HEADLINES [click on headline to view story]:

Kingdom of Thailand rejoices at the celebration of Their Majesties 60th wedding anniversary

From rebellious roots, Earth Day now mainstream

Placards threatening arson placed around the city

Mayor launches good health campaign

Persistent political turmoil reducing GDP

200 homes destroyed in Chiang Rai storm

Thailand top investor in Myanmar

Grenade attacks at Silom severely hit tourism industry

Man found dead in moat

Car overturns in Mae Rim accident

Popular actor sentenced for assault in Lampang

Summer storms wreak havoc in Mae Hong Son

Fang arrest yields 90,000 yabaa pills and arrests in Pathum Thani

Two Lampang villagers die after eating wild boar

Pre-dawn fire razes four houses


Kingdom of Thailand rejoices at the celebration of Their Majesties 60th wedding anniversary

His Majesty King Bhumibol Adulyadej the Great and Her Majesty Queen Sirikit celebrate Their 60th wedding anniversary on Wednesday, April 28.
(Photo courtesy of the Bureau of the Royal Household)

His Majesty King Bhumibol Adulyadej and Mom Rajawongse Sirikit Kitayakara were married by Her Majesty Queen Sawang Vadhana, the paternal grandmother of His Majesty, at the Sra Pathum Palace in Bangkok on April 28, 1950.

Mom Rajawongse Sirikit, the daughter of the Thai Ambassador to France Mom Chao Nakkhatmongkol Kitayakara and Mom Luang Bua Sanitwongse met the soon-to-be-King at the Thai Embassy in Paris in 1948. They were engaged to be married at the Windsor Hotel in Lausanne, Switzerland on July 19, 1949.

They returned to Thailand during the government of Prime Minister Field Marshal Pibul Songkhram and a stunningly beautiful marriage ceremony was held while the Thai military forces formed to honor and salute the Royal Couple.

Following the Royal marriage, His Majesty King Bhumibol Adulyadej the Great ascended the throne, becoming the ninth King of Thailand in the Chakri Dynasty with all the pomp and pageantry befitting a Royal coronation on May 5, 1950.

Their Majesties have four children, HRH Princess Ubolratana, HRH Crown Prince Maha Vajiralongkorn, HRH Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn, and HRH Princess Chulabhorn.

Long live His Majesty King Bhumibol Adulyadej the Great and Her Majesty Queen Sirikit.


From rebellious roots, Earth Day now mainstream

Local dignitaries join the Deputy Governor and Mayor
for the opening of Earth Day in Chiang Mai.

Frederic J. Frommer, Associated Press Writer

The term “Green Movement” was not yet in vogue, and there was little talk of combating global warming. Instead, the original Earth Day 40 years ago emphasized “ecology” and goals like cleaning up pollution and litter, along with a more antiestablishment vibe than today’s environmental movement.

“Welcome, sulfur dioxide, hello, carbon monoxide,” a woman sang from the 1968 countercultural Broadway hit, “Hair,” at a rally in Philadelphia that day.

“It was brand new on the scene. We were basically using a new vocabulary,” recalled Denis Hayes, who was the 25-year-old national coordinator for that first Earth Day. “So it was all fresh. In 1969, most Americans couldn’t even define the word environment. By the end of 1970, a huge fraction of them thought of themselves as environmentalists.”

The movement capitalized on the experience and passion of American activists who had organized anti-war, civil rights and feminist rallies in the 1960s. Today, the environmental cause is far more sophisticated, Hayes said, with thousands of environmental lawyers and advocates with advanced degrees.

“But some of that passion that we had in 1970 has faded,” he said.

The original Earth Day was the brainchild of the late Democratic Sen. Gaylord Nelson, who advocated a nationwide teach-in on the environment in a speech in Seattle in September 1969. His daughter, Tia Nelson, said he decided to launch it after a major oil spill in California, and wrote the speech on airplane napkins.

Forty years ago Thursday, the youth-driven movement sparked the participation of around 2,000 college campuses and 10,000 elementary and high schools. Congress adjourned so members could give speeches, tens of thousands of people filled Fifth Avenue in New York City — which was closed to traffic — and millions participated across the country in activities like trash removal. Activists donned gas masks while others took less dramatic steps like riding bicycles.

