HEADLINES [click on headline to view story]:

Ceremony held to unite Thais

Chiang Mai Mayor plans for the future

Asarnha Bucha and Buddhist Lent begin next week

CMU sets up science and technology corner

TAT working with Chiang Mai businesses

Car chase in Phrao yields drugs, weapon

Friendship Bridge Closes at Tak

Drug arrests in Pai and Chiang Mai

Increase will fuel direct consumer and taxpayer burdens


Ceremony held to unite Thais

Dr. Ken Santhitham, Permanent Secretary of Chiang Mai Municipality,
offers robes to monks at Wat Phra Singh Worawiharn as part of the ceremony held to honor HM the King and unite the Thai people.

Supoj Thaimyoj

A religious ceremony was held at Wat Phra Singh Worawiharn on July 15 to bring luck, fortune and prosperity to Chiang Mai as part of the “United Thais to Honor the Nation, Religion and King” event led by Deputy Governor Chumphorn Saengmanee.

Joined by civil and government officials, military and the police as well as members of the general public, the ceremony started at 5:30 and was led by Phra Singhavichai, the Abbot of Wat Phra Singh Worawiharn.

After the ceremony, the crowd sang the National Anthem at 6 p.m. Afterwards, the Deputy Governor gave a speech honoring Their Majesties the King and Queen and then led the participants in swearing an oath to work together in harmony for the sake of the nation and to honor King, Country and Religion.

The event ended with everyone singing Sadudee Maharaja” and “Sarnsern Phra Baramee” in praise and honor of His Majesty the King.


Chiang Mai Mayor plans for the future

Chiang Mai Mayor Tassanai Buranupakorn talks Chiang Mai Mail Editor Phitsanu Thepthong and Managing Editor Shana Kongmun about the hazardous waste recycling units he has acquired from the Pollution Control Department and placed in various locations around the City, including the Municipal Building, Kad Suan Kaew and Central Airport. Designed for members of the public to deposit used batteries and other dangerous waste, it is just one of the green initiatives the Mayor has planned for Chiang Mai. More on Mayor Tassanai’s plans in the exclusive interview to be published next week.

Buddhist Lent begins next week

Asarnha Bucha Day recognized as the day that the Buddha gave his first sermon and his birth, falls on July 26 this year. Both July 26 and July 27, the start of Buddhist Lent, are considered two of the most holy days in the Buddhist calendar and are public government holidays.

The Buddhist Holy Day of Asarnha Bucha falls on the 15th night (15 kham) of the full moon during the eighth month of the Buddhist Lunar calendar.

Asarnha Bucha Day on July 26 is worshipped because of three important events occurring on the day; called the “Triple Gem” the Buddha, Dharma and Sangha.

These commemorate, firstly, the first sermon given by the Buddha, called the “Dharmachakapavattama Sutta” concerning the “Four Noble Truths” presented to the Buddha’s first five disciples. The sermon set in motion the “Wheel of Dharma”, which is the meaning of “Dharmachaka”.

The sermon concluded that: 1. All things are a source of suffering from the constant cycle of birth, disease, old age and death. 2. Desire or the inability to obtain what one desires is the cause of suffering resulting from cause and effect. 3. Freedom from suffering can be obtained after the complete cessation of desire. 4. The last of the Four Noble Truths is the “Middle Way”, or the path between extremes of asceticism and indulgence leading to the eliminating of desire. The Eight-Fold Path consists of possessing the correct: Views, Resolve, Speech, Conduct, Livelihood, Effort, Mindfulness, and Meditation (or Concentration).

Secondly, the day is considered to be the birth of Buddhism, as the Buddha departed the location where he obtained his enlightenment two months earlier and then, coming to a forest area in the city of Pharansi, he showed favour to five ascetics who became his followers.

The third of the Triple Gems is the Sangha. On this same day, the first person listened to the Buddha’s sermon, realising the truths contained therein and becoming the first Buddhist monk. This created the Buddhist order “Sangha” and the day is known as “Sangha Day” as well as Ahsala Bucha Day.

The Thai government established the observance of Asarnha Bucha Day in 1958. Buddhist temples throughout the Kingdom arrange ceremonies venerating the important historic events in the past. Devout Buddhists participate in the ceremonies by presenting offerings to monks, listening to sermons and performing ritual prayers.

The entire day is revered and certain precepts are adhered to by the more devout Buddhist, and by those who have the inclination and opportunity to do so. The Wientian ritual ceremony is performed in the evening as many go to nearby temples bringing candles, flowers and joss sticks, completing three trips walking around the temple area sacred grounds.

