NEWS
HEADLINES [click on headline to view story]:

Yi Peng Lantern Festival lights up the city

Veterans honor fallen comrades on Remembrance Day

Meet the Consuls

Bank of Thailand reports on Northern economy

Four killed in road accidents in Lampang in one day

Over a million Yabaa pills seized in two separate arrests in Chiang Rai

Vietnamese caught for log poaching in Mae Hong Son

Illegal laborers detained by army

 

Yi Peng Lantern Festival lights up the city

Chiang Mai Mayor Tassanai Buranupakorn, Chalermsak Suranant, Director of TAT’s Chiang Mai Office, Boonlert Buranupakorn, President of Chiang Mai Provincial Administrative Organization, and members of the public and private sectors are joined at the press conference by dancers in traditional Lanna costume.

By Phitsanu Thepthong

Chiang Mai’s Loy Krathong Festival kicks off with the dazzling Yi Peng Lantern Festival featuring colorful, beautiful lanterns lighting up the city around the moat and at the City Gates every night. Chiang Mai Provincial Authorities have organized a bigger and more elaborate festival this year, with Loy Krathong starting November 20 and running through the 22nd.

Benjapol Sithipraneet, from Lanna Lantern, noted that in the past farmers used baskets to cover candles in order to keep them burning when they went to their fields and from this ancient practice the modern day lanterns slowly evolved to finally be used as a offering for Buddha. Inside the lantern is a Pang Prateep candle, a small clay saucer filled with animal fat or beeswax and a wick.

One of the colorful animal lanterns on display around the city.

Lanterns are constructed of bamboo sticks, which are wrapped with Sa paper or colored transparent sheets and decorated with fabric or bronze paper cut in elaborate patterns. There are 8 traditional Lanna lanterns; the Octagonal lantern, the Jar lantern, the Star lantern, the Tai lantern, the Hoo Kratai lantern, the Lotus lantern, the Phat Lantern, and the Animal lantern.

Wilas Panyawong, the Chairman of Night Bazaar Business Operators Club, said one of the highlights will fall on November 20, when the spectacular Lanna lanterns will parade from Tha Phae at 6 p.m. along city roads to Panthip Plaza on Chang Klan where contests for the most beautiful design of Yi Peng lanterns and floats will be held. Concerts from popular singers and bands will be held there until midnight every night from the 18th, he added.

Chiang Mai Mayor Tassanai Buranupakorn, Chalermsak Suranant, Director of TAT’s Chiang Mai Office, and Sarawut Sae Tieo, President of Chiang Mai Tourism Business Association added that the Yi Peng lantern festival will be a highlight of the Loy Krathong festival.

Loy Krathong falls on the full moon night every year in November. On that day, Lanna people will pay homage to their ancestors with joss sticks and candles as called Loi Kamod, or Loi Fire a few days before reaching the full moon night. The Krathong Parade will be held on November 22.

People will clean their houses and temples to prepare for the sermon called ‘Maha Chart Vetsandonchadok” and decorate the arches of their houses with coconut leafstalks, bananas tree, sugarcane, flowers and lanterns in front of their houses.

To Khom Loy, first a kite released during the day, made of multi colored paper and during the night a small hot air balloon made of white paper fill the skies with light. It is believed that lighting from the lanterns is sent to Phra Ketkaew Julamanee in the second heaven where Indra dwells.

During the full moon night, people will take “Sa Pao’ or ‘Krathong’ to float on the river which is meant to float bad luck away, send offerings to Narayana and bring blessings. (Photos by Phitsanu Thepthong and Jittarporn Charasrum)

Lanterns light up the sky at Tha Phae Gate.

 

Veterans honor fallen comrades on Remembrance Day

Sergeant Maurice Noyer, a veteran of the Free French in WWII, places a poppy on the headstone at the memorial for those who have served their nations in times of war.

Shana Kongmun

Remembrance Day was held at the Foreign Cemetery on November 11, 2010 to remember those who have served in times of war. Remembrance Day is the term used by Commonwealth countries but it is also called Poppy Day to mark the fields of poppies that covered Flanders in World War I. November 11, 1918 marked the official end of World War I when the German government signed the Armistice on the 11th day of the 11th month at the 11th hour. And so, in honor of those who have served in times of war, veterans, families and others gather to pay respects at the 11th hour, of the 11th day of the 11th month.

