HEADLINES [click on headline to view story]:

Chiang Mai Governor optimistic about Northern economy

Lampang hit by heavy flooding

Heavy rains inundate parts of Chiang Mai

779 sea turtles and 90 sharks released back to the sea

CMU and Japanese consulate host lecture on local administration systems

Khun Wang Royal Project developed as tourist destination

Karrenni Army celebrates its 62nd anniversary

Briton dies after fall from hotel

Helicopter wreckage found in Nan

Man killed in elevator accident

Red shirt suspect in two year old murder apprehended


Chiang Mai Governor optimistic about Northern economy

Announces international fair at Royal Flora Ratchapruek

By Phitsanu Thepthong

Chiang Mai Governor Amornphan Nimanant said that despite the Red shirt rally staged over the weekend of August 21 and 22 at the Three Kings Monument and Tha Phae Gate he was optimistic that the continued recovery of the Chiang Mai economy would continue.

“The gathering of red shirt members was peaceful and they exercised their right to express their opinions like other groups,” the Governor said, adding that “they did not break the law.”

He pointed out that the government has a duty to keep the peace, facilitate traffic flow and prevent accidents so as to keep unwanted “third hands” from instigating chaos in the city.

“Rallies like this will not affect the economic recovery or tourism much if they remain this way,” he added.

He noted that the while the radio stations of both yellow and red shirt groups have resumed broadcasting they are both required to fall in line with national regulations and laws.

He noted at the press conference for the Chiang Mai GMS Fair 2010; the Spirit of Cooperation at the Empress Hotel on August 23 that the economy continues to improve and tourists are starting to come back to the area after the lifting of the Emergency Decree the week before.

“At present, the situation is improving, as economic measures have stimulated the economy, as well as increased the purchasing power of consumers and that many groups have been working to strengthen the economic security of Chiang Mai and the country,” he added.

The Governor announced the opening of the Chiang Mai GMS Fair 2010 which will be held at the Royal Flora Ratchapruek from September 24- October 3, and is expected to draw about 200,000 people to visit the fair, which would generate spending of more than 80 million baht.

The fair is organized with the aim of promoting the Greater Mekong sub-region (GMS), Northern Thailand products and services from the 6 GMS countries, and creating more opportunities for trade and investment in the GMS, as well as stimulating the economy for the region.

About 650 booths from the GMS countries will be on display and sale of products from the Greater Mekong sub region countries, mainly China and Vietnam but also those of Laos, Myanmar and Cambodia according to the fair organizers. Admission is free for the fair which will also feature arts and cultural performances from member countries.


Lampang hit by heavy flooding

One dead in flash flooding

Thaweerat Pensalaphan and Chiang Mai Mail reporter

Flash flooding in Lampang after days of heavy rains has washed out bridges, damaged or destroyed hundreds of homes and killed one man who was swept away by the raging water.

The walls of Wat Prahthat in Lampang collapsed after damaging flood waters struck.

Kritphet Phetchaburananil, the head of the Lampang Provincial Public Disaster Prevention and Mitigation Office said that heavy rains throughtout the night of August 21 resulted in flash flooding in 11 tambons across 7 districts in the province.

Tambon Hua Muang in Muang Parn district saw several villages cut off as roads were washed out and a small bridge was inundated by the river.

Rescue workers rushed to the area to evacuate villagers as more flash floods from the mountain were expected.

Flash floods washed cars and motorbikes away after heavy rains inundated Lampang.

The Huay Maetoer canal overflowed inundating the nearby village of Hua Muang with up to a meter and a half of water. In Jaehom district, the Huay Maela and Lamhuay Mae Pueng canals in Tambon Bansa overflowed when water from mountain forests flooded 50 homes in Tambon Ban Sa, where water level reached one meter. Cars and motorbikes were damaged and washed away and the road in front of Wat Samakee. Mae Pa has seen 400 homes destroyed and over 500 rai of agricultural land damaged.

In Koh Ka district the Lam Huay Mae Yao canal which flows from the mountain forest in Doi Khuntan National Park, overflowed its banks and flooded homes in Tambon Laihin,with one man, Nakhon Jinakarn, 37, swept away in the floods as he

was trying to save belongings from his home, His body was found some hours later.

