Vol. IX No. 37 - Monday
November 1 - Monday November 15, 2010



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NEWS
HEADLINES [click on headline to view story]:

Dhevo Rohana: End of Buddhist Lent

Provincial airports targeted by drug smugglers

Connect USA seminar brings American products and services

Orchard farmers increased global competitiveness with help from the German government

Revenue Department announces new tax strategies

Changing weather patterns too strong for traditional rain-man

Meet the Consuls

Omkoi receives aid for sustainable agriculture project

Increased drug trafficking is expected with upcoming Myanmar elections

Burmese activist visits Chiang Mai

Fresh clashes erupt along Thai-Burmese border

Police ready for November software sweep

 

Dhevo Rohana: End of Buddhist Lent

Thaweerat Pensalaphan

The end of Buddhist Lent was celebrated on October 24 at historic Wat Phrathart Lampang Luang temple in Lampang in the Dhevo Rohana alms giving ceremony.

Traditionally, 21 Buddhist monks descend along the Naga stairs from the Khong Gate of the temple in Tambon Lampang Luang, Kor Kha district with more than 500 people waiting to give alms.

And in Chiang Mai this traditional ceremony was held at Wat Faihin behind Chiang Mai University where a thousand Buddhist faithful gathered along the roadsides to give alms to the monks who descended Wat Faihin’s stairs to the campus.

The Dhevo Rohana alms giving ceremony is traditionally held on the first day of the waning moon of the 11th lunar month which is believed to be the day the Lord Buddha descended to earth. According to Buddhist legend, in the 7th Buddhist Lent after the Lord Buddha had obtained enlightenment he went to reside in the second heaven where Indra dwells, so that he could give a sermon to all. The first day of the waning moon of this month is the traditional day for people to make merit by giving alms to Buddhist monks.

 

Provincial airports targeted by drug smugglers

Chiang Mai Mail reporters

Transnational drug trafficking rings have shifted their transit routes from Suvarnabhumi International Airport to provincial airports Pittaya Jinawat the Secretary- General of the Office of Narcotics Control Board (ONCB) reported recently at a meeting held at the 3rd Development Battalion in Mae Rim.

Drug smuggling rings, especially those from West African nations, Iran and Pakistan often target and befriend Thai women to act as carriers.

The ONCB is working together with authorities to step up preventative measures as well as increase surveillance. At a recent meeting in Indonesia, the Thai government proposed increased measure to block smuggling at regional airports and next month some West African countries will send representatives to discuss ways in which to control drug smuggling.

The government, Pittaya noted, is working at all levels to combat drug smuggling, from local to international.


Connect USA seminar brings American products and services

U.S. Commercial Attache Francis Peters of the U.S. Embassy in Thailand, Yutthapong Jeeraprapapong, Chairman of the Northern Federation of Thai Industries. Narong Kongprasert, President of the Chiang Mai Chamber of Commerce, Susan Stevenson, Consul General of the U.S. in Chiang Mai, Oraphan Boonyalug Commercial Specialist, and Sukanya Sirikeeratikul of the Foreign Agricultural Service (FAS) at the seminar held at the Le Meridien Hotel.

Supoj Thaimyoj

The U.S. Embassy in Bangkok, in collaboration with the U.S. Consulate General in Chiang Mai, launched “Connect USA: Opportunities for Sourcing American Products and Services” at Le-Meridien Hotel in Chiang Mai on October 14, 2010 with U.S. Consul General Susan Stevenson presiding over the opening ceremony.

U.S. Commercial Attache Francis Peters from the Embassy joined the seminar with Narong Kongprasert, President of the Chiang Mai Chamber of Commerce, Oraphan Boonyalug, Commercial Specialist of the U.S. Embassy, and Sukanya Sirikeeratikul, of the Foreign Agricultural Service (FAS) of the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), U.S. Embassy in Thailand.

The half-day program highlighted U.S. government-sponsored programs and resources to connect Thai and U.S. businesses. Staff from the U.S. Embassy and Consulate General shared insights and answered questions on sourcing products and services from U.S. The conference drew over 90 participants from local businesses and trading companies, local business association, and U.S. and international companies based in northern Thailand.

