Vol. IX No. 19 - Tuesday
May 11 - May 17, 2010



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by Saichon Paewsoongnern


NEWS
HEADLINES [click on headline to view story]:

Elephant protest at City Hall

Royal Ploughing Ceremony May 13

Japanese government promotes organic farming in Phayao

Links between China and Thailand promoted

BOT shows first quarter economic growth in the North

Chiang Mai celebrates Coronation Day

Four vehicle accident injures one

3 dead in two hit and run accidents in one night

Mae Hong Son residents warned of Hemorrhagic Dengue fever

Murder in Mae Hia market

2 Filipino men arrested for ‘ice’ smuggling at Mae Sai border

 

Elephant protest at City Hall

Mrs. Amphai Thapthong of the Maetaman Elephant Camp presents the protest letter to Deputy Governor Chumphorn Saengmanee at City Hall.

Jedsadapong Wongkiew

12 elephants and nearly 100 staff members and mahouts from Maetaman Elephant Camp, operators of other elephant camps in the Mae Taeng Valley, and Friends of Chiang Mai members staged a protest at Chiang Mai City Hall on May 4.

Maetaman Elephant Camp has been forced to shut down from lack of business during the recent crises. Mrs. Amphai Thapthong of the Maetaman Elephant Camp led the group in submitting a letter of complaint to Chiang Mai Governor Amornphan Nimanant. The letter, received by Deputy Governor Chumphorn Saengmanee, asked for help in sustaining the elephants and for government efforts to redouble in restoring the tourism sector in Thailand.

The letter also requested the government work harder to restore peace and normality in order help restore tourist confidence in Thailand.

Amphai said that the elephant camps operators suffered from the political turbulence that has seriously affect the tourism sector. “Many countries and their governments announced warnings to their citizens not to visit Thailand during the Red shirt protests in Bangkok,” she said.

“At present,” Mrs Amphai continued, “the elephant camp operators have to carry huge expenses. Each month; we have to pay out 2 million baht for the salary and elephant food expenses. We have been forced to close down the camp,” she concluded.

Anchalee Kalmapijit, Chairperson of the Hug Chang Club or Love Elephant Club added that the Maetaman Elephant camp still feeds and looks after the elephants but that some employees have had to be laid off to cut expenses. They hope that normality can be returned and tourists will come back to Thailand. “That would hopefully help us a lot,” she noted.

The group vowed to keep the elephants protesting at City Hall until the issues had been addressed.

 

Royal Ploughing Ceremony May 13

Oxen are guided by royal attendants during royal ploughing ceremonies in Bangkok. (AP Photo/Sakchai Lalit)

The annual Royal Ploughing Ceremony at Sanam Luang near the Grand Palace in Bangkok, and the accompanying Cultivation Ceremony held at the Temple of the Emerald Buddha the day before, are of great significance in Thailand. This year the ceremonies take place on May 12 and 13.

During the ceremonies, appropriate strains of different grains for cultivating crops are selected just prior to the planting season, and rituals are performed to interpret the year’s harvest. Grain selection is an important consideration when planting crops, as the crops rely on soil, ample rainfall and other natural factors.

The Cultivation Ceremony is also performed to help keep the different grains free from disease, producing a bountiful harvest.

His Majesty the King, accompanied by Her Majesty the Queen, always presides over the Cultivation Ceremony held at the Temple of the Emerald Buddha.

The Royal Plooughing Ceremony signals the beginning of the planting season in Thailand. Two well cared for oxen of the same color pull an ancient plow, breaking the ground so that sacred seeds may be planted. Two other oxen wait in reserve.

Two Brahman priests sprinkling sacred water along the path lead the royal procession, with its nine-tiered royal umbrella.

Two pairs of female guardians carry grain in one gold and one silver container following behind the ploough, seeding the tilled ground.

Three circuits tilling the earth around Sanam Luang are completed and at the end the oxen are offered seven types of foods to select from: rice grain, corn, peas, sesame, liqueur, water and grass. Brahman priests then interpret their selection.