The rains have washed out Highway 1048 from Tern district to Lampang, and from Tern to Tung Salium district in Sukhothai province, where a bridge collapsed, making the road impassable. Highway Department officials have warned motorists to use alternate routes until the bridge is repaired. For more information, please contact Highways Service Center of Lampang District Highways, Tel 054 – 231206.

Government officials across Lampang worked to supply stricken villagers with food and drinking water within a day after the floods hit.

Heavy rains inundate parts of Chiang Mai

Roads at SriPing Muang in Haiya are inundated by rainwater.

Chiang Mai Mail reporters

Flash floods continue to hit the North and Chiang Mai, following days of heavy rains, causing a five-year record surge in Chiang Mai where a bridge in Doi Lor district has recently collapsed leaving two entire villages stranded.

Heavy rains on August 12 caused flash flooding in parts of Chiang Mai city, with the Kuang Sing intersection, Sriping Muang area, Non Kwai and Ban Wen in Hang Dong seeing some of the worst flooding.

The Night Bazaar and Huay Kaew road have also seen inundated roads.

Some highway and the city roads were only open for one way traffic as heavy rains for several days in a row has inundated roads and houses.

Sriping Muang saw a second day of flooding as city authorities brought in water pumps to pump water out of the flooded houses and road areas. The intersection in front of the Chiang Mai City Hall and near the Esso gas station and the underpass at the Youth and Juvenile intersection also flooded. Some areas reported water levels already receding.

In Hang Dong District Officer Surapol Sattayarak visited flood victims at Ban Pong, while some villagers in Nong Kwai and Ban Waen were evacuated due to the flood waters.

Highway 108 was flooded as the Mae Tachang river overflowed and flooded the highway. The Highway Department was pumping water off the road and it was open for one way traffic.

Hang Dong District Officer Surapol said that he had proposed to the Irrigation Department to build up the Gaem Ling Project in Nong Kwai as a long term flood prevention measure.

The irrigation canal project would cover 27 rai of land and is located in the National Park Nong Kwai covering 27 rai of land, with a budget of 5 million baht.

“If implemented, it could help solve the flooding problem at one level, as the Mae Tachang River, will flow from the mountain top, as formed as a flowing flash canal, and this irrigation system to be will be also useful for the people, especially in the dry season.

Authorites report that the Mae Ping River level is still rising could hit the critical point of 3.7 meters on the night of August 13 and overflow its banks. Chiang Dao has seen the river overflow and inundate several areas with two villages in tambon Ping Khong left stranded after the only bridge connecting them with the outside world collapsed due to strong currents. The wooden bridge is currently undergoing repairs.

In Lampang, Jae Son National Park has been closed to tourists because of overflowing of the Jae Son waterfall and creeks. The currents are full of mud sediment, an indicator of possible landslides. More than 100 families living in many villages nearby have been affected by the flash floods.

More than 150 households in Uttaradit, with a history of mudslides, have been inundated by floods coming from mountainous areas. Soldiers from local units are helping villagers to move their property to higher areas.

At the Fa Mai community on Suriwong road, near Pratu Korm gate, where water pumps from the Chiang Mai municipality and the Kawila army camp pump water out of flooded areas into the Mae Kha Klong.

779 sea turtles and 90 sharks released back to the sea

Chiang Mai Governor Amornphan Nimanant, the Director of the Tourism Authority of Thailand‘s Chiang Mai Office Chalermsak Suranant, Yongyuth Nawacharoen, the Deputy Director of the Zoological Park Organization of Thailand, and Roj Thuswanalin, the Chairman of Marine Scape (Thailand), Co., Ltd, together with several hundred people from educational institutes, mass media, students, as well as Royal Thai Navy personnel and family members took part in the release.

Story and Photos by Jittaporn Charasrum
in Sattahip, Chonburi

On August 10, Admiral Supakorn Buranadilok, the Commander of the Royal Thai Navy Fleet, presided over the ceremonial releasing of 779 hawksbill sea turtles and 90 baby sharks back into the sea at Sea Turtles conservation Center, Royal Thai Navy in Sattahip, Chonburi. The turtles and sharks were born at the Chiang Mai Zoo Aquarium as part of a display on marine life held from June 5 to August 4 and designed to educate landlocked Northerners on endangered sea life and the necessity of conservation.