The Foreign Cemetery in Chiang Mai holds many fallen veterans and the memorial for both foreign veterans and fallen members of the Free Thai movement of World War II is the site for the service. Deputy Head of the British Mission in Bangkok Daniel Pruce was joined by U.S. Consul General Susan Stevenson, British Honorary Consul Ben Svasti Thomson and French Honorary Consul Thomas Baude for the ceremony.

However, the highlight of the event was former Free French fighter and member of the British SAS, Sergeant Maurice Noyer, a few centimeters shorter than when his pilot’s license was issued, he joked, but still quite fit for a man in his nineties. He apologized for his English, saying he hadn’t used it since the War when he had learned it while training in Scotland. But his stories of parachuting behind enemy lines and his charming smile and indomitable spirit left many who attended deeply moved.

Remembrance Day is held every year on November 11, at 11 a.m. at the Foreign Cemetery just past the Gymkhana Club. Be sure to take a moment next year, to remember those who have served their countries.

A bugler from Kawila Army Camp plays “Last Post” for the silent crowd at the Foreign Cemetery on November 11 to mark Remembrance Day or Poppy Day. Held to remember those who have served in the armed forces in service of their countries in times of war. (Photo by Shana Kongmun)


Meet the Consuls

United States Consul General

By Shana Kongmun

Susan Stevenson arrived in August to replace outgoing Michael Morrow as the new United States Consul General in Chiang Mai and she has moved quite quickly into the busy life a Consul General leads.

Originally from Ohio, she grew up in rainy Washington State before attending the Wharton School of Business at the University of Pennsylvania. She studied business and moved into a job with Kellogg’s of cornflakes fame, she admits with a laugh. She was posted to Paris for a few years, which she said, was very lovely and inspired her to apply for a job with the State Department’s Foreign Service. She said that she was looking for something more meaningful and fulfilling as a career and that she has found it in the State Department.

Her very first posting was to Thailand and she studied Thai language and culture a year before taking up her position. She said that the first 8 weeks of language lessons were the hardest, and that learning to tell time was a real challenge.

She served in Thailand and then moved on to other postings, including Mexico and Hong Kong, eventually being reposted back as Consul General after serving in Beijing. She speaks French, Spanish, Thai and Mandarin Chinese.

She noted that her main role as Consul General is to be the United States representative in Northern Thailand, the Consulate General is an extension of the U.S. Embassy in Bangkok, she added. She is the public face of the United States, she noted, adding that additionally, the Consulate General also provides services to both American citizens, yes you can get a new passport here, as well as non-immigrant visa services for those visiting the United States.

Additional priorities as Consul General include law enforcement, economic engagement, cultural, trade and educational exchanges, environmental issues and democratic policies.

She said, her biggest job this year has been the 60th anniversary of the founding of the U.S. Consulate and the continuation of the former Consulate General’s work. They hope to have a big party to celebrate the day, although not on the day as it falls on an important Thai public holiday, Constitution Day, December 10.

Another big project has been the launch of the Creative City of which the Consulate sits as an advisor on the steering committee. She said that there are high hopes to promote the creative economy in Chiang Mai, utilizing its universities and cultural strengths to increase business focus on design and IT in the area.

It has been noted among the many women in Chiang Mai that now the U.S. Consul General in Chiang Mai is a woman, the Deputy Head of Mission in Bangkok is a woman and the incoming Ambassador is a woman. Mrs. Stevenson said that she is not the first female Consul General in Chiang Mai, and is, indeed, the third since its founding. She added that being a woman in authority has not been so difficult for her, her position commands respect and Thailand have a higher respect for women than other countries may. She said that in the service itself, it has not been too difficult for the pioneers of the 70’s led the way. She noted, that up until the early 70’s a woman had to resign once she married. And while its more culturally acceptable for the wife to follow the husband in a post, her husband has been able to structure his work so that it is possible for him to do so.

