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U.S. Consul General reaffirms close U.S. -Thai relations

Ethnic Culture Award for Akha

Elegant elephant fashions raise funds for clinic

Grand opening of a boutique hotel in old city

Monthly Networking One draws new faces and old

 

U.S. Consul General reaffirms close U.S. -Thai relations

U.S. Consul General Susan Stevenson, left, is seen here with Chiang Mai Mail editor Phitsanu Thepthong ask about her top priorities as incoming Consul General.

By Phitsanu Thepthong

Recently arrived in Chiang Mai, the new U.S. Consul General Susan Stevenson told reporters in an interview on September 7 that she was very pleased to be in the Northern Capital with her husband and three children and that her goal is to carry the way forward with U.S.-Thai relations.

She recounted a previous visit in 1994, when she visited during Songkran and recalled how much she had enjoyed herself. She said it was answer to her dream to be appointed as successor to former U.S. Consul General Michael Morrow.

“I do really want to continue the work of the former Consul General Michael Morrow because Thai-US relations are very important in Asia, as Thailand is regarded as the oldest and closest relation to the United States in South East Asia.”

The US has a vital interest in Thai politics and its stability because “we have good cooperation on many programs including the fight against drug trafficking, human (women and children) trafficking, and terrorism. These are some of the issues that I would like to see us continue working in cooperation on,” she noted.

Drugs

In response to the question from the Chiang Mai Mail she noted that the top priority is to fight drug trafficking, beginning with a program to set up “Operation Hot Spot”.

“Operation Hot Spot” was launched by the United States Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) and the Royal Thai Police Narcotics Suppression Bureau (NSB) on August 25, 2010 at the Sala Phra Naresuan Maharat at Wat Prathat Doi Wao Temple in Mae Sai.

Operation Hot Spot is an aggressive community outreach initiative that solicits the public to provide drug, drug money laundering, and narco-terrorism related information to a DEA and NSB specialized task force called the Sensitive Investigations Unit.

The DEA and NSB have produced informational products for distribution in areas with a high propensity for drug trafficking, or a narcotics “HOT SPOT,” throughout Asia. These Hot Spots include known trafficking routes, border crossing points, entertainment venues, shipping ports, transportation stations, financial institutions, and other locations known to be frequented by drug smugglers and traffickers.

The informational products are emblazoned with the website address at www. dearewards.com, a 24-hour hotline at 66(2)-205-4444, and a solicitation for the public to provide drug, drug money laundering, and narco-terrorism related information.

U.S. Consul General Stevenson added that a reward of up to US $ 2 million will be given to any member of the public that provides information leading to the arrest of any of the top ten drug traffickers on the blacklist.

“We will set up more ‘Operation Hot Spots’ throughout the country with the first one opening at Mae Sai in Chiang Rai situated close to Myanmar and the Golden Triangle,” she continued, “Yabaa drugs are delivered across the Thai-Myanmar borders into the country, so the Thai government, police and military troops along with the U.S. government have worked on this together to suppress the drug rings and trafficking in this region but the drug problem continues to grow.”

In Mae Sai, the authorities have distributed books and announcements to inform the people about Operation Hot Spot to be set up there.

“After a recent visit to Chiang Rai to see the Akha villages, it has given me a better understanding about the fascinating cultures of hillribesmen located in Myanmar, Laos and Thailand as well as the special nature of Thailand as its never been colonized,” she said.

Education

This year marked the 60th anniversary of the Consulate-General in Chiang Mai as well as the 60th anniversary of the Fulbright Scholarship in Thailand. Consul-General Stevenson said the Consulate would continue to celebrate both special occasions.

The beautiful mural paintings along the walls of the temples, schools, and US consulate by students in Chiang Mai who wanted to express their ideas and feelings were part of those celebrations.

“I would like to help promote the Chiang Mai as the Creative City with the close cooperation of the U.S. Florida project, which is a joint investment by US and Thai businesses, mainly IT, which will help to boost the economy in Chiang Mai.”

She added that a group of businesspeople from the United States are due at the end of the month for further talks on cooperation in the creative economy. She noted that the 7.5% growth rate seen in Thailand has encouraged American investors. The Florida Project is a cooperation between the federal and local governments, private businesses, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the U.S. Business Council and the ASEAN Business Council.

The U.S. Consul General continued that education is her special interest and there are some American companies that intend to launch their educational projects in Thailand working together with the U.S. Consulate General and the U.S. Embassy.

The 60th anniversary of’ the Fulbright Scholarship in Thailand is integral with her interests and as part of the anniversary, U.S. educators are working with Thai educational institutes for 6-12 months to help teach the English language and American culture to Thai students. Five or six students and lecturers will apply themselves to improving their English in order to apply for the Fulbright Scholarship.

Consul General Stevenson also plans to spend some of her spare time volunteering to help Thai students in their aims to attend American universities by coaching and tutoring. The Consul also intends to invite more U.S. academics to Chiang Mai for lectures.