Many people used the word “ecology” to describe the cause, “a shorthand way to say we need to think more holistically,” said Adam Rome, an environmental historian at Penn State who is writing a book on the first Earth Day.

“A lot of people were beginning to question our affluence, the huge environmental costs of the way we lived, and technological progress,” he said.

“Ecology” went out of fashion later because it had a “a hippie-ish, countercultural” feel, Rome said, as the movement worked to cultivate an image of professionalism and legal expertise.

Although politicians took part in the first Earth Day, organizers ignored the administration of President Richard M. Nixon. Hayes declined a White House invitation for a meeting a few weeks before the event, and Nixon himself did not participate in any Earth Day activities. By contrast, the Obama administration is doing five days of events to mark the occasion’s 40th anniversary.

Obama marked the occasion with an event in the Rose Garden Thursday afternoon that Hayes attended. Obama hailed the history of the day and cited a renewed commitment “to passing a comprehensive energy and climate bill that will safeguard our planet and spur innovation and help us to compete in the 21st century.”

Russell Train, the first chairman of the newly created White House Council on Environmental Quality in 1970, told a TV interviewer at the time that EarthDay organizers were eager to “make it their own thing” and not have the government take it away from them.

“And we’ve been anxious to not give the impression that we’re trying to take anything away from them either; it is their thing, and that’s all to the good,” said Train, who later went on to serve as Environmental Protection Agency administrator.

Train, now chairman emeritus of the World Wildlife Fund, said in an interview that Nixon considered Earth Day “a bit of an irrelevance.”

“I don’t think the environment came very naturally to Richard Nixon as a high priority,” Train recalled. “But he very quickly latched on to it as an important thing for the administration to work on,” in part because of political considerations. Nixon had devoted a good chunk of his State of the Union address in January 1970 to the environment, saying, “Through our years of past carelessness we incurred a debt to nature, and now that debt is being called.” The EPA was created later that year.

There also was a chasm between organizers and corporate America.

“In that first Earth Day, companies were not supportive of the cause,” Tia Nelson said. “Today, innumerable corporate leaders practice the triple bottom line of economic, social and environmental responsibility.”

Despite the differences, there were in 1970 some striking similarities to today’s debate, such as dire predictions about Earth’s future.

New York Mayor John Lindsey told the Earth Day crowd that behind words like ecology, environment and pollution is a simple question: “Do we want to live or die?”

“Man must stop pollution and conserve his resources,” The New York Times wrote in an editorial the next day, “not merely to enhance existence but to save the race from intolerable deterioration and possible extinction.”

On the other side, some discredited the cause, as some do today. The Daughters of the American Revolution passed a resolution calling the issue “distorted and exaggerated by emotional declarations and by intensive propaganda.” One delegate called the environmental movement “one of the subversive element’s last steps.”

In Georgia, Comptroller General James L. Bentley warned that Earth Day might be a Communist plot, because it fell on Russian revolutionary Vladimir Ilyich Lenin’s 100th birthday. (AP)

Placards threatening arson placed around the city

Chiang Mai Mail Reporters

Placards threatening arson were placed in three different locations around the city on April 22. They were placed in front of Chiang Mai Municipality, at the Kuang Sing intersection on the Chiang Mai- Lampang superhighway, and at the interchange near Chiang Mai Construction Co. Ltd. The placards threatened to encounter dispersal by force.

Chiang Mai Police removed the placards and have tightened security and stepped up patrols in an effort to ensure security in the city.

Mayor launches good health campaign

Mayor Tassanai Buranupakorn launches the latest health campaign; 1000 cities, 1000 lives to help protect quality of northern people’s life.

Jedsadapong Wongkiew

Chiang Mai Mayor Tassanai Buranupakorn launched a new campaign for good health in conjunction with the World Health Organization (WHO) on April 22. The Chiang Mai Municipality along with the 16th Conservation Area Management, Chiang Mai Office, and Chiang Mai Iam project launched the project called, “1000 cities, 1000 lives to help protect quality of northern people’s life.”

