Chang Kien Group, in submitting the letter signed by around 200 people to staff at the Courts on February 9.
Nathee said they were suffering from construction projects in Ban Chang Kien area in Tambon Chang Puak. He said that Chang Puak Municipality suggested the group submit a petition to the court, asking the court to order an injunction to cease work at the site as the project had seriously disturbed the community and violated the human rights of the communities. He added that members of the community should be protected by the Constitution.
Nathee finished by saying that the construction projects have negatively and severely impacted the communities’ environment, health, public welfare, and quality of life. The group has asked for the suspension of current high rise projects and for other proposed projects to be required to gain community approval before being allowed.

Group members display their banner,
 fighting against high rise construction in their community.

 

Chiang Mai Iam aims to improve life in Chiang Mai

Mayor Tassanai Buranupakorn, accompanied by representatives of agencies involved in the Better Chiang Mai project, presided over the opening ceremony of the project at the Three King Monument on January 31.

Jedsadapong Wongkiew & Nopniwat Krailerg
In an attempt to improve living quality in Chiang Mai, the Chiang Mai Iam (Better Chiang Mai) operating plan was launched, aiming to develop the city to be the first livable and sustainable city in the country and to see sustainable results in 99days.
Late last month, Chiang Mai officially launched the project to develop Chiang Mai city. The municipal government, together with civic groups, academic networks, public and private sectors and work agencies, has begun working to solve the city’s pollution problems.
After a one year survey the group found that the three main problems confronting Chiang Mai city were garbage disposal, waste water treatment, and chemicals from the agriculture sector. They found that 320 tons of garbage was produced daily in the city. The government has spent more than 200 million baht annually to deal with garbage disposal yet the city often overflows with garbage.
Waste water is not treated properly, causing polluted and contaminated water in the city’s canal and the extensive use of pesticides and chemical fertilizers used by farmers has contributed to environmental pollution
Nattapong Jaruwanphong, Director of the Chiang Mai Iam project, added that many famers in Chiang Mai use a lot of chemicals for their farms, as high as 80 percent, causing health and environmental problems
Chiang Mai Mayor Tassanai Buranupakorn said that this Chiang Mai Aim project hopes to see within 99 days of operations. “The Municipality is glad to take part in the project with our full capacity. Because this plan is also in line with Municipal policies on city management, like composting leaves and plant waste. This can be done utilizing technology developed by Maejo University.”
“A plan to develop a reservoir to help naturally treat waste water from the Mae Kha city canal has been studied,” he added
The Mayor said that the Municipality also plans to remove the giant commercial billboards and replace them with naturally made billboards soon.
“City authorities have removed quite a few billboards along the city moats, and plan to enact a measure requiring authorization before commercial signs can be installed in the moat area,” the Mayor concluded.


Local VFW Post honored for support by Thai Army

Michael Holmes, VFW Post Commander with General Chanukorn Tantakochol, Commander of Army Region 33. (Photo by Peter Noyes)

On February 3rd, members of Chiang Mai VFW (Veterans of Foreign Wars) Post 12074 joined the ranks of their Thai counterparts in the spirit of Thai Veterans Day. In appreciation of the support and comradeship provided to local Thai vets by the Post, General Chanukorn Tantakochol, Commander of the Army Region 33, presented VFW Post Commander Michael Holmes with a plaque.

(L-R) James Sterritt, Al Evans, Michael Holmes, J Sapp, John Cosentino,
Billy Horner, Patrick Webb (Photo by Peter Noyes)


Immigrant labourers have until February 28 to obtain work permits and prove nationality

Nopniwat Krailerg & Jedsadapong Wongkiew
The Chiang Mai Provincial Employment Services Office reported that 44,000 foreign workers have registered with authorities to prove their nationality, either from Laos, Myanmar or Cambodia, yet only 5,000 of those have submitted a letter of request for work permits.

Pannawadee Ploytuptim, of the Chiang Mai provincial Employment Services office explaining work permits procedures for immigrant labourers.

According to Mrs. Pannawadee Ploytuptim of the Employment office that according to a January 19 Cabinet resolution, the period to prove nation of origin was extended and regulations allowing them to live in Thailand were relaxed. Those from Myanmar, Laos and Cambodia were specifically targeted in this resolution. She said most of their work permits had been expired since January 20, 2010 and that the time for them to send requests to prove nationality had been extended until February 28 of this year.
Officials further reported that 66,231 Myanmar, Laotian and Cambodian immigrants were granted the work permits in 2009, 101 Lao, 13 Cambodians, and 66,177 from Myanmar.
“Actually, since only 5,000 people requested for work permits we have to ask for cooperation from their employers to remind their employees to submit their request before February 28.
“There are many people that have not yet informed the Office, particularly those whose work permits expired by January 20, and they have been asked to contact the Office before February 28 when the extension period expires. The Employment Services Office is open daily at the Provincial building and a branch has been opened at the former New Chang Puak Restaurant on the Chotana road. Anyone who has not yet registered to prove their nationality by the deadline will not be issued work permits and will be deported,” she added.
The Employment Services Office also organized a meeting with employers to inform them about the procedures for proving nationality and obtaining work permits on February 10 and 11, at Chiang Mai Phucome Hotel, and on February 13 in the districts of Mae Ai, Chai Prakarn, and Fang.


