Vol. IX No. 39 - Wednesday
December 1 - Wednesday December 15, 2010



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NEWS
HEADLINES [click on headline to view story]:

Flora Festival at Ratchaphruek Royal Park

British Council walk a success

Mae Hong Son trade delegation visits Myanmar

Royally sponsored rice distributed in Lampang

Mae Sai border trade continues to grow

Meet the Consuls

Log poachers nabbed in Mae Hong Son

Yabaa continues to flow across the border

Royal ThaiArmy Chief inspects border in Mae Hong Son

Sansai District receives Japanese government aid

Lampang plans strict enforcement against alcohol sales

 

Flora Festival at Ratchaphruek Royal Park

Deputy Chiang Mai Governor Chumporn Saengmanee, left, and Director Tassanee present the Flora Festival to be held at the Ratchaphruek Royal Park from December 1.

Nopniwat Krailerg

Ratchaphruek Royal Park will blossom with color and greenery in time for HM the King’s birthday as the Flora Festival begins December 1 and runs through February 6, 2011.

In addition to over 50 kinds of orchids and the flowering from the Royal Project the Festival will feature an English garden in front of the Buddha image, classes on landscaping, sufficiency economy and agriculture, garden decorations as well as dances and performances by popular performers. Nanthida Kaewbusai, Am Saowaluck, ETC, Best Sellor, Now and Then, and Mint Maleewan are just a few of the scheduled acts.

Tassanee Srimongkol, Director of Ratchaphruek Royal Park said that last year’s gardening festival attracted more than 1.5 million visitors to the Park for the 44 days of the event and this year is expected to reach at least that.

As part of the event, an Agriculture commodities market by the Ministry of Agriculture and Cooperatives (Chiang Mai), and Marketing Organization for Farmers, will run from December 3 -12, followed by Agriculture Asia 2010 from December 4 12, , and the auspicious occasion of His Majesty the King’s birthday “Ratchaphruek Ruamjaipak Rak Por Luang “fair, to mark the grand celebration from December 4- 6.

 

British Council walk a success

The British Council centre’s first celebration event for it’s 25th anniversary was in October when they organised the centre’s first ‘sponsored walk’. Ginny Rowlands, Centre Manager said ‘We wanted to do something that staff, families and students could get involved in but would reach out further. Something that would raise funds for charity was an obvious choice! We chose to donate money we raised to UNICEF to help flood victims in Pakistan and Thailand.’

The walk to raise funds for victims of the Pakistan floods by the British Council attracted all walks of life from Chiang Mai residents.

Actually the idea of a ‘sponsored walk’ was new to Thais but once they ‘got it’ they were really enthusiastic. Chiang Mai’s leading school, Yupparaj Wittayalai was brought on board along with many community members. The British Council has worked closely with the school since 2007 through its ‘Connecting Classrooms’ project. This year’s exchange students and the school’s marching band joined the sponsored walk .

Over 250 walkers of all ages joined in. The British Council managed to raise over 90,000 baht (just under ฃ2000), more than doubling their target. Even though this was planned as a one off event for their 25th year everyone hopes it will become a Chiang Mai tradition.


Mae Hong Son trade delegation visits Myanmar

Earlier this year, Thai Deputy Minister of Commerce Alongkorn Polabutre, Myanmar’s Director of Border Trade Department Aung Soe Thein, Mae Hong Son Governor Kamthorn Thawornsathit, accompanied by both Thai and Myanmar delegates visited Huay Ton Noon border pass in Khun Yuam District to discuss upgrading it to a permanent border checkpoint.

By Phitsanu Thepthong

A 30-member group of Mae Hong Son Chamber of Commerce and Mae Hong Son Tourists Business Association members was the first Thai delegation to visit Myanmar after its general election, said Supoj Klinpraneet, the President of the Mae Hong Son Chamber of Commerce. Consisting mainly of businessmen from agriculture, trade and tourism, the group traveled to Myanmar on a 5 day official visit in what he called a B2B, or business to business trip.

“Trade and tourism are expected to have a bright outlook, “he said with confidence.

They also congratulated their Myanmar counterparts for their successful general election as well as participated in the 500th anniversary celebration of Taung Oo city inside Myanmar. Taung Oo is an ancient city with unspoiled traditions and rich in natural resources.

One of the main objectives was to clear the way on the joint Thailand -Myanmar plan to upgrade the Ban Ton Noon border pass in Khun Yuam district, Mae Hong Son, only 200 kilometers from the new capital of Naypyidaw City, to permanent status.

Agreements between Thailand’s Mae Hong Son Tourist Business Association and Myanmar’s UMTA on tourism cooperation, as well as agricultural collaboration between Thailand’s Mae Hong Son Chamber of Commerce and UMFCCI were also signed.


