HEADLINES [click on headline to view story]:

Grand ceremonies held to commemorate Chiang Mai City Pillar

Clashes, blasts in besieged Bangkok

World Lychee Fair promotes tasty seasonal fruit

Recreation room for sick kids donated by Ronald McDonald House

Bangkok Airways waiving baggage fees

Groundbreaking for new exhibition center

Abbot and monk arrested for murder of rival in love

Chiang Mai under State of Emergency

Chiang Mai PAO to help villagers combat drought


Grand ceremonies held to commemorate Chiang Mai City Pillar

Thousands attend celebrations to pray for luck and prosperity

The Buddha Image is carried in a grand parade
to pay respects to the Chiang Mai City Pillar.

Deputy Governor Pairote Saengphuwong lights
 the candles to pay respects to the Inthakin Pillar.

Jedsadapong Wongkiew

A traditional ceremony, to pay respect to the Chiang Mai City Pillar or the Inthakin Pillar started May 10 with a spectacular light and sound show.

Deputy Governor Pairote Saengphuwong, accompanied by high ranking officials attended the khan dok ceremony to present offerings of bowls of flowers, incense sticks and candles to the Inthakin Pillar, held annually at Wat Chedi Luang Worawiharn in Muang District.

The ceremony to pay respects to the Inthakin or the City Pillar is a long held tradition important to Chiang Mai city residents. People who attended the ceremony attributed the hour long rainfall before the ceremony as a result of the power of Phra Chao Fon Saenha.

The ceremony began with a grand parade carrying the Phra Chao Fon Saenha Buddha image, together with Inthakin offerings along the city roads to end at Wat Chedi Kuang.

Deputy Governor Pairote presided over the opening ceremony by hitting a victory gong, and then lit the candles and incense sticks, sprinkled holy water, and offered all 32 khan dok, (bowls of candles, scent sticks, and flowers)

marking the worshiping ceremony to the Inthakin City Pillar. This ceremony is held to ask for normal seasonal rainfall.

The highlight of the ceremony was to sprinkle holy water and place the ‘khan dok’ on the city pillar. The light and sound show will be held for 7 days and 7 nights in front of the grand chedi, and at the Inthakin Pole House in Wat Chedi Luang. This grand event was held until May 17, the last day of the Inthakin festival.

The Inthakin City Pillar was built in the regime of King Kawila and renovated in the era of Khru Bah Sriwichai, the holy man of the Lanna Kingdom many years ago.

The Inthakin ceremony was held from May 10-16, when people in white dresses brought flowers, incense sticks, and candles put together in 32 bowls, and then placed in front of the Phra Attharos, the main Buddha image which is housed in the Buddha image hall at the temple. After that they sprinkle holy water onto the Phra Chao Fonsaenha Buddha image, followed by alms giving to make merit, so as to bring luck and prosperity.

City residents fill 32 bowls with flowers, candles and incense sticks in a ceremony to pay respects to the Chiang Mai City Pillar.


Clashes, blasts in besieged Bangkok

An anti-government protester hurls a rock at advancing Thai soldiers, Friday, May 14, 2010 in Bangkok. Violence in Bangkok that has left more than 16 dead led the CRES to declare a State of Emergency across 15 provinces. (AP Photo/Wally Santana)

By Denis D Gray

Thai troops clashed with protesters for a third day in Bangkok on Saturday, as streets in the center of the Asian metropolis became battlegrounds and authorities struggled to contain Red Shirt demonstrators demanding the prime minister’s resignation.

Explosions and street fighting have killed 16 people and wounded nearly 160 since the government attempted Thursday to seal off the 1-square-mile (3-square-kilometer) zone the Red Shirts have occupied in one of the capital’s most upscale areas.

The spiraling violence, which has shifted from street to street over three days, has raised concerns that Thailand — a longtime tourism magnet that promotes its easygoing culture as the “Land of Smiles” — was teetering toward instability because of the two-month-long political crisis.

The army says its troop are not shooting to kill, but protesters during a lull in clashes Saturday crawled along sidewalks to slowly drag away corpses of three people near the city’s Victory Monument traffic circle. They told an Associated Press photographer that army snipers had shot all three in the head.

Sporadic clashes resumed in several parts of the city Saturday, and explosions once again echoed through streets emptied of shoppers and tourists, as plumes of black smoke rose amid skyscrapers and hotels.

In a message from New York, U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon appealed to both sides to “do all within their power to avoid further violence and loss of life.”

But with negotiations terminated, the situation appeared headed toward a final showdown on the streets.

“The situation right now is getting closer to civil war every minute,” a protest leader, Jatuporn Prompan, said Saturday morning. “We have to fight on. The leaders shouldn’t even think about retreat when our brothers are ready to fight on.”

The Red Shirts have kept soldiers at bay by firing guns and homemade rockets, hurling rocks and commandeering government vehicles. Army spokesman Col. Sansern Kaewkamnerd said some protesters also used grenades and other weapons, and have an estimated 500 armed fighters.