International Art Exchange Thailand –USA Exhibition at CMU Art Gallery

Jedsadapong Wongkiew
Michael K. Morrow, the U.S. Consul General in Chiang Mai opened the new international art exhibition at the Art and Culture Gallery at Chiang Mai University (CMU) on February 6.

Ajarn Kamol Tassananchalee, declared a National Artist in 1977 presents a painting to U.S. Consul General Michael K. Morrow at the exhibition opening.

The works of Ajarn Kamol Tassananchalee, 5 other National Artists, 8 lecturers from the Print, Painting and Sculpture Departments at CMU, 4 Thai free lance artists and 6 American artists were featured at the gallery The exhibition aims to develop the creative cooperation between the U.S. and Thailand and to encourage Thai artists to further develop their artistic and creative abilities. The event ends February 16.

Mark Greenfield, an American artist, explains the creative process
 to Michael K. Morrow, U.S. Consul General Chiang Mai.


Japanese Government provides help to promote organic farming in Phayao

Mrs. Junko Yokota, Consul-General of Japan in Chiang Mai and Dr. Misaburo Taniguchi, President of the Foundation of Training Center for Agriculture and Occupation, signed the contract for the new project at the Consulate-General of Japan in Chiang Mai.

Japanese Consul General Press Release
The Government of Japan, under its Grant Assistance for the Grassroots Human Security Projects Scheme (GGP), has agreed to provide funds amounting to 2,789,500 baht for “The Project to Improve the Environment and to Promote the Organic Farming in Phayao Province”, and on February 12, 2010, Mrs. Junko Yokota, Consul-General of Japan in Chiang Mai and Dr. Misaburo Taniguchi, President of the Foundation of Training Center for Agriculture and Occupation, jointly signed the funding contract for the project at the Consulate-General of Japan in Chiang Mai.
The Training Center for Agriculture and Occupation Foundation in Chun District in Phayao Province has been promoting agricultural techniques for farmers, young people, and hill tribe members as well as community development in rural areas. Specifically, aiming at sustainable, environmentally-friendly farming, the Foundation has cultivated organic crops without the use of pesticides or chemical fertilizers at its farm and extended the techniques elsewhere.
In the Northern provinces, a smoky haze in the dry season, partly caused by burning agricultural waste, such as rice straw and stubble after reaping, is a serious environmental problem. Currently, governmental bodies and local administrative organizations have been educating farmers to reduce this agricultural burning. However, without providing knowledge and techniques on how to utilize rice straw instead of burning it, will not lead changes among farmers. Therefore, the Foundation has recommended utilizing rice straw for compost, feed for livestock, and mushroom beds, and to plow rice stubble back into the ground. However, it is still difficult for farmers to carry out these techniques in practice due to the lack of agricultural equipment and vehicles to reduce their heavy workload.
In response to a request from the Foundation, the Government of Japan has agreed to provide funds for the purchase of agricultural equipment and vehicles to compress, bale, and transport rice straw efficiently. They will be lent to some 300 farmers promoting organic rice farming and utilized in the agricultural training targeting annually around 200 trainees and visitors to the Foundation’s farm. This is expected to reduce air pollution from the smoky haze and to promote sustainable environmentally-friendly farming. For more information about GGP, please contact Mr. Ambe, Vice Consul, or Mr. Tsuda and Ms. Hoshii, Coordinators for GGP, Consulate-General of Japan in Chiang Mai, 053-203-367.


Two French suspects charged in November 2009 murder of Thai woman in Mae On

Staff reporters
Two French citizens suspected in the killing of a Thai woman found stabbed to death in the trunk of her car in Mae On last November have been arrested by Chiang Mai police for murder.
Richard Frederick, 66 was arrested for the murder of Suchada Sithisarn, 33, while Marco Pierre, 60, was charged as an accessory in the crime. Both men were denied bail.
On November 15, 2009, the body of Ms. Suchada was found stabbed to death in the trunk of her car parked in front of the home of Mr. Frederick. Her father had reported her missing earlier. Mr. Frederick and his friend Mr. Pierre were found later driving a Jeep Cherokee in Chiang Rai. The two men were questioned and the Cherokee was impounded for investigation.
The two men deny all charges.


Fire at Wat San Pakoi destroys assistant abbot’s historic residence

Firefighters battle the blaze at Wat San Pakoi on February 7.

