NEWS
HEADLINES [click on headline to view story]:

Grenade attack on army camp investigated by security agencies

Creative MICE meet at Playhouse brings hope to Northern Economy

Caravan tour around the North and North East

Chiang Rai hilltribes hope to see tourism boost

Burmese sex workers avoid arrest with bribes and not carrying condoms

Inaugural flight of Happy Air

Latest crackdown on encroaching yields illegal timber in Mae Hong Son

Yabaa traffickers arrested in Chiang Mai with 40,000 pills

Japanese government aids organic agriculture in Lampang

Rak Chiang Mai 51 pressure police for arrest in murder of guard

Spurned lover confesses to the murder of Lampang woman

 

Grenade attack on army camp investigated by security agencies

Security agencies are probing what persons or group is responsible for a grenade attack on an army camp two days ago in Chiang Mai, Deputy Prime Minister Suthep Thaugsuban said Saturday.

Mr Suthep said he had not yet received intelligence reports on who fired grenades into Khun Nen army camp in Chiang Mai’s Mae Rim district Thursday night.

Five grenades from an M79 launcher were fired into the army camp that night  but only four exploded, and those were on the lawn of the facility. No casualties were reported.

Thursday night’s attack followed grenade and bomb incidents in the capital in recent month.

The anti-government United Front for Democracy against Dictatorship (UDD) will hold major rallies this week in Bangkok, Chiang Mai and elsewhere to mark the fourth year anniversary of a bloodless coup on September 19 which toppled the then government of prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra.

Mr Suthep, who is responsible for national security, admitted that it is difficult to prevent M79 attacks on government offices.

Asked whether the government would re-impose an emergency decree in Chiang Mai as many incidents had taken place after it was revoked, Mr Suthep said the standard security laws and procedures will be used in provinces where the decree had been revoked and it is not necessary to reintroduce it.

He added that the government will also try to revoke the emergency decree in the remaining seven provinces. (TNA)

 

Creative MICE meet at Playhouse brings hope to Northern Economy

By Phitsanu Thepthong

Creative MICE or Meetings, Incentive Travel, Conventions and Exhibitions is the latest government project to boost tourism and spending in Thailand, hoping to attract conventioneers, and other tourists as part of the Thai Khem Kaeng Project, or Strong Thai.

Akapol Soarasuchart, Director of Thailand Convention and Exhibition Bureau (public organization) TCEB (Photo by Supoj Thaimyoj)

Akapol Soarasuchart, the Director of the Thailand Convention and Exhibition Bureau (TCEB) said the government expects increased promotion in this direction will create more job opportunities and generate income for the provinces. He added that he believes that promoting Thailand’s convention and exhibition industry will fuel growth. The MICE project is expected to grow tourism and strengthen tourism businesses in regional centers such as Hat Yai, Chiang Mai, Pattaya and Bangkok.

The MICE meeting in Chiang Mai was held at the end of August while the Eastern and Southern meetings were held earlier in August in Songkhla and Pattaya.

The TCEB is a public organization established by Royal Decree n 2002 and has been actively in operation since 2004. Their main objectives are to to promote meetings, incentive travel, conventions and exhibitions, hence the acronym, MICE. The TCEB intends to make Thailand a regional hub as a convention and exhibition destination.

“After all regional Creative MICE meetings have been held then the TCEB will collect suggestions and ideas to bring up in Bangkok on September 21. The proposals will be compiled and published. Our target is to make Chiang Mai a regional center for MICE activities. About 1,000 people nationwide attended the MICE introduction, and we expect it to have accessed over 5 million nationwide,” said Akopol.

“Creative MICE” markets or events could generates revenue of 40 to 50 billion baht per year and has brought in around 785,000 foreign businesspeople into Thailand. Showing that MICE has potential to increase revenues to the country,” he added.

Both Akapol and Chiang Mai Governor Amornphan Nimanant agreed that Chiang Mai is the center of MICE markets, as it located in the Greater Mekong Sub-region and BIMSTEC (Bay of Bengal Initiative for MultiSectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation) countries, as it is strategically based for unique culture and natural tourist attractions.

He stressed that Creative MICE needs to be further developed to attract tourists not only from Asia but Europe and North America to the Chiang Mai area. The expansion of the Chiang Mai International Airport was completed earlier this year, Governor Amornphan pointed out, nothing that it can now handle as many as 8 million passengers a year, up from 3 million. He noted the enlarged passenger terminal features with a new section for international arrivals.

“Chiang Mai has really high potential, when tourists from abroad come here for international meetings, seminars and international exhibitions. These people could provide triple the income of ordinary tourists.”

