HEADLINES [click on headline to view story]:

A most happy birthday to Her Royal Highness Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn

Happy Birthday HRH Princess Ubolratana

Khum Khantoke Palace razed in pre-dawn fire

Tuesday, April 6 is Chakri Day

Cloud seeding brings rain, and some relief

Japanese Government to help in fight against malaria, tuberculosis in HIV/AIDS in the greater Mekong region

Chiang Rai hopes to preserve giant catfish

Two separate arrests yield more than half a million yabaa pills

Three injured in collision in Mae Rim

Lamphun River choked by water hyacinth growth

Four bombs found in Chiang Mai in two weeks


A most happy birthday to Her Royal Highness Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn

On April 2 The Kingdom of Thailand celebrates the most auspicious occasion of Her Royal Highness Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn’s birthday. We at the Chiang Mai Mail join in with our most humble wishes for HRH Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn for a long, healthy and happy life.

Her Royal Highness Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn was born on April 2, 1955, the third child of Their Majesties the King and Queen of Thailand.

HRH the Princess studied from kindergarten to high school at Chitralada School in Bangkok. She ranked first in the National School Examinations in the primary level (grade 7) in 1967 and in upper secondary level (grade 12) in 1972. Ranked fourth in the National University Entrance Examination, HRH the Princess enrolled in the Faculty of Arts, Chulalongkorn University and graduated with a Bachelor of Arts degree, first class honor, and a gold medal in History in 1976. She continued her studies in two graduate programs concurrently, obtaining an M.A. in Oriental Epigraphy (Sanskrit and Cambodian) from Silpakorn University in 1978, and an M.A. in Pali and Sanskrit from Chulalongkorn University in 1980. She enrolled in a doctoral program at Srinakharinwirot University (former College of Education) in 1981, and was awarded a doctoral degree in Developmental Education in 1987.

The principle of using education as a means for community and social development, which HRH the Princess acquired during her doctoral studies along with her former experiences in the field, has provided her with a solid base for her subsequent involvement in community development activities.

In addition to her formal degree programs, HRH the Princess has attended several training courses and workshops to enhance her knowledge and skills in effective integrated development. These subjects include computer, cartography, meteorology, survey and photogrammetry, remote sensing and geographic information system and nutrition.

HRH the Princess has acquired first-hand experiences in working on development projects initiated by Their Majesties the King and Queen. These projects involve a number of diversified fields including health and hygiene, education, water resource development, agriculture and cottage industry by regularly accompanying Their Majesties on visits to remote areas since the age of sixteen.

From these experiences, HRH the Princess has developed special interests in agricultural extension to improve school children’s nutritional conditions; supports education from pre-school to tertiary levels; and mother and child care. She has also concentrated on helping the handicapped, especially in using information technology (IT) to develop independent living and learning skills.

HRH the Princess runs several philanthropic organizations and foundations. She has been Executive Vice President of the Thai Red Cross Society since 1977; Executive Chairman of the Chaipattana Foundation (in charge of His Majesty’s development and environmental preservation projects), Ananda Mahidol Foundation (to promote higher education), the King Rama II Foundation (to conserve and promote Thai Culture); President of the Sai Jai Thai Foundation (to support disabled veterans), Prince Mahidol Award Foundation (to award prizes annually to members of the international community for outstanding performances in the fields of medicine and public health); and Adviser of the Committee of Thai Junior Encyclopedia Project by Royal Command of H.M. the King.

HRH the Princess began her teaching career in 1979 when she started teaching the General Education Program at Chulalongkorn University. A year later, she joined the Department of Law and Social Sciences, in the Academic Division of Chulachomklao Royal Military Academy. Presently she is Director of the Department of History, and has played an active part in revising its curriculum. She also supervises the Thai Music Club at the Academy. Occasionally HRH the Princess gives special lectures at several other institutions and regularly attends academic conferences and seminars both in and outside the country.

In addition, HRH the Princess represents Their Majesties in various royal functions. She also presides over ceremonies as well as other social and charity functions all through the year. In 1991, HRH the Princess was awarded the Magsaysay Award for Public Service.

HRH the Princess likes to travel around the Kingdom and abroad to obtain knowledge of physical geography and peoples’ varied lifestyles. One of her favorite pastimes is writing articles, poetry and short stories. Proceeds from her written accounts of her overseas travels are the main source of income for the Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn Foundation which was set up in 1979 to support needy students in schools, vocational colleges and universities.

HRH the Princess loves Thai literature and studies literature of other countries. She enjoys playing classical Thai instruments and practicing Thai classical dancing. She also paints and is keen on sports, including jogging, swimming, biking and trekking - which gives her an opportunity to learn about plants, trees and geographical features of the areas.