Organized by the Royal Thai Navy’s air missile and coast safeguards command unit, Chiang Mai Zoo, Chiang Mai Provincial Authorities, and Marine Scape (Thailand) Co. Ltd, the operator of the Chiang Mai Zoo Aquarium, the ceremonial releasing of sea turtles ad sharks into the sea marked the celebration of Her Majesty the Queen’s birthday celebration on August 12, and also create unity among the Thai people.

The Sea Turtle Conservation Center was initiated by Her Majesty the Queen in 1979 and is run entirely by the Royal Thai Navy. They raise and release thousands of baby turtles a year. There is a network of strictly protected nesting beaches under the care of the Center.

CMU and Japanese consulate host lecture on local administration systems

The Japanese Consulate- General in Chiang Mai along with the Japan Council of Local Authorities for International Relation (CLAIR) Office based in Singapore and the Political Sciences and Public Administration Faculty of Chiang Mai University (CMU) hosted a special lecture at Chiang Mai University on August 16.

The Japanese Consulate- General in Chiang Mai along with The Japan Council of Local Authorities for International Relation (CLAIR) Office based in Singapore and the Political Sciences and Public Administration Faculty of Chiang Mai University (CMU) hosted a special lecture at Chiang Mai University on August 16.

Mr. Tokuro Ambe, Japanese Vice Consul General said this special lecture was held in conjunction with CMU because of the many similarities between Japan’s local administration system and Thailand’s.

Mr. Yutaka Oinuma, an official of Japan’s Internal Affairs Ministry and Director of the Singapore CLAIR office, gave a lecture on the structure of Japan’s local authorities and self -governed system.

Mr. Oinuma has previously worked with local authorities and administrations in Osaka, Yamakushi and Fukuoka provinces as well as a lecturer at the Economic University of Takasaki prior to joining the CLAIR head office in Tokyo and Singapore.

Held at Chiang Mai University, around 200 people turned out to hear the highly experienced lecturer speak on Japan’s system of government. With two main levels, the provincial and the municipal, both are autonomous and independent of the Japanese central government.

The position of provincial Governor, Mayor and council members are locally elected, adding that the wide scope of their authority and operations cover most areas except diplomacy, national security, currency and the money supply and the judicial process.

He remarked that in the past some parts of local administrations of both province and municipality were assigned to work t on behalf of the Central government, but this system had been abolished during the government reformation in 1999- 2000.

“Because Japan’s government wanted to promote decentralization the numbers of municipalities was reduce to 1,700 from 3,000 but the number of provinces remained the same n umber it has been since 1888.”

He also discussed the bond system used by the local administration, tax collection system, income transfer system, and budget allocation procedures for the local administrative organizations.

Other issues raised by audience members included the qualifications of local leaders and their relations with other political parties.

After the lecture, Mr. Oinuma called on Chiang Mai Mayor Tassanai Buranupakorn to learn more about the work of CLAIR and to seek project cooperation between CLAIR and Chiang Mai Municipality. (PR)

Khun Wang Royal Project developed as tourist destination

Kiwifruit is grown in demonstration fields at the Khun Wang Royal Project.

Supoj Thaimyoj and Jittarporn Charasrum

The Khun Wang Royal Project and Development Center is being developed as an agro-tourism destination in Chiang Mai Province. Established in 1985, the initial Royal Project was begun when HM the King visited the area and recommended that local villagers be given the opportunity to replace opium poppies with cash crops as a replacement to increase the standard of living of the hill tribes people in the area, it is one of 38 cash crop replacement areas in the North.

At that time, His Majesty the King instructed local governments and agencies in the area to help hill tribes people improve their lifestyles, the U.S. Embassy took part in helping to financially support the Royal initiative.

The Royal Project and Development project at Khun Wang is located at Ban Khun Wang, Moo 12, Tambon Maewin in the Mae Wang district. At about 1,220 meters above sea level and covering over 29,000 rai (46 sq km) the project includes area villages such as Ban Pakluay, Ban Pong Lomraeng and 5 others, mostly deciduous forest as the temperature averages around 22 degrees Celsius.

