HEADLINES [click on headline to view story]:

First phase of cable burial completed for Chiang Mai city

Lampang Elephant Hospital returns mother and baby to the forest

New fire engines for Mae Sap

Chiang Mai British Council celebrates 25 years

Chiang Mai celebrates Car Free Day

Thai economy still going strong

A Chiang Mai March for Peace

Elephant injured by landmine sees recovery

Mae Hong Son hit by strong winds

Australian man commits suicide in front of onlookers

Yabaa smuggling continues at a high pace


First phase of cable burial completed for Chiang Mai city

Nopniwat Krailerg

The official opening of the newly completed Tha Pae Gate and Chang Klan areas took place on September 25 when Chiang Mai Mayor Tassanai Buranupakorn was joined by Deputy Governor Chumporn Saengmanee and Narongsak Kamalert, Deputy Governor of the Provincial Electric Authority at Tha Pae Gate.

The event marks the completion of the first phase of the burial of electric, cable tv, and telephone wires in an effort to clean up the views and beautify the city in time to welcome tourists for the next high season.

In an earlier inspection of the works Mayor Tassanai noted that this project was first suggested 7 years ago and that coordinating the various agencies and private companies was the biggest cause of delay in getting the project underway.. He added that the project had been difficult, noting the desire to make sure that people still had electricity while it was ongoing.

The first phase covers about 2 kilometers incuding the road along Nawarat Bridge to Tha Pae Gate and Chang Klan road. The next area scheduled for cable burial is planned for Huay Kaew Road and the outer moat roads with a budget of 220 million baht.

Creating Tha Pae as a cultural area, preserving the old buildings and beautifying the area is next up, with meetings planned to bring in participation of the area residents.

The project has cost about 200 million baht to complete, the Mayor added.


Lampang Elephant Hospital returns mother and baby to the forest

Mother and baby passed the health inspection at the Lampang Elephant Hospital and will live in the forest according to the wishes of HRH Princess Sirindhorn that elephants be allowed to live naturally.

Thaweerat Pensalaphan

Lampang Elephant Hospital has returned two elephants under the Royal Patronage of HRH Princess Maha Chakri Sinrindhorn back to the forest in the Thai Elephant Conservation Center to live naturally.

Phang Mojay, the 26 year old mother and her 1 year old male calf, Plai Thanwa had been bought from Surin by the people of Nakhon Ratchasima Province and presented to HRH Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn to be cared for at the center in Lampang.

The two elephants underwent medical checkups and were declared in good health before going to live in the forest on September 25, Dr Sithidej Mahasawangkul, Chief of the Medical Department of the Elephant Hospital of the Thai Elephant Conservation Center in Lampang said. Three mahouts live and work in the forest area, keeping an eye on and taking care of the elephants that have been returned to live there.

New fire engines for Mae Sap

On September 21, 2010, Mr. Masahide Sato, Acting Consul-General of Japan in Chiang Mai and Mr. Phatanapon Chaisupha, Chief Executive of Mae Sap Sub-District Administrative Organization, signed the funding contract at the Consulate-General of Japan in Chiang Mai.

The Government of Japan, under its Grant Assistance for Grassroots Human Security Projects Scheme (GGP), will provide funds amounting to 3,475,000 baht for a project entitled “Provision of Fire Engines in Mae Sap Sub-District, Samoeng District, Chiang Mai Province”. On September 21, 2010, Mr. Masahide Sato, Acting Consul-General of Japan in Chiang Mai and Mr. Phatanapon Chaisupha, Chief Executive of Mae Sap Sub-District Administrative Organization, signed the funding contract at the Consulate-General of Japan in Chiang Mai.

Mae Sap Sub-District Administrative Organization, established by administrative reform in 1999, provides public services for 3,456 residents in 10 villages. This area is surrounded on all four sides by mountains. Every dry-season, forest fires break out. But in recent years they have become more serious, causing loss of homes, possessions, and lives of residents, and health problems from smoke, as well as floods and landslides in the rainy-season due to deforestation. This is having a profound impact on people’s lives.