Akapol noted that the growth rate of MICE in Chiang Mai is about 15-20% per year, rated higher than other regional provinces because of its roads, rails, airport , hotel and other basic public infrastructure.

Chiang Mai Governor Amornphan Nimanant said at the meeting that this project should improve the Chiang Mai economy, and “strengthen our efforts in trade, investment, education and tourism.”

“The Chiang Mai MICE center is under construction and scheduled for completion next year,” the Governor pointed out that this will be a major draw for visitors to Chiang Mai. He noted that the new convention center under construction will consist of l conference rooms with a capacity of 6,000 people and more than 10,000 sq m will be available for exhibition halls.

“The MICE center is expected to be finished and will be ready for events within two years” he insisted.

Director Akapol of TCEB remarked that “TCEB has recently signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the Chiang Mai Provincial Authorities and the Thailand Incentive Convention Association (TICA), to launch the promotion of Chiang Mai as the hub of MICE in this region. Chiang Mai at present has more than 32,000 rooms to accommodate participants in meetings and seminars. Currently available convention rooms have a capacity of 1,500 – 3,400 people, making them available to a maximum of 10,000 people each time.”

The Governor noted that the Chiang Mai International Airport can easily handle more international flights and that at least 6 direct flights from abroad will be linking with Chiang Mai in the near future. He pointed out that the government has given a green light to plans for four high speed rail routes from Bangkok, including one to Chiang Mai and noted that once constructed it should increase the number of tourists travelin to Chiang Mai.

“Chiang Mai is being pushed forward as the ‘Creative City’, in order to draw more investors which will generate income and help the country’s economy recover,” said Governor Amornphan. He added that the abundance of higher education will allow the province to cope with the increased demand of skilled labor.

He also suggested that Chiang Mai work towards becoming a medical hub in the North, providing top class medical, spa and health related services.

“Chiang Mai can host world class events, as the Royal Flora Expo showed”, Governor Amornphan said.

Prime Minister Abhisit put forward Chiang Mai as one of three provinces to host the World Expo 2020 on his visit to the current World Expo in Shanghai China on September 5. The other two candidates are Songkhla and Chonburi provinces.

Mr. Akapol said Chiang Mai is among those to be nominated as World Expo hosts because of the already existing infrastructure and its potential for growth and improvement, with both and the Governor expressing their belief in Chiang Mai’s readiness to face the task.

Governor Amornphan concluded, saying that, voted as the 2nd Best City by Travel & Leisure Magazine, Chiang Mai is famous for its abundant cultural and natural attractions and noted the fame of Chiang Mai charm, “The generosity of Chiang Mai people who always give a warm welcome to visitors and tourists to their home is one of the charms of Chiang Mai.”


Caravan tour around the North and North East

September 18-23

TAT Director Chalermsak Suranant announces the upcoming caravan tour
 at Warm Up Cafe along with other organizers.

Chiang Mai Mail reporters

The popular TAT sponsored caravan tour around the North, East and North East will be held from September 18 -23 TAT’s Chiang Mai Office Director Chalermsak Suranant said at the press conference held at the Warm Up Cafe on September 3.

The Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT), and V Sign Media Co are managing the tour that starts from Chiang Mai in the North on September 18 traveling through Issan and the East and ends in Ayuthaya on the 23rd.. TAT Director Chalermsak added that the tour is expected to help boost domestic tourism and travel marketing, especially as the caravan tour is a popular new trend among tourists.

The trip is 4,000 baht per person including meals, 5 nights accommodation and a boat trip to Koh Chang, but excluding petrol.

For more information , please contact TAT Chiang Mai Offices Tel. 053 – 248 604 – 053 – 248 607, or Khun Paradorn at 08 3750 5665, 085 527 6459.


Chiang Rai hilltribes hope to see tourism boost

Community based tourism project

Traditionally built lodges at Lanjid Lodge as part of the hilltribes
 run community based tourism project at Ban Kiewkarn.

Supoj Thaimyoj and Jittarporn Charasrum
in Chiang Khong, Chiang Rai

Hilltribes villagers in Ban Kiewkarn in Chiang Khong District in Chiang Rai are benefitting from a new community based tourism project that has developed their village as a destination for those interested in experiencing hilltribe village life in natural surroundings.

The Ban Kiewkarn community consist of Hmong and Lahu hill tribes people. Most of the women in the village earn their living from embroidery work to sell as part of HM the Queen’s SUPPORT Project.

Originally established in 2000, the Lanjid Tourist Lodge has since grown to include four lodges with a total of 16 rooms. Asian Oasis is working with the non-governmental organization the Population and Community Development Association (PDA) in developing and promoting the project.

