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HEADLINES [click on headline to view story]:

Happy Birthday HRH Princess Chulabhorn

No plastic bags allowed!

EU Ambassador in town for Road Show

The Creative Economy brings the U.S. Ambassador back to Chiang Mai

IBM, CMU and itSMF Thailand to provide indepth ITIL education to Chiang Mai

House razed in fire on Ratchamankha Road

Record haul of 1.2 million yabaa pills in Chiang Mai

Police crackdown on World Cup gamblers

Nok Mini suspends Chiang Rai-Xishuangbanna route

Drug gang arrested after murder of Malaysian national

Banks close July 1

 

Happy Birthday HRH Princess Chulabhorn

Her Royal Highness Princess Chulabhorn graciously presides over the “Recent Progress in Cancer Therapeutics” symposium at the Chulabhorn Convention Center in Bangkok. (Photo courtesy of the Bureau of the Royal Household)

By Peter Cummins
Special Correspondent, Chiang Mai Mail

Born on July 4, 1957, Her Royal Highness Princess Chulabhorn is the youngest daughter of Their Majesties King Bhumibol Adulyadej and Queen Sirikit of Thailand and herself has two daughters, the princesses Siribhachudhabhorn and Adityadhornkitikhun.

The Chiang Mai Mail joins the Kingdom in humbly wishing a Happy Birthday to a most remarkable person, Her Royal Highness Princess Chulabhorn on July 4. For more interesting reading about the life of HRH Princess Chulabhorn, (Photo courtesy Bureau of the Royal Household)

Princess Chulabhorn graduated from the Faculty of Science and Arts at Kasetsart University with a Bachelor of Science Degree in Organic Chemistry, First Class Honours, in 1979, following with a doctorate in 1985, being awarded a Doctor of Philosophy Degree in Organic Chemistry from Mahidol University in July of that year, capping off a record of excellent academic achievement.

In 1986, she was appointed as an Honorary Fellow of the Royal Society of Chemistry in London and was awarded the Einstein Gold Medal by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO).

The following year, she undertook post-doctoral studies in Germany, and has since been a visiting professor at universities in Japan, Germany, and the United States, as well as holding Honorary Doctorates from nine universities around the world.

Her Royal Highness is chairperson of the Working Group on the Chemistry of Natural Products collaborative program between the Japanese Society for the Promotion of Science and the National Research Council of Thailand.

HRH the Princess has received international recognition for her scientific accomplishments, resulting in her appointment to various United Nations posts, namely special advisor to the United Nations Environment Program and member of the Special High-Level Council for the International Decade for Natural Disaster Reduction of the United Nations.

As a result of her experience as a scientist, HRH the Princess became aware of the difficulties Thai researchers have in obtaining the necessary funding for their research and so, in 1987, she established the Chulabhorn Research Institute to provide a new fund-raising agency for such research.

This institute now acts as a focal point for the exchange of intellectual and other resources in Thailand, for the purpose of solving urgent problems confronting the country in areas of health, environment, and agriculture.

As president of the Chulabhorn Research Institute, HRH the Princess currently directs five special research projects; the AIDS program, a programme on restoration and integrated development of the flood-affected areas in Southern Thailand, seawater irrigation for cultivation of economic marine species and preservation of the mangrove forests, a rabies eradication programme, with a special project for accelerated immunization in five southern provinces in Thailand.

Through these programs HRH the Princess plays an auspicious role in improving the environment and living standards of the villagers in a number of Thai provinces.

One of the vitally-important duties HRH the Princess has undertaken in the immediate past has been the establishment of the Ban Namsai Community Project, to assist the victims of the 2004 tsunami, by applying the expertise of the biotechnology and sea life experience of the Department of Sea and Coastal Resources of the Chulabhorn Research Institute to alleviate the suffering of the people affected by this freak of nature.