The troops have kept their distance and made little progress toward their goal of clearing the streets. Sansern said soldiers will tighten the perimeter around the protest site in the next few days and will conduct more intense operations without advance warning.

Bangkok residents found it hard to come to terms with the violence in their city, which prides itself as an exotic and welcoming gateway to the Land of Smiles, as Thailand is fondly known.

“I’ve never seen anything like this. I heard gunshots and explosions all day,” said Kornvika Klinpraneat, a 7-Eleven employee. “This is like a civil war. The battle is being fought in the middle of the city.” (AP)

World Lychee Fair promotes tasty seasonal fruit

Nopniwat Krailerg

The World Lychee Day in Chiang Mai Fair will run from May 19 to 23 at the Big C Arena in Don Chan. Organized by the Chiang Mai Provincial Agriculture Office, the Farmers Network Group and the Lychee Growers Group, the event means to promote this tasty seasonal fruit to Chiang Mai residents and tourists from around the world.

Two young women display bowls of lychees for the World Lychee Day fair.

With a 16 million baht budget to promote the fruit, the fair will offer fresh fruit straight from the orchards and dried lychee products.

The Chiang Mai Provincial Authorities and a working committee on fruits in the North have set aside a budget to help lychee growers to help distribute this year’s lychee products of 7,000 tons from the growers to the consumers.

They also plan to help growers promote their processed lychee products and marketing to encourage the consumption of lychee in season, and the third measures is to promote packaging, and the last measure, it’s to promote consumption of lychee fresh fruits in season.

Thani Thammasuwan, the Assistant Chief of Chiang Mai Provincial Agriculture Office said lychee production in Chiang Mai this year has dropped by more than 40 percent due to unseasonably warm weather in the cool season which resulted in lychee trees producing less flowers than last year, and so, less fruit.

He noted that this year’s production was about 16,052 tons, 11,870 tons less than last year’s production. Most of the lychee fruits are produced in Fang, Chai Prakan, Mae Ai, Mae Rim, Mae Taeng and Muang districts, about 44,892 rai of land in orchards.

About 5,958 tons of fruit have already been harvested or about 37.12 percent. China makes up the largest export market for Thai lychees, with a total of about 8,000 tons being exported annually.

Recreation room for sick kids donated by Ronald McDonald House

Dr Nueng Ekmahachai, Deputy Dean of the Faculty of Medicine, Chiang Mai University, 2nd left and Shallot Thonawanick, of the Ronald McDonald House Foundation, 4th left, pose with staff and patients at the Maharaj Nakhon Chiang Mai hospital after the presentation of the new recreation room at the hospital.

McDonald’s through Ronald McDonald House Foundation (Thailand) committee member Shallot Thonawanick presented a recreation room for children at the Maharaj Nakhon Chiang Mai Hospital on May 11. Dr. Nueng Ekmahachai, Deputy Dean of the Faculty of Medicine at Chiang Mai University received the donation at the presentation ceremony held in the Children’s Orthopedic Center at the hospital.

Shallot said that McDonald’s had been creating and renovating recreation rooms for children at hospitals and schools since 2001 with 18 having been completed so far and another 7 scheduled for the upcoming year.

Shallot said that McDonald House wanted children at the hospital to be able to play and have fun while undergoing treatment.

Bangkok Airways waiving baggage fees

As a sponsor of the Chiang Mai Golf Festival 2010 Bangkok Airways announced a waiver of all baggage charges for golfers travelling to Chiang Mai from Bangkok between May 1 and June 26, 2010.

Groundbreaking for new exhibition center

Chumpol Silapa-archa, the Minister of Tourism and Sports presided over the foundation laying stone ceremony for the MICE construction project site in Chiang Mai.

Nopniwat Krailerg

Chumpol Silapa-archa, Minister of Tourism and Sports was in Chiang Mai Monday May 10 to preside over the foundation laying ceremony for the Chiang Mai Meeting Incentive Convention and Exhibition (MICE) building in Chang Puak.

The MICE building, which is expected to finish construction by October of 2011, has been a budget of 2.2 billion baht, on a plot of more than 335 rai near City Hall and the 700 Year Stadium.

The completion due date of October 1 is expected to be in time for the big Royal Flora Ratchapruek Fair to be hosted by the Chiang Mai Provincial Authority. Once it is finished, it will be the first and biggest government sector MICE area for the region.

The Minister believes the project will generate more income for the province and the country because of Chiang Mai’s high potential for MICE marketing development.

The Cabinet approved the project on September 16, 2003 and then assigned the Tourism Authority of Thailand to carry on the MICE project by working in cooperation with the Northern SME Promotion and Development Center, Industrial Promotion Department.

Once it is completed, there will be 419,625.46 square meters total with 55,076.02 square meters for internal space for public use, and 364,549.44 square meters will be for external space.

The MICE center will have a capacity of 10,000 people with the biggest conference room able to hold about 3,000 people. A restaurant that can hold 2,000 and other smaller meeting rooms will make for a flexible space. Parking for about 3,000 cars is included in the plan.

