Vol. IX No. 15 - Tuesday
April 13 - April 19, 2010



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by Saichon Paewsoongnern


NEWS
HEADLINES [click on headline to view story]:

Late night Red Shirt rally at City Hall

Chakri Day celebrated April 6

Chiang Mai Zoo Aquarium sea turtle exhibition scheduled

Students poll tourists about Songkran

Mae Hong Son Governor reinforces City Hall

City streets cleaned for Songkran

April 5 sees two bombs

Mae Hong Son villages hit by severe drought

Court issues arrest warrants for 7 Red Shirt leaders

Five suspects arrested in drugs sweep

 

Late night Red Shirt rally at City Hall

Anti-government demonstrators stand in line for free food as they gather in the commercial district of Bangkok, Thailand, early Friday, April 9, 2010. Protestors marched to the satellite TV ground station in Pathum Thani after the government order the closure of the People TV Channel.(AP Photo/David Longstreath)

Nopniwat Krailerg

More than 1,000 Red shirt people (UDD) rallied in front of the Chiang Mai City Hall on April 8 in protest of the declaration of a State of Emergency following Red Shirt protests in Bangkok.

After heeding a call from the Rak Chiang Mai affiliated radio station, 92.5 MHz, members of the Rak Chiang Mai 51 group gathered at the Grand Waroros Palace Hotel inside the moat after midnight on April 8. From there the group moved to Chiang Mai City Hall where they staged a protest with loudspeakers at the closed South Gate of City Hall. 500 riot police were on guard inside the gates but did not engage the group.

Linked to the People Channel Television, the Rak Chiang Mai Red Shirts protested the State of Emergency, calling for Prime Minister Abhisit Vejajiva to step down. The group also closed Chotana Road northbound towards Mae Rim briefly but dispersed around 1:20 a.m.

Chiang Mai Governor Amornphan Nimanant, accompanied by Pol Maj Gen Sommai Kongvisaisut, the commander of the Chiang Mai Provincial Police Division, and high ranking officials of Chiang Mai Provincial Authorities observed the rally in order to assess the situation.

 

Chakri Day celebrated April 6

Chiang Mai Governor Amornphan Nimanant presided over the ceremony to mark Chakri Day on April 6, at Chiang Mai University’s Convention Center. Northern dignitaries, international consuls, government officials, and members of the public attended the ceremony held to honor the founding of the current reigning Chakri Dynasty in 1782.


Chiang Mai Zoo Aquarium sea turtle exhibition scheduled

Rear Admiral Chakchai Phucharoenyos, 2ndleft, Royal Thai Navy Commander and associates, are welcomed to the Chiang Mai Zoo Aquarium for the upcoming sea turtle exhibition by Nipon Wichairat, the Assistant Director of the Chiang Mai Provincial Authority.

The Royal Thai Navy along with Chiang Mai Zoo Aquarium has scheduled an exhibition on sea turtles at the Aquarium in time for HM the Queen’s birthday on August 12. HM the Queen has been actively involved in turtle conservation since establishing the Turtle Conservation project on Man Nai Island off the cost of Rayong in the Gulf of Thailand in 1979.

Rear Admiral Chakchai Phucharoenyos, Commander of missile aircrafts and coastal safeguard for the Royal Thai Navy and 9 delegates from the Royal Thai Navy visited the area planned for the upcoming exhibition on sea turtles on April 9. They hope to educate people in the North about sea turtles, their life cycles and endangerment.

Rear Admiral Chakchai said about 50 turtles will be displayed including two rare species; the Chelonia mydas or Green turtle and the Eretmochelys imbricate or Hawksbill turtle. The Hawksbill turtle is considered critically endangered given the worldwide decline in numbers.

Although turtles in Thailand are a legally protected species egg poaching, habitat degradation, pollution, and over-fishing threaten to make them extinct. Only eight turtles nested on Thailand’s southwest coast this year, compared to 350 in 1985 according to the Tourism Authority of Thailand.


Students poll tourists about Songkran

Recently, Pi Naen, the deputy director, and team leader of Edutainer of the Enconcept E Academy School, a Bangkok-based English language tuition school, was in Chiang Mai and organized mobile classrooms for students here. She invited students to join in her school’s outdoor training course on speaking English by introducing foreigners to the traditional Lanna style Songkran in conjunction with the Tourism Authority of Thailand Chiang Mai.