Following the ceremony, many people collect the seeds from the ground to keep as sacred objects promising a prosperous year, while others sow the ceremonial seeds mixed in with other seeds to sanctify the season’s crop.


Japanese government promotes organic farming in Phayao

The Government of Japan, under its Grant Assistance for the Grassroots Human Security Projects Scheme (GGP), has provided funds amounting to 2,789,500 baht for “The Project to Improve the Environment and to Promote Organic Farming in Phayao Province”. On April 30, 2010, 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 were present at the donation ceremony of agricultural equipment and a vehicle at the Foundation’s farm in Chun District, Phayao Province.

Mrs.Junko Yokota, Consul-General of Japan inspects the rice baler donated to the Phayao Foundation of Training Center for Agriculture and Occupation with funds donated by the Japanese government.

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 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


Links between China and Thailand promoted

Supoj Thaimyoj

On May 3, a Memo of Understanding (MoU) signing ceremony was held at Khum Phaya Resort and Spa to introduce and launch the Nine Towers and Twelve Walls mega project, which is being developed in Xishuangbanna in southern China. The MoU will help to link trade and investment projects between China and Thailand as well as Myanmar and Laos in the near future.

Prasong Nilbanchong, Director of the Industrial Promotion Center, Region 1, presided over the MoU signing ceremony on trade , tourism and investment cooperation at the Khum Phaya Resort and Spa.

China’s Hai Cheng Group introduced its Nine Towers & Twelve Walls project, the biggest development project in the Greater Mekong sub region. This ambitious plan has been mapped out and is being constructed in Xishuangbanna city in Yunnan province.

Prasong Nilbanchong, Director of the Industrial Promotion Center, Region1, Industry Department, presided over the MoU signing ceremony, accompanied by Mr. Zhou Kun, the company chairman of Hai Cheng Group, Arkhom Supangpao, the President of Thai SMEs Promotion Association for Chiang Mai and Lamphun provinces, Manoo Somjit, Vice President of Thai Boxing Teachers, Jittapat Nathakarn of Phrae Chamber of Commerce, and Mr. Guo Bin Wang, company chairman of Wah Soeng International trades and business development.

Mr. Zhou Kun, the Hai Cheng Chairman, said the Nine Towers & Twelve Walls project will help develop new cities in Southern China, especially in the Yunnan province. He added that the unique and outstanding cultures and traditions of each minority group in the Greater Mekong sub region will be included.

Once completed the Chinese mega project will become a hub of the economic and tourism sectors in the Golden Triangle. He remarked that the project was aimed at becoming a center for cultural tourism as it boasts the beautiful Li Jiang city, which is being developed as a gateway for tourism to the Golden Triangle in the GMS region.

The Hai Cheng Group’s Nine Towers & Twelve Walls will cover a 600 -rai area, with 1,200 villages, and a budget of 60,000 million baht to be provided by the Chinese sector for the new city developments. Currently under construction in Xishuangbanna completion is expected at the end of this year. There will be a large shopping center, handicrafts distribution center, five star hotel, restaurants, and a fitness park all built in the Thai Lue style of the area.


BOT shows first quarter economic growth in the North

Phitsanu Thepthong

The Bank of Thailand, Northern Region branch stated that the economic and financial status in the North in March 2010 and during the first quarter of this year had grown since the beginning of the year,. March had proved better than the previous month and performance had improved over the same period last year.

According to Senior Director of the Bank of Thailand (BoT) Northern branch, Chantawan Sujaritkul, exports had expanded for the past 6 consecutive months. With exports mainly to Asia, Japan and Europe, she said it signalled the economic recovery of these regions.

She said those factors have resulted in growth of the industrial sector in the North, specifically electronic appliance as well as agro industry, processed food and commodities, ornaments for exports, and consumer products.

Consumer purchasing power is also in good condition, she continued, judging from the income earned by the farming and tourist sectors, which are also expanding respectively. This has resulted in a high volume of trading growth, as well as investment in construction projects by both government and private sectors.