On the occasion of HM the Queen’s sixth cycle, seventy-second birthday on 12 August 2004, and the 30th anniversary of the founding of diplomatic relations between China and Thailand, HRH the Princess presided over and presented Third Thai-China Relationship Concerts in October 2005 at different locations in the Kingdom.

Five years ago, on her fourth cycle, forty-eighth birthday, the Princess delivered the address, Innovative Scientific Paradigms in Cancer Chemotherapy, aimed at supporting researchers and scientists at the highest levels of Biomedical and Life Sciences in Thailand.

The honoured Innovative Scientific Paradigms in Cancer Chemotherapy speech for HRH Princess Chulabhorn was held for the third time.

The Chulabhorn Research Institute, in collaboration with the Royal Thai Ministries of Health and the Environment, held a broad-ranging Technical Subjects Meeting on the Environment of Asia and the Pacific, held in Manila, December 2005. Representatives of many Asia-Pacific countries, vitally interested in the affects of waste, pollution and other toxic substances on the environment and health, contribute to this important area of human development.

More recently, HRH the Princess delivered the keynote address to participants at the Fifth International Symposium on Chromatography of Natural Products, at the Polish Academy of Science and the Phytochemical Society of Europe, held at the Medical University of Lublin, Poland.

But, probably one of the most outstanding events in the life of this talented and hard-working Princess - especially in view of the 60th anniversary of His Majesty King Bhumibol’s accession to the throne celebrated a few years ago - is the day, some 19 years ago, when she went to Cambridge, near Boston, Massachusetts.

Cambridge is generally known as home of the prestigious Harvard University. But for the Thai people, the name of the city also brings a special warm feeling, for it is where the country’s beloved Monarch was born. When HRH Princess Chulabhorn visited the city, it was more than a personal sentimental visit to her father’s birthplace. It was an official occasion of pride and was joy both for Thais and for the citizens of Cambridge: the inauguration of the King Bhumibol Square in honour of “Baby Songkhla”, as His Majesty was identified on his birth certificate at the Mt. Auburn Hospital in 1927, when his father HRH Prince Songkhla was a medical student in the United States.

The city of Cambridge passed a resolution, “by acclamation” to dedicate “King Bhumibol Square”, in recognition of the King’s birth in Cambridge, as well as to acknowledge his world-renowned achievements and dedication to the welfare of the Thai people - as was overwhelmingly demonstrated by the huge number of royal guests who came to Thailand to honour our King last year. Hundreds of Thais and Americans crowded in to the new Bhumibol Square to witness the event and the street sign reads: “King Bhumibol Adulyadej, Born December 5, 1927, Mt. Auburn Hospital, Cambridge, Massachusetts.” It also bears the “tri-couleur” of the Thai flag.

HRH the Princess then delivered a speech to thank the city of Cambridge. The square, she said, was more than a reminder of His Majesty’s birth because it also embodied the common goals of both countries to work for the benefit of humanity.

Thank you HRH Princess Chulabhorn for your own lifetime of dedication.

All of us at the Chiang Mai Mail join the entire Kingdom in wishing Her Royal Highness Princess Chulabhorn a Most Happy 53rd Birthday on the fourth of July 2010.

 

No plastic bags allowed!

The littlest environmentalist at the No Plastic Fantastic party at dusit D2 Hotel brought her own cloth bag for the party that was organized by the Dusit D2 Hotel and the Hope Institute for Society (HopeSo) on Friday, June 18. Promoting the use of cloth bags instead of plastic, the party was held to not only raise awareness of environmental issues and the need to recycle and reuse but a part of the proceeds from ticket sales went to benefit the Prostheses Foundation of H.R.H the Princess Mother as well. (Photo by Supoj Thaimyoj)


EU Ambassador in town for Road Show

By Shana Kongmun

Recently appointed European Union Ambassador to Thailand, Laos and Cambodia David Lipman was in town for the opening of the EU road show at Chiang Mai University Monday, June 21. He took time out to speak at the EU road show seminar at CMU Library and to the Chiang Mai Mail on Tuesday, June 22.

