NEWS
HEADLINES [click on headline to view story]:

Kingdom celebrates Wan Chatramongkhol (Coronation Day) May 5

Chiang Mai celebrates Their Majesties 60th wedding anniversary

Panda birthday party at the Zoo

Demonstrators face disruption from Red Shirts

Rallies by Rainbow shirts across the North

Mekong Tourism Forum to discuss challenges in Mekong region

Japanese government promotes organic farming in Phayao Province

Red shirts in attempt to take over Army checkpoint in Mae Hong Son

Mae Ai border clash leaves 3 drug traffickers dead

Arrest warrant issued for former Mayor of Ban Pong in Phrao

Court issues death sentence for major drug dealer

Mae Wang District hit by severe wind storm

Red shirts overcome barricades at City Hall

Grenade launched at Police headquarters

 

Kingdom celebrates Wan Chatramongkhol (Coronation Day) May 5

Wednesday, May 5

Chiang Mai Mail joins with the Kingdom of Thailand in joyously celebrating Wan Chatramongkhol, His Majesty King Bhumibol Adulyadej the Great’s Coronation Day on Wednesday, May 5. Long Live the King! The day is celebrated as a national holiday, and as such all government offices and commercial banks will close for the day. (Photo courtesy of the Bureau of the Royal Household)

Wednesday, May 5 marks the 60th anniversary of the Coronation of His Majesty King Bhumibol Adulyadej the Great. The day is celebrated as a national holiday, and as such all government offices and commercial banks will close for the day.

Whist being crowned King of Thailand, His Majesty King Bhumibol Adulyadej the Great took a sacred oath to rule with Righteousness, for the Benefit and Happiness of the Thai people, which He has done magnificently, garnering tremendous respect from His people. HM King Bhumibol Adulyadej the Great is the longest reigning monarch in the world. Long Live the King!

Each year on the 5th of May, the Kingdom of Thailand commemorates the day when, in 1950, the Coronation Ceremony was held for His Majesty King Bhumibol Adulyadej the Great, the 9th in the Chakri Dynasty (Rama IX).

HM the King, after studying in Europe, returned to Thailand and was crowned King during an elaborate and highly intricate ceremony that out lavished all previous coronations in Thailand.

A week prior to His being crowned King, on April 28, 1950, H.M. King Bhumibol and Mom Rajawongse Sirikit Kitayakara were married. Following the Coronation, HM the King returned to Switzerland to continue studying.

The Coronation Ceremony reinforces the stature of the Kings of Thailand. The first such elaborate ceremony was performed when Pho Khun Phamuang succeeded Pho Khun Bangklangthao as the ruling King of Muang Sukhothai. Phaya Lithai, a former leader in Sukhothai, left a historical record in stone describing the coronation ceremony in Sukhothai at Wat Srikhum.

In the beginning of the Ratanakosin era, the first King in the Chakri Dynasty (HM King Buddhayodfa the Great) took the title of Rama I and moved the capital of Siam from Thonburi to the opposite bank of the Chao Phraya River, and constructed Krung Ratanakosin (Bangkok). In the process of building the Royal Palace and Wat Phra Kaew (Temple of the Emerald Buddha) the first King in the House of Chakri refined the coronation ceremony, establishing important protocol that has lasted to this day. All Kings to follow not undergoing the coronation ceremony would be unable to assume the term “Phrabat” in front of the King’s title of “Somdej Phrachaoyuhua”, and more significantly, the symbol of the nine-tiered umbrella would also not be permissible or officially recognized.

The elaborate coronation ceremony of His Majesty King Bhumibol Adulyadej the Great included all the ancient rituals required for assuming the full title and the nine-tiered umbrella. HM King Bhumibol Adulyadej then bestowed the honor posthumously on His brother HM King Ananda Mahidol. HM King Bhumibol Adulyadej’s benevolent act raised HM King Ananda Mahidol’s regal status from seven to a nine-tiered umbrella.

During the reign of HM King Mongkut (Rama IV), Buddhist monks and Brahmin priests were incorporated into the coronation ceremony to conduct rituals to sanctify the auspicious occasion. Previously the ceremony was arranged and conducted by the Royal Palace staff and members of the Royal Household.