Royally sponsored rice distributed in Lampang

Thaweearat Pensalaphan

Lampang Municipality was the beneficiary of HM the King in the form of Royally sponsored rice, receiving 46,600 kilograms to be distributed to 26,000 families living in the city.

Lampang Mayor Nimit Jairasantikarn, and city administrators, municipal council members, community leaders representatives from all 43 communities in Lampang city joined to perform a ceremony to receive the rice presented from His Majesty the King, marking his 60th anniversary accession to the throne, as well as, his birthday celebration on December 5.

The ceremony for the royally-sponsored rice was held in front of Their Majesties’ portraits, before blessing them with good health and long life on November 26.

Lampang Mayor Nimit reminded the gathering “to express our loyalty and gratitude we must do good deeds for His Majesty the King”, he said.


Mae Sai border trade continues to grow

Mae Sot closure benefits Chiang Rai border points

By Phitsanu Thepthong

Chiang Rai’s border point at Mae Sai is expected to thrive, according to Wiroon Khampilo, the President of Chiang Rai Chamber of Commerce. He noted that unlike Mae Sot in Tak which has seen recent fighting, there had not been any serious skirmishes near the border with Chiang Rai for more than 10 years and so the cross border trade and tourism has not seen the same negative effect.

“Political change in Myanmar after the general election and followed by the release of the opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi is a good sign. Most Myanmar people in the border areas here want to see a better economy and improve their standard of living. The general situation here is quite different from Mae Sot. The recent clashes just across the border inside Myanmar have been the latest and most serious setback for businesses in Mae Sot’s border commercial district,” he noted.

He added that the Mae Sai border point connects travelers to the town of Chiang Tung in eastern Shan state where most of the residents are Tai Yai and Wa and are currently not in conflict with the Myanmar government.

“Most of them there aim at doing more trade and business, so the border situation does not really affect the living of people here,” he said.

However, Wiroon added that “We are observing Myanmar‘s junta and the situation with Aung San Suu Kyi, the Myanmar people, as well as the new government roles. If they propose reconciliation plan, with no more political incidents erupt inside Myanmar then this would create a better outlook for the Myanmar situation,” he noted.

Wiroon pointed out that the border trade through the Mae Sai-Tachilek grew 56 %, from January –September this year, when compared to the same period of last year.

“We have proposed a plan to extend the opening and closing time of the border- check point from 6.30 a.m. to 6.00 pm, to 6.30 a.m. to 12.00 a.m. We have submitted it to the Mae Sai District Officer and to the Governor of Chiang Rai, as well as to be proposed to the Myanmar government to consider extending the times of the Mae Sai -Tachilek border check point,” he said. The proposal is expected to be announced in time for the New Year celebrations.

Tak Chamber of Commerce President Banphot Korkiartcharoen told Chiang Mai Mail that this year’s Mae Sot –Myawaddy check-point closure has forced the temporary suspension of commercial exchanges and business deals here.

The closure of the Mae Sot – Myawaddy crossing this year has seen revenues drop by 40 percent when compared last year during the same period he noted.

Mahataya Kasem, the owner of Angel Gems jewelry shop in Mae Sot, also told Chiang Mai Mail that doing this business at the Mae Sot shopping center on the Moei River was very slow. She said local jewelers, restaurant owners and hoteliers were suffered from the sluggish economy and with falling numbers of tourists coming for shopping they have seen income drop by 50 percent.

“If the situation continues to worsen I think we will move from here to do jewelry business in other provinces,” she complained, adding that “now our hope rests on the authorities to help re-open the border crossing.”

“New Year is a good time for jewelry sales and we hope that both Thai and Myanmar governments reconsider re-opening the border in time for the holiday.

According to Prasobsuk Puangsakorn, the Director of Bank of Thailand’s Northern Region Office, the Northern Region’s border trade in the 3rd quarter of this year, saw substantial increases in exports to neighboring countries of Laos and southern China but imports fell by 2.4 percent following a sharp decline in imports of vegetables and fruits, fishery products, raw materials and capital goods.

“But the exports to Myanmar were really affected by the Mae Sot-Myawaddy border closure,” he told Chiang Mai Mail.


Meet the Consuls

Consul-General of Japan

By Shana Kongmun

The newest addition to the Chiang Mai diplomatic scene is no newcomer to Thailand. Kazuo Shibata, the new Japanese Consul-General arrived in Chiang Mai on October 22. However, he has extensive experience in Thailand, having served in Bangkok three previous terms.

Originally from Mito City, an hour and a half north of Tokyo, and famous for its plum blossoms in March, Mr. Kazuo said his interest in foreign cultures was piqued at a very early age. He lived next door to a Christian church, and while not Christian, often attended Sunday school there. He said when he was very young, the priest gave him a pair of real leather shoes and even better, Hershey chocolate bars. He added that celebrating the Christian holidays and hearing of other ways “opened my eyes to another world.”