In addition to her knowledge of Pali, Sanskrit and Cambodian, HRH the Princess is communicative in both English and French and has been learning Chinese, German and Latin.


Happy Birthday HRH Princess Ubolratana

Chiang Mai Mail humbly joins the Kingdom of Thailand in wishing Her Royal Highness Princess Ubolratana a most happy birthday on April 5.

Her Royal Highness Princess Ubolratana Rajakanya Sirivadhana Phannavadi was born on April 5, 1951, in Lausanne Switzerland. She is the eldest daughter of HM the King and Queen. Most recently, HRH Princess Ubolratana has shown a very keen interest in the way Thailand is being promoted by the TAT. She is also a very devoted leader of young people in the campaign against drugs, and as such has instituted and keenly watches over the To Be Number One project, encouraging family values, music and sport as alternatives to drug use. She has also set up the Khun Poom project to assist autistic children in Thailand.

Khum Khantoke Palace razed in pre-dawn fire

Chiang Mai Governor Amornphan Nimanant and Khum Khantoke owner Watchara Tantranont, 3rd right, rushed to the scene of the fire (Photo by Korrawuth Asana)

Nopniwat Krailerg
Khum Khantoke Palace was razed by an early fire with damage estimates reaching as high as 1 billion baht. The fire broke out in the restaurant, a center of Lanna art and culture in the city at 3:30 a.m. on March 25.

The Mae Ping Police station was informed and fire engines dispatched immediately, but the huge Lanna building, made of teak and filled with numerous antiques, quickly caught fire in the blaze and burned to the ground before it could be stopped.

Chiang Mai governor Amornphan Nimanant accompanied by Mae Ping Police chief Pol Col Adulyadecha Artchawasamittrakul, also rushed out to the scene to oversee the fire fighters.

About 20 fire engines from Chiang Mai Municipality and Nong Pakrang Municipality worked over two hours to bring the fire under control.

According to police investigators, a witness, Aphichet Damrongrattanarak, 30, an employee of the Khum Phaya Resort and Spa located nearby, said he saw the flames in the Khum Khantoke Palace main building and on its roof, which is when he called the police and fire department.

Forensic police led by Pol Maj Pacha Rattanaphan, the commander of the Forensic Police Center, inspected the scene to find cause of fire, stating that the cause is yet uncertain. Investigations will continue to determine if the fire was deliberately set or if it was an accident.

Watchara Tantranont, the owner of Khum Khantoke Palace, reported that he does have fire insurance and that he plans to continue his restaurant business as usual. He hopes to begin rebuilding within 6 months.

Tuesday, April 6 is Chakri Day

Banks, offices will be closed

April 6 commemorates the founding of the Chakri Dynasty in 1782 by King Rama I. Government offices, banks and some businesses will be closed.

Cloud seeding brings rain, and some relief

Staff reporters
Royally-sponsored rain making or Fon Luang relieved some of the air pollution in several Northern provinces this week. The artificial rain making team from the Northern region’s center produced some rain over two nights. This helped to reduce the thick haze and relieve some drought problems in the North.

On March 21, Song Klinprathum, the Director of the Artificial Rain Making Center, said the rain making team had seeded clouds over several days, bringing some rain. Mae Hong Son, which had reached a crisis level when the PM 10 was measured as high as 400- 500 micrograms per cubic meter, had dropped to 166 microgram per cubic meter on March 21 after the successful cloud seeding.

He added that the targeted areas for rain making were in Chiang Mai, Lampang, Lamphun, and Phayao provinces during March 15- 17. The cloud seeding produced some heavy rainfall that helped reduce haze and increase humidity.

The PM 10 measured on March 23 at Chiang Mai City Hall showed the levels had dropped to 82.6 micrograms, and at Yupparaj School the level was recorded at 96.3 micrograms.

Other Northern provinces also saw reduced levels of PM 10, dropping below the standard level of 120. Mae Hong Son was the exception, with PM10 levels still in excess of 157.

After the rains, Mae Sai district was measured at 128.9, Chiang Rai town was 100, Phayao was at 95.1, Lampang was 93.0, Nan was at 92.3 and Phrae was at 76.0 micrograms per cubic meter.

Japanese Government to help in fight against malaria, tuberculosis in HIV/AIDS in the greater Mekong region

Nine Myanmar graduates of medical training from the Mae Sai hospital received their certificates of completion on March 27 at a ceremony presided over by M.R.Disnadda Diskul, Secretary-General of Mah Fah Luang Foundation at the Princess Mother Commemorative Hall in Doi Tung Area, Mae Fah Luang district, Chiang Rai province. Mr. Masaki Tada, President of the Japan International Friendship and Welfare Foundation (JIFF) and Dr. Sura Khunkongkhapan, Director of Mae Sai Hospital were present at the ceremony.

