HEADLINES [click on headline to view story]:

Buddhist faithful walk up Doi Suthep to make merit on Visakha Bucha Day

National Tree day aims to make Doi Kham golden

Day of Remembrance

Chiang Mai celebrity turns 1

Thai-Burmese Border Committee meeting held in Mae Hong Son

Season of change as friendly faces bid farewell to Chiang Mai

Mae Hong Son fights to limit spread of bird flu

Community Radio Station shut down

38,000 yabaa tablets seized in Chiang Dao

Bangkok City Hall holds religious rituals to revive spirit of people after Ratchaprasong protest

Songthaew driver first arrest in riots


Buddhist faithful walk up Doi Suthep to make merit on Visakha Bucha Day

Buddhist monks are joined by the faithful in the walk up Doi Suthep
mountain to Wat Phrathart on the evening before Visakha Bucha Day.

Supoj Thiamyoj

Locally called “Wai Sa Paramee” the ceremony held on Thursday, May 27 at Wat Phrathart Doi Suthep involves the Buddhist faithful walking 11 kilometers to pay respects to the Phra Boromathart Chedi which holds an important Buddhist relic.

Visakha Bucha Day or Vesak Day celebrates the birth, enlightenment and death of Buddha, falling on the full moon, as most Buddhist holidays do, of the 6th month of the lunar calendar.

Three sets of monks’ robes donated by Her Majesty the Queen and royally sponsored holy water for sprinkling on the Buddha images was carried from Wat Lokmolee by a traditional Bussabok carriage in a parade along Huay Kaew Road to the opening ceremony held at the Kru Bah Sriwichai Statue at the foot of Doi Suthep Mountain.

The general public traditionally walked up for a distance of 11 kilometers to Wat Phrathart Doi Suthep, so as to join in sprinkling royally-sponsored holy water to Buddha Images at the temple on Doi Suthep Mountain.

Deputy Governor Chumphorn Saengmanee presided over the ceremony to start the parade of royally sponsored offerings. The Deputy Governor, also seated on a Bussabok carriage, travelled along the road leading up to Doi Suthep where he was joined by thousands of people, many dressed in traditional Lanna style.

This ceremony, a long standing Lanna tradition held the evening before Visakha Bucha Day, is widely attended from Buddhists and tourists from across the region.

It is believed that anyone who participates in the walk up to Wat Phrathart Doi Suthep, and does the “vien tiane”, or walking around the Grand Stupa for three rounds on Visakha Bucha Day, will receive the results of making merit; virtue, luck, and prosperity.

Young women dressed in traditional Lanna costume pass through
Tha Pae Gate in the parade to Doi Suthep on the evening of Thursday, May 27.


National Tree day aims to make Doi Kham golden

Adisorn Kamnoerdsiri, Muang Chiang Mai District Chief Officer,
planted the first Ratchaphruek tree to start the “Term Sri Thong Hua Doi Kham” Project, which aims to not only reforest, but turn the forest golden in honor of HM the King’s projects to conserve the environment.

Jedsadapong Wongkiew

Local villagers from Mae Hia, Suthep and Nong Kwai joined hands with the Insitute for Highlands Research and Development and the Royal Project Foundation to plant trees for National Tree Day at Ratchaphruek Royal Park on May 28. The event, aimed at increasing awareness of the need for environmental conservation, coincides with the start of the “Term Sri Thong Hua Doi Kham” Project to plant 8,500 Ratchaphruek trees in Doi Kham to honor HM the King on his 85th birthday. The Ratchaphruek tree is the national tree of Thailand and a symbol of HM the King.

Day of Remembrance

A Day of Remembrance was held at Wat Phra Singh to honor the memory of those who lost their lives in Bangkok during the protests. 88 people lost their lives and more than 1900 were wounded since the protest began in March. Candles and incense were lit by Pol Lt Gen Somkid Boonthanom, the commissioner of Provincial Police Bureau, Region 5, and monks offered prayers at the ceremony held at Wat Phra Singh, on Thursday, May 27, 2010. (Photos courtesy of CityNow!)