This interest never waned and he ended up studying International Relations at Yokohama City University and from there entered the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Before starting his post in Thailand he underwent two years of intensive study of Thai language, culture and history at Chulalongkorn University. He noted that the current Governor of Bangkok, M.R. Sukhumbhand Paribatra was one of his lecturers during that time and recently introduced him to a visiting Japanese Mayor, as “Luuk sit phom” (my student).

Consul-General Shibata noted the book by a former consul British Consul from the 19th century and early 20th, W.A.R. Wood, Consul in Paradise. He said, “This post is very heavy duty but when I leave I would like to say I was a Consul in Paradise.”

The main concern of the Japanese Consulate General is working to help the some 3,000 Japanese resident in the 9 Northern Provinces, more than half of them are long-staying resident, many retired. He noted that the lower cost of living in Chiang Mai, in addition to its good weather, cultural and community activities and the gentle heart of the Lanna people were a prime draw for Japanese retirees. “I think that due to these reasons, the number of Japanese long staying residents will increase in Chiang Mai,” he added.

He noted that the Chiang Mai Chamber of Commerce has been very keen on promoting Chiang Mai as a destination for long staying Japanese, even publishing a pamphlet in Japanese to help them adapt.

The Japanese Consulate General is a full service consulate, offering visa services, and notarial and passport services for Japanese. It can be found in the Airport Business Park on Mahidol Road and is open weekdays. 053-203-367.

Consul General Shibata noted that the Consulate has issued more than 4,000 visas to Japan by the end of the last month, up from 3,000 for the entire year last year.

The Japanese Consulate is active in the grant assistance for grassroots projects in the North and welcomes submissions from NGO’s and other organizations for projects. Applications can be found at their website: www.chiangmai.th.emb-japan.go.jp.

Educational and cultural exchanges are another important role the Consulate plays in Chiang Mai, with the annual Lanna Japan Festival taking place this past month featuring Japanese pop culture. He noted that in the past Japanese cultural promotion had involved traditional cultural activities such as the tea ceremony and ikebana (traditional flower arranging) but that with the advent and growth of Japanese pop culture such as cartoons, animation and J-Pop, the Consulate is turning more of it’s focus to that as it has more relevance to the youth of Thailand and around the world.

Finally, the Consulate hopes to help promote Chiang Mai to Japan both to long stay retirees and to tourists, with hopes to help facilitate bringing direct flights from Japan to Chiang Mai. He pointed out that while nearly a million Japanese visit Thailand every year, only ten percent visit Chiang Mai. A number he hopes to help change.

“I’d like to make a bridge between the Japanese community and the Thai community here in Chiang Mai, developing social networks and activities, and to make Chiang Mai a model city for long stayers.”

And on a personal note, he said one of his own interests lay in the dispersal of the Thai peoples. He commented that there are villages near Dien Bien Phu in Vietnam that speak a form of Thai and eat similar foods, and of course Sipsong Panna in China whose people are Thai Lu and speak the Thai language. Mandalay also has a similar community and it really looks like Chiang Mai. “I’d like to learn more about their life and culture. I look forward to meeting one of the lecturers at CMU to discuss this,” he added.

He noted that when he was posted to Chiang Mai his many friends in Bangkok congratulated him and envied him on his posting and he added that he really appreciates the gentle and polite nature of the Lanna people.


Log poachers nabbed in Mae Hong Son

2 Vietnamese nationals caught

Some of the Mai Hom, or fragrant Krisana wood,
 that was confiscated from the illegal logging in Mae Hong Son.

Khajohn Boonpath

Mae Hong Son forestry officials were joined by the Army in a raid at Ban Huay Maidam on November 15, 2010 where 6 people were found cutting logs illegally. Four of the suspects managed to flee but officials detained two Vietnamese nationals who were charged with encroaching on forest lands for the valuable Krisana or Mai Hom fragrant wood.

The combined forces, led by Prasert O-staphan, also raided a separate area where illegal logging had taken place but the suspects escaped before the forces arrived.

On November 11, Mae Hong Son officials found illegal logging and equipment in Ban Namsom as well, but the suspects again narrowly escaped by fleeing before the forces arrived.

Recently forestry officials detained a Vietnamese national for log poaching in the Khun Yuam district area.


Yabaa continues to flow across the border

Chiang Mai police confiscate 2 million pills since October

Pol Lt Gen Chaiya Siri-amphankul, Commissioner of Provincial Police Region 5 displays some of the drugs confiscated since October 1

Nopniwat Krailerg, Thaweerat Pensalaphan, Khajohn Boonpath

The Provincial Police Bureau, Region 5 reported that since October 1, 2010 they have arrested 29 suspects, and confiscate nearly 2 million Yabaa pills and 40 kilograms of Ya-Ice (crystal methamphetamine).