Somchai Panya, head of the Khun Wang Royal Project, said most of the 2,000 residents were Hmong and Karen hill tribes and that the project covered mostly sloping hillside and valleys. He added that the Project offered a learning resource center for villagers on fruit and vegetable cultivation.

Many crops are grown there, such as cabbage, bell peppers, sweet peas, broccoli and other cool weather crops. Fruits such as peaches, persimmons, kiwi and grapes are also grown.

He added that there was a project to plant Chinese tea as well as chrysanthemums and carnations as cash crops.

“After harvesting, their crops and products are purchased by the Royal Project for further processing at the factories at Khun Mae Wak in Mae Chaem and then distributed to shops and grocery stores nationwide,” he noted.

He continued that the Khun Wang Royal Project has three different areas of interest for tourists, agro tourism grown in demonstration fields, flower nurseries and fruit and vanilla production.

“During the winter time, you can see the pink cherry blossoms or ‘phaya sua krong’ as it is called in Thai in full bloom,” he noted.

Other natural tourists attractions in the area are the Phadam waterfall, which is about 2.5 kilometers from the project center as well as other waterfalls in the area, he added. Additionally, there is the Ngaerm Cliff and the Pong Noi Mai elephant camp.

He added, “you can see the Hmong and Karen hill tribes way of life, their silverware and wickerwork products, as well their traditional New Year celebrations during December –January each year.”

During the past year, the Royal Project has focused primarily on research and development work, particularly the appropriate plants and fruits to grow in the highlands as replacements for opium crops. “And to give awareness on preserving watersheds and rivers, and improve the living status of Thai hill tribes people in the mountain area, “he noted.

A portion of the fiscal year’s budget of more than 300 million baht is also from His Majesty the King, which will go to support all 38 royal project centers in 5 Northern provinces of Chiang Mai, Chiang Rai, Lamphun, Mae Hong Son and Phayao.

The Royal Project holds meetings every three months on the development of the projects.

Khun Wang Royal Project and Development Center is easily accessible for cars, via Highway 108 to San Patong then on Highway 1009 to the Doi Inthanon turn off, about a 2 hour drive from the city. Minibuses to Doi Inthanon travel this route regularly. Alternatively, Highway 1013 off of Highway 108 to Ban Huah Kiaeng will cut a half an hour off the drive.

For more information contact Somchai Panya, the Head of Khun Wang Royal Project and Development Center. Tel 053- 229645, 087 -5004219.

Carnations, vanilla and other flowers and fruit are grown in shade covered buildings at the Royal Project in Ban Khun Wang.

Karrenni Army celebrates its 62nd anniversary

Recruits and soldiers for the Karenni Army parade before Major General Bi Tu to celebrate the 62nd anniversary of the founding of the army.

Khajohn Boonpath

About 700 members of the Kayah State’s Karenni Armed forces and the Karenni National Progressive Party (KNPP) celebrated the 62nd anniversary of the establishment of the Karenni Army on August 17, 2010 amid tight security at its stronghold along the Myanmar border near Mae Hong Son. New recruits and recent graduates from the guerrilla trainnig course paraded before the group.

Major General Bi Tu, the supreme commander said that the day was held to celebrate the 62nd anniversary of the founding of the army, to encourage the Karen people to unite in order to fight against the Myanmar government until they had obtained freedom for the Kayah State which had been seized by Myanmar troops forcing many Karen refugees into Thailand.

Maj Bi Tu added that the general election in Myanmar was not accepted by the international community and that many minority groups still fight against the Myanmar government troops. He noted that the election was still under the control of the government troops and that the election would not be democratic.

The Myanmar government announced the general election to be held on November 1 and final regstration was August 16 for the 430 House seats.

The KNPP continue to fight against the Myanmar government troops with a clash on August 6 near Pha Chong resulting in the injury of two government troops. The clash erupted when KNPP forces attempted to search a truck loaded with smuggled golden teak.

A further clash occurred on August 5 when fighting broke out between the Karenni Army and the Myanmar government troops, one government soldier was killed in the fighting and the KNPP seized weapons and ammunition.