The annual coronation ceremony is currently a three-day affair, starting with a ritual “tham boon” ceremony on May 3 to honor the King’s ancestors. Later on the first day, another ceremony is performed, whereby flags of honor are issued to distinguish various military units.

The following day, Buddhist ceremonies continue with chanting rituals, prayers and Brahman priests announcing the auspicious occasion forthcoming the next day (May 5).

On the 5th of May, His Majesty conducts a merit making ceremony, presenting offerings to Buddhist monks, and leads a “Wien Thien” ceremony, walking three times around sacred grounds at the Temple of the Emerald Buddha.

In the evening the King conducts another sacred ceremony: changing the yellow cloth on the Emerald Buddha, the guardian symbol protecting the Thai people, which was transferred from Thonburi to Wat Phra Kaew by Rama I.

Many rooms in the Royal Palace are opened for public viewing on Coronation Day. Auspicious ceremonies are performed and displays depicting Royal achievements are exhibited to reconfirm the King’s stature.

 

Chiang Mai celebrates Their Majesties 60th wedding anniversary

Supoj Thiamyoj

Chiang Mai Governer Amornphan Nimmanant, accompanied by government officials, military officers, police, students and members of the public held a ceremony to bless Their Majesties the King and Queen on the occasion of their 60th wedding anniversary. They lit candles in an auspicious ceremony held at Tha Pae Gate on April 28.

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 Sra Pathum Palace in Bangkok on April 28, 1950.


Panda birthday party at the Zoo

Lhin Ping celebrates her 11th month with a cake,
fruit, bamboo shoots and a happy birthday song.

Lhin Ping celebrated her 11th month in style with a birthday party attended by the residents of senior care facility Ban Thammapakorn Home for the Elderly. Lhin Ping is growing well, and enjoying her new enclosure at the Chiang Mai Zoo. She now weighs 33.5 kg and is eating well, able to eat fresh bamboo shoots on her own. Lhin Ping enjoyed a birthday cake, fruit and bamboo shoots and a happy birthday song from staff and guests.

Niphon Wichairat, the Assistant Director of the Chiang Mai Zoo then organized a “Rod nam dum hua” ceremony to pay respects to the visiting seniors. He then offered a donation presentation of money and a True- UBC satellite dish to Ban Thammapakorn Home so that residents enjoy the live broadcast of the panda family on True -UBC’s Panda Channel.


Demonstrators face disruption from Red Shirts

Chartchai Chumseneethong submits a letter of complaint to Deputy Governor Pairote Saengphuwong, protesting the actions of the Red Shirt group’s attempts to disrupt the Rainbow Shirt rally.

Supoj Thiamyoj

After demonstrating peacefully on April 24 to show their support for Prime Minister Abhisit Vejajiva and to call on him to not dissolve Parliament, 3 representatives of the Facebook group against dissolving Parliament, led by Chartchai Chumseneethong, submitted a letter of complaint to Chiang Mai Governor Amornphan Nimanant on April 27, stating that the Red Shirts had disrupted their daily rally.

They had started a daily rally at Fitness Park near the Chiang Mai University Convention Center, singing the National Anthem and calling for a peaceful resolution of the crisis and opposing dissolution of Parliament after more than 200 members of various groups took part in a rally on April 24. Included in that rally were the Rainbow Shirts, the Chiang Mai people group, Protecting the Thai Nation, Buddhist Religion and King Institute, as well as members of a Facebook group opposing dissolution in front of the Fitness Park.

With signs and banners opposing violence and the dissolution of the government, the group marched up Nimmanhaemin Road to the Amari Rincome Hotel intersection on the 24th.They then sang the National Anthem and the SanSern Baramee song in praise of HM the King as they returned to the Park at CMU.

Despite the heavy rains, the demonstration passed peacefully but Phu Ping Police were there to guarantee the safety of the demonstrators.

They distributed leaflets as they passed by about the mission of their peaceful demonstration. Calling for peaceful resolution of the situation, without violating laws, they oppose the dissolution of Parliament. They called for Thai people nationwide to join hands in taking responsibility to solve the country’s political turmoil without class, color or sides.“As Thai people, we would like to express our loyalty to His Majesty the King, “one member of the group said.