Chiang Mai celebrity turns 1

Chiang Mai Zoo throws birthday party for Lhin Ping

Supoj Thiamyoj

Lhin Ping reached her first birthday in style on May 27 when the Chiang Mai Zoo threw a big party for the furry celebrity. Wildly popular among Thais, both local and across the country, the birth of Lhin Ping was heralded widely after many unsuccessful years of attempted mating and artificial insemination of her parents. She even now has her own Panda TV channel where panda fans can wait and watch for her every move.

Lhin Ping is fed treats by her keepers at the Chiang Mai Zoo in celebration of her one year birthday on May 27.

Director of Zoological Park Organization of Thailand Dr. Sophon Damnui presided over the opening ceremony, beginning with a merit making ceremony in the morning, followed by birthday blessings and the birthday party complete with cake.

The Panda display section decorated with dolls, toys, and a large ice sculpture of wishing Lhin Ping a happy first birthday. Members of the Lhin Ping fan club brought gifts for the young panda as well.

A special video presentation was shown, from Lhin Ping’s birth to today, music and games were also available for the guests at Lhin Ping’s birthday party. The birthday celebration for Lhin ping was held for four days from May 27-30, the Chiang Mai Zoo, also arranged a Khantoke dinner.

Other animals in the zoo were also on hand to wish Lhin Ping a happy birthday in the gala to celebrate the birth of the panda. Since her birth, the Zoo has seen a 60 percent increase in visitors and revenues of more than 20 million baht due to the panda’s popularity.

Lhin Ping has reached 36 kilograms and is now able to eat bamboo, bamboo shoots and fruit, although she has not yet been weaned from her mother.

The Thai government is currently negotiating with the Chinese government to extend Lhin Ping’s stay for another two years so that she remains with her parent, Lhin Hui and Chuang Chuang until they are returned to China.

Thai-Burmese Border Committee meeting held in Mae Hong Son

Thailand’s Chairman Col Uthai Chaichana, and Myanmar’s Chairman Lt Col Aung Aungto at the Thai Burmese Border Committee meeting in Mae Hong Son on May 25.

Nopniwat Krailerg

The Thai-Burmese Border Committee (TBC) held a local- level meeting at the Rooks Holidays Hotel in Mae Hong Son on May 25, with Thailand’s Chairman Col Uthai Chaichana, and Myanmar’s Chairman Lt Col Aung Aungto chairing the joint meeting.

Col. Uthai Chaichana credited local level meetings as developing and improving the relationship between the two countries and Lt. Col. Aung Aungto of Myanmar added that past bilateral relations had been good and he expected the relationship between the two countries to improve.

Representatives from local businesses, governmental agencies and local administrative organizations took part in the bilateral talks, which focused on cooperation between the two countries in the repatriation of criminal suspects and Myanmar cooperation in providing intelligence on drug smuggling over the border into Thailand.

Myanmar asked for Thai help in repatriating long neck Karen villagers to Myanmar, information on minority groups residing in refugee camps on the border in Thailand, and Thai cooperation in an enforcing Thai aircraft to remain outside Myanmar airspace.

Mae Hong Son Governor Kamthorn Thawornsathit asked that they requested the opening of border passes for trade and investment be trialed at the local levels, Tambon to Tambon or district to district and that long term border trade expansion be handled at the Provincial level.

Supoj Klinpraneet, the President of the Mae Hong Son Chamber of Commerce added that they expected trade negations between the two countries would continue at the national level. He also proposed the opening of the border passes at three locations; Ban Huay Ton Noon in Khun Yuam district, Ban Saohin in Mae Sarieng district and Ban Nampiengdin in Muang district.

The Mae Hong Son Provincial Authority met with Deputy Commerce Minister Alongkorn Ponlaboot in April where a memorandum of understanding was signed (MOE) that talks would continue between the two countries to foster trade and investment for the next 5 years.

Supoj concluded, “The TBC meetings held here in Mae Hong Son will also help foster trade and investment links at the regional and national levels.”

Season of change as friendly faces bid farewell to Chiang Mai

Chiang Mai Mail’s editor, Phitsanu Thepthong (left), managing editor,
Shana Kongmun (2nd right) and Managing Director, Tony Malhotra (right) presented Alexander Barrasso a good luck plant as a farewell gift.