This medical training at Mae Sai Hospital was the last of 12 sessions which started 2006 under the Project “Fight against Malaria, Tuberculosis, and HIV/AIDS in the Greater Mekong Sub-region (GMS), Phases I, II, and III.” The three-phase project was implemented by JIFF in cooperation with the Mah Fah Luang Foundation and Mae Sai Hospital. The Government of Japan provided funds amounting to more than 20,000,000 Baht for the three-year project under the Grant Assistance for Japanese NGO Projects program.

Infectious disease control and prevention cannot be adequately dealt with by the individual efforts of a single country. It requires cooperation with neighboring countries and transnational efforts at the regional level. To address this issue, medical staff of JIFF and Mae Sai Hospital together provided the medical training for medical personnel from countries in the GMS, aiming at medical capacity development in the region. The number of personnel who participated in the training amounted to more than 100, among whom were nurses, medical technologists, X-ray technicians, and doctors from Laos, Myanmar, Vietnam and Thailand.

In addition, the Government of Japan provided funds amounting to 1,744,650 Yen, or approximately 560,000 Baht in fiscal year 2009 for another JIFF project to transport used medical equipment from Japan to Thailand. The medical equipment will be utilized at hospitals, health centers, and schools in Northern Thailand.

It is expected that the medical personnel who participated in the training will contribute to an improvement of the medical services in their respective countries and promote further transnational efforts to fight infectious diseases in the GMS.

For more information on these project and others, please contact: Mr. Sato, Consul or Mr.Tsuda and Ms. Hoshii, Coordinators for GGP Consulate-General of Japan in ChiangMai: 053-203-367.

Chiang Rai hopes to preserve giant catfish

Staff reporters
The Chiang Rai Provincial Fishery Station plans to organize public hearings to address the concerns of overfishing of the Pla Buek or Giant catfish in the Mekong River.

The Chiang Rai Provincial Authority along with Chiang Khong District Fishery Station will hold public hearing to discuss ways of protecting pla beuk strains and increasing the numbers of the giant catfish with local area villagers. This will also be in cooperation with Lao PDR, in a bid to ban fishing of the giant catfish in the Mekong River this year.

Deputy Chiang Rai Governor Surachai Linthong plans to ask Laos to join hands with Thailand in the banning of fishing for the giant catfish, or pla beuk, on the river during the normal fishing season in April.

Paiboon Rungpiboonsophit, the chief of the Chiang Rai Provincial Fishery Station said that the station will be working with Rajabhat and Mae Fah Luang Universities to research pla buek breeding and conservation.

He continued that the annual fishing has reduced the numbers of pla buek, endangering the species, adding that it is time to save the unique giant catfish of the Mekong River.

The annual ceremony to propitiate Chao Por Pla Buek, or the guardian spirit of the Pla Buek fish, will be held in Chiang Khong district, by the villagers of Ban Had Krai on April 18 in front of Wat Had Krai temple. Funds raised will go towards efforts to promote tourism to the area.

Two separate arrests yield more than half a million yabaa pills

Pol Maj Gen Sommai Kongwisaisuk, Commander of Chiang Mai Police with the three suspects in custody, from left, Somboon Saelee, Somchai Saemu, and Arying sae Wang, with the 20,000 confiscated yabaa pills.

Nopniwat Krailerg and Jedsadapong Wongkiew
In two separate cases, police confiscated 520,000 yabaa pills being smuggled into Thailand for sale by drug traffickers.

On March 22, Chiang Mai Provincial Police arrested a gang of Chinese Haw drug traffickers with 20,000 yabaa pills that they had brought to Chiang Mai to sell.

Arying or Jinyoon sae Wang, 43, Somchai or Arhai Saemu, 22 and Somboon Saelee, 36, all residents of Muang Na in Chiang Dao District were arrested after a sting operation was set into motion by Chiang Mai police. The men delivered packets of 20,000 yabaa pills to undercover police after negotiating with them for the sale earlier in the day. Police arrested the men and confiscated the drugs and 2,000,000 baht in cash.

In the second incident, police from the Provincial Police Bureau, Region 5, acting on a tip off, set up a roadblock in Lampang’s Mae Yo District. 500,000 yabaa pills, worth 100 million baht, were found hidden in the back of a pickup truck at the checkpoint on March 23.