A group led by the President of the Chiang Mai Guide Association, Somrit Haikum, recently paid a visit to the project which now covers 3 rai to view the project at which about 1,500 Lahu and Hmong villagers grow cash crops and produce embroidered goods for sale.

“Most of Hmong people like to do embroidery work, with simple patterns called Teen Chang batik clothes, which are to be made into skirts for the Hmong hill tribes costume, especially on the occasion of their traditional New Year in November,” said Nikhom Kamlue, Manager of Lanjid Tourist Lodge and head of the development project.

All profits from the project will be split evenly between the PDA, Asian Oasis and the villagers. The villagers profits from the project go to the Village Bank which is operated by the Village committee, he noted.

“Villagers will be able to obtain no interest loans from the Village Bank. Ten percent of the Bank’s money will be used for developing roads and infrastructure,” he added.

“This is a good place to help draw more tourists and visitors. To reduce the narcotic plants grown in the area, this project development here is expected to bring more employment and higher incomes. This is expected to benefit the crop replacement program,” he said.

Some of the Bank’s money will also go to help develop cultural attractions such as the upcoming Hmong New Year celebrations in November.

“Most of the visitors foreigners and about 100 guests a month, with none of the money being used from the Government.”

Villagers who participate in the project earn about 2,000 baht a month more. Most of the population earn their living by growing highland crops as part of the crop replacment program to encourage hilltribes people to grow cash crops.

The village already is under the Her Majesty the Queen’s SUPPORT development project, Nikom noted.


Burmese sex workers avoid arrest with bribes and not carrying condoms

Banyar Kong Janoi, Rangoon, Burm

 It’s a Sunday night and the JJ night club is full of working girls that look between 16 and 20 years old. They cross the dance-floor in super high stiletto heels and miniskirts made from flimsy material. They move awkwardly to blasting heavy music while a few Burmese male customers watch closely from low tables.

While sex work is illegal in Burma and the Burmese military government strictly prohibits prostitution and brothels, 18-year-old Yan Min says it’s easy to bribe the police. “We bribe local policemen so we can work. When other police come they call us and warn us there will be a raid and to hide. We pay them a monthly fee of between 30 and 50 US dollars, sometimes they take 150 dollars. We have to give them whatever they ask. I never carry condoms because if they see the condom they know that I am a sex worker,” says Min.

Burma has one of the fastest rates of HIV/AIDS in Asia after Cambodia and Thailand. Figures released by the Burmese National AIDS Program in 2005 showed that more than 30 percent of sex workers in the country were HIV positive. Sex workers like Min are in a high-risk category, but she says she must work to survive.

“I do this job to support my family because they don’t have enough money, so I invest my body,” she says. Min began working as a prostitute two months ago after she struggled to find another job in the capital.

Lawyer U Aung Thein from the central executive committee of the National League for Democracy, condemns the government’s handling of sex workers. He says the Suppression of Prostitution Act, which was enacted in 1949, is unjust. “The law aims to stop all sex work. Women can be easily labeled as prostitutes and houses that are suspected of being brothels are targeted, but the law does nothing to the men who have sex with prostitutes,” says Thein.

He says the military regime has mishandled the issue. “Because it’s criminalized the sex workers go underground and therefore they are not being educated about health and sexually transmitted diseases. In this situation HIV/AIDS is spreading quickly because there are no controls,” he says.

 Another sex worker who goes by the named Tin Tin says many of her colleagues are HIV positive. “One of them was beautiful and young when I met her but she became very thin and had abscesses on her body and mouth. When everyone was cold, she was hot and vice versa. Then her abscesses became bigger and bigger. I don’t really know what a HIV patient looks like but another colleague said she had it,” says Tin Tin.

She says her colleague was sent back home after her boss found out that she was HIV positive. “He gave her some money to go back home. The girls also gave her some money. We encouraged her not to be depressed but she was very sad. I told her that she would be OK when she got home to her family,” says Tin Tin, unsure if her friend is still alive.

As those who are HIV positive are usually poor, they can’t afford antiretroviral drugs. Tin Tin has never even heard of them and says sex workers use traditional medicine.

“Three of my colleagues are HIV positive. They inject penicillin and drink some leaf liquid that you can buy on the street. It’s made by mixing the leaves with salt. It’s believed to kill the HIV virus. There are some people who drink that tea and stay healthy,” she says.