By Shana Kongmun

The Chiang Mai Mail would like to join with the U.S. Consulate General of Chiang Mai in bidding Alexander Barrasso, the political and economic chief at the Consulate, and his lovely wife and family a fond farewell and a hearty bon voyage as they make their way to Alex’s next post in Italy. A generous and friendly man, Alex Barrasso attracts every one he meets with his charming smile and friendly and engaging manner.

Nirund Jivasantikarn, Ed.D., Ph.D., the Honorary Consul of Belgium.

U.S. Consul Michael K. Morrow and his wife Shannon hosted the farewell party for Mr. Barrasso in their home on the grounds of the U.S. Consulate General on Wednesday May 26. The party was well attended by many of the lives that Alex had touched in his three years here in Chiang Mai.

Roshan Dhunjibhoy, of Lanna Dog Rescue, talked of Alex’s help in promoting the use of Seeing Eye dogs in Thailand. She described the astonishment of people when he came to give talks and brought his dog to show the locals what tremendous help dogs could provide. She went on to say that his help in this matter had been invaluable, that showing the world what could be accomplished with the help of a Seeing Eye dog gave people an added appreciation for the love and devotion they offer us humans, asking for so little in return.

Thai and expatriate residents alike attended the party, with Assistant Professor at the Faculty of Fine Arts at Chiang Mai University Vilawan Svetsreni talking puppets, to Gao Linprasert discussing the different accents of Thailand with Shannon Morrow. Staffers from the Consulate were there to offer their goodbyes to a popular colleague; and many well wishers dropped in to wish safe and happy journeys to Alex Barrasso, a man whose warmth and generosity of spirit shines brightly.

Santad Saksoong and Worawan Thanamongkol of the U.S. Consulate General
in Chiang Mai at the farewell party for Alexander Barrasso.

Roshan Dhunjibhoy, of Lanna Dog Rescue (right) is joined by one of her colleagues at Lanna Dog Rescue to bid Alexander Barrasso a fond farewell.

Shana Kongmun (left) joins Michael K. Morrow,
 his wife, Shannon, their son Brett.

Michael K. Morrow, U.S. Consul General chats with Vilawan Svetsreni,
Assistant Professor at the Faculty of Fine Arts at Chiang Mai University.

Mae Hong Son fights to limit spread of bird flu

Mae Hong Son Provincial Livestock officials spray chemicals
 to kill the spread of bird flu around chicken farms.

Khajohn Boonpath

Mae Hong Son Provincial Livestock Office launched a bird flu prevention campaign on May 26 as officials sprayed chemicals around chicken farms to prevent a serious outbreak of the bird flu. Officials are concerned that the unusual weather could facilitate the spread of bird flu.

Billboards are being erected and brochures and manuals are being handed out to villagers to teach them about bird flu and how to prevent it.

One of the villages targeted was the Karen village of Ban Huay Suatao, a small village in HM the Queen’s project in Tambon Phabong. Officials are especially concerned for those in the long neck Karen villages as they have high numbers of tourists visiting and the spread of the flu could be accelerated.

Bird flu outbreaks often occur this time of year as birds migrate South and can spread the disease.

Chamlong Ariyachak, the chief of the Mae Hong Son Livestock Office expressed concern, “This year, it is expected that there will a higher chance than normal of outbreaks of the bird flu because of the change of weather. The hot weather helps spread the disease more than normal weather,” he concluded.

Community Radio Station shut down

Chiang Mai Mail reporters

The Wihok Community Radio station run by Therdsak Jiamkitchwattana, a local leader of the People’s Alliance for Democracy (PAD) also known as “yellow shirts” was shut down by the Chiang Mai Provincial Task Force Center in Chiang Mai on Monday, May 24. Therdsak was also a leader of the Thai King Protectors group.

The combined forces of police and military personnel belonging to the Task Force Center raided Therdsak’s house on Thippanaetre Road, confiscating radio equipment, a computer, poles and antenna , tires, national flags, His Majesty the King’s Phor Por Ror flag, a rifle and some ammunition.