Police Commissioner Pol Lt Gen Somkid Boonthanom announced the arrest of Nathakitch Kiartpraisan, 32, a resident of tambon Mae Soi, Chormthong district, Chiang Mai, found with 500,000 ya baa pills packed in 150 plastic bags hidden in a compartment in a specially modified Mitsubishi pickup-truck.

Nathakitch confessed to police that he had been hired by Mr. Ke, surname unknown, was paid 400,000 baht, to deliver the drugs from Chiang Rai to Bangkok.

Region 5 Police Chief Pol Lt Gen Somkid said this appeared to be a new manufacture of high grade yabaa tablets coming from bordering countries.

Three injured in collision in Mae Rim

Area residents check out the Fortuner that crashed
into the dry canal and rolled over onto its roof.

Nopniwat Krai lerg
Three people were injured when a Toyota Fortuner collided with a pickup truck filled with laborers on March 24. The driver of the Fortuner escaped injury, with her car flipping over into the irrigation canal. In the rainy season, the irrigation canal is filled with water but, due to this year’s drought, was dry.

Mrs. Sasithorn Muicheen , 37, a resident of Pattana Changpuak, was driving her Fortuner along the road from Huay Tung Tao to the 700 Year Stadium when she lost control and slammed into the pickup truck which was making a turn. The pickup truck, loaded with people and tools, crashed, while the Fortuner rolled into the canal.

Mrs. Sasithorn escaped the crash with minor injuries but three of the passengers of the

pickup truck were taken to Nakornping Hospital for treatment.

Lamphun River choked by water hyacinth growth

Fish die off caused by pollution

Staff reporters
The Mae Kuang River in Lamphun has been heavily contaminated with pollutants resulting in a recent massive die off causing local villagers great concern.

The polluted river has been filled by excessive growth of water hyacinth; choking waterways and depleting the river of oxygen, resulting in a fish die off, with villages collecting up to 30 kilograms of dead fish out of the river.

Villagers have asked authorities for help in clearing up the river and tackling the pollution that has caused the over abundance of water hyacinth plants. On March 21, Lamphun villagers and residents along the Mae Kuang River banks, in Tambon Muang Nga, Tambon Nai Muang, Tambon Wiang Yong, and Tambon Ton Thong, Lamphun, had lodged a formal complaint with authorities.

Hardest hit were the villages of Ban Yu and Wang Hai behind the Lamphun Central Sports Stadium, where large numbers of dead fish were found floating in the river.

The Mae Kuang River, which passes through Lamphun Muang district area for a distance of 10 kilometers, is turning black, with bubbles and a bad smell, villagers report.

In the past, volunteers have helped to clean the river but that has not happened for some time, resulting in the die off. Water hyacinth can become a pervasive weed, choking waterways and lakes when not controlled, this dramatically effects water flow, blocking sunlight from reaching native aquatic plants, and starving the water of oxygen, often killing fish (or turtles). The plants also create a prime habitat for mosquitoes, spreading disease as well.

Four bombs found in Chiang Mai in two weeks

Prior to defusing the M79 grenade launched near the Central Airport Plaza Shopping Center on March 23,  a soldier from the 33rd Military Circle inspects device, (Inset) The unexploded M76 grenade that was discovered at the Bangkok Bank ATM machine in San Kamphaeng District on March 25.

PRD and Nopniwat Krailerg
After an M79 grenade was launched at the Central Airport Plaza Shopping Center on March 23, Chiang Mai Provincial Police commander Pol. Maj Gen Sommai Kongwisut announced that security around the city has been tightened, measures have been stepped up at City Hall and the Court buildings, patrols have been increased and checkpoints instituted around the city.

The M79 grenade launched at the shopping center was presumably aimed at the police box but hit the wall of the building. Police believe it was shot from an overpass near the shopping center. The police are viewing CCTV cameras to single out suspects in the attack.

There have been four bomb threats or attacks, with giant fireworks being shot at the Bangkok Bank ATM machine in Chang Phuak and the M79 attack on Central Aiport Plaza. The Chiang Mai Construction Co. Ltd owned by Kanaen Supha, the father in law of politician Newin Chidchob was also attacked.

The fourth and latest attack was a grenade planted at a Bangkok Bank ATM machine in San Kamphaeng on March 25. Locals informed the police that a grenade had been found in the bin near the Sai Wattanatham San Kamphaeng Bangkok Bank ATM machine. Police discovered an M76 grenade and proceeded to disarm it and remove it.

Chiang Mai Provincial Police commander Pol. Maj Gen Sommai Kongwisut believes the attacks could be the work of people trying to foment fear and chaos and has stepped up patrols and checkpoints around the city.