“These are from the government measures with economic stimulation packages, the inflation rate is also slowdown, following more job employment, due to the overall economic recovery, while the money deposited and credits in the commercial banks is also still expanding,” she remarked.

“As the effect of the government’s measures on economic stimulation packages is felt, the government expenditure has been reduced, while the credit and deposits in the commercial banks are expanding,” she remarked.

For the agricultural sector, it was found that important field crops like sticky rice grain, sugarcane, cassava, corn, garlic and red onion production was higher than last year for the same period, but rice grain and soybean were less than last year’s first quarter for production.

For the tourism services sector, like hotels and restaurants sector, this year’s first quarter generated 107 million baht, higher than last year’s first quarter which was at 104 million baht in comparison.

Passenger numbers through Chiang Mai International Airport during this year’s first quarter was at 1,190 (thousand persons per unit) which was higher than the passenger number during the same period last year which was at 1014 persons, while this year’s first quarter, hotel occupancy rates were at 48. 7 percent, higher than last year for this period at 45. 9 percent.

For the private consumption sector, it was found that the number of motorcycles and cars registered with the government authorities was 74,766 for motorcycles, and 25,679 for cars during the first quarter of this year, higher than last year during the same period which was at 57,050 for motorcycles and 19,427 for cars registered with authorities.

For Board of Investment (BOI) approved investment projects this year’s first quarter showed 20 projects worth 3.311 billion baht. These numbers were higher than last year’s first quarter (during the same period), which had 14 projects worth 8.59 billion baht.

In the foreign trade sector, first quarter exports through Customs checkpoints, the Customs Department and Chiang Mai International Airport were higher than last year‘s first quarter. While border exports to Myanmar and Laos were also higher than last year’ s first quarter, this year’s exports of 13.7 million US $ to South China were lower than last year’s exports, valued at 17.2 million US $.

Deposits to commercial banks in the Northern provinces, mainly Chiang Mai, Chiang Rai, Phitsanulok and Lampang, were registered at 398,901 million baht in March 2010, a 4.5 percent increase over the previous year. Credit issued in Chiang Mai, Chiang Rai, and Phitsanulok was 5.1 % higher than last year, with a total amount of 316.3 billion baht.

She concluded that these figures showed that during the first quarter of 2010, it has become clear that the overall economy in the North has expanded in the export, tourism, consumption and investment sectors. Exports from the North are accelerating following the recovery of export markets and border trade.


Chiang Mai celebrates Coronation Day

Governor Amornphan Nimanant presented offerings
in front of His Majesty the King‘s portrait to celebrate
Coronation Day at CMU’s Convention Center on May 5.

Chiang Mai and the Kingdom celebrated Wan Chatramongkhol (Coronation Day) on Wednesday, May 5.

Chiang Mai Governor Amornphan Nimanant lit auspicious victory candles at the ceremony to honor His Majesty the King on his Coronation Day at the Chiang Mai University Convention Center. The Governor was joined by government officials, foreign consuls, military and police officers, students and members of the public in the candle lighting ceremony. Alms bowls were also presented in front of the HM the King’s portrait, to offer wishes for long life and health and the Royal Anthem was sung.


Four vehicle accident injures one

Jedsadapong Wongkiew

The driver of a Honda that hit the back of a Daihatsu Mira on Chang Klan Road on April 30 was taken to Central Memorial Chiang Mai Hospital with injuries.

Chang Klan Roiad was the scene of an accident involving three cars and a motorcycle on Friday, April 30, leaving one person injured.

Witnesses report that the Honda, driven by a woman with two children seated inside, was headed in the direction of the Chiang Mai Night Bazaar when it suddenly hit the back end of the Daihatsu, then veered into a Nissan parked on the side of the road before finally skidding off the road and hitting a Honda Dream motorcycle parked nearby.

Passersby came to the aid of the driver of the Honda, calling police and rescue teams who took her to the hospital with injuries. Police surmise the driver of the Honda may have fallen asleep at the wheel.


3 dead in two hit and run accidents in one night

Chiang Mai Mail reporters

May 2nd proved to be a deadly night with two accidents resulting in the deaths of three people in it and run incidents.