The building will include a swimming pool, offices, food shops, souvenir shops, exhibition halls, banks, postal office, transportation offices, tour companies, and government working agencies in terms of One Stop Service and others.

The MICE – Meeting, Incentive, Convention, and Exhibition building is expected to generate income for the tourism sector of more than 3 billion baht a year on average and increase tourism income by 10 percent.

Abbot and monk arrested for murder of rival in love

Kru Bah Noi, or Anucha Nalai, 24, the abbot of Wat Phayak, in white T shirt, and Phra Tong or Amphol Uamkul, his accomplice, were brought in by police to reenact the crime near the entrance to Wat Phayak in Talad Kwan, Doi Saket.

Chiang Mai Mail Reporters

The Abbot of Wat Phayak Donkaewphothiyarn in Doi Saket, Khru Bah Noi, also known as Phra Arnawilo, or Mr. Anucha Nalai, 24 was arrested along with fellow monk, Phra Tong or Amphol Uamkul for the murder of Amornphan Chamnikrai, 17, the boyfriend of the Abbot’s former girlfriend.

At midnight on May 4 Amornphan Chamnikrai, 17, was shot while driving his motorcycle to pick up his girlfriend Miss Duangduen Nampeng, 19, from her job at the 7-eleven store in Doi Saket. Amornphan was shot in the chest from a passing vehicle and died on the way to the hospital.

After the shooting, police took Miss Duangduen in for further questioning. She told them she believed her former boyfriend, Anucha, and his friend Amphol Uamkul were the gunmen. The police brought the two in for questioning and while they initially denied the drive-by murder, in the end they confessed to the shooting. Amphol confessed to pulling the trigger. The gun belonged to the abbot Khru Bah Noi. Khru Bah Noi told police that he had killed the man out of jealousy.

Chiang Mai under State of Emergency

Governor Amornphan Nimanant met with Major General Chanukorn Tanthakosol, Commander of the Kawila Army Camp and Pol. Major General Bandop Sukhonthaman, Deputy Commissioner of the Provincial Police Bureau, Region 5 to plan for the State of Emergency decree by the CRES.

Supoj Thaimyoj

Chiang Mai Provincial Authorities and military and police officers met to set up a Special Task Force Center, following the State of Emergency decree for Chiang Mai by the Center for the Resolution of the Emergency Situation (CRES) in Bangkok.

Chiang Mai was one of 15 provinces included in the State of Emergency.

Governor Amornphan Nimanant, Major General Chanukorn Tanthakosol, Commander of the Kawila Army Camp and Pol. Major General Bandop Sukhonthaman, Deputy Commissioner of the Provincial Police Bureau, Region 5 took part in the meeting on May 4 at the Kawila Army Camp to set up the task force center at the camp.

The Center will provide a meeting place for the Chiang Mai Security and Peace Keeping Command, used by police, the military and local administrators in case of an emergency arising.

Chiang Mai Governor Amornphan Nimanant said Chiang Mai authorities would join hands with local military officers and police following the political unrest and State of Emergency.

He also asked the public people not to go to join Bangkok protests because Bangkok is a dangerous war zone, “Also, those operators of land transport;, tour buses, vans, and cars that take people to Bangkok to join protestors will be in violation of the State of Emergency.

“We do not want to have to confiscate vehicles or assets so operators of transportation should cooperate with the authorities. Additionally, any community radiot stations that call to stage rallies, or protestors that gather in groups larger than 5 people will find legal action taken against them.”

Maj Gen Chanukorn Tanthakosol, the commander of the Kawila Army camp said following the State of Emergency announcement in Chiang Mai, Governor Amornphan Nimanant will be the commander of the Special Task Force Center, while the military and police authorities will be the assistant commanders.

“Although there is not any violence here in Chiang Mai right now, the authorities and police and military forces are now on alert to help keep the peace and security. In case of an emergency, these forces will then be deployed,” he added.

Chiang Mai PAO to help villagers combat drought

One of the well drilling machines ready for use in stricken villages.

Jedsadapong Wongkiew

The Chiang Mai Provincial Administration Organization (PAO) released a caravan of water trucks and well drilling machines to help tackle drought in surrounding villages.

The Chiang Mai PAO has plans to drill 128 wells in 25 districts in the next month in an effort to increase water supplies for stricken villages. About 1500 villages are facing serious water shortages for consumption and agriculture.

On May 10, Boonlert Buranupakorn, the President of Chiang Mai PAO, presided over the ceremony to release the trucks to fight drought.

Drought in Chiang Mai is getting worse, with 25 districts being declared disaster areas due to the drought. The PAO plan includes canal and river dredging, and sending water trucks to distribute water to hard hit villages.

The PAO also plans to buy water from the Regional Water Work Authority and will provide 39 water pumps to areas that have requested help. Drilling machines are also being readied to drill more wells for drought hit areas together with a private company.

President Boonlert said that the hardest hit areas were districts south of Chiang Mai, Doi Tao, Omkoi, Mae Chaem, Doi Saket, San Sai and San Kamphaeng in the list of 25 districts. The PAO has set aside a budget of 50 million baht to help relieve villagers struggling with drought.