Consul General Susan Stevenson noted that the U.S. Consulate in Chiang Mai and the U.S. Embassy in Bangkok have been collaborating on the U.S.-Thai Creative Partnership, which aims to boost trade and investment between Thailand and the United States.

“Thailand remains the United States’ 23 rd largest trading partner and 8th largest in Asia. The U.S. and Thailand have been strong diplomatic and commercial partners for more than 175 years, in large part due to our robust trade relationship. We believe there is room for growth on both sides particularly as businesses in northern Thailand expand abroad,” said the Consul General.

Narong Kongprasert, President of the Chiang Mai Chamber of Commerce, highlighted in his opening remarks the worldwide reputation of American products as technologically advanced and reliable.

He also encouraged local businesses to exploit the strong Bant by importing American IT, electronic, automobile and agricultural equipment and machinery to upgrade to higher technology and enhance productivity.

U.S. food and agricultural products exports to Thailand last year was worth U.S. $1.111 billion.

In the first half of the year, exports hit US$610 million with the top three exports cotton, wheat and animal feed and the top three food exports dairy products, processed fruit, vegetables and seafood and fresh fruit.

With the expansion of supermarkets and department stores and the high number of convenience stores, opportunities for distribution continue to increase and Thai buying power continues to grow with about 15 million people considered in the main target group for U.S. products imported into Thailand. Thai consumers tend to hold high confidence in the safety and quality of U.S. food and agricultural products

The Thai Government is also encouraging Thai producers to do more business with food products to export high quality products.

One more thing, it is because of the Thai government policy that wants to encourage

For more details about business opportunities with U.S. companies, please visit http:// www.buyusa.gov/home/


Orchard farmers increased global competitiveness with help from the German government

By Phitsanu Thepthong

A five year project targeting lamyai, tangerine and saa mulberry farmers run by the German Technical Co-operation (GTZ) and the Department of Industrial Promotion’s Industrial Promotion Centre Region 1 (IPC1) found success in its project implementation to encourage agro-industrial clusters in the Northern region.

Prasong Nilbanchong, Director of PIC1 presents a souvenir of the project to David Oberhuber, left, country director of GTZ Thailand. (Photo by Supoj Thaimyoj)

Prasong Nilbanchong, Director of PIC1 told the Chiang Mai Mail that after the five-year project, the farmers and growers reduced production and investment costs, increased productivity and improved product and production quality in line with environmentally friendly standards.

David Oberhuber, country director of GTZ Thailand, said at the closing ceremony of the project called ‘ Promotion of Northern Agro-Industrial Clusters (PNAC), held at Kantary Hills Hotel in Chiang Mai on October 19 that the PNAC’ s goal is also to promote competitiveness of the Thai agro industries, and enterprises which are also supported by German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development, ( BMZ), for eco-efficiency of Thai agro-industries, reduce production costs and improve product quality, productivity, environmental performance and export opportunity.

The five-year PNAC project, which ran from September 2005 to July 2010, targeted small and medium enterprises (SMEs), as they drive Thailand’s significant economy comprising the largest number of Thai businesses.

Director Prasong noted that the project had substantially benefited the target groups. Longan/ lamyai growers were able to reduce production costs by 20% and increase yields of premium-grade AA+A fruit by more than 20%. Improvement of dried lamyai processing has resulted in a 20% increase in yields, better product quality, longer shelf life and a 25% reduction in energy-related production costs. As well, the project has piloted global standards for lamyai growers.

Longan/ lamyai growers’ groups in two districts of Chiang Mai, San Pa Tong and Phrao, were the first in Thailand to receive Global GAP Option 2 certification for good agricultural practices.

The project improved pulp processing for saa paper from mulberry trees, reducing chemical use by replacing sodium hydroxide with potassium hydroxide. Waste water from the production process was reused to fertilize plants. Meanwhile, the saa product processed from new technology was proved better and product increasing by 9 %.