Several activities were also held; the Project’s goodwill and objectives announcement, sales of produce, health promotion campaign, and public health services with medical checkups, and an environmental awareness campaign.

Mayor Tassanai, said Chiang Mai is a center of the Northern economy, trade, investment , and tourism so city growth needs to focus on growing infrastructure, development and investment projects which have really affected the quality of life of people in the city, especially children, the disabled, elderly and disadvantaged.

Chiang Mai Municipality is one of the cities selected for the WHO’s pilot project called, “1000 cities 1000 lives, to help protect quality of northern people life”, to help build up and manage the city environment and surroundings to help upgrade the lives of city residents.

The municipality project aims to focus on general poor health of the regular public, communicable diseases, social and criminal problems including violence, drug abuse, and public infrastructure like water supply, garbage management and disposal.

Persistent political turmoil reducing GDP

Thailand’s current political turmoil will reduce the gross domestic product (GDP) growth by 2-3 per cent if it continues escalating, according to a top banker. Kasikornbank executive vice president Chatichai Payuhanavichai said that the GDP growth will drop by around 1 per cent if the tension eases. Given this scenario, he sees GDP this year expanding in a range of 3.5-6 per cent.

M. Chatichai voiced optimism that the ongoing political standoff should begin easing now that the United Front for Democracy Against Dictatorship (UDD) protesters agreeing to retreat from the Sala Daeng intersection and Silom Road, to ease the confrontation with a group of Multi-Coloured demonstrators gathering to resist the occupation of the capital’s bustling area by the UDD protesters.

He conceded the ongoing rallies had affected trades and tourism in the downtown centres of Ratchaprasong and Silom Road, with a psychological effect on consumers’ spending on high-price products such as houses, vehicles, and luxurious goods.He said non-performing loans (NPLs) incurred by commercial banks from the political unrest had not yet occurred because NPLs stem normally from missed payments of loans for more than three months.

The banks still enjoy profit growth of 10 per cent in the first quarter, but it is expected that the political disturbances will affect investment and commercial loans to a certain extent for some time to come, he added. (TNA)

200 homes destroyed in Chiang Rai storm

Chiang Mai Mail Reporters

A violent summer storm hit 5 villages in Chiang Rai Province, destroying more than 200 houses on the night of April 23, according to the Chiang Rai Provincial Authority.

Ban Pabong, Ban Payang, Ban Dong Takien, Ban Takien Thong and Ban Pa Pee were the villages hit the hardest in the storm which brought strong winds, heavy rains and thunderstorms. Rooftops were blown off with some landing as far as 100 meters away from the house.

Pol Sub Lt Manoo Sailangka, the President of Tambon Charaoen Muang Administration Organization, said that houses, rice mills, and farming equipment had sustained heavy damage in the storm. The full cost is yet to be assessed but the area has asked for emergency financial assistance from Chiang Rai Governor Sumeth Saengnimnual.

Thailand top investor in Myanmar

Thailand is the top investor in Myanmar, with Britain and Singapore coming second and third, according to the Board of Investment (BoI), a Thai government agency.

Wassana Mututanond, BoI investment advisor, said Myanmar is one of many destinations where Thai businesspersons have an opportunity to invest. Thailand has invested US$7.41 billion in Myanmar between 1988 and 2009, making it the top investor in the country in terms of investment value. Of the total value, 81.7 per cent is invested in the power business, 8.33 per cent in the manufacturing industry, and 3.1 per cent in the hotels and tourism sector.

She said industries that give Thai investors opportunities to invest in Myanmar include agriculture, processed foods, leather, precious stones and mining, and tourism. Regarding a plan to hold investment promotion activities abroad in Fiscal 2010, she said BoI is set to conduct 13 events and activities both locally and overseas.

In addition to holding seminars, BoI will focus on providing information and consultancy services and will help create a state- and private-sector network and encourage business matching. (TNA)

Grenade attacks at Silom severely hit tourism industry

Thailand’s beleaguered tourism industry sank deeper into disrepair and despair as it became even more seriously affected by the grenade attacks at Sala Daeng intersection and the adjacent BTS Skytrain station on Silom Road Thursday night and the ongoing anti-government protest, according to the Federation of Thai Tourism Associations (FETTA).