Tin Tin says that despite the risk she will continue working as a prostitute. “I will not regret my decisions if I get HIV/AIDS because I have chosen my path. I knew the risks when I started this job. I do it because of the money. I don’t know if my body is clean. Some clients use condoms; some don’t. Some only use one when I ask them to. Sometimes the condom breaks. I protect myself as much as I can but I have to sleep with lots of men, I can’t say how many,” she says.

Economic hardship also drives Burmese girls to travel to China and Thailand and work in the sex industry. Along the Thai-Burma border, agents recruit women by promising them jobs but then force them into the sex trade. Naw Kanda is the spokesperson for a safe-house that helps migrant workers on the border. She says most sex workers have very limited choices.

“In my own opinion, sex workers, especially people from Burma, have no choice. They are forced to do it even though they don’t want to. Men will often not wear condoms and they contract HIV that way. Sometimes they even contract HIV from sharing needles because they are using drugs so they can work harder,” says Kanda.

This article was first broadcast on Asia Calling, a regional current affairs radio program produced by Indonesia’s independent radio news agency KBR68H and broadcast in local languages in 10 countries across Asia. It is published in conjunction with the Faculty of Mass Communications, Chiang Mai University. You can find more stories from Asia Calling at www.asiacalling.org.


Inaugural flight of Happy Air

The inaugural flight of Happy Air Travellers Co., Ltd. from Nakhon Ratchasima to Chiang Mai arrived at Chiang Mai International Airport on August 19. The passengers were greeted by the Tourism Authority of Thailand, Chiang Mai Office, the management team of Chiang Mai Airport and Chiang Mai business people. The direct regular flight from Nakhon Ratchasima to Chiang Mai will be on Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday with a 33 seat plane. For more information and reservations please contact Happy Air Travellers Co., Ltd. Tel. 0 7632 7777 – 80.


Latest crackdown on encroaching yields illegal timber in Mae Hong Son

Some of the wood found to be in excess of the licensed amounts
on a truck stopped at a checkpoint in Mae Hong Son.

Khajohn Boonpath

At a recent checkpoint in Mae Hong Son a woman from Tak was found to be in possession of wood far in excess of the amount she had been given legally licensed permission to carry.

Mae Hong Son Governor Kamthorn Thawornsathit ordered authorities to crack down on wood smuggling in an attempt to reduce illegal encroachment and smuggling. Wood is commonly smuggled in from Tak and newly processed wood is treated to look aged. Police and rangers have set up checkpoints in a bid to catch smugglers.

On September 4 at a checkpoint in Ban Huay Kung, wood was seized from driverc carrying lumber for Mrs. Amporn Ngaokaew, 51. While legally licensed to transport lumber from Tak to Hang Dong in Chiang Mai, the license was for only 1,700 pieces yet the truck was found to carry more than 3,000.

Police confiscated both trucks and wood for further investigation.


Yabaa traffickers arrested in Chiang Mai with 40,000 pills

Phrae man arrested in Lampang for possession

The haul of 40,000 yabaa tablets displayed at the police station with suspects, Wichit Chaisu, Pongsakorn Klamsuk, and Rungsak Techwan.

Supoj Thaimyoj and Thaweerat Pensalaphan

Two separate arrests in Chiang Mai and Lampang yielded more than 40,000 yabaa pills.

In Chiang Mai, Provincial police arrested three members of a drug ring carrying 40,000 yabaa pills hidden in a transport company’s truck carrying garlic on September 5. According to Pol Maj Gen Sommmai Kongwisaisuk, the commander of Chiang Mai Provincial Police, the drugs were found after the truck was stopped at a police and army checkpoint at Pha Hong in Tambon Sridongyen, Chaiprakarn district.

The driver of the ten wheel truck, Wichit Chaisu, 48, confessed to police that he had been hired by drug dealers to transport drugs to Suphan Buri at the rate of 40,000 baht per trip, He admitted that this was the third time he had done so. He led police to the delivery point in Suphan Buri to hand over the drugs to Mr. Pongsakorn Klamsuk,30. Police were able to arrest Mr. Pongsakorn as well as one more suspect, Rungsak Techwan.

All three men have been charged with possession and distribution of a class 1 drug, methamphetamine or yabaa.

In Lampang, 19 year old Peerapol Nochak, 19, from Phrae province was arrested at a police checkpoint when a search uncovered 384 yabaa tablets in his pocket. He told police that he had purchased the drugs for personal use as he was a yabaa addict.


Japanese government aids organic agriculture in Lampang

The Government of Japan, under its Grant Assistance for Grassroots Human Security Projects Scheme (GGP), has provided funds amounting to 3,012,000 baht for a project entitled “Construction of a Promoting Center for Organic Agriculture in Ngao District, Lampang Province”, and on September 7, 2010, Mr. Masahide Sato, Consul of Japan in Chiang Mai and Ms. Kannika Kuankachorn, Director of the Thai Volunteer Service Foundation (TVS), attended the opening ceremony at the Center.