At present, there are six factories in Chiang Mai and four in Phrae using this clean technology to produce saa pulp, reducing waste water by 80.5 million liters from these all ten factories.

Over the past five years, the project has also helped promote sustainable orange (tangerine) cultivation among farmers by introducing Integrated Pest Management (IPM). It also developed a pilot project to provide crop management services in Chiang Rai, Chiang Mai and Mae Hong Son.

Improved pest control resulted in increases in fruit weights and grades, reduced production costs, improved soil nourishment, and balanced ecosystems in the vicinities of tangerine orchards.

MSurasit Bunyaphisant, Deputy Director- General of Department of Industrial Promotion also told Chiang Mai Mail that one of the key factors for this success has been the high quality of Thai agro industrial growers or producers which are rated in the world’s top ten.

Deputy Director General Surasit added that another key factor, are that the agro industries could be developed in form of clusters, which is a part of the success. The more clusters would help clear achievement in the productivities process, from the cultivation to production, improvement complex and then to the end, as the whole project is environmentally friendly. Changing from chemical use to organic methods is the highlight for this PNAC program.


Revenue Department announces new tax strategies

Phitsanu Thepthong

The Revenue Department has announced its readiness for the next fiscal year with new strategic management so as to meet its target for the country’s tax collection Director General Satit Rungkasiri announced at a meeting held in Chiang Mai on October 27 at the Le Meridien Hotel for the 12 Regional Offices.

Satit said the Revenue Department announced its ‘Big Change’ policy, adjusting taxation structures so as to be in line with the public participatory process and by using modern IT systems to monitor those who will pay tax.

Director General Satit Rungkasiri of the Revenue Department at the meeting at the Le Meridien Hotel on October 27.

He furthered that a focus on developing IT tools and databases to increase efficiency in tax collection will supplement the existing tools and services. He added that this will increase efficiency and convenience for business operators and tax payers.

He added that he has assigned Revenue Department officials to implement new management systems to the heads of the government division under supervision of the Department so that they could implement taxation management plans and efficiently collect tax for the fiscal year of 2011.

He said confidently that the Revenue Department would certainly be able to collect tax as targeted by the Government, “but that tax collection must be followed procedurally, with good management methods to make it more convenient to everyone involved.

Director General Satit remarked that the targeted figure for tax collection for this fiscal year (2011), is as high as 1.3 trillion baht, “but we are still confident that the Revue Department officials will work hard to collect the tax as targeted.”

He noted that “We have organized this meeting so that the Revenue Department officials concerned could analyze the business sector situation future trends so the revenue management teams will understand and recognize the obstacles. Human resources are still an existing problem as there are not enough qualified personnel to help make it more profitable, however, we are trying to adopt a new IT system to help support the targeted groups for paying tax and taxation management.”

Technology, he noted, will help target the problems and allow qualified personnel t inspect and correct documentation.

Satit pointed out that the main principles aimed at improving future revenue collection include linking information in various databases so they are all integrated, launching promotional campaigns for taxpayers to encourage taxpayers to use the internet, developing more networked computer systems to make inspection more efficient and to standardize the check list for all officials to use.

Additionally they plan to introduce a taxation handbook for government officials to calculate taxation among private businesses and finally to adjust the tax system so that it is fair for all concerned parties.


Changing weather patterns too strong for traditional rain-man

By Esther de Jong, Jakarta, Indonesia

Indonesia usually has two distinct seasons. It rains for six months and then it’s dry for the rest of the year. But this year the rains have not stopped. For the first time in three years the government has been forced to import rice. Traditionally Indonesians have relied on the powers of a ‘rain-man’ or pawing hujan to control the rain, but it seems even his powers are fading in the face of changing global weather patterns.

With hardly a single day without rain on Java Island this year, 63-year-old Muhamad Subadri is perturbed. “I have never experienced this. Normally the rain falls in January, February March, April, May and the dry season follows after that, but this year it even rained on Indonesian independence day in late August!” says Muhamad.