More than 50,000 Karen refugees have fled into Thailand over the years of fighting between the KNPP and the Myanmar government. More refugees are expected as fighting intensifies in the buildup to the elections. The Myanmar government has requested that Thailand repatriate the refugees but this has been opposed by the United Nations as many refugees fear reprisals from government forces if the return home.

Briton dies after fall from hotel

Nopniwat Krailerg

Chiang Mai police were informed that the body of a British man had been found after falling from a hotel located near the Night Bazaar.

Police and rescue rushed to the scene to find the man, identified as Edward Fairburn, 40 of Leeds, United Kingdom, dead near the hotel path and Maekha canal. His arms and legs were broken and his passport, credit card and 7,200 baht were found on his body.

Mrs. Suthasinee Jaiman, and employee of Giant Beauty Salon located opposite the hotel, told police she had seen the man smoking near the fire exit doors on the 12th or 13th floor of the hotel. Shortly after that she heard that a man had fallen off the hotel and when she went to the scene, saw it was the man she had seen smoking earlier.

Police checked his passport and saw that he had entered for the first time in 2009 and arrived in Thailand at Nong Khai on August 2.

Police believe the man may have jumped from the 24th floor of the hotel but have taken his body for autopsy. The British Embassy have been contacted and the family can take the body back to the U.K. once the autopsy is complete.

Helicopter wreckage found in Nan

Chiang Mai Mail Reporters

The wreckage of a helicopter carrying the delegation of the Permanent Secretary of State for Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment was found August 18 after crashing in Na Muen district, Nan province on August 17.

A search operation was deployed by hundreds of villagers, volunteers, police and soldiers after the helicopter lost contact with the tower’s radar, on August 17. Searchers found the wreckage of the helicopter and five bodies of members of the Ministry delegation on August 18 at around 8:00 a.m. At Khun Huay Harn in Ban Namkwaeng, Na Muen district in Nan.

The bodies were identified as Dr. Saksit Treedej, the Permanent Secretary of State for the Ministry, Sahas Bunyathiwat, the Advisor of Bureau of Household of Her Majesty the Queen, Kowit Panyatrong, the Inspector of the National Park, Wildlife and Plants Department, he was also the Director of Office for Response to Royal Initiatives, Maj Janewit Arunsawat, the first pilot and Sergeant Wittoon Yen-ngern, the second pilot.

The bodies were returned to Bangkok by the Royal Thai Air Force to Don Muang Airport.

The Minister of Natural Resource and Environment, Suvit Khunkitti traveled to to the area immediately after the disappearance to help coordinate the search and then the transportation of the helicopter wreckage and the return of the bodies of the deceased.

He speculated that the 20 year old helicopter may have crashed due to the heavy rains and strong winds that occurred during the inspection flight. Further inspection will be carried out to determine the actual cause of the crash.

Man killed in elevator accident

Chiang Mai Mail Reporters

An employee of DK bookstore on Kotchasarn Road was killed on August 20 when the elevator at the store malfunctioned on opening and he was dragged by the elevator and left hanging pinned by the elevator.

Witnesses saw Keerati Saengyang, 29, place a box of books in the elevator and then jump in after but the lift started as he did so and dragged him up. It took rescue workers an hour to cut him free of the elevator structure. He was given first aid on the way to the hospital but did not survive and was pronounced dead at Maharaj Nakhon Hospital.

Red shirt suspect in two year old murder apprehended

Chiang Mai Mail Reporters

Acting on a tip off, Pol Col Yuthapong Hormchanya, police inspector of Chiang Mai Muang Police and other officers apprehended fugitive Daeng Puanmool, 39 after he was discovered in the forest in Tambon Nongkaew, Hang Dong.

Daeng was one of five suspects in the murder of 60 year old Settha Jiamkitwanna, the father of well known PAD supporter and radio station owner, Terdsak Jiamkitwattana in November, 2008.

The suspect was charged with murder along with 4 other Rak Chiang Mai 51 members after the group pulled Settha from a pick up truck as it neared his son’s blockaded house, beat him and then shot him. He was found dead at the scene after soldiers were able to push the Rak Chiang Mai 51 demonstrators back.

Daeng was arrested with four other suspects for the murder but fled while on bail, the other four men were convicted of murder and sentenced to 20 years in jail each.