Lastly she is interested in the environmental issues that face Chiang Mai, supporting the Green Chiang Mai program to plant more trees and help reduce air pollution.

“The US Consulate General is also happy to join with city residents to keep the city green and clean “she concluded.

 

Ethnic Culture Award for Akha

U.S. government grant

U.S. Consul General Susan Stevenson enjoys
joining the villagers in traditional Akha dances.

U.S. Consul General Susan Stevenson presented a symbolic cheque of US$ 77,928 to Jianhua Wang, the Regional Coordinator of the Mekong Akha Network for Peace and Sustainability (MAPS) under the Inter Mountain Peoples Education and Culture in Thailand Association (IMPEC) as part of the Ambassadors Cultural Preservation Fund.

Supoj Thaimyoj
in Doi Chang,
Mae Suay, Chiang Rai

In recognition of their effforts the U.S. government awarded a grant of 2.4 million baht or US$77,928 for the preservation of Akha culture as part of the U.S. Highlighted Ethnic Culture Awards under the aegis of the Ambassadors Fund for Cultural Preservation on September 1 in Chiang Rai.

U.S. Consul General Susan Stevenson, joined by U.S. Cultural Attache John Paul Schutte, represented U.S. Ambassador Eric G. John at the event that took place at Ban Doi Chang in Mae Suay District, Chiang Rai. Also attending the grant ceremony were Mr. Boonyoung Roengoon, District Officer of Mae Suay District, Thai government officials, Ban Doi Chang community leaders and over one hundred Akha hilltribe villagers.

Consul General Stevenson presented a symbolic cheque of US$ 77.928 to Mr. Jianhua Wang, the Regional Coordinator of the Mekong Akha Network for Peace and Sustainability (MAPS), under the Inter Mountain Peoples Education and Culture in Thailand Association (IMPECT).

The U.S. Consul and delegates were warmly welcomed at Ban Doi Chang, Moo 3, Tambon Wawee, by hundreds of Bam Doi Chang community members. Akha hill tribes villagers dressed up in dazzling costumes and performed for a traditional welcoming ceremony to welcome their guests to the village.

This was followed by a bamboo dance performed by students of Ban Dio Chang, or in the Akha language, and then village elders tied string to the wrists of their visitors as part of the welcome.

The newly appointed U.S. Consul General thanked the group for the welcome and expressed her pleasure at visiting Chiang Rai. Noting that the Akha culture in Chiang Rai stretched for more than 750 years, she announced that the fund “is expected to help support the collection and recording of Akha ceremonies, music, culture and more.”

It will also be used to produce curriculum and media tools for the study and teaching of the Akha language among Akha youth.

“The US is proud to be a part of this project to help the preservation of cultural and race diversities in Thailand”, she said, “And this project is not only to preserve culture and heritages of Akha people, but also the preservation of world heritage as well.”

After the ceremony, Consul General Stevenson joined in the festivities after Charnchai Pisailert, Ban Doi Chang village headman performed the traditional Akha Swing Ceremony.

Situated in the highlands 1,700 meters above sea level, the area used to be populated with opium fields, now replaced mainly by Arabica coffee and other cash crops from the Royally initiated project to provide hilltribes people with alternative means of income. Three main ethnic groups comprise the main residents of the area, Akhu, Lisu and Chinese from Yunnan. Ban Doi Chang is home to 800 households with more than 10,000 people, most of whom earn their living from agriculture and preserve their ancient traditions.

The Ambassadors Fund for Cultural Preservation was established in 2001 by the U.S. Congress to support the efforts of nations in preserving their heritage and culture. More than 550 projects worldwide have received funds totallying more US$20 million.

Thailand has ten projects that have received funding, from the preservation of mural paintings at Wat Ban Koh in Lampang, Ban Rai and Tham Lod rock shelters in Mae Hong Son, and the community based preservation of traditional houses in Phrae are all projects that have received funding in the North.

Consul General Stevenson also called for interested cultural organizations in the region to submit proposals to the Ambassadors Fund for Cultural Preservation. More information can be found on the U.S. Embassy’s website. http://bangkok.usembassy.gov/

Villagers perform the bamboo dance for the visiting dignitaries.

U.S. Consul General Susan Stevenson joins in the fun by swinging
on the giant swing constructed for the Swing Ceremony.

Villagers from Ban Doi Chang perform traditional music and dances.


Elegant elephant fashions raise funds for clinic

By Shana Kongmun

The 200 Club held a fashion show on September 4 at Dusit D2 Hotel to raise funds to help buy a scanner for the elephant clinic in Mae Taeng. The clinic was built to relieve injured and sick elephants of the hours’s long journey to the elephant hospital in Lampang.

An elegant fashion show featuring designs from the students of the Raffles Institute of Design, coordinated with Icy from Backstage and Miguel La Salle, Ginger, Lamorna Cheeseman of Studio Naenna, and Fashion King who made all the Dusit D2 staff’s dresses and waistcoats.