Pol Lt Gen Chaiya Siri-amphankul, the Commissioner of Region 5 reported that there had been 17 cases involving 29 suspects and 6 deaths resulting from two clashes with police. He urged anyone information about drug dealers or criminal cases to please contact Region 5 Police at PO Box 99 (Region 5) or email [email protected]

Lampang Provincial Police raided a house belonging to Waranyu Sripur after receiving an arrest warrant issued by the Chiang Rai Court for possession of drugs with the intent to sell on November 18.

A police search of the house revealed no illicit drugs or weapons, but authorities seized the house, land, furniture worth more than 10 million baht, as well as a car and pickup truck.

The police said Waranyu was with his accomplice Damnon Panprimprem, 36, from Ban Salabuabok, Kor Kha district, Lampang when they were stopped by Mae Chan Police Station in Chiang Rai with 1 million Yabaa pills on November 10 at Tha Kaopluek check point in Chiang Rai. However Wanranyu fled the scene and remained at large while Damnon remained in custody.

The Naresuan Task Force in Mae Hong Son clashed with drug traffickers near the border at Ban Airla, Tambon Thamlod, Pangmapha district on November 14 after they received a tip off that drugs would be smuggled across the border there.

The Army encountered a group in the morning of November 14, who opened fire. The Army returned fire and after the ensuing 10 minute gun battle 5 men were found dead, along with four backpacks containing 50,000 pills each for a total of 200,000 pills, cash, weapons and ammunition.

The five men were identified as being members of the Lisu and Lahu tribe from Pai District and members of the Red Wa Army.

Weapons and drugs found on traffickers killed after
a gun battle with the Army in Mae Hong Son.


Royal ThaiArmy Chief inspects border in Mae Hong Son

Commander-in-Chief of the Royal Thai Army Gen. Prayuth Chan-ocha inspected the base at Ban Mailan in Mae Hong Son and is briefed on the border situation.

Khajohn Boonpath

General Prayuth Chan-ocha, Commander-in-Chief of the Royal Thai Army visited the border areas in Mae Hong Son in an inspection tour and to gain first hand updates as to the situation across the border in Myanmar.

Accompanied by the Third Army Commander, the 5th Special Warfare Regiment Commander, the Naresuan Force Commander and other deputy Commanders, he stopped at the Army Base at Ban Mailan in Pang Mapha District in Mae Hon Son on November 18 where they were welcomed by Col. Uthai Chaichana, Commander of the 7th Infantry Regiment.

The Shan State Army has a stronghold located across the border near Doi Tai Laeng while the United Wa State Army is situation across the border at Ban Mai Pa-o. The Army Chief was briefed that both forces are on alert and prepared to fight if an offensive is launched against them by the government for not joining the “road map” set by the government post-election.

Gen. Prayuth emphasized to the men to be on alert for an expected influx of refugees should fighting break out, and to make certain that border areas and villagers were secure from any overflow of possible fighting. Additionally, he urged them to encourage area villagers to not get involved in drug trafficking. He finally noted that defense forces need to keep a close watch on drug smuggling across the border.


Sansai District receives Japanese government aid

The Government of Japan, under its Grant Assistance for the Grassroots Human Security Projects Scheme (GGP), has provided funds amounting to 3,175,500 baht for “The Project for Construction of a Daycare Center and Youth Dormitory for Ethnic Minorities in Sansai District, Chiang Mai Province”. On November 27, 2010, Mr. Kazuo Shibata, Consul-General of Japan in Chiang Mai, Mr. Chatchai Suwanwong, Senior Deputy District Chief of Sansai District,and Mrs. Amnuayporn Jirakun, Chairperson of the Integrated Ministries for Ethnic Minorities Foundation, were at the opening ceremony of a daycare center and youth dormitory at the site of the Integrated Ministries for Ethnic Minorities Foundation in Sansai District.

The Foundation, which started its activities with HIV/AIDS education and care for ethnic minorities in 1991, extended its activities to protecting ethnic minority children orphaned by AIDS and those in abusive situations along with safe accommodation. In addition, as the number of ethnic minorities living in urban slums has recently increased, the Foundation started a day care service allowing parents to leave their children during work time and provide pre-primary education so that. ethnic minority children with weak Thai language skills can prepare for entrance.

In response to a request from the Foundation, the Japanese government has provided funds for the construction of a building with a daycare center on the first floor and a male dormitory on the second floor. The day care center will accept 45 children from 6 communities, and the youth dormitory will provide safe accommodation for 8 youths aged 9-20 who cannot live with their families. In addition, the male dormitory will be utilized for the accommodation of ethnic minority youths from other provinces, when they participate in youth camps held by the Foundation in semester breaks. or more information Mr. Sato, Consul or Ms. Hoshii and Ms. Hamaguchi, Coordinators for GGP: 053-203-367.