Everybody calls him Ubad and in the rainy season farmers from Tegalega, West Java, hire him to stop the rain from falling. In the dry season he is brought in to make the rain fall. “The almighty has given me this power,” says Muhamad, “I bring the incense to someone who wants to stop the rain and I pray to god. The spell is mine, I cannot share that. If people want rain to stop in a certain area I travel there and burn incense and pray.”

This is the first year no one has asked him to make it rain. “I’m worried because it will affect the rice harvest. The rice cannot dry and for other plants and crops you need more fertilizer and pesticides and that’s expensive,” says Muhamad, who is also a farmer himself.

Local farmer Ujang Majudin has hired Muhamad’s rain-man powers several times. “Sometimes we ask him to help stop the rain, but nowadays it does not always work. It depends on the almighty. The rainmaker is no longer strong enough to stop the rain,” he says.

Outside trucks are picking up food to take to supermarkets and farmers are dropping of their crops of motorbikes. Benni Soromin from the UN Food and Agriculture Organization says that if the rain continues it could affect food supply across the region. “It could have a very wide impact on the whole of Asia. We’ll know by early next year, because rain is predicted to last until early 2011. The impact is very significant,” says Benni.

Back on the farm the wind picks up and grey clouds slowly make their way to the fields. Ubad believes that perhaps he has worn his rain-man skills out. The rains are getting too strong for him alone to stop, he says. “Last year during the rainy season many people wanted to stop the rain so the rain that did not fall then is falling now. But I don’t think it is a punishment, it is a natural phenomenon,” he says.

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. You can find more stories from Asia Calling at www.asiacalling.org. Asia Calling articles are published in conjunction with the Faculty of Mass Communications, Chiang Mai University and are broadcast weekly in Thai on the Voice of Mass Communications radio station at FM 100 on Thursdays and Fridays from 7.30 a.m. - 8.30 a.m.


Meet the Consuls

People's Republic of China

Shana Kongmun

As part of a new series to introduce the Consuls General, the Consuls and Honorary Consuls to the Chiang Mai community we must first start with the basic definitions. Consul Generals and Consuls are official representatives of a government to an area inside another country, usually to assist and protect the Consul’s fellow citizens, issue visas and to facilitate trade and relations in that region. A Consul is not the same as an Ambassador who is the official representative of the head of state in the country and is located in the capital city.

Zhu Wei Min, a native of Shanghai, has been the Consul General for the People’s Republic of China in Chiang Mai since June of 2009.

The Consulate General is a full service office, providing not only visas, passports and assistance, but also facilitating trade relations. An Honorary Consul generally can provide notary assistance and aid in case of trouble but is not necessarily a career diplomat or member of their country’s foreign service.

The People’s Republic of China offers a full service Consulate General where visas to China are issued as well as aid for the some 1,800 students, business people and long term residents of the 12 Northern Provinces.

The current Consul General, Zhu Wei Min, is a 50 year old native of Shanghai and a self professed oddity in the diplomatic corps. He noted that he started life as an engineer, with a PhD in hydrodynamics. Wei Min added that he had worked and studied in the Netherlands for some time before returning to China where he took up management positions in the scientific field. He was appointed the Vice President of the Shanghai Academy of Science and Techonology in 2002 where he was approached by the Foreign Service looking for “different kinds of people”. He said, “why not?” and applied and went for an interview in Beijing. He said he underwent one year of diplomatic training and, starting off high on the ladder, was appointed the Deputy Consul General of the Consulate in San Francisco in 2005. He was appointed the Consul General here in Chiang Mai last year, and took his post in June of 2009.

Consul General Wei Min said that one of his top goals is to help promote Chiang Mai as a tourism destination from China. He said, there is only one direct international flight from China to Chiang Mai, and that is a small airline that flies from Kunming twice a week. He noted that a million Chinese come to Thailand a year and yet only 2 percent visit Chiang Mai. And that, he said, is because of the lack of direct flights. “Chinese people often take a week long trip to South East Asia. It’s very popular to fly direct to Thailand, usually, Bangkok, Phuket or Pattaya for a 2 or 3 days and then off to Malaysia and then Singapore. If you only have two days, you are going to go where your direct flight takes you,” he added.