Chiang Mai students practice their English and poll tourists on Songkran at the Walking Street Market.

To educate tourists and help improve students’ English, they approached tourists at Chiang Mai’s well known Sunday Walking Street Market and asked them questions about Songkran.

“Excuse me sir, do you have free time? May I ask you some questions about Thailand and Chiang Mai? “ the students dressed in Lanna costume asked tourists.

More than 50 students roamed the Walking Street Fair, not only improving their English but acting as goodwill ambassadors for the culture and their country. They handed out brochures on Songkran as well as polled people at the market.

Students found that of those polled, 35 percent did not know about Songkran, 29 percent did know about Songkran but only 3 percent of those knew it was the Thai New Year.

Of those who knew about Songkran, 29 percent knew about it from friends, 22.8 percent from the internet and books and 8.7 percent from their travel agency. 52 percent of the respondents polled said they chose Chiang Mai as a tourist destination because of its famed ancient temples, elephant camps, friendly people and natural beauty. Only 8.7 percent of those polled were here on business.

The majority of tourists polled were British, 17.6 percent, 13.7 percent were Australian and 15.6 percent were American or German.


Mae Hong Son Governor reinforces City Hall

Mae Hong Son Governor Kamthorn Thawornsathit joins police and military in readying City Hall in case of unrest.

Khajohn Boonpath

Due to unconfirmed rumors that unknown parties intended to set fire to City Hall, Mae Hong Son Governor Kamthorn Thawornsathit ordered the military and police forces including volunteers to guard the provincial city hall.

On April 6, Governor Kamthorn checked on police and military preparedness on preventing violence in the city. He called on the 7th Infantry Regiment, Mae Hong Son Provincial Police Division, territory security volunteers, and municipality’ s fire engines to be ready in place at the city hall area in case the rumors were not unfounded.

The Governor also was briefed by his deputy governors, provincial authorities, and military officers on the current situation regarding the Red shirt movement in Mae Hong Son.

Governor Kamthorn said the government would enforce the law and fully intended to prosecute those who might violate the law by attempting to invade or attack City Hall.

“We will not allow the red shirt people (UDD) to get in and burn City Hall. We Mae Hong Son people, government officials, and businessmen do not need the violence to erupt here. Mae Hong Son is a peaceful town and as a popular tourist destination we do not want the unrest here,” the Governor stated.

Large numbers of military officers and riot police were deployed around the city hall, provincial court, and other important government buildings, and other potential targets should there be unrest.


City streets cleaned for Songkran

The Chiang Mai Provincial Authority and Chiang Mai Municipality organized the Chiang Mai Big Cleaning Day to welcome the Songkran Water Festival on April 7. Chiang Mai Governor Amornphant Nimanant joined Chiang Mai Mayor Tassanai Buranupakorn, government officials and members of the private sector in the Clean Up Chiang Mai campaign to welcome visitors coming to Chiang Mai to celebrate the Songkran festival at the Three Kings Monument.


April 5 sees two bombs

Military inspectors inspect the scene
in front of the Chiang Mai Lamphun Road Makro.

Nopniwat Krailerg

An M-79 grenade was launched at the Makro Department Store on the Chiang Mai-Lampang superhighway at 12. 30 a.m. on April 5, landing in the parking lot but failing to explode while a more successful attempt occurred nearby around the same time at the Tananuwat Furniture Factory, with the roof and building damaged by the explosion.

Thongchai Jersawang, a security guard at Makro said that while he was patrolling inside the Makro compounds, he saw a pickup truck passing by with two men inside. Upon hearing the loud noise of the grenade falling onto the pavement, he inspected and found the unexploded grenade. He called the Mae Ping Police station that brought out the bomb squad to remove the explosive.

The small crater created in the Makro parking lot by the unexploded grenade.

The CCTV camera at the furniture store also showed a pickup truck which stopped in front of the store briefly. After it drove off it was followed by a motorcycle, which the rider then launched the grenade at the building.

Narong Tanannuwat, the owner of the factory and a past president of the Chiang Mai Chamber of Commerce told police that he was not involved with any interest groups, was not having any business conflicts and is not involved in any political party. He believed that it was an attempted attack on the Makro Department store, but it landed in front of his factory instead.

The police assumed that this was another threat aimed at creating disturbance but will review CCTV camera video installed on the road and at the factory in an effort to identify the suspects and then determine motive.

These make the 9th and 10th bombing or attempted bombing in Chiang Mai in less than a month.