Since 2004, the TVS, in cooperation with the local residents’ group of Heng Tai village in Ngao district,0has been promoting sustainable community development and cultivating human resources in the region through activities such as training in organic agriculture and environmental education. As these activities have shown remarkable results, in 2008 Heng Tai village was certified as a model village practising “the Sufficiency Economy” which His Majesty King Bhumibol Adulyadei encourages.

Consequently, the role of the TVS in the field of promoting organic agriculture has been well-received throughout the region, and many people, even from other districts, wish to attend the training. However, the TVS had only temporary conference space with a capacity for 20 trainees and no accommodation facilities for trainees from elsewhere. Therefore, in order to provide effective training over several days, it was an urgent issue that the TVS should have a training center with accommodation.

In response to a request from the TVS, the Government of Japan bore the construction costs of a training center including accommodation facilities. It is expected that this support will help to implement the training of organic agriculture and environmental education more efficiently and effectively, and lead to stabilizing the means of village livelihood, as well as sustainable community development, and the cultivation of human resources capable of shouldering responsibility for these matters. For more information about GGP, please contact Mr.Sato, Consul, or Ms. Hoshii and Mr. Tsuda, Coordinators for GGP. Consulate-General of Japan in Chiang Mai,Airport Business Park, 90 Mahidol Road, T. Haiya, A. Muang, Chiang Mai 50100. Telephone: 053-203-367 / Facsimile: 053-203-373.(PR)


Rak Chiang Mai 51 pressure police for arrest in murder of guard

Murdered member’s coffin carried to police HQ to protest

The coffin carrying the body of murdered Kritsada Klaharn is carried by family and Rak Chiang Mai 51 members to protest at Provincial Police Bureau Region 5.

Supoj Thaimyoj

More than 50 members of the Rak Chiang Mai 5, family and friends paraded the coffin containing the body of murdered Red Shirt guard Kritsada Klaharn at the Provincial Police Bureau Region 5 on September 6 to pressure the police in speeding up the investigation into his shooting that took place on August 30.

Twenty-one year old Kritsada, or James, succumbed to wounds on September 5. An unknown assailant fired an M16 at the car James was traveling in, wounding him while the driver escaped without severe injury.

On the morning of September 6 about ten pickup trucks filled with friends, family and Rak Chiang Mai 51 supporters carried the coffin laden with Kritsada’s body from Maharaj Nakhon Hospital to the Region 5 Police Headquarters on Mahidol Road. After speaking for about a half an hour requesting the police move faster to catch the killer and to prevent violence against Red Shirt members, they took the coffin to the crematorium at Sala Hathong Mahakhun in Wat Phra Sing Wora Mahaviharn for funeral rites.

There, the religious ceremony was presided over by the Buddhist monk Phra Khru Suthep Sithikhun, the abbot of Wat Sri Boonruang, spiritual adviser of ousted Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra, while Mr. Petchawat Wattanapongsiri, the chairman of the Rak Chiang Mai Group also attended. The cremation ceremony will be held on September 12, at Haiya cemetery in Muang district.

On September 5, Kritsada died at the ICU of Maharaj Nakhon Chiang Mai Hospital from serious wounds sustained after an attack at 12:30 a.m. on August 30 on the Hang Dong road by unknown assailants who fired an M16 at the car he was traveling in, firing more than 10 times at the vehicle being driven by his girlfriend.


Spurned lover confesses to the murder of Lampang woman

Thaweerat Pensalaphan

Spurned by his lover after she called off their relationship prior to her marriage to another man, Kittisak Niemsaeng, 30 of Lampang, confessed to police that he had tied her up in a rage and stabbed her to death.

Kittisak Niemsaeng of Lampang re-enacts the murder of his lover in her car, he tied her up and stabbed her to death before fleeing to his wife’s house.

The suspect told police that he had been having an affair for three years with Sucharee Sanomchan, 27 of Suandok in Lampang and that she called him to meet in her car in front of a video shop where she told him that she was ending the affair to marry another man.

After the brutal stabbing death of Sucharee Sanomcham, 27 of Suandok in Lampang, police arrested Kittisak Niemsaeng, 30, who then confessed to the crime.

Ms. Sucharee was a member of the Law Division staff of Niyompanitch Lampang when she was murdered on September 3. Police arrested Kittisak on September 5 at his wife’s house in Chompoo in Lampang and charged him with murder.