Following the M79 grenade blasts, Apichart Sankary, a FETTA committee member, said the incident worsened the tourism sector and upped the number of foreign tourists who cancelled their trips for fear of the violence.

FETTA earlier estimated that if the political turmoil continues, the number of travellers to Thailand will fall by 2-2.5 million because the tourists have lost confidence in Thailand’s safety measures.

Due to the escalating tension, Mr Apichart said, it is hard to see that there will actually be 15 million visitors travelling to Thailand this year as the government previously had projected. Before the street gatherings, entrepreneurs in the private sector predicted only 12 million tourists visiting the kingdom this year.

As a result of the current political situation and Thursday’s grenade attacks, he believed that reaching a level of 10 million visitors will not be easy. Mr Apichart added that tourism operators will meet Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) Governor Suraphon Svetasreni to map out plan to solve the problems concerned in the future.

Man found dead in moat

Nopniwat Krailerg

A woman walking on the footpath near the Chang Puak Market area on April 23 called police after seeing a body floating in the water. Police and rescue teams came to the area, opposite the Phichit Rice shop, and pulled the body of a young man out of the water. Age of the Thai man is estimated to be between 17 and 20.

Passersby stopped to look at the scene, causing traffic jams on Maneenoparat road for an hour.

Police plan to make an announcement in order to find the family. Forensic police will autopsy to determine cause of death.

Car overturns in Mae Rim accident

Nearby good Samaritans help three young women escape
 from their car after it overturned in a road accident.

Nopniwat Krailerg

Wannisa Seekwa, 25, a resident of Om Koi narrowly escaped injury after her car overturned on Chotana Road in Mae Rim on April 23. Another passenger in the car also escaped the overturned car uninjured but the driver’s younger sister; Janjira Seekwa suffered a broken leg.

Wannisa was travelling from Wiang Haeng when she swerved to avoid a ten wheel truck that turned in front of her, forcing her to swerve across the road and resulting in the car overturning on the embankment.

Passersby helped the women escape from the overturned car and rescue teams took the injured girl to nearby Nakhorn Ping Hospital nearby.

Popular actor sentenced for assault in Lampang

Chiang Mai Mail Reporters

Screen and television actor Tao Somchai Khemklad was sentenced to 15 days in jail on April 23 for assaulting Lampang resident Veerachart or Kota Densirikul in January earlier this year.

On January 5, Tao Somchai entered a noodle shop in Suan Dok in Lampang where, after offering a wai greeting to all occupants, punched Veerachart in the face when not receiving a wai in return.

Veerachart filed a formal complaint with the police and Tao was charged with assault. Taop was required to attend Court 7 times before sentencing. The Court took into consideration that this was Tao Somchai’s third arrest for assault when sentencing him to jail.

Currently out on bail having bonded property worth 794,000, his lawyer, Rathapol Bhuddharod, announced that the actor plans to appeal the decision.

Summer storms wreak havoc in Mae Hong Son

Mae Hong Son city workers clear debris and remove fallen electrical poles from streets after the city was hit by strong winds and heavy rains on April 17.

Khajohn Boonpath

A strong summer storm hit Mae Hong Son Province on April 17, tearing off roofs and toppling trees and electric poles, causing damage in the hundreds of thousands of baht. Toppled poles and trees on Marksanti road caused traffic chaos for over 3 hours.

The strong winds and heavy rains only lasted about 30 minutes but the damage left behind was fairly severe. Suthep Nutchsuang, Mayor of Mae Hong Son, led the Disaster Prevention and Mitigation Unit’s staff, Municipality officials, Public Works Division, and Regional Electricity Authorities officials to clear streets, remove trees and branches and inspect damage to area houses.

More than 20 homes reported damage with Ban Tonwha Resort owner Bang-orn Duangjinda reporting the destruction of14 bungalow style residences made from bamboo and other natural materials. She estimated the damage at least 50,000 baht.