EU Ambassador David Lipman spoke to students, faculty and guests at the seminar at CMU Library on Monday, June 21.

The EU only recently formed what is essentially a foreign ministry, with Catherine Ashton appointed as the High Minister for Foreign Affairs at its head. The Lisbon Treaty, as H.E. Mr. Lipman explained, entered into force in December of 2009 and allowed for the establishment of embassies to carry out trade, climate change work and aid policies for member states in addition to establishing a two and a half year Presidential term rather than the previous rotating 6 month term. This, he explained, allows a more cohesive EU policy in regard to other countries.

The road show, he continued, is a means to increase the EU’s visibility in Thailand and her neighbors. Further road shows are planned for Khon Kaen University and the Prince of Songkhla University. The EU is heavily involved in promoting their masters and doctoral scholarship program, Erasmus Mundas, encouraging an even larger number of the already 40 percent of overseas Thai students that study in Europe.

The road show also focused on the work they have been doing with CMU on exotic fruits, research and development and cooperative study for economic development. Another project Ambassador Lipman is particularly proud of is the Asia Link Project, joint with CMU Veterinary School, to study the reproduction issues of Asian elephants who have seen a drastic drop in reproduction and now find themselves an endangered species.

Ambassador Lipman expressed grave concern over the lack of movement on the Free Trade Agreement between Thailand and the European Union. He explained that the Thai Parliament must approve opening negotiations with the EU over establishing a free trade agreement and that so far, no progress had been made. Negotiations with Vietnam and Singapore on establishing free trade agreements are already underway and negotiations with Malaysia could take place in the not too distant future. He stressed these countries, were agreements to be reached first would be more attractive to European investors and business people.

Ambassador Lipman also discussed the Mekong River Commission in which the EU is a development partner as one of the most promising means of communication between Thailand and its neighbors to come along in some time. “Because they have a common interest, the use of the river, this commission is an avenue of opportunity for dialogue,” he said.

Another matter of importance to residents of the North is the upcoming elections in Myanmar. “We very much believe in the U.S. policy of engagement with Myanmar and very much hope to engage in the same way.” Ambassador Lipman added, “We are putting pressure on the government to hold free, fair and inclusive elections”.

He added that the EU is very involved financing refugee camps along the Thai-Myanmar border, “There are about 140,000 refugees in camps on the border currently, with the EU financing about 70 percent of that. That’s about 20 million Euro a year. Most of it goes to NGO’s and other international organizations, funding education, vocational training as well as health and supplies.”

He added that the EU is working on a three tract approach in dealing with Myanmar; smart sanctions targeting the regime, developmental aid programs in health and education with no assistance going to the government, and engaging in political dialogue.

Given the close relationship with Chiang Mai University and the many ongoing projects between the EU and the university Ambassador Lipman hopes to return to Chiang Mai for another road show next year.

Chiang Mai University President Professor Dr. Pongsak Angkasith views the Asia Link elephant health program with Ambassador Lipman at the road show on display at the CMU Library.


The Creative Economy brings the U.S. Ambassador back to Chiang Mai

Ambassador Eric G. John is joined by U.S. Consul General Michael K. Morrow
at the interview with Chiang Mai Mail Editor Phitsanu Thepthong and other Thai media representatives.

Phitsanu Thepthong

U.S. Ambassador to Thailand Mr. Eric G. John said the U.S. will be boosting cooperation between Thailand and United States in the Creative Economy. The U.S. ambassador, who was in Chiang Mai last week to meet with Thai and U.S. businessmen, said that he was pleased to see business relations between Thais and Americans going strong.

In an interview with the Chiang Mai Mail and 6 other local media representatives, Ambassador John mentioned that morning’s ground breaking for the new Creative Kingdom CNX Wood project; he remarked that this shows the close ties between the U.S. and Thailand, “I think that it is a symbol of the potential for a bilateral relationship, Creative Kingdom in Chiang Mai reflects the strength of Thai and U.S. business relations.”