Northerners, she noted, are wonderfully polite and value their culture so much, “I love the fact that I went to a meeting and the director was wearing traditional clothes.” She added that the generosity of spirit, respectfulness and graciousness of Thai people are some of the things she finds most attractive about Thailand, she ascribes these cultural strengths to the fact that the country has never been colonized. Additionally, she loves the small town feel of Chiang Mai, “everything is so much more accessible here,” she concluded.


Bank of Thailand reports on Northern economy

BoT’s Director Prasopsuk Puangsakorn (left)
with Senior Director Sathorn Tophothai.

By Phitsanu Thepthong

Although the third quarter was slower when compared to the previous quarter, the economic and monetary conditions for the Northern region continued to expand Director Prasopsuk Puangksakorn and Senior Director Sathron Tophothai of the Bank of Thailand reported to the Chiang Mai Mail on November 2.

They noted that the key factors to help drive Northern Thailand’s economic growth were domestic and foreign tourists visiting the Northern region, the amount of VAT collected from hotels and restaurants, the arrival number of air passengers, and hotel occupancy rates. Although tourism partly benefited from government promotional activities, the number of foreign tourists visiting Thailand and the North continued to decline with heavy rains and floods hindering tourists travelling to the North.

Export growth decelerated, particularly electronic components due to weaker external demand from markets abroad, while import growth contracted slightly, Senior Director Sunthorn Tophothai noted.

Export value rose moderately by only 13.4 percent when compared with 20.6 percent in the previous month. The export slowdown was observed in high –tech products such as electronic components, vehicles and parts.

Exports via border trade grew comparable with the previous month following a substantial increase in exports to Lao PDR and the southern China, but exports to Myanmar were severely affected by the Mae Sot – Myawadee border closure, he added.

Import value fell by 2.4 percent, following a sharp decline in imports of vegetables and fruits, fishery products, raw materials and capital goods. In addition, imports from bordering countries also slowed down. He added that expansion in private investment had slowed, showing a decline in investment in the construction sector due to the effects from last year’s crisis.

Manufacturing production negative but showed improvement following an increase in agricultural processing industry for exports and construction related materials production. The Manufacturing Production Index (MPI) fell by 3.1 percent, a marginal contraction when compared with a decline by 21.3 percent last month. This owed to a pick-up in production of processed vegetable and fruit, jewelry and construction-related materials.

Major crops Production Index dropped by 5.6 percent when compared with 11.0 percent decrease in the previous month. “This is due to the decline in outputs of maize, major rice, longan and shallot caused by drought conditions,” he added. “However, farm income remained favorable on the back of rising major crops prices due to falling output,” said Parasopsuk

Domestic demand expanded at a slower rate from the previous month. The Private consumption Index (PCI), rose by 2.6 percent down from the 4.5 percent in August due to the slowdown in VAT collection.

The Private investment Index (PII), showed sign of improvement reflected by an increase of 2.3 percent following an expansion in residential construction activities as well as increased imports of machinery.

Trade and consumption activities were noted to see a slight slowdown. And the banking sector saw deposit and credit outstanding continue to expand with commercial bank deposits rising by 3.9 percent and outstanding credit increasing by 12.5 percent following increased borrowing demand.

Inflation has remained low and in the Northern region rose by 3.5 percent, lower than the 3.7 percent in the previous month. However, prices of fresh fruits and vegetables remained high. Demand for labor increased mainly in construction sectors. The unemployment rate stood at low level with a rate of 1.1 percent.


Four killed in road accidents in Lampang in one day

Ten more injured days later

A minivan crashed into the swamp, injuring ten people,
after the driver lost control on a sharp curve.

Thaweerat Pensalaphan

Lampang Province saw four people killed in two separate road accidents in one day and a further 10 injured in an accident a few days later in the first week of November.

On the evening of November 2 an Isuzu pickup crashed into a motorbike on the Lampang-Maetha Road. Two young female students of Lampang Rajabhat University, Ms Apasara Tiemjai, 18 and Ms Pranom Mano, 18 were found dead at the scene. The pickup was found crashed into a wall and the driver, Kawin Hormkaen, 27, from Muang Lampang district, was taken to the hospital where he died from his injuries.