Additionally he noted that the growth in trade and closer relations between Thailand and China is a major issue. “Thailand is one of the closer countries to China, we have very good relations,” CG Wei Min said. “We want to strengthen the relationship and help Thai people to understand our policies.”

The growth of trade between Thailand and China has grown 1700 percent in the past 35 years, he pointed out. 35 years ago, it was 24 million U.S. dollars and at the end of 2008 it was valued at 42 billion U.S. dollars. This year it’s projected to reach 50 billion U.S. dollars, the Consul General said. Adding that, while Japan is currently the largest investor in Thailand, “I am confident that Chinese investment in Thailand will grow.”

He added that the exchange of language and culture was a valuable part of the job, noting that 1,500 Chinese students are currently studying in Chiang Mai and 10,000 Chinese students studying around Thailand. He noted that there are about 30,000 Thai students studying in China and that an estimated 600,000 students are studying Chinese in Thailand. He said, he was surprised to learn that there were universities in Southern China that teach the Thai language as well.

Finally, after all the business talk, he said that one of the things he loves about Chiang Mai are really nice people. He said, he tells his friends back home in Chiang Mai’s sister city Shanghai, that they would be amazed at the driving here. He said, these narrow streets and everyone gives room, and noted the intersections with no traffic lights and no policemen and yet the traffic still flows. He said, “In the year and a half that I have lived here, I have never seen people lose their temper in the streets, and I always tell my friends back home about this.”

He loves the small town feel of Chiang Mai and the abundance of culture and arts and is surrounded in easy reach by mountains and rivers.

Finally, he said, one of the wonderful things here are the abundance of birds, “Shanghai has no birds. When I first moved here, I was woken up every morning by the songs of the birds. It is really beautiful.”

The Consulate General of the People’s Republic of China is located on the moat at 111 Changloh Road, the building can’t be missed as it’s got a long white wall. 0 5328-0380 http://chiangmai.china-consulate.org/eng/.


Omkoi receives aid for sustainable agriculture project

The Consul General of Japan Mr.Kazuo Shibata signed a funding agreement with Mr. Hiroaki Takahashi, the Chief Director of Eco Future Fund at the Consulate-General on October 27.

The Government of Japan is extending Grant Assistance for a Japanese NGO Project, “Establishment of Ecosystem Integrated Farming Villages (phase1)”, at Yangpian Sub-District, Omkoi District, Chiang Mai. Mr.Kazuo Shibata, Consul-General of Japan in Chiang Mai, and Mr. Hiroaki Takahashi, the Chief Director of Eco Future Fund, a nonprofit organization registered in Japan, signed a contract to this effect on October 27, 2010 at the Consulate-General of Japan in Chiang Mai.

Yangpian Sub-District is located in highlands about 1,400m‘1,900m above sea level, where hilltribes, such as the Karen, do their farming. However, the reduced traditional cycle of shifting cultivation, deforestation by expanding arable land, and the use of chemical fertilizer for cash crop growing have caused landslides, frequent flooding, loss of arable land, decreased water supply, and water pollution. Recently, these environmental changes have been having serious effects on the villagers, with poor crops due to soil exhaustion, health damage to children and pregnant woman from malnutrition and water pollution, and lack of cash income, leading to this area being called “the land that was left behind”.

In order to improve the situation, and to secure the villagers’ food, health, and income, the Eco Future Fund project will ensure sustainable development by promoting ecosystem integrated farming for 200 households at 3 villages, in the Mae Hat river basin, Yangpian Sub-District. In concrete terms, the Fund will give training in maintaining water quality, farming, agro-forestry, and youth volunteer work. The villagers will then be able to practice their new skill in their villages, and pass on their experience to the other villages.

At the request of Eco Future Fund, the Japanese Government is funding the workshop, administrative and personnel costs for the first phase of the project. The total amount of the assistance will be approximately 4,592,600 baht.