It is hoped that Chiang Mai will become CNXWood or the new Hollywood East as Creative Kingdom, a U.S.-based film and music production and animation firm kicked off construction of the Bt20-billion Chiang Mai Movie Town Project, or CNXWood.

Major foreign investors from South Africa, the Philippines, the Middle East and Korea hold 49 per cent of the group. But some local investors have changed as a result of the relocation from Mae Rim. Some land owners have also joined the project.

The group says the entire development will be worth US$617 million (Bt20 billion) on 1,500 square rai. The first phrase starts this year on 200 square rai, which will consist mainly of studios and residences.

The White House Studio Complex, in the first phase of the project, will include state of the art studios with a full range of sound stages and post-production facilities. The group expects the development to attract representative offices from the major Hollywood studios and believes it will eventually become a thriving nexus of the international film-making market in Southeast Asia. The complex is set to be complete by the end of 2012.

They also hope to attract game production by providing a high-tech infrastructure that will attract the world’s major IT and game production companies to set up facilities in CNXWood. The Board of Investment (BoI) has already approved the three-studio plan. This approval is now in the process for other parts to cover wider aspects of the overall project.

The Chiang Mai film production company Living Films, Southeast Asia’s leading media provider to the Hollywood studios; Swedish game production company Mindark, producers of the Entropia Universe MMORPG game; American game producers Digital Scryers; and Dabok, a Korean TV and film production company have already expressed interest in becoming some of the first companies to establish offices at CNXWood.

Adding that following on the heels of the Northern Thailand’s Creative Economy Conference; Opportunities and Challenges in IT Sector, which was held last February, Ambassador John said the U.S. wants to support Chiang Mai as a global IT hub as well in the latest Creative City conference held on June 18.

Ambassador Eric John met with local personnel and IT experts together with IT staff from the U.S.

The conference drew representatives from The Florida High Tech Corridor Council, 11 universities, NECTED, the Software Park of Thailand, the National Economic and Social Development Board, the Board of Investment, as well as IT companies from around the region and the world.

Ambassador John added that he was very impressed with the work done in support of technology in the region by the government. “What we want to do is help to develop Thailand’s creative industries; from IT to movie, animation, games, green energy and agro technology. In addition, we will use more public and private partnerships that draw on the strengths which the U.S. brings to help Thailand.”

“Next month, we will celebrate the 50th anniversary of Their Majesties the King and Queen’s first official visit to the United States in 1960. If you look at what Their Majesties have done to bring creativity to Thailand; HM the King went to Hollywood, played jazz with many famous musicians in New York, and met with others leaders in the movie and music industries,” Ambassador John recalled.

Ambassador John lastly pointed out that Thailand has lost out to some neighboring countries due to the demonstrations, “Investors want the rule of law to be honored in street demonstrations, and many have gone elsewhere because of this.”

He said that over 100 percent of US investment was going to Indonesia, Vietnam, Singapore, and only 10 percent currently rested in Thailand. Thai investments lost to neighboring countries from 2005 – 2008.

He said that the Thai Prime Minister and Foreign Minister must work to boost Thailand’s image abroad. “When people overseas watched news of the protests they did not know which side was right or wrong but were concerned that the government handled the situation in a lawful way.”

Ambassador John added that despite the crisis, the prospects for investment are still good.

“We see the IT industry as having high potential for investment in Chiang Mai, in addition to food and agricultural industries,” Ambassador John concluded.


IBM, CMU and itSMF Thailand to provide indepth ITIL education to Chiang Mai

(From left) Kittipong Asawapichayon, Country Manager, IBM Thailand Co., Ltd. with Tim Wong, Vice President, IBM ASEAN, Assistant Professor Supachai Chuaratanaphong, M.D. Vice President of Chiang Mai University Council Affairs and Information Technology, Lance Stanford, Chairman, itSMF Thailand Association and Associate Professor Dr. Thanomporn Laohajaratsang, Director of Information, Technology Service Center, Chiang Mai University.

