HEADLINES [click on headline to view story]:

Chiang Mai records 6 accident deaths in first two days of Songkran

Faham holds traditional Songkran New Year festival

Croston Children’s Home in Lamphun receives new bio water filter

Poy Sang Long festival celebrates Thai Yai culture

Photo Exhibition by HRH Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn at CMU

SME Fair held in Chiang Mai

Tourist numbers drop

Local spa owner gunned down

Songkran accidents over 50 percent higher in first two days

400,000 yabaa pills confiscated in Chiang Rai

Rak Chiang Mai 51 take protest on the road


Chiang Mai records 6 accident deaths in first two days of Songkran

In the first two days of the “seven dangerous days” of Songkran, 6 men were killed in road accidents according to Chiang Mai Provincial Authorities, this despite the efforts of the Disaster Prevention and Mitigation Department’s Road Safety Centre to reduce the number of Songkran deaths and accidents to below last year’s numbers.

47 road accidents were reported, with 48 injuries; 36 of those injured were men, plus the 6 men who have died so far this Songkran season. 5 people alone were killed on April 13, with Chiang Mai reporting the highest number of deaths in the nation for Songkran day. Officials said the majority of accidents were caused by people driving drunk.

Deputy Chiang Mai Governor Pairote Saengphuwong has called for a meeting among the government officials and authorities concerned to prepare for a higher number than expected road accidents. He is also calling on the public to not drink and drive. (PRD).


Faham holds traditional Songkran New Year festival

Mayor Preecha Worakul washes the hands of monks in the traditional Songkran ceremony held behind Wat Kha Jao.

On April 9 the Faham Municipality and Faham Culture Council organized a traditional Songkran Festival, honoring the elderly in a traditional hand washing ceremony. In addition, a good health contest and best costume contest was held to celebrate the National Day for the Elderly. Ruj Wannarat, Vice President of the Chiang Mai Provincial Administrative Organization (PAO), presided over the opening ceremony of the traditional Songkran festival

Ruj Wannarat, Vice President of Chiang Mai PAO took part in the traditional Songkran ceremony on April 9 in Faham by washing the hands of elderly residents.

Preecha Worakul, Mayor of Tambon Faham Municipality said the municipality held their Songkran day celebrations on the banks of the Ping River behind Wat Kha Jao on April 9. More than 500 elderly residents attended the traditional ceremony.

The traditional ceremony was held to promote and preserve the local culture and ways and to pay respect to the elderly in Faham.

The organizers also provided local sports and games, medical check-up services for the general public and staged the “rod nam dam hua”, the traditional water pouring ceremony for the elderly near Paton Bridge and at the boat landings.

The Songkran parade took place in Chiang Mai city on April 13, with dancers joining the parade of important Buddha images. Locals and visitors thronged to the parade to bless the Buddha and watch the parade go by.

Croston Children’s Home in Lamphun receives new bio water filter

The Croston Children’s Home in Lamphun was the recipient of a bio-sand water filter donated by Janet Kirwin. Ms Kirwin was the lucky winner of a biosand water filter donated to the ThailandeFreunde booth at the Chiang Mai City Life Garden Party back in February.

However, she felt it would be put to better use elsewhere and asked Thailandfreunde and Dirk Weeber-Arayatumsopon to find an appropriate place to donate the filter. Dirk cast about and decided on the Croston Children’s Home. The filter was installed April 9, saving the home at least 400 baht a week on drinking water. Money that can now be used to purchase food and other necessities.

Poy Sang Long festival celebrates Thai Yai culture

A novice is carried on a relative’s shoulders
as part of the Poy Sang Long ceremony in Mae Hong Son.

Khajohn Boonpath and Jedsadapong Wongkiew

Both Chiang Mai and Mae Hong Son celebrated the Poy Sang Long ordination ceremony of the Thai Yai culture. Locally called ‘buad look kaew’, the ordination ceremony is annually held during the Songkran festival in April, which is regarded as an important merit-making festival for the Thai Yai living in the Northern provinces of Chiang Mai, Chiang Rai and Mae Hong Son.

This ordination, on which the final day features young pre-teen novices dressed in colorful finery, with faces powdered and rouged, and wearing a turban adorned with flowers, are carried on the shoulders of their male relatives to the temple to the tune of traditional Thai Yai music. At the temple the boy is then ordained into the temple to exchange his colorful finery for the simple saffron robes of a Buddhist monk.

29 young novices took part in the ordination ceremony in Mae Hong Son. Hosted by the Mae Hong Son Municipality and Tourism Authority of Thailand the event is unique to the Thai Yai or Shan as they are also known.

Suthep Nuchsuang, Mae Hong Son Mayor said the ceremony, also known as the Poy Sang Long festival was held from April 9, - 11, at Wat Muay Tor, tambon Chongkham, Mae Hong Son.