The first accident occurred around 2 a.m. of the 2nd, when a pickup truck filled with young people slammed into the back of a motorcycle on the Chiang Mai-Hod Road. The driver of the motorcycle, Uthaiwuth Chantarafun, 17, of Hang Dong district was found dead, having been thrown from the bike after being hit at high speed. After hitting the motorcycle, the truck hit an electric pole killing one passenger, Parimintara Sirwijai, 16 of Hang Dong and injuring another seven. A bottle of whisky was found inside the vehicle, police are searching for the driver who fled the scene before the police arrived.

The second accident occurred shortly after, when police received a report of an accident on the 2nd ring road in Chiang Khan where they found Mrs. Ampai King-umong, 45, a resident of Lamphun province, dead near her motorcycle. Witnesses told police that a black car had hit Mrs. Ampai and then drove off, leaving her dead in the road.

Police are searching for the drivers of both of the hit and run vehicles.


Mae Hong Son residents warned of Hemorrhagic Dengue fever

Khajohn Boonpath

Mae Hong Son health officials have diagnosed 5 people with Hemorrhagic Dengue Fever so far this year. They called for residents to sleep inside mosquito nets and to eliminate standing water so as to remove the breeding grounds of the mosquitoes.

Dr Suwat Kittidilokkul of the Mae Hong Son Provincial Office said that between January and April 2010, officials had diagnosed 5 patients, with the latest two in Ban Pang Moo and Ban Huay Makuasom in April.

The most recent cases involved children, who, while critical were receiving care and recovering. Officials encouraged people to cover up, use mosquito repellent, sleep under mosquito nets and remove the breeding grounds of the infected mosquitoes in order to ward off this potentially fatal disease.


Murder in Mae Hia market

Chiang Mai Mail reporters

A soybean milk seller stabbed a pad Thai vendor to death after an argument over space between the stalls turned violent.

Banchong Champanont, 48, and his son Sakda Champanont, 22, both of Mae Hia sold Pad Thai at a stall in the market and argued with Wichian Sae Plian, 39, of Phichit, over the amount of room in the space between the two stalls. Banchong felt that Wichian had set up his soy milk stall too close to his own and argued with him. Banchong punched Wichian in the argument and Wichian then pulled out a knife and stabbed Banchong in the chest and Sakda in the throat.

Banchong was admitted to nearby Klaimore Hospital where he died, while Sakda was sent to Maharaj Nakhon Chiang Mai hospital where he is currently in critical condition.

Police arrested Wichian who claimed self defense, and was treated for a cut over the eye at a nearby hospital. Police will investigate further but have charged him with murder.


2 Filipino men arrested for ‘ice’ smuggling at Mae Sai border

Chiang Rai sees arrest of three Myanmar nationals

Two Filipino nationals were arrested for smuggling 5.3 kg of methamphetamine (ice) after they crossed into Thailand’s Mae Sai border entry from Thachilek in neighbouring Myanmar on May 3, according to the Thai authorities.

Darong Titong Maoyaz, 35, and Salvador Aweebon, 52, were apprehended with 16 bags of the drug, which had been hidden in their luggage.

According to the initial investigation, the suspects said they had arrived in Mae Sai district on Sunday night before leaving for Thachilek in Myanmar’s Shan State on Monday morning. They said they were carrying the drugs for sale in Malaysia.

According to the Thai authorities, the price of the confiscated methamphetamine was about Bt1 million per kilo at the border. If successfully smuggled and sold in Malaysia as stated by the detainees, the drug would fetch as much as Bt50 million per kilo.Thai officials have already contacted Burmese authorities in order to locate related dealers and for further investigation of the case.

Additionally, on May 5 Thai narcotics suppression police in cooperation with the US Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) caught three Myanmar nationals in the parking lot of the Tesco Lotus supermarket in Chiang Rai and seized about 30,000 amphetamine tablets. Police later searched their house in Mae Sai district for further investigation in an attempt to learn the production site which is believed to be located in Myanmar. (TNA)



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