IBM Thailand announced June 24 a collaboration between IBM Thailand, Chiang Mai University (CMU) and itSMF Thailand Association to provide IT Infrastructure Library (ITIL) training courses to interested IT professionals and organizations. This course is being carried out to promote and enable a deeper understanding of IT service management’s best practice, and through this, help set the foundation to deliver industry-essential skills and educational knowledge to the northern region.

IBM Thailand Co.,Ltd., the itSMF, and CMU’s Technology Service Centre (ITSC), Department of Computer science, Faculty of Science and Department of Computer Engineering, Faculty of Engineering, will host the ITIL Foundation V3 certification training from July 7 - 9 for interested information technology professionals in the North.

The program aims to spread the adoption of Information Technology service management best practices, to strengthen the foundation of Chiang Mai’s “Creative Economy” objective, which seeks to develop a creative, network-based industry, to improve IT professionals’ skill set and to increase companies’ readiness to manage their changes with IT.

Mr. Kittipong Asawapichayon, Country Manager, General Business, IBM Thailand Co., Ltd. said “IBM is leading the way in helping universities develop education necessary for the 21st century. One of IBM’s major missions is to support Thailand’s education, especially via introducing Thai students to science and information technology, which are essential for national development. We are proud to be part of this beneficial Academic Initiative partnership with IBM Thailand and Chiang Mai University, to help nurture the next generation of IT personnel.”

The IT Infrastructure Library (ITIL) training course will be conducted during 7-9 July, 2010. For further information, please contact Information Technology Service Center, Chiang Mai University. Tel. 053-943-827. (PR)


House razed in fire on Ratchamankha Road

Firefighters worked about a half an hour to bring the blaze under control.

Supoj Thaimyoj

A two storey Lanna style wooden home was razed in a fire at 11 a.m. on June 23 on Ratchamankha Road. The house, owned by Mrs. Kwuanjit Bunsel, 52, was rented out to members of a Non-Governmental Organization working here in Chiang Mai.

Mrs Kwuanjit Bunsel is comforted by her husband as her rental house was damaged in the fire.

Located near Wat Chedi Luang Worawiharn’s southern entrance gate in Tambon Phra Sing, crowds of people, Buddhist monks and novices looked on while 5 fire engines worked to contain the blaze. The police had to close the road while firefighters contained the blaze in about a half an hour. Firefighters believe it may have been caused by a short circuit but investigators plan to determine the cause of the fire.

Mrs. Kwuanjit cried while she told the police that she and her husband had built the house to rent out. Damages are estimated at around half a million baht.


Record haul of 1.2 million yabaa pills in Chiang Mai

Pol Lt Gen Somkid, accompanied by drug suppression police, is seen here with the three suspects; from left, Chatree Sae Laoya, Phichet Sae-tao, and Pracha Wiangbanphot, with the 1.2 million confiscated yabaa tablets.

Supoj Thaimyoj

Police arrested three drug suspects with 1.2 million yabaa pills worth 200 million baht on Tuesday, June 22 in what police are saying is a record haul for the area.

The three suspects were identified as Pracha Wiangbanphot, 31 of Chiang Mai, Chatree Sae Laoya, 23 and Phichet Sae Tao, 22, both of Chiang Rai.

Acting on a tip off of a large drug delivery, police set up a blockade in Nong Pakrang on the Chiang Mai – Lamphun Highway on the evening of June 21. Police stopped the suspects around 12:30 a.m. on the 22nd; two in a six wheel truck and one in a pickup leading the way, searched the vehicles and found the stash of drugs among cabbages destined for delivery to Bangkok.

The three men said they were hired by a hill tribe man named Jeng in Chiang Rai to transport the drugs for a payment of 300,000 baht with orders to deliver the drugs to Talad Thai in Bangkok.