In Chiang Mai, this ceremony is held in the Thai Yai temples, like Wat Ku Tao, Wat Pa Pao, and Wat Padaed, and by the Chiang Mai Municipality, along with Tourism Authority of Thailand.

One of the ceremonies was held on April 5, starting at Tha Pae gate, with Sunthorn Yamsiri, Deputy Mayor of Chiang Mai, presiding over the opening ceremony. The colorful procession moved along Moon Muang road to Wat Pa Pao for the ordination ceremony.

This celebration of this ceremony hopes to preserve the traditions of the Northern ethnic cultures, and to draw attention to local Thai Yai art and culture. With this aim, music, cultural performances and festivities honoring the Thai Yai culture took place at Wat Pa Pao.

In the past, only the wealthy could afford to be ordained in the Poy Sang Long tradition but the changing times have required additional financial help so that more may join. Several groups and agencies have organized the ceremony now with a budget ranging from 200,000 baht to one million depending on the number of novices ordaining.

Thai Yai residents of Chiang Mai take
part in the annual Buddhist ordination ceremony, Poy Sang Long.

Photo Exhibition by HRH Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn at CMU

Sunnatha Rattanawadee, the Deputy Dean for the Fine Arts Department,
 shows Flight Lieutenant Suriya Sueksakitch, the Assistant Minister of Culture, around the photo exhibition at Chiang Mai University.

186 photos taken by HRH Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn are now on display to the public at the Arts and Culture Hall at Chiang Mai University until April 30.

All of the photos, taken between 2008 and 2009 both in Thailand and abroad during official visits, were chosen for the theme “If you walk continually you will reach your destination”. The exhibition reflects her attention to detail and sense of humor.

The opening ceremony was held on April 9 and presided over by Flight Lieutenant Suriya Sueksakitch, Assistant Minister of Culture. The exhibition was organized by The Office of Contemporary Arts and Cultures, along with Photo Associations of Thailand.

Royal permission was granted to afford the general public, both Thai and foreign, the opportunity to view the photos taken by HRH Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn.

SME Fair held in Chiang Mai

Jedsadapong Wongkiew

The Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) Promotion Office of Ministry of Industry organized the first big SME fair and seminar in Chiang Mai, from April 8 -10. Charnchai Chairungruang, the Minister of Industry, presided over the opening ceremony for the Thai Khem Kaeng SME fair held at the Chiang Mai University Convention Center

Charnchai Chairungruang, the Minister of Industry gives the opening remarks at the SME Fair at CMU Convention Center.

The Thai Khem Kaeng concept, or strong Thai Project 2010, hopes to promote SME projects in the North and throughout the rest of the country. The SME Promotion Office plans to hold 20 similar events across the country to boost SME projects and help with trade and marketing and promote SME’s across the country.

Minister Charnchai said that the Ministry of Industry has plans to launch SME projects in several fields by the main the SMEs Promotion Office.

Under the fiscal year budget for 2010-2011, and the policy of the SME Promotion Office, importance will be given to the development of SMEs into the three main issues; sustainable SME promotion, generating more revenues from basic SMEs, and linking SMEs with neighboring countries into a regional economy.

The strong Thai SMEs Project 2010 event is expected to help Thai SME operators to learn more about products and development processes.

Yuthasak Supasorn, Director of the SMEs Promotion Office, said Chiang Mai is a center of economic development in the North that is preparing its basic infrastructure and offers high potential for SMEs operations.

“By next year, Chiang Mai will have its new conference center that can hold an international Expo fair with products from the regional level on display. Chiang Mai will be able to welcome more SME businesses and grow,” he said.

Director Yuthasak added that the SME Fair was expected to help generate revenue in Chiang Mai, especially during the run up to Songkran. He added that more than 200 SME operators, businesses and representatives of financial institutions and networkers participated in the event.

The idea behind the current fair are the 5 Super S’s; S 1 is Small (SME products), S 2 - Smart (up-to-date), S 3 - Special (innovative ideas and designs), S 4 - Strength (good management), and S 5 – success. This concept is the catalyst in driving SME businesses to make the regional economy stronger.

Finally Director Yuthasak expected around 50,000 people to attend the SME Fair in Chiang Mai which would help to boost trade up to 200 million baht in Chiang Mai alone.

Some of the many SME operators with booths at the SME Fair on April 8 – 10.

Tourist numbers drop

Staff reporters

Tourist numbers have dropped as much as 40 percent from last year, Chiang Mai Governor Amornphan Nimanant announced. He believed that the political unrest had affected Chiang Mai’s tourism more than expected.

Chiang Mai Governor Amornphan Nimanant announced the drop in tourists for the Songkran holidays.

Initially, it had been expected there would be at least 300,000 visitors to Chiang Mai, boosting revenues in the city by as much as 1 billion baht.