However, subsequent rallies saw the appearance of members of the Red Shirt group opposing their demonstration, with leaders stating that the Red Shirts surrounded their group and, in an effort to avoid confrontation, the group was forced to disperse.

They called on the Chiang Mai Government to protect their rights to demonstrate peacefully.

“We are here to call for the provincial authorities to help protect our demonstration from disturbance by the red shirt group,” a member said.

Deputy Chiang Mai Governor Pairote Saengphuwong, met with the group’s representatives on behalf of the Governor to receive their complaint. He added that the government and provincial authorities are currently keeping the peace and security in the city, and that if any group violates the law they would be then taken for legal action.


Rallies by Rainbow shirts across the North

More than 200 Mae Hong Son residents opposing the dissolution of Parliament gather in front of the Phraya Singhanartraja Statue on April 27.

Khajohn Boonpath and Chiang Mai Mail reporters

Chiang Rai and Mae Hong Son both saw demonstrations by the Rainbow shirts against dissolution of Parliament and calling for a peaceful resolution to the current crisis.

The Mae Hong Son rally held on April 27 was attended by more than 200 Rainbow shirts, Yellow shirts and members of the Facebook group opposing dissolution. They plan to submit a letter to the Mae Hong Son Governor Kamthorn Thawornsathit. They also visited soldiers at the 76th Infantry Regiment at the Montalang Army Camp in Tambon Phabong, Muang district as a show of moral support. They concluded their rally by singing the National Anthem and announced their intention to meet every Friday at the Phraya Singhanartraja Statue, the first ruler of Mae Hong Son, until the government solves the problem of the Red shirt protests in Bangkok.

In Chiang Rai, more than 100 people gathered at the King Mengrai statue on April 28 calling for the government to not dissolve Parliament while members of the Red shirts staged a rally about 300 meters away.

The Rainbow shirts sang the National Anthem, waving flags while the Red shirts waved red flags nearby. Pol Col Mongkol Samphawapol, Superintendent of the Chiang Rai Police ordered police to deploy to the rally and help keep peace between the two groups. The rally by both groups dispersed after an hour.


Mekong Tourism Forum to discuss challenges in Mekong region

The Mekong Tourism Forum has confirmed a compelling list of speakers to address its theme for 2010, “New Roads, New Opportunities.” Tourism ministers, director generals, travel industry CEOs and leading private sector and development minds will address current and future challenges and opportunities facing tourism in the Mekong region. The Forum takes place in Siem Reap, Cambodia, 7-8 May 2010.

The Mekong Tourism Forum provides a cooperative platform for stakeholders in the tourism industry to discuss the development, marketing and promotion of travel to, from and within the Greater Mekong Sub-region (GMS). It is an inclusive, interactive and results-oriented opportunity aiming to encourage public and private sector participants to work together to represent the GMS as a single destination.

High profile speakers include H.E. Dr Thong Khon, Minister of Tourism of Cambodia, Mr Luzi Matzig, Group CEO, Asian Trails, Mr Pradech Phayakvichien, former Governor, Tourism Authority of Thailand, Mr Bill Black, Managing Director, Altiva Hospitality, Mr Tran Trong Kien, Founder and CEO of Buffalo Tours Vietnam, Ms Chananya Phataraprasit, Chairperson, Asian Oasis, Mr Inthy Deansavan, Managing Director of Green Discovery Laos, and Mr Greg Duffell CEO of PATA, to name a few.

One of the highlights will be “In Conversation with Lim Neo Chian”. In this session Yeoh Siew Hoon, Editor & Producer of WIT-Web In Travel will interview the former CEO of the Singapore Tourism Board, who will share Mekong-region travel encounters from his 2009 “ASEAN On Wheels” 4-wheel drive adventure. He will highlight the opportunities that he sees for Mekong tourism growth in the years ahead.

Opportunities and threats will be analyzed against a backdrop of growth. “Tourism demand for Mekong region destinations is storming ahead,” said Mr Mason Florence, Executive Director of the Mekong Tourism Coordinating Office in Bangkok. “We need to work together to make sure development is fair and sustainable and that we remove obstacles to growth and poverty alleviation.”

With new road corridors opening much of the sub-region, there will be sessions on “Pioneering Mekong Tourism Products,” “The Path to Community-based Tourism,” “How Sustainable Tourism Can Drive Profit,” and “The Road Ahead.”