Khao Pansa

The day following the start of Buddhist Lent (Asarnha Bucha Day) another important Buddhist Holy day begins in Thailand with the start of Khao Pansa. This day falls on the first full moon (1 kham) of the Buddhist Lunar calendar during the eighth month of every year, which this year equates to July 27, and ends on the 15th full moon (15 kham) of the 11th month of the Buddhist calendar, usually in mid-October. During a leap ear it is identified during the second eighth month.

The term “Khao Pansaa” can also translate to entering the months of the rainy season when monks return to the temple for the duration of the rains, usually to the temple where they were ordained. They stay there for approximately three months. The monks are not supposed to depart the temple, or stay overnight at any other location during the months of rain. Although the rainy season is considered to be longer than three months, lasting up to four or even more, monks are only required to remain at the temples for three of the four months. During the last period of the rainy season they can then go elsewhere when the “Katin” ceremony is performed presenting

Other followers of Buddhism all over Thailand will attend temples in the morning, bringing food, necessity items, money, the traditional candles, garments and ceremonial items for the monks, with flowers and candles in hand.

For those people having devout faith they may refrain from the recognised eight offences for the duration of the three month rainy season just as monks do, while others may give up a single vice, with yet others recognising the 5-8 offences for the day.

The ceremonies performed by monks in temples revolve around rituals accepting new monks, who take vows for periods up to the three months, with some staying even longer. Senior monks at each monastery perform other ceremonies leading followers in worship and prayer.

Many people take time away from their work on Khao Pansaa to recognise the importance of the Buddhist Holy Day. Everyone is invited to participate in the temple ceremonies and to refrain from offensive behaviour for the day, and to make the same effort thereafter.

CMU sets up science and technology corner

Jedsadapong Wongkiew

Chiang Mai University (CMU) opened a Science, Technology and Innovation Corner (STI) working with the Northern regional office of the National Science Technology and Innovation Policy Office on July 18. Covering the 8 Northern Provinces, the center will work in line with the needs of the region in science, technology and local knowledge.

Thanawit Chulikawit, Director of Engineering Service Center at CMU talked about the new STI Corner promoting science, technology and innovation at the Centara Duangtawan Hotel on June 30.

The STI Corner, according to Thanawit Chulikawit, Director of the Engineering Service Center at CMU will become the regional center for promotion of science and technology and will help push government assistance to the region. Additionally, the corner will help to make use of local knowledge as well as using imported technology.

Thanawit added, “we should draw our strength from local products and knowledge, such as Teenjok silk cloth from Mae Chaem district, local whisky from Phrae, or weapon production in Phrae, which could be further developed for more commercial purposes. These are unique local products and are quite a bit cheaper than imported products, such as whisky.”

The STI Corner will collect information about and help develop local technologies and information. Additionally, by promoting these things in the region, they hope to encourage job development so that residents do not have to move out of the area for work.

“By promoting local technologies to an international standard, the local populace would benefit the most”, he concluded.

TAT working with Chiang Mai businesses

Jedsadapong Wongkiew

Ms. Juthaporn Roengron-arsa, Deputy Governor of the TAT’s Europe, Africa, Middle East and Americas Market and the Tourism Authority of Thailand met with Chiang Mai tourism oriented businesses at the Rati Lanna Hotel on July 8 to seek local input in promoting Chiang Mai in the North and South American markets.

Ms. Juthaporn Roengron-arsa, Deputy Governor of the TAT, discussed the current tourist situation at the Rati Lanna Hotel.

During the first quarter of this year, the number of tour groups from the Americas grew by more than 20 %, when compared to the growth rate in general which is at 6 %. Tourism earned the country more than 4.5 billion baht.

She said the TAT is working on to mobilizing the ideas from the private sector to help launch tourism marketing in the North American and Latin America. “We are trying to accelerate the marketing plan in order to boost confidence in the tourism market after the extension of the Emergency Decree. We expect that this year tourism will generate more than a trillion baht in revenue.”

She added that next year about 15 million visitors are expected to bring in about 600 billion baht in revenue.

Chiang Mai, she reported, is the main tourist destination for visitors from the Americas, and, accompanied by the marketing managers from the North America TAT offices, they met with local tourism related business operators for the first time.

Last year, 790,000 visitors were from the Americas, a 6.28% drop from the previous year. They could generate as much as 40 billion baht in revenue.

“Although the number of tourists is still small, they stay much longer, an average of 15 days per tourist. The drop was due to the recession in the United States but with the economy starting to recover we have seen a jump in the number of visitors, as high as 10-22 %” she noted.