The police said the two students were riding their motorcycle to their dormitory when then suddenly slowed down in the middle of the road before turning right. It was very dark with no street lights and the pickup hit the students while driving at a high speed.

Another accident also on November 2 involved a pickup hitting a motorcycle near the Sichum intersection of the Lampang-Chiang Rai superhighway.

Police report that Lue Khamkhuen, 67, of Muang Lampang, was driving his motorcycle in the wrong lane when he hit a pickup truck in the inside lane. The driver of the motorcycle was killed instantly.

On November 7, an accident on the Lampang-Chiang Mai highway injured ten people when a minivan overturned near the 25 kilometer markers in Ban Tung Kwien, Tambon Wiengtan.

The driver Tossaporn Kongpriew, 45, was heading with passengers for Uttaradit from Chiang Mai after merit making at a house warming party, he lost control at the sharp curve before overturning and plunged into the swamp. No deaths were reported and the injured were transported to Hang Chat Hospital.


Over a million Yabaa pills seized in two separate arrests in Chiang Rai

The two drug suspects at Provincial Police Region 5 Headquarters
with one million Yabaa pills confiscated by police.

Nopniwat Krailerg and Saksit Meesubkwang

Two men were arrested November 2 at a police checkpoint in Chiang Rai with a haul of 83,000 yabaa pills stashed in the back seat, Provincial Police Region 5 police reported.

Singaporean Narcotics Police officers were on hand observing drug suppression activity at a checkpoint in Padaed by police acting on a tipoff that a drug smuggling operation was planned for the area.

The two men were coming from the Muang District of Chiang Rai when driver Naraset Chalermlertwanitch, 31, from San Sai, Chiang Mai, and passenger Thanakrit Sae Chao, 31, from Nan Province were intercepted and arrested. Initially the suspects denied all charges, Pol Lt Gen Chaiya Siri-amphankul said.

In a separate arrest on November 10, the Provincial Police Region 5 arrested two men after they fled from a police checkpoint in Thakaopluek, Mae Chan district, Chiang Rai.

Police said they tried to intercept the pickup truck as it passed through the police checkpoint at 3 a.m. but the driver sped away from the scene. Police followed the two men and a SWAT team apprehended Suvit Khumsak, 30, from Chainart Province, and Damnoen Panprimprem, 36, from Lampang with one million Yabaa pills worth 300 million baht hidden in the trunk of the car, one of the biggest drug confiscations in Chiang Rai.

Damnoen confessed to the police that they had been paid 500,000 baht to deliver the drugs to Chiang Rai where the drugs would then be sent to Talad Thai in Pathum Thani.


Vietnamese caught for log poaching in Mae Hong Son

Some of the Mai Horm wood found poached in the forests
of Mae Hong Son’s Khun Yuam District.

Khajohn Boonpath

The Kamnan of Tambon Mae Yuam Noi, Khun Yuam District, Mae Hong Son, arrested a Vietnamese man suspected of smuggling Mai Horm or Krisana fragrant wood, in a deep jungle near the Dok Bua Tong fields on November 5.

The suspect said he was hired by a Hmong investor at 15,000 baht a log to illegally cut wood and had entered the country through the Lao border with two friends last month. The other two men are still at large.

Kamnan Boonthawee Phan-ngarmta, village committee members and villagers together with forestry officials led by Kamol Nanyabutre, and military rangers, border patrol police and Khun Yuam police found Nguyen Van Dong in the forest with logs of poached wood at Huay Pong area in Tambon Mae Yuam Noi.

The suspect has been detained pending further questioning.


Illegal laborers detained by army

57 Myanmar residents of the Naisoi Refugee Holding Center were detained when their vehicle was stopped by the special task force of the 7th Infantry Regiment in Pangmoo, Mae Hong Son, on November 4. Two pickups were loaded with the illegal workers who were being taken to Ban Sobsoi to harvest rice, Deputy Commander of the Task Force Colonel Boonyuen Inkwang reported. Three Thai citizens were arrested for bringing them to work illegally. (Photo and caption by Khajohn Boonpath)