Government speakers will update the audience on visa regulations, border crossing changes, airport developments, and new policies and incentives for the tourism sector. For the full program showing all speakers, visit http://mekongtourismforum.org/site/forum/programme/. \The Mekong Tourism Forum 2010 is open to all. Registration (only US$50; PATA members US$30) can be done online at www.mekong tourismforum.org. For further information email to: [email protected] or call the Mekong Tourism Coordinating Office at: (+66) 2-612-4150.


Japanese government promotes organic farming in Phayao Province

The Government of Japan, under its Grant Assistance for the Grassroots Human Security Projects Scheme (GGP), granted 2,789,500 baht for “The Project to Improve the Environment and to Promote Organic Farming in Phayao Province” on April 30. 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 presented agricultural equipment and a vehicle at the Foundation’s farm in Chun District, Phayao Province.

The Foundation of Training Center for Agriculture and Occupation has engaged in the promotion of 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 are urging farmers to reduce this agricultural burning. However, without providing knowledge and techniques on how to utilize rice straw instead of burning it, this will not lead to behavior change among farmers. Therefore, the Foundation has recommended utilizing rice straw for compost, feed for livestock, and mushroom beds and plowing 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 a vehicle 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 a vehicle to compress, bale, and transport rice straw efficiently. They will be lent to some 300 farmers promoting organic rice farming and utilized in agricultural training targeting annually some 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. Sato, Consul, or Mr. Tsuda and Ms. Hoshii, Coordinators for GGP, Consulate-General of Japan in Chiang Mai, Telephone: 053-203-367 / Facsimile: 053-203-373.


Red shirts in attempt to take over Army checkpoint in Mae Hong Son

Khajohn Boonpath

More than 10 members of the Red Shirt group in Mae Hong Son attempted to seize the Phabong checkpoint in Mae Hong Son’s Muang district on April 25 in an effort to block military and police personnel from travelling to Bangkok to reinforce authorities there.

Deputy Commander Somjet Pakdeebandit negotiates with the Red Shirts at the checkpoint in Mae Hong Son.

The 35 armed military and police officers in charge of the checkpoint refused to allow them to take over. Col Somjet Pakdeebandit, Deputy Commander of the 7th Infantry Regiment negotiated with the group for an hour after which the Red Shirts left the checkpoint.

The Deputy Commander said, “We could not let the red shirt group close or block the road, nor besiege the government offices, and buildings as per the orders of the Mae Hong Son Governor, Kamthorn Thawornsathit, who has adopted the government policy on dealing with the political situation.”

Red Shirt leader, Payon Sarawat said that they had wanted to block military forces, “but this time, we didn’t have enough people so we left.”


Mae Ai border clash leaves 3 drug traffickers dead

Members of the Ranger force and the Pha Muang Task Force
at the scene of the gun battle in Mae Ai.

Khajohn Boonpath and Chiang Mai Mail reporters

The Pha Muang Task Force clashed with a drug trafficking gang on April 29 leaving 3 dead and uncovering 200,000 yabaa pills.

Acting on a tip-off, the Pha Muang Task Force, in a combined mission with officers from the Office of Narcotics Control Board Region 5, the Provincial Internal Security Command and the Chiang Mai Provincial Police deployed in the Mae Ai area near the Myanmar border to await a large drug shipment.

Members of the Ranger force of the 3102th Company encountered the traffickers about 2 kilometer from Ban Huay San in Mae Ai District, 500 meters inside the Thai border on April 29.

A ten minute gun battle with four heavily armed traffickers resulted in the deaths of 3 of the traffickers; an AK47 was found near the body of one of the men and 200,000 yabaa pills were found in backpacks.


Arrest warrant issued for former Mayor of Ban Pong in Phrao

Chiang Mai Mail reporters

A nation-wide arrest warrant has been issued for former Ban Pong Mayor, Siroj Chompoorat for the murder of the Permanent Secretary of Ban Pong, Kritipong Srichai.

Police in Mae Faek were called to the report of a fire to find the body of Kritipong Srichai, 41 years old, inside a burning pickup truck on the outskirts of Phrao District on April 24. Mrs. Rosada Srichai informed police that her husband had called her to tell her he planned to have drinks with the former Mayor before he disappeared.