“Although we have faced domestic problems caused by internal politics, resulting in a drop in number of American visitors, the TAT has launched different promotional campaigns such as providing more information in PR kits, organizing overseas road shows, short-term marketing plans, joining hands with both domestic and international airlines, and launching more tourism campaign like the “Amazing Thailand” in the country as well as abroad,” she told the group.

The main selling point of the promotional campaign will be offering more tours on the ways of life of Thai people, its cultures and traditions, she added.

“Now, we are aiming at Americas because it is a big tourist market and has high potential, particularly in South America. We are consulting with Northern operators, as well as marketing managers from TAT’s offices in Los Angeles, New York, and Canada who joined us to work out a marketing strategy,” Juthaporn added.

The Deputy Governor of TAT added that extending the Emergency Degree for another three months has really affected Thailand’s image with tourists but they have to work with it.

“The TAT has to work harder to educate our visitors about Thailand and safety and security in the country,” she said.

On July 12 the TAT invited about 500 members of the international mass media to visit Thailand so that they could get first hand information about the situation in the country and could then let the world know that Thailand is a safe place to visit.

She concluded, noting that tourists from the Middle East are returning to Thailand so that foreign confidence seems to be returning.

Car chase in Phrao yields drugs, weapon

Suspect shot dead in Fang

Chiang Mai Mail reporters

Phrao police arrested a Phrae man after he fired at a police roadblock on the Chai Prakarn-Phrao road in Phrao district and then led the police on a car chase at 4:00 a.m. on July 9.

Acting on a tip off, police were in the process of setting up a checkpoint at Huay San in San Sai when a black car approached the checkpoint from the direction of Chai Prakarn and stopped. The driver fired a gun at police twice before turning his car around and returning the way he had come.

The police radioed ahead to the Chai Prakarn Police to set up a roadblock down the road and the Phrao police chased the suspect back towards Chai Prakarn.

The suspect, Theerapat Ploypetch, 27 of Denchai District in Phrae, was apprehended at the 12 kilometer mark where police had blockaded the road with police vehicles.

Upon searching the car, they found 800 yabaa tablets, .38 mm handgun and ammunition.

Theerapat confessed to police that he was delivering the drugs to a man named Ott in Denchai in Phrae. He was detained at the Phrao police station after being charged.

On July 15, Fang Police with the Chiang Mai Drug Suppression Police set up an undercover drug buy from two women, Mrs. Napa Sae Kuay, 25, a Lahu r Muser hill tribe woman from Ban Doi Laem, in Mae Aie and Ms. Arhong Sae Li, 21, from Ban Mai Nong Bua Daeng in Chai Prakarn at the Star Gasoline station at Ban Mae Jai.

The women contacted two men to deliver the drugs, 20,000 yabaa pills to the gasoline station. Upon arrival, the pillion rider, Mr. Jaji or Jakor Jalok, 37, suspected a trap, grabbed the gun from the motorbike driver, Mr. Jaha Aita, 20, and fired at the police. The police returned firing, shooing Mr. Jakor in the chest. He died at the scene.

The driver was detained after attempting to flee, along with the two women and a further 2 people involved in the gang, Mr. Yi Jakaim 25, and Mrs. Na Tae Pujai, 21, joined them in charges of drug trafficking. All suspects are being detained at the Fang Police Station.

Friendship Bridge Closes at Tak

Thailand is seeking to end a new disagreement with Myanmar through the Thai-Myanmar Township Border Committee (TBC) after the neighbouring country closed the Thai-Myanmar Friendship Bridge and more than 20 ports along the Moei River apparently to protest Thai river bank protection construction, according to a senior Thai military officer.

Col Phadung Yingpaiboonsuk, a task force commander of the Thai Army’s 4th Infantry Division, also heads the local coordination centre of the Thailand-Myanmar Township Border Committee (TBC) in Tak province, bordering Myanmar’s Myawaddy township, inspected the construction site after that country’s authorities closed the bridge and port without giving a reason.

He said the Thai authorities believed that Myanmar’s action was to protest Thailand’s building river bank protection on its side of the river.

The construction project is under the responsibility of the Ministry of Interior’s Department of Public Works and Town and Country Planning, he said, adding that the workers had built a staircase to the river and used heavy duty construction equipment to scoop the soil on the river bank.

He added that all the construction works had been carried out on the Thailand’s bank of the river.

However, senior Tak provincial authorities suspended the construction work, and moved heavy machinery from the site and are waiting for talks via the TBC to find a joint solution.

According to local reporters, Myanmar authorities were unhappy that the construction had caused soil and rocks to fall into the river.