It is expected that the villagers’ living standards and farming environment will be improved and the project will lead to sustainable development in Yangpian Sub-District, Omkoi District by practicing ecosystem integrated farming.

For more information about GGP, please contact Mr. Sato, Consul or Ms. Hoshii and Ms. Hamaguchi, Coordinators for GGP Consulate-General of Japan in Chiang Mai, 053-203-367. (PR)


Increased drug trafficking is expected with upcoming Myanmar elections

By Supoj Thaimyoj and Phitsanu Thepthong

Third Army Region Commander Lt. General Wanthip Wongwai expressed concern at a recent press conference that the upcoming elections and following political changes in Myanmar may increase drug smuggling across the border.

Third Army Region Commander Lt. General Wanthip Wongwai discusses increased drug trafficking across Thailand’s borders.

Lt General Wanthip presided over a recent meeting held at the Command Center to step trafficking prevention measures. Commissioner of Provincial Police Bureau, Region 5 Pol Lt. Chaiya Siri-amphankul, Pittaya Jinawat, the secretary general of the Office of Narcotics Control Board, provincial authorities of Mae Hong Son, Chiang Rai and Chiang Mai, and government agencies concerned all attended to give input.

Lt Col Wanthip adding that during the past two years, the war on drugs operated by the Command Center and other Thai authorities saw increased effectiveness in blocking drug traffickers along the border.

“However, because of less time for operations by drug suppression authorities in Myanmar during the General Election more drugs are expected to be smuggled into the country via routes across the Thai-Myanmar border.” he remarked. Adding that increased supply could increase the number of addicts in the country as well. He noted that the compared to last year, arrests for drugs were 5 times higher which made it clear that strict measures need to be stepped up to combat smugglers and dealers.

In addition, he added that the new suppression measures will be implemented along with prevention measures to be created the border defense system. He pointed out now more spreads out of Yabaa and Ya Ice drugs in the cities are largely smuggled across the borders and into Thailand.

The Third Army Region commander noted that there are hundreds of drug rings and networks most of which were the same old gangs, which are now under close watch of the Thai authorities.

Lt Gen Wanthip furthered that this year, the Northern authorities confiscated around 4.3 million Yabaa pills and 54,730 grams of Ya Ice. 21 drug traffickers have been killed in clashes with the police so far this year.

“Next year, more strict suppression measures will be stepped up to deal with the drug rings,” he stressed, adding that it is expected that drug transit routes will be along the three border provinces in the northern region.

He indicated that there were 71 villages, and 14 border villages that need to be under special surveillance, and try to speed up more proactive working on drug suppression.


Burmese activist visits Chiang Mai

Ahead of the elections in Myanmar, a former political prisoner of the junta spoke at a meeting at the Soupasteak on Huay Kaew road last month. Thiha Yarzar, the son of a former Burmese Army Colonel, served almost 18 years in five prisons across Burma for pro-democracy activity as a student leader and for armed struggle as a freedom fighter. In a series of interviews in Mae Sot, Thailand, during May and June of 2009, he told his story to Paul Pickrem. Now covered in the small but powerful book, No Easy Road, it covers not only his tribulations but those of his country as it follows his life and his imprisonment for political activities.

Citing his experiences after years of torture in Myanmar prisons, and of the endless human rights abuses that continue in the country, he expressed little hope for fair, free or real elections in the country. Over 2,190 people remain in prison for expressing political opinions and the violence running up to the elections on November 7 is expected to continue.


Fresh clashes erupt along Thai-Burmese border

Jai Wan Mai

Separate encounters pitting the Burmese Army against armed ethnic opposition groups broke out close to the Thai-Burmese border in Shan State on October 19 and 20, according to villagers and ethnic minority media.

Troops from the Burmese Army’s 277th Light Infantry Brigade (LIB) on October 19 engaged members of an undetermined armed group to the south of Mae Ken village, Mong Tone Township, in the east of Shan State.