Ban Namarkpin in Tambon Pang Moo also saw damage from the storm, with 15 village homes suffering damage. Soldiers from the 7th Infantry Regiment, Naresuan Force, Third Region Army, came to the villagers’ aid on the 18th. Helping to clear streets, remove debris and repair some of the homes damaged in the sudden storm.

Peerat Ruangsuksai of the Mae Hong Son Meteorology Station said a high pressure area covering the upper North and South China Sea was producing hot weather resulting in rain, wind and hail storms across 30 percent of the North. Wind speed for the storm was measured at 57 kilometers per hour, while the rainfall volume was measured at 25.7 millimeters.

On April 18 Maj Prasit Kaewkamnerd sent troops from the 7th Infantry Regiment to inspect the damaged areas and help Ban Namarkpin villager remove debris and repair houses after the summer storm hit the previous day.

Fang arrest yields 90,000 yabaa pills and arrests in Pathum Thani

From left to right, Ong or Saeng Lungsam, Chakrit Sukcharoen, and Siripong Deesa-ard were detained at Chiang Mai Provincial Police Division on April 20. With them is the confiscated haul of drugs and cash.

Supoj Thiamyoj

The April 19 arrest of Fang resident Ong Or Saeng Lungsarm yielded 90,000 yabaa pills and led to the further arrest of the two men he had planned on delivering the drugs to in Pathum Thani.

The Fang arrest took place outside the entrance to an oil drilling area in Ban Mae Soon, after the arrest, Mr. Ong Or Saeng Lungsarm confessed to Chiang Mai police that he was planning on delivering the drug to two men at the Talad Thai market in Pathum Thani. He has been detained by Chiang Mai Police with possession of drugs with intent to sell.

The Pathum Thani police, acting on information from Chiang Mai arrested Siripong Deesa-ard, 33, a resident of Nakhon Nayok Province, and Chakrit Sukcharoen, 35, of Sukhothai at the planned meeting point in the market. The two men were found with 100,000 baht in cash and have been charged by the Pathum Thani police.

On April 20, Pol Maj Gen Sommai Kongwisaisuk, the commander of Chiang Mai Provincial Police Division, was joined in Chiang Mai by Pol Maj Gen Methee Kusolsang, the commander of Pathum Thani Provincial Police Division, and Drug Suppression Police in charging the suspects with drug trafficking.

Two Lampang villagers die after eating wild boar

Two villagers in the Wangnua district of Lampang died after eating uncooked wild boar and five more were hospitalized. As part of the Songkran festivities, villagers killed two wild boars and prepared the meat for larb or laab; a dish of uncooked meat minced with shallots, lime juice, chilies and spices. Upon consuming the specialty, two villagers, one man, 47 years old and one woman, 53 years old, fell ill with severe vomiting and diarrhea and died in the hospital.

Provincial authorities tested the meat and found it contained Streptococcus Suis, bacteria endemic to most countries that have an extensive pig industry. Humans can become infected when handling infected carcasses or by consuming infected meat. While usually not fatal, it can lead to meningitis, deafness and cardiac problems. China had a severe outbreak in 2005 that killed 38 people.

The Provincial Health Authorities and the Governor have called upon people to avoid eating uncooked meat from wild boar. Autopsies are planned to determine the exact cause of death. (PRD)

Pre-dawn fire razes four houses

Chiang Mai Mail Reporters

A fire broke out April 21 at 3 a.m. on Samlan Road near the Northern School for the Blind. Teachers and staff led frightened students away from the blaze, which razed four wooden and concrete houses near the school’s dormitories.

Due to the narrow road, fire engines from the Chiang Mai Municipality Fire Brigade could not access the fire directly and firefighters had to run water hoses down the narrow street to access the fire. It took around 30 minutes to put out the fire, which gutted the houses belonging to 70 year old Boonmee Inthasith. Wasant Inthasith, caretaker for the four rental houses, told police that he believed the fire started from a motorcycle parked nearby and it quickly spread to the wooden houses. Forensic police will further investigate to determine the cause of the fire.