The Tananuwat Furniture Factory was the victim
of an M79 grenade explosion on April 5 at 12:30 a.m.


Mae Hong Son villages hit by severe drought

Villagers line up to receive water from water tankers brought in by the 7th Infantry Region Task Force, Mae Hong Son Forest Fire Control Center, and the Tambon Administration Organization.

Khajohn Boonpath

More than 200 families in 3 villages in Tambon Huay Pong in the Muang District of Mae Hong Son, face severe hardship caused by the summer drought that has dried up water in rivers and canals.

Falling short on water for both drinking and use, the Tambon Huay Pong Administrative Organization (TAO) has requested assistance from Mae Hong Son provincial authorities to truck in water supplies. The 7th Infantry Region Task Force, Mae Hong Son Forest Fire Control Center, and TAO have all been requested to help supply water for the stricken villages.

Suparb Parppredpring, President of Huay Pong TAO, said the water in water canals and rivers had rapidly dried up and that the water supply from the mountain is no longer working. They have requested authorities help deliver water as soon as possible.

He noted that the shortage of water has been a problem since February, with garlic growers in the Huay Pong area also facing difficulties as irrigation sources have dried up for their crops.

Surasak Preedee, village headman of Ban Kaen Fah, added that they do not have a medium sized reservoir to conserve water for use during the dry summer months as well, pond, river and canal water has dried up.

“The villagers and farmers have to face this until the end of April or beginning of May when, it is hoped, the rain will come and hopefully relieve the water shortage crisis”, he noted.


Court issues arrest warrants for 7 Red Shirt leaders

The Criminal Court issued arrest warrants for seven Red Shirt leaders including Arisman Pongruangrong in connection with storming Parliament on Wednesday. April 8. The court said their action violated the law under the Emergency Decree for three counts — intruding into a government office, detaining and causing others to lose freedom, and forcing others to do or not do something. Each count is punishable by up to five years in prison.

Thousands of demonstrators carried their protest to Parliament on Wednesday after learning that the Prime Minister and his cabinet were meeting there.The red-shirted protesters led by singer-turned-activist Arisman broke through both the fence and a cordon of riot police, making their way into the Parliament compound, forcing the House session to end abruptly.

The prime minister however left the building long before the protesters arrived, while Deputy Prime Minister Suthep Thaugsuban and government spokesman Panitan Wattanayagorn and several Democrat MPs were later evacuated by helicopter.

Mr Arisman said that he only wanted to find Mr Suthep to question him about a firebomb which he said was hurled from inside the Parliament compound to protesters.

Mr Arisman added that the Red Shirts’ seizure of an M16 assault rifle and a 9mm handgun from the security detail at Parliament meant that the deployed security personnel are not unarmed as was earlier reported. (TNA)


Five suspects arrested in drugs sweep

Pol Maj Gen Sommai Kongwisaisuk, Commander of the Chiang Mai Police
with 5 drugs suspects and 20,000 yabaa pills on April 4
at Chiang Mai Provincial Police Division.

Supoj Thiamyoj

The Chiang Mai Provincial Police Division arrested five drug suspects with a haul of 20,000 ya baa pills on April 4.

Acting on a tip off that a gang would be smuggling drugs across the Myanmar border, Pol Maj Gen Sommai Kongwisut, Commander of the Chiang Mai Police, had police set up a check point in Chai Prakarn.

On April 4, the Chai Prakarn Police, at Pha Hong check-point in Chai Prakarn district intercepted a Mitsubishi pickup truck and arrested Anan Kongmuang, 49, a resident of Chiang Dao District and Ms. Saifon Promtip, 34, a resident of Phrao district, with 20,000 yabaa tablets found hidden in the front seat.

Upon interrogation Anan confessed that the drugs belonged to someone named Songwut who was waiting for delivery in front of the Carrefour Department Store in Nong Pakrung on the Chiang Mai- Lampang Superhighway.

Police proceeded to Carrefour where they apprehended Songwut Somsong, 40, and Ms. Siriporn Ruepakchee, 25, both of Nakhon Phathom province. Further investigation led to the arrest of Theerasak Wattanathongchai, 31 of Bangkok at the Chiang Mai Phucome Hotel in Suthep, who was also suspected of awaiting delivery of drugs.

The Chiang Mai Police detained all 5 suspects for further investigation and plan to charge them with drug possession with the intent to sell.



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