Chiang Mai Provincial Police Deputy Commander Pol Col Panudetch Boonruang worked with the investigative team to arrest two suspects in the murder; Pradit Sutha, 38, a former member of Tambon Ban Pong Municipality, and Sompetch Chaikham, 43, a former deputy mayor of Tambon Ban Pong. They confessed that they had worked together with the former Mayor to shoot Kritipong.

Tambon Ban Pong was upgraded to a Municipality in March of this year and new elections resulted in the new Mayor, Chak Wongkhamma, being elected. It is believed that the former Mayor was angry with the Permanent Secretary for not backing him in the new election.


Court issues death sentence for major drug dealer

The Court of Appeal on Tuesday upheld a lower court death sentence against a major drug dealer from Thailand’s North, while acquitting him on charge of conspiring with others and ordering a return of assets and properties to the defendant. Jirasak Chatworanit, alias Arsan, of the Yao hill tribe, a major drug dealer in Thailand’s North and Laos, and his gang members were charged with possession of 60 blocks of heroin and 100,000 methamphetamine tablets for sale.

Mr Arsan was issued an arrest warrant by the Narcotics Suppression Bureau and escaped to hide in China. He was deported by Chinese authorities to face prosecution in Thailand in February 2004. Initially, the lower court sentenced him to death for having drugs in his possession and handed down a four-year jail term for conspiring with others to commit drugs offences. However, as the defendant gave testimony useful for the police investigation, the imprisonment was reduced to two years and four months and the assets to be confiscated to the country. The defendant later filed an appeal. (TNA)


Mae Wang District hit by severe wind storm

Chiang Mai Mail reporters

Mae Wang District in Chiang Mai was hit by strong winds on April 28, affecting 39 villages across 4 Tambon in the district. 400 buildings were severely damaged and more than 120 rai of field crops and orchards were devastated with many lamyai and longan trees uprooted.

Soldiers from the 3rd Development Battalion joined local authorities to help stricken villagers in Ban Kiew Lae Papao and other villages in the District. Thousands of people were affected, with roofs torn off, rice mills damaged and storage sheds for crops knocked down.

Warinda Tapeng, the owner of a rice mill destroyed in the strong winds said, “The winds were stronger than we have ever seen before and the destruction was so fast. It was so sudden, that before we knew it the rooftops had blown away.“

Udom Noomsri, President of Tambon Ban Kad Administrative Organization (TAO), said the TAO staff and authorities had initially brought in more than 8,700 pieces of roof tiles to distribute them to the stricken villagers.

The TAO has also provided some financial support to the victims and plan to ask for more financial help from the district and provincial authorities in case of a shortage of supplies and necessities.


Red shirts overcome barricades at City Hall

Around 300 members of the Red shirt group in Chiang Mai pulled down the entrance gate to Chiang Mai City Hall on April 28 in a show of anger against the government for the use of military force to disperse the Red shirt demonstrators in Bangkok.

A minor clash and injuries between the red shirt protesters and the riot police was reported when the red shirts were trying to pull down the entrance gate. They then brought in more tires to pile up in front of the gate to burn.

Petchawat Wattanapongsirikul, a leader of Rak Chiang Mai 51 Group called for the red shirt protesters to move back to their base at Grand Waroros Hotel and the group returned to the hotel. The Community Radio Station run by the Rak Chiang Mai 51 group at the Grand Waroros Hotel has now been ordered closed by the government. (PRD)


Grenade launched at Police headquarters

Supoj Thiamyoj

An M 79 grenade was fired into the headquarters of the Provincial Police Bureau, Region 5 late Sunday night. There were no reports of injuries.

At 11.00 p.m. on April 25, an explosion damaged the second floor office of Deputy Commissioner Pol Maj Gen Bandop Sukhonthaman. Shattered glass was also found outside an administrative room on the ground floor. Police said the grenade was fired from the bridge on Mahidol road, opposite police headquarters.

Pol Maj Gen Bandop and Commander of Chiang Mai Provincial Police Pol Maj Gen Sommai Kongwisaisuk inspected the scene after the blast, together with forensic police team. The police will review CCTV tape to see if they can identify suspects.

The Provincial Police Bureau Region 5 Building is often targeted by members of the Red Shirt movement.