Police crackdown on World Cup gamblers

Nopniwat Krailerg

Chiang Mai Police have arrested at least 38 people for World Cup gambling so far with 44,000 baht in cash and betting documents having been taken into evidence.

Chumphon Saengmanee, Deputy Governor of Chiang Mai announces the latest numbers in gambling arrests for the World Cup so far.

Deputy Governor of Chiang Mai Chumphon Saengmanee said that Chiang Mai Provincial authorities have mobilized police, military and government officials and volunteers in patrolling entertainment venues and internet shops for illegal football gambling.

He added that more arrests are expected as the World Cup continues, “however, the authorities have not yet charged those running major gambling dens.”

“Arrests come from tip-offs, local police in some areas do not charge gamblers but we are bringing in outside police to do so.” He added that internet shops caught allowing gambling will find their licenses revoked and operations shut down.


Nok Mini suspends Chiang Rai-Xishuangbanna route

Jedsadapong Wongkiew

Due to difficulties caused by the recent political crises Nok Mini Airline has suspended its international flight between Chiang Rai and Xishuangbann in Southern China, effective June 23, according to Nathanitch Rattanapraporn, Nok Mini Senior Relation & Marketing Executive.

Ms. Nathanitch said that the crisis as well as a need to revamp its operation plan caused the airline to suspend the service, with resumption expected in October of this year.

“We will wait until the situation improves and the time is suitable for re-launching the flight,” she said.

She added that Nok Mini plans to change aircraft to the roomier ATR 42 , which has space for more passenger seats, so as to keep operating costs low. She said that Nok Mini Airline continues to fly Chiang Mai to Pai, Chiang Mai to Mae Hong Son, and Chiang Mai to Nan in the North.

The Chiang Mai routes to Khon Kaen and Udon Thani will be cancelled and are expected to resume in October as well. For more information: www. nokmini.com or call 1318 and 053-280-444.


Drug gang arrested after murder of Malaysian national

The 7 suspects in custody after the murder of a Malaysian national.

Supoj Thaimyoj

Police from the Provincial Police Bureau, Region 5 arrested 7 members of a major transnational drug gang after they murdered one of their own.

Pol. Lt Gen Somkid Boonthanom, the commissioner of the Bureau, and investigative police brought in 7 suspects who were charged with killing Mr. Kwa Hock Choon, 41, a Malaysian whose body was found packed in a plastic bag on the side of the road in Pa Daed in Chiang Mai on June 15.

The 7 suspects were identified as Wong Chee Wai, 38 of Malaysia, Mrs. Yuphaporn Wong, 29, from Hat Yai in Songkhla, Supin Kaphinij, 53 and Mukda Kaphinij, 53, both from Nawang district, Nong Bualamphu, Wanitch Sukchai, 51, Sombat Chorklang, 45, and Ratchapol Namsin, 23, from Nokmuang district in Yasothon.

Police began investigating after the body of a man was found in a plastic bag on the side of the road on June 15 in Don Chai. The body had been battered and cut more than 10 times.

Through forensic evidence found on the body, mainly a nylon rope and the axe that had been used to cut the body, the police tracked down the killers.

One of the suspects, Wong Chee Wai confessed to the police that Mr. Kwa Hock Choon had been hired to smuggle drugs from Myanmar through Thailand and into Malaysia. However, Mr. Wong had informed the gang that he wanted to quit smuggling drugs and had been told that if he did so, he would be killed. The gang also owed Mr. Wong more than 10 million baht for smuggling the drugs so Mr. Wong conspired with Mr. Sombat to kill Mr. Kwa for 300,000 baht.


Banks close July 1

Thursday, July 1 is the annual mid-year closing of all banks. This is a bank holiday and not a public holiday, so other offices and businesses will still be open. Many currency exchange booths will also be open, but all major bank branches will be closed for the day.