However, Mae Sap Sub-District Administrative Organization has to battle fires with only basic pumps and buckets brigade because it doesn’t have any fire trucks. This is very dangerous and limited in controlling fires. Therefore, in order to preserve the forest and the safety of residents, it is an urgent issue that the Administrative Organization should purchase fire trucks.

In response to a request from the Administrative Organization, the Government of Japan will bear the costs of purchasing two fire trucks to make fire fighting more efficient and effective. One is medium-size with a comparatively-large feed tank and the other is small with highly maneuverability and able to turn in a small radius. It is expected that the purchase of the fire trucks will enable the Administrative Organization to preserve the precious forest resources and the safety of the residents, and will help promote environmental conservation in the community. 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, Chiang Mai 50100. 053-203-367. (PR)

Chiang Mai British Council celebrates 25 years

Join the sponsored walk to raise funds for UNICEF in Pakistan

The British Council, Chiang Mai is 25 years young this year. Anniversaries are always a time to reflect on successes and the British Council has a great deal to be proud of. Since opening in June 1985 with just 3 classrooms and 120 students its name has become synonymous with quality English language teaching and exams and more than 18,000 students of all ages have studied in the British Council English courses. Today more students than ever choose the British Council for its professionalism, cutting edge methods and excellent learning environment.

The first event to celebrate their 25th anniversary will be on Monday 25 October, an event which hopes to reach out across cultures and make a real difference to people’s lives. The British Council, Chiang Mai will run a ‘sponsored walk’ to raise money to help families affected by the devastating floods in Pakistan this year.

Sponsored walks are a very British way of raising money for a worthy cause. So how do they work? A route is chosen, anything from a few kilometers to 50 miles, and participants ask friends and family to pledge money for every kilometer they think they will be able to walk. Once it is over the walkers collect their well deserved donations and all the proceeds are put to good use. With the cooperation of UNICEF the British Council knows the money generated will make a real difference to children’s lives in the wake of the floods in Pakistan.

So why not join in? The sponsored walk will start and end at the British Council in Bumrungraj Road. Walkers will follow a 4km route and celebrate at the end with the British Council in their gardens. Refreshments, prizes and fun activities will make this a special day for all the family.

British Council staff and students will be there, come and join them on Monday 25 October at 07:00 and show your support for this great initiative.

Registration for the ‘sponsored walk’ is open until 11 October, contact the British Council for details at 053 242103. Then all you have to do is convince your friends and family you can walk 4kms and get fit for the walk.

Chiang Mai celebrates Car Free Day

Many area residents joined in riding bicycles for Car Free Day in Chiang Mai.

Chiang Mai Mail reporters

Bicycle clubs and groups were joined by Deputy Mayor of Chiang Mai Natchudej Viriyadiloktham at Three Kings Monument on Sunday, September 19 to celebrate a Car Free Day in Chiang Mai.

Natchudej Viriyadiloktham, Deputy Mayor of Chiang Mai presided over the Car Free Day, and then joined in riding bicycles, so as to help relieve the global warming, on the Chiang Mai Car Free Day 2010 on September 19, at the Three Kings Monument grounds.

World Car Free Day was established in 2000 to encourage people to take a bike or public transportation instead of drive in a bid to reduce pollution and traffic congestion.

Many government offices joined in the day’s activities, including the Municipality, the office of the Environment, the Department of Health, the TAT, CMU engineering faculty and more.

Thai economy still going strong

Bank of Thailand report

By Phitsanu Thepthong

The Thai economy is still going strong, Dr Tarisa Watanagase, the Governor of the Bank of Thailand (BoT) reported at a special lecture held at the BoT’s Northern Region branch in Chiang Mai on September 17.

Dr. Tarisa, who will retire at the end of this month, said the second half of this year would be a challenging period for the Thai economy. The export sector was negatively affected for a short period, from the last quarter of 2008 to the second quarter of 2009.