Supoj Thiamyoj
Historic teak buildings burned to the ground in a fire that firefighters believe was started by an electrical fault at Wan San Pakoi in Wat Ket, north of the Kawila military camp. The fire, which broke out at 5:20 pm on February 7, destroyed the assistant abbot’s residence, built in 1839 and spread to a historic teak bell tower, other monks’ residences and another tower in the Wat. The narrow lanes into the temple made entrance for the 20 fire trucks from Chiang Mai Municipality and Kawila Army camp slow and difficult, taking 3 hours to bring the fire under control. Traffic was stalled on the road outside the temple for several hours while firefighters battled the blaze.
Fortunately, the assistant abbot, Phra Kru Rattana Sutasoonthorn, was away from the temple so avoided the fire, but he said several antique and gold Buddha images were lost and many of the temple’s important documents and items of value were destroyed in the fire. Damages are estimated in the tens of millions of baht. Forensic investigators from the fire department will continue to probe the cause of the fire and determine accurate losses.


Funeral Rites for 104 year old former abbot of Wat Tha Champee

The late Luang Poo Kru Ba Duangdee, pictured here at a Buddhist ceremony
to raise funds for construction of San Patong Hospital at Wat Tha Champee
on March 2008. (Photo by Bunyarit Tulaphanphong)

Bunyarit Tulaphanphong
Luang Poo Kruba Duangdee Supatho, the most senior monk and former abbot of Wat Tha Champee, San Patong district, Chiang Mai died of kidney failure after dialysis treatment at the Maharaj Nakhon Chiang Mai Hospital’s intensive care unit. He had been a monk for 83 years and was 104 years old.
His body was moved from Maharaj Nakorn Chiang Mai Hospital to Wat Tha Champee temple in San Patong for further funeral rites and the water pouring ceremony on Sunday, February 7.
He had been admitted to Bumrungrad Hospital with kidney problems September 2009, but was discharged after showing improvement. He returned to Wat Tha Champee on December 2 and was admitted to San Patong Hospital on January 19 of this year. He was transferred to Maharaj Nakhon Chiang Mai Hospital on January 25 with persistent low blood pressure.
Dr Chaiwat Bamrungkitch, Assistant Dean of the Faculty of Medicine, an expert in kidney disease cared for Luang Phu Kruba Duangdee Supatho; he also received many well wishes from other members of his temple and laypeople.
Chamlong Kittisri, the director of the Chiang Mai Provincial Buddhist Religion Office, said he would be granted an audience at the Royal Palace in Bangkok to obtain Royally sponsored water for the body of Luang Poo Kru Ba Duangdee at the funeral rites.
Chiang Mai Governor Amornphan Nimanant visited the Wat on February 6, paying his respects to the senior monk.
Luang Poo Kruba Duangdee Supatho was formerly a novice and follower of Kru Ba Srivichai, the monk who built the first road up to Wat Phrathart on Doi Suthep, he was born April 26, 1906, during the reign of King Rama V, and Chao Inthawitchayanon, the ruler of Chiang Mai, at Ban Tha Champee, Tambon Tung Satok, San Patong District. Both his parents were farmers, he was the seventh (youngest) of 8 children. All his siblings have since passed away.
When he was young, he went with his parents to make merit with the famous Kru Ba Srivichai, at Wat Phra That Haripunchai in Lamphun province. After meeting he ordained as a novice at the age of 13 at Tung Satok, later in his life, he was a student of Kru Ba Pothima, the abbot of Wat Tha Champee and a friend of Kru Ba Srivichai.
Kru Ba Sirivichai passed away in 1938, at the age of 35 years old; when Luang Poo Kru Ba Duangdee had been a monk for 12 years, which is when he decided to follow Kru Ba Kaopee to build many wats. He was also the abbot of Wat Tung Satok after Kru Ba Sopha.
When he was 42 years old (22 years in the monkhood), he received his first higher rank in 1975, then again in1987. He received his royally presented name and rank in 1997, and got a higher rank again in 2007 at the age of 102.


Processed golden teak seized in Mae Hong Son

Khajohn Boonpath
13 pieces of processed golden teak wood were seized by forestry officials in a forested area near Ban Maihung in Mae Hong Son province on February 3. About 50 villagers from Ban Mai Hung opposed the removal and requested of forestry officials that they be allowed to keep some of the wood as souvenirs.

Processed golden teak logs seized in Mae Hong Son by Forestry officials.

The blockade by villagers and subsequent negotiations between them and foresty officials took about two hours; officials denied the request and removed the wood to Huay Pong Forestry Protection and Conservation Unit.
The Mae Hong Son Provincial Forestry Coordination Centre and Huay Pong Forestry Protection officials suspect that the same influential people involved in last year’s seizure are involved in this processing plant as well.



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