Therdsak was told by the Task Force, when complaining about the raid and search, that the Task Force was implementing the laws and performing their duties without any double standard since they will be searching every radio station that broadcasts on Thai politics

The Police will determine if any charges will be laid after examining the results of the raid.

38,000 yabaa tablets seized in Chiang Dao

Supoj Thaimyoj and Nopniwat Krailerg

The Pha Muang Task Force clashed with 3 drug traffickers at the Kiew Pa Wog border pass in Chiang Dao on May 22, resulting in the deaths of two local men and the seizure of 38,000 yabaa tablets in a joint effort between the Center to fight against Drugs, the 2nd Calvary Company and the Pha Muang Task Force.

Members of the Pha Muang Task Force inspect the haul of drugs and weapons found after a gun fight resulted in the deaths of two drug traffickers.

Members of the Task Force encountered three men on motorcycles crossing the border from Myanmar, when ordered to halt the three men opened fire. Two men were found dead and on had fled. The two men were identified by local authorities as being local, Theerachai Machaiya, 30, and Charoon Yata, 30, both of Tambon Pingkonh in Chiang Dao district. A search yielded 38,000 yabaa tablets as well a shotgun and grenade.

Local authorities believe the two men were middlemen, operatives for the Red Wa in connecting with local drug dealers.

Bangkok City Hall holds religious rituals to revive spirit of people after Ratchaprasong protest

Bangkok Governor Sukhumbhand Paribatra on the morning of Wednesday, May 26, presided over a combined religious ceremony of five faith groups as part of the city’s rehabilitation measures to bring healing to a wounded public spirit and to restore normalcy for the tourism sector after more than two months of protests by the anti-government ‘Red Shirt’ United Front for Democracy against Dictatorship (UDD).

The religious ceremony, participated in by five religions—Buddhism, Christianity, Islam, Brahminism and Hinduism—was jointly organised by the Bangkok Metropolitan Administration (BMA) and the Ratchaprasong Square Trade Association (RSTA).

The religious ceremonies, prayers and rituals, took place at the Statue of King Rama VI, at the entrance of Lumpini Park, facing Saladaeng crossroads where much violence took place, at the intersection of Ratchadamri, Rama IV, and Silom roads, across from Chulalongkorn Hospital in central Bangkok, starting from 6.30am.

Thais and foreigners living in the area and vendors who were affected by the protest joined the ceremony held at Ratchaprasong, the intersection of Ratchadamri and Rama I roads. Many members of the public queued to give alms to 1,000 Buddhist monks. Mr Sukhumbhand said the ceremony was to mark the beginning of new life for the city, both for the residents of Bangkok as the symbolic city for all of Thailand’s people.

The governor urged people of all groups to focus on forgiveness, leave the conflict and violence behind and come to join in united to bring back beautiful Bangkok and to help create an even stronger Bangkok.

On Sunday, May 23, the BMA sponsored a municipal cleaning day under the slogan “Together We Can” to clean up Ratchaprasong and its surrounding areas vandalised by the protesters.Many volunteers joined the campaign in a spirit of helping the country resume peace and order. Many brought their own cleaning tools, garbage bags, brooms, towels, rags. Many companies located in the area and independent groups disbursed water, food, and energy drinks to support the volunteers throughout the day. (TNA)

Songthaew driver first arrest in riots

Chiang Mai Mail reporters

Sayan Saengsiri, 42, of Saraphi District was arrested in his home after the police were issued a search warrant to search his home. The Chiang Mai Courts issued the search warrant on May 23 and the police searched the home of the red songthaew driver.

He confessed to police that he delivered the tires that were used to burn the Assistant Governor’s residence on Wednesday, May 19. He told police that he had been hired by the Rak Chiang Mai 51 Group to deliver the tires in his songthaew.

Red shirt supporters burned down the home of Surachai Chongrak, the permanent secretary of the Chiang Mai Provincial Authority who serves as the Assistant Governor, as well as the entrance gate, security booth and other structures in residence of Governor Amornphan Nimanant. Damages are estimated at more than 3 million baht.

Chiang Mai Police continue their investigation into the arson and vandalism and expect to arrest further suspects.