The Governor said that due to political unrest and the recent explosions in the city, security has been stepped up and that he ordered all officials to be on high alert.

“The current political factor has affected tourism, however, we can ensure that tourists and visitors to Chiang Mai this time will be safe,” he assured, adding that the police have stepped up patrols and enforcement to keep things safe.

Chiang Mai is rich in arts and culture and the Governor added that he believed Chiang Mai people would not create any violence during Songkran.

Governor Amornphan also asked all sides for help in keeping Chiang Mai peaceful and to return the city to normality.

Local spa owner gunned down

Staff reporters

Mrs. Chayaras Rana, 37, was gunned down by an unknown assailant on a motorbike outside her business, the Leelawadee Saraphi Massage and Spa on April 6. She died instantly. The housekeeper, Mrs. Buathep Oon-okdaeng, 54, was by her side holding Mrs. Chayaras’ one year old son when the gunman opened fire. She and the little boy escaped injury by quickly ducking down behind the car.

The Mae Ping Police are investigating possible motives for the shooting and are investigating to find more evidence in an effort to find the killer, still at large.

Songkran accidents over 50 percent higher in first two days

The second day of the long Songkran holiday on Tuesday recorded 69 fatalities from road accidents nationwide, bringing the total deaths in the first two days to 116, said the government’s Road Safety Centre.

The centre reported 929 injuries and 870 road accidents occurring on Tuesday. Near half of the accidents, 47 percent were related to drunken driving followed by speeding at 20 per cent. Motorcycles were involved in many accidents, accounting for 87 per cent of accidents nationwide.

The highest number of accidents occurred in the southern province of Nakhon Si Thammarat, while the most deaths were reported in Chiang Mai in the North with five fatalities. Forty six provinces reported no deaths.

About 66,000 police officers were deployed to over 2,500 checkpoints across the country, and inspected more than 700,000 vehicles. Legal action was taken against about 65,000 motorists or nine per cent of those stopped for checking by the police. Most were offenders who wore no helmets.

On Monday and Tuesday total accidents were recorded at 1,427, an increase by 497 from the same period last year or 53.5 per cent higher. The total deaths during the two days were 114, an increase by 19 from last year. The number of the injured was 1,536, an increase by 544 or 54 percent from last year.

Anucha Mokkaves, the director of the Disaster Prevention and Mitigation Department and secretary-general of the road safety center said the major cause of road accidents was drunken driving and speeding, particularly by young drivers who drank and rode motorcycles to enjoy splashing water with other revelers on road.

Officials at checkpoints were instructed to strictly check alcohol level of the motorcyclists. (TNA)

400,000 yabaa pills confiscated in Chiang Rai

Supoj Thaimyoj

Acting on a tip-off from the Drug Suppression and Coordination Centre that a high volume of drugs was expected to be smuggled across the border from Tachilek in Myanmar, the Pha Muang Task Force set up an observation checkpoint in Mae Sai District, Chiang Rai on April 11.

400,000 yabaa pills confiscated by the Pha Muang Task Force in Mae Sai, Chiang Rai.

At 5 p.m. members of the task force were informed that four men had crossed over the border and hidden bags in a corn field just inside the Thai border. When the task force approached, the four men fled back across the border into Myanmar. After a search the team found fertilizer bags containing a total of 400,000 yabaa pills with the marking WY.

There has been increased smuggling activity of yabaa over the border from Myanmar since the New Year.

Rak Chiang Mai 51 take protest on the road

NBT and Kawila Army Camp visited by protestors

Members of the Rak Chiang Mai 51 group
protest in front of the Kawila Army Camp.

Supoj Thaimyoj

A convoy of about 100 vehicles carrying nearly 300 red shirt protestors led by Worawut Rujanapinant, alias DJ Daeng Songkwae, and Mrs. Theerawan Charoensuk protested at the NBT television station on April 12 around 1 p.m. Travelling from their base at the Grand Waroros Palace Hotel, they passed out flyers and wreaths decorated with photos of those killed in the Bangkok demonstrations as they passed through the city.

People splashing water early in the Songkran holidays witnessed the caravan pass as leaders used loudspeakers to state their case as they travelled on trucks adorned with red flags and stickers for dissolution. They travelled through Chang Puak Gate to Waroros Market and on to Kawila Army Camp and then the NBT TV station.

They stopped in front of Kawila Army Camp, which has been blockaded with barbed wire, to beep their horns and give a speech attacking both the government and the Army. They then travelled on to the NBT TV station and from there, many of the group dispersed while others returned to the Grand Waroros Palace Hotel in the city.

Protestors carry wreaths and photos of those killed in the Bangkok demonstrations.

Rak Chiang Mai 51 protestors at the City Hall compound
after pulling down the barbed wire defenses.