The Playhouse Entertainment Complex dancers were joined by D2 staff in putting on a great show, with some outstanding performances that delighted the crowd. John Wright and Pim Kemasingi emceed the show, as well as particpated, with Pim giving a particularly delightful performance in her amazing red dress!

All fashions were silk, painted by elephants, unique and one of a kind items that are now for sale to further benefit the clinic. Additionally, elephant themed Christmas cards are up for sale for 250 baht and they are available from the AA insurance offices, City Life, Rachamankha hotel and The Rim Hotel.

Auctions were held to sell of everything from lovely paintings done by the elephants to photos of the elephants, hotel stays, restaurants gift certificates and more. The auction and accompanying ticket sales raised 300,000 baht for the clinic due to generous bidders.

The next event held will be the 200 Club and Citylife Garden Party to be held November 28, so be sure to mark your calenders. Further information on purchasing some of the beautiful fashions can be found by contacting Sally Ward [email protected] (Photos by Dirk Weeber-Arayatumsopon and Supoj Thaimyoj).


Grand opening of a boutique hotel in old city

By Shana Kongmun

The Rim Hotel on Arak Road inside the moat opened to great fanfare on Sunday September 4. The beautiful traditional hotel, done up in Lanna style with a traditional Colonial Lanna house as the centerpiece. The Princess of Chiang Mai, Dr. Chao Duangduen na Chiengmai presided over the opening that was well attended by both the Thai and expat community including Chalermsak Suranant, head of the Northern TAT, Leo Figueroa of the U.S. Justice Department resident in Chiang Mai, the head of the Land Department and many more local notables and dignitaries. Many of the guests dressed in elaborate Lanna costumes and jewelry to add beauty and sparkle to the event. Doves were released after the Princess hit the ceremonial gong to open the new hotel.

Vilas Panyawong, Manager of Galare Night Bazaar, greets Dr. Chao Duangduen na Chiengmai with a wai at the grand opening. (Photo courtesy of CityNow!)

Situated next to the Northern School for the Blind near Suan Dok Gate, this boutique hotel with just 36 guest rooms, a beautiful swimming pool and a restaurant built in a style similar to the old fortress ramparts of the city, is sure to offer something different for those who like to say inside the old city.

Organized by Ongkarn ‘JoJo Chaiongkarn, the event featured a traditionally dressed man in a Lanna costume carried upon a palanquin held up by four men, who brought in the Buddha image to place on the pedestal at the front of the hotel. Dancers performed traditional dances with a modern twist accompanied by dragon dancers. The hotel is one of a few inside the city that offer something uniquely different and uniquely Lanna with a lovely restaurant offering both Northern Thai and Western dishes so visitors should pay a visit to soak up the peaceful atmosphere in the gardens.

Princess Dr. Chao Duangduen na Chiengmai is joined
by guests and hotel staff at the grand opening of the Rim Hotel.

Dancers performed in traditional costume to the delight of the crowd.


Monthly Networking One draws new faces and old

Pictured here, clockwise; Peter Smith of AA Insurance, Monthakan Intharasri of InFocus 4 You, Nam Wongaram, Boonchai Ovitayakul, Jhidabha Preukpongsa, Pornchanok Prakobboon , Senior Sales Manager of Chiang Mai Retreat Development Co.,Ltd, Wyndham Hollis, Frank Sethi of Fashion King, Managing Editor of the Chiang Mai Mail, Shana Kongmun, Mayuree (Mam) Reununsat, office Manager AA Insurance Brokers Co.,Ltd, Richard Mark Hefner, Office of International Marketing and Communication Payap University, Siriporn {Nam} Wongaram of AA Insurance Brokers Co.,Ltd., Gary “ Mr.Moo” Newitt , Consultant of AA Insurance Brokers Co.,Ltd, Sally Ward of the 200 Club, David Walker of Asia Property World. Middle left photo features Phillip Johnson, Consultant of Infocus 4 You Magazine, Monthakan Intharashi , Manager of Infocus 4 You Magazine, Lewis and Eric Lynn of LCT Consultant.

By Shana Kongmun

The monthly Networking One event held at the Shangri La Hotel on the first Thursday of every month drew both regulars and new networkers. Ralph van den Berg was on hand to discuss Horeca’s wholesale sale at their premises located out on Superhighway 11 a few days after the Networking One event. Sally Ward also talked about her event, also held on the 4th of September at the Dusit d2 Hotel, Elephant Elegance, a charity fashion show to raise money to buy equipment for the elephant hospital in Mae Taeng. Elephant themed Christmas cards were also on sale out front, sponsored by AA Insurance and CityLife magazine, the proceeds will also go entirely to the elephant hospital.

Once again, Phillip Johnson’s lovely wife and manager of In Focus 4 You Magazine, Monthakan Intharasri won the bottle of wine. Mark Isenstadt, who had won a gift certificate from Fashion King the previous month, was eager to talk to Frank Sethi, the owner, about setting up an appointment for utilizing his very lucky win.