Consequently Myanmar ordered the closure of the bridge and ports halting traffic on both sides of the border. (MCOT)

Drug arrests in Pai and Chiang Mai

Over 73,000 yabaa pills seized

Supoj Thaimyoj,
Khajohn Boonpath and Jedsadapong Wongkiew

Over 73,000 yabaa pills were seized in three different arrests in Pai and Chiang Mai over nine days from the 7th of July.

Chiang Mai Police saw a major drug gang arrest when, acting on a tip off, drug suppression police arrested ten members of the gang over three days.

On July 7, the police charged three members of the Tai Yai ethnic group after finding 236 yabaa tablets, Mrs. Saithong Singha, 56, and Ms. Kajornphan Euafua, 22 are from Tambon Nongharn, in San Sai district and Mr. Anucha Boontan, 26 is from Tambon Sanpuloei, Doi Saket district.

Upon further investigation of the subjects, police then arrested Mai Munkong, 29, of Tambon Suthep with 200 yabaa tablets on July 9. A further arrest on July 10 yielded five more members of the gang; Not Loonkanna, 27, from Tambon Mae Soon, Fang district, Wan Inta, 24, from Tambon Bor Namron, Fang district, Nan Naling, 33, from Tambon Mae Soon, Fang district and Nueng Songmuang, 30, from Tambon Srichummuang, Mae Sai district, Chiang Rai with nearly 50,000 yabaa tablets.

The total haul from the arrests yielded 53,400 yabaa tablets, 400 grams of raw opium and 130,000 baht in cash.

All were members of the Tai Yai ethnic group except for one man from Myanmar.

The members confessed that they were smuggling the drugs over the border from Myanmar with intent to sell. They have been charged with possession with the intent to sell and are being detained at Chang Puak Police station.

Chiang Mai Provincial Police Chief Pol Maj Gen Sommai Kongwisaisuk noted that the Myanmar suspect is also being charged with illegal entry.

Mae Hong Son saw a drug arrest in Pai district on July 9 when police set up a roadblock on Highway 1095 in Pai and found 6,000 yabaa tablets hidden in the air filter of a Toyota pickup driven by Yi Laohang, 25 of Ban Mae Jae in Chiang Mai.

He confessed to police that he had been hired to pick up the drugs from Hmong hilltribes men and transport it to Mae Chaem in Chiang Mai.

Police and military report that Pang Mapha district near the Myanmar border- Thai is reported to be the site of many scattered drug factories, with suspect locations being Ban Khai Luang, Ban Mae Khun, Ban Tak Daed, and Ban San Klang, Mae Hong Son Province.

A further arrest in Chiang Mai on July 15 yielded 12,000 yabaa tablets after drug sniffing dogs at a police roadblock in Chai Prakarn uncovered the drugs hidden in a Mitsubishi pickup truck. Mr. Rung Nusriwor from Tambon Hua Kwang, in Mahasarakham Province was arrested by members of the Pha Muang Task Force and the Chai Prakarn Police.

While on July 16, a Lahu woman from Muang Ngai in Chiang Dao was arrested with 2,000 yabaa pills in the toilet of the gas station opposite Wat Jed Yod on Superhighway 11. Ms. Jeeranant, Ke Saennor, 26, confessed to police that she had been hired by a fellow Lahu tribesman, Kiti Saepo, to sell the drugs in Chiang Mai for 6,000 baht a trip. She also told police this was the third time she had carried drugs for sale, previously packaging the drugs in a condom and inserting them vaginally to avoid detection.

She is being held at the Chang Puak Police Station for further investigation and charges.

Suspects arrested in Chiang Mai are seen with the haul
of more than 53,000 yabaa tablets and cash.

Increase will fuel direct consumer and taxpayer burdens

A proposed increase in the value-added tax (VAT) to 8 per cent from 7 per cent by the Fiscal Policy Office, if approved, will fuel burdens borne by consumers and taxpayers directly, according to the Federation of Thai Industries (FTI).

Responding to the statement made by FPO that it was studying the possibility of raising VAT by 1 per cent, FTI president Payungsak Chartsuthipol said it would increase the government’s revenue by Bt50 billion per year. But a VAT increase could directly affect spending by consumers and taxpayers, he said, which might eventually lower the public’s purchasing power.

He said operators in the industrial sector could not yet comment whether they support the proposed VAT increase because they had just been aware of the matter.

“We must wait for clear information and seek the opinions of FTI members nationwide on the proposed tax increase before making a recommendation on the matter,” he said. (MCOT)