Governor of the Bank of Thailand, Dr. Tarisa Watanagase discussed the Thai economy in Chiang Mai recently.

She said the Thai economic infrastructure is still in good condition and that long with the export sector other leading indicators have shown recovery. “Every sector is moving forward, which is a good news,” she added.

The debt level is low which gives a good indicator of the strength of the economy, she noted, adding that this is what makes this period far different from the Economic crisis of 1997 when the baht was devalued and the economy suffered due to massive debts.

“We learned our lesson from the 1997 crisis and concentrate on ensuring careful loans from financial institutes,” she said. “Moreover, the government controls public debt and interest rates on bank loans which should not be higher. The government’s stimulation packages used as a financial measure have helped boost the Thai economy which was weak during the past two years. These stimulation packages have helped increase investments.”

She noted that the April-May political unrest had caused difficulty in the tourism sector but that the overall situation has now returned to normal. She added that the economic growth rate for the second half of the year is predicted to be 6.5 to 7.5 percent.

She said the BoT’s long term goal is to help increase people’s access to loans and credit and access to commercial banks. “9 percent of people report not having a bank account, this figure needs to be reduced.”

Dr. Tarisa noted that one of the biggest issues is the need to adjust the tax structure, as only 2.6 million people pay income tax. She said a higher VAT from businesses dealing with land development and asset or property sectors should be implemented, “It may not be popular among the private sector but it is necessary to help solve the economic problems.” She continued, “This is a must for the government to work on this VAT collection. Moreover, the business sector must take a active role, especially with the coming challenge in 2015, which will see the ASEAN community in this region, 500- 600 million people in a single market. At that time, tax volume will lose a lot.”

She pointed out that logistical systems for Thailand are still not good, noting that other developed countries use railways as a transportation mode, but Thailand uses trucks, resulting in a costly transportation system.

“Thailand logistical cost is at 19 %, while Japan is at 11 %, the USA is at 10 %, and Europe is at 8 %. “,she raised example, adding that for rice production, USA could produce rice at 1,200 kilograms per rai, but Thailand produces at 450 kilograms per rai, while Myanmar produces at 418 kilograms per rai.

Dr. Tarisa noted that the strong baht is a result of both external and internal factors due to confidence in not only the Thai economy and currency but the entire region, noting that it has stemmed from the continued economic growth in the region in contrast with the weak growth in developed countries.

She added that the political unrest had caused markets to under perform and capital inflows to slow but that it has picked back up. “While a strong baht reduces costs in local terms for imports such as oil, equipment and parts, exporters are negatively affected by a strong currency, particularly smaller companies with little import content or the resources to hedge their currency risk. However, those affected are in small volumes and cannot compete with other countries exports, the BoT plans to work in cooperation with the EXIM bank to help those small scale SMEs,” Dr. Tarisa added.

“The BoT’s fiscal police is to look at the stability of bank interest rates, so as to avoid inflation rate and adjust the inflation rate,”she remarked.

Governor Tarisa concluded that the strong baht is in line with the Thailand economy, adding that “If there is any violence from the political unrest like the April and May this year, it might again damage Thailand‘s image as well as its economy.”

A Chiang Mai March for Peace

Mark Whitman

Monks from Burma and Thailand, other Thai nationals, ethnic groups and others from Burma and foreign residents joined together on Tuesday, 21st September in a march for peace. The walk began at Wat Suan Dok and went through the City centre ending with a rally in Thapae Gate square.

The date was chosen to mark both the United Nations ‘International Day of Peace’ and the third anniversary of the Saffron Revolution in Burma. Sadly this peaceful uprising by thousands of Monks in support of the people of their country was brutally crushed by the military junta. Many Monks were either killed or imprisoned, where many of them remain along with some 2.000 political prisoners of the regime.