The clash occurred after the Burmese Army received information from a villager that members of an armed group were passing through the area. Thirty soldiers from the Burmese Army were sent to intercept the group. The Burmese Army unit, however, was ambushed before it could reach its destination. The ensuing firefight lasted for 20 minutes before the unknown armed group retreated. One Burmese soldier was reportedly killed.

According to a Shan Herald Agency for News (SHAN) report, the clash was between the Shan State Army-South (SSA-S) and the Burmese Army. However, Sao Lao Hseng, a spokesman for the SSA-S, said: “The SSA-S can’t confirm our involvement in the clash of October 19. We are still checking with our men in the area.”

On the following day, further hostilities were witnessed to the east of Mae Ken village between the joint forces of the 65th LIB of the Burmese Army and a Lahu militia unit led by Ja Bee Koi, and troops from the United Wa State Army (UWSA). The incident happened when patrolling Burmese and Lahu soldiers ran into a UWSA detachment. One Lahu soldier and two UWSA fighters died in the encounter, with several others on both sides reportedly wounded.

But, according to a villager of Na Kawng Mu, Mong Tone Township, “We heard of shooting between the UWSA and the Burmese Army. Four soldiers were lost on the side of the Burmese Army and one from the UWSA.”

Tension between the Burmese Army and UWSA has run high since the latter rejected the junta’s demand this year that the UWSA bring its troops under junta command within its Border Guard Force. (Mizzima)


Police ready for November software sweep

Police Raid companies with nearly 600 unlicensed software products on more than 100 PCs

As police prepare to unveil 2,000 new investigations into software piracy, two cases involving significant numbers of PCs loaded with unlicensed software prompted police to take action before the November 1 launch of their latest software piracy campaign targeting companies and organizations that use unlicensed software in violation of the Thai Copyright Act.

Earlier this month police announced a new nationwide sweep against companies and organizations that use unlicensed software in violation of Thai law. As part of this announcement, police said they have on file 2,000 new investigations into corporate software piracy. Some of these targeted companies use strictly unlicensed software while others simply do not have enough licenses to cover the software assets they use in their companies, said the police.

However, despite the November 1 start date for their latest anti-piracy campaign, police said that their mandate to reduce software piracy warranted immediate action.

“Concerning these two raids, we felt that given the large numbers of PCs loaded with unlicensed software, it was appropriate to be proactive and take immediate action as opposed to waiting,” said Economic and Cyber Crime Division police spokesperson Chainarong Charoenchainao. “In both cases, our investigations showed that these companies had major ongoing violations.”

The companies accused of using unlicensed software include a manufacturer with Thai and Australian shareholders that is alleged to have 416 unlicensed software programs loaded onto to at least 68 PCs. In addition, a Thai company in the machine import and design industry stands accused of using 174 unlicensed software programs on at least 40 PCs. Among the unlicensed software products found by police during the raids are products by Thai Software Enterprises, Adobe, Autodesk, Microsoft, and SolidWorks.

By relying on search warrants based on evidence collected through investigations, anonymous tips and legal complaints from copyright holders, police officers from ECD say they expect the momentum of enforcement actions to continue to grow for the remainder of the year.

“As we’ve said all year, our efforts to reduce software piracy are a daily effiort,” said ECD spokesperson Charoenchainao. “However, there are times of year when our efforts reach new levels of intensity—and this November through the end of the year is going to be one of those times.”

The software piracy rate in Thailand is 75 percent and is in a downward trend partly as a result of consistent police enforcement, which includes ongoing investigations and multiple raids every week in which police visit companies where there is evidence of unlicensed software usage. Company directors face fines and possible jail sentences for software piracy.

Altogether this year, police actions against companies accused of software piracy have found pirated software in use worth 312 million baht. Police officials also emphasized that private enterprise is the primary target for software piracy raids. Police say that claims about software piracy raids at schools or other public organizations are completely inaccurate.

Those who report the use of unlicensed software by calling 02-714-1010 or by reporting it online are eligible to receive an award of up to 250,000 Thai Baht. The identity of the caller is protected. More information is available online at www.stop.in.th.



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