The demonstration of solidarity was also a protest against the sham elections which are to be held in Burma this coming November. These have already been dismissed by the international community because of the restrictions and costs made on participants, the continued house arrest of the legal leader of the people, Aung San Suu Kyi and the large number of would be participants in any election who are in prison.

The walk though Chiang Mai was one of many organised world wide. The local police were exceptionally cooperative to the marchers, escorting them through a long route, holding up traffic and ensuring the safety of the 300 plus participants and attendant media. And sadly of the Burmese secret police. The local police were thanked by the organizers at the final rally, where a number of speeches and declarations drew enthusiastic support from observers.

The event was organised by the Best Friend Library at 28 Nimmenhaemin Road with support from other groups. Earlier in the week they arranged lectures at the library and on the Thursday screenings of documentaries about Burma were screened to a packed house at the Alliance Francaise. Those interested in further information about these and future events and the use of the Library may visit any time.

Elephant injured by landmine sees recovery

Boonmee is undergoing treatment at the Lampang Elephant Hospital.

Thaweerat Pensalaphan

Boonmee, the 10 year old female elephant injured in a landmine explosion in Myanmar just outside the Tak border, is recovering from her injuries Dr. Preecha Puangkham, Director of the Elephant Hospital reported at the Friends of the Asian Elephant camp in Lampang on September 22.

Dr. Preecha said her wound has been healing with no signs of infection but that they plan on keeping her for at least another two weeks until she is recovered more fully.

Boonmee was severely injured when she stepped on a landmine while her mother was working in the forest at the Thai-Myanmar border.

Mae Hong Son hit by strong winds

A large tree knocked over during
a storm blocks Highway 1095, Mae Hong Son-Pai Road.

Khajohn Boonpath

Heavy rain and strong winds knocked over trees and electrical poles causing a 3 hour long blackout and in Mae Hong Son’s Muang and Pang Mapha Districts on September 21. 780 homes were affected in the storm.

A large tree was knocked over in the storm blocking Highway 1095 at the 194th km marker, about 14 kilometers from Mae Hong Son town. Highway crews worked more than two hours to remove the huge tree that lay across the entire road. No injuries were reported.

The Meteorological Station chief Peerarat Ruangsuksai in Mae Hong Son said winds were recorded at 79 kilometers an hour during the storm.

Australian man commits suicide in front of onlookers

Chiang Mai Mail reporters

A 26 –year old Australian tourist leapt to his death from a 30 meter high billboard near Chiang Mai Ram Hospital in front of a hundred onlookers on September 21. Police attempted to talk the man in coming down for nearly two hours with a female Tourist Police officer ascending to the top of the billboard in the fire engine bucket.

Police had tried to put an large air cushion down in an attempt to catch him if he did jump but he suddenly jumped off the top of the billboard without saying a word to the officers.

Rescue teams worked to save him but he was pronounced dead at Maharaj Nakhon Chiang Mai Hospital.

The deceased has been identified as Nathan M. Fitzgerald, 26 of North Bondi, Australia. The Australian Embassy were notified in case of family in Australia.

Yabaa smuggling continues at a high pace

Chiang Mai Mail reporters

More than 102,000 yabaa pills were seized in two seperate cases at the same checkpoint in Phrae on the same day. On September 24, a police checkpoint on the Denchai Uttaradit Highway at Ban Huay Rai arrested Singha Khamchan of Suphan Buri with 100,000 yabaa tablets stashed in the trunk of his car. He attempted to flee the scene during the search but was caught shortly after by the police. He confessed to the Denchai police that he had been paid 100,000 baht by a dealer in Suphan Buri to pick up the drugs in Chiang Rai for delivery to Suphan Buri.

Shortly after the first arrest, Aphichart Chansiripho and Pinyo Binnor of Uttaradit were found at the same checkpoint with 2,400 yabaa pills and a handgun. Pinyo told plice that they were students in Uttaradit and had bought the drugs in Lampang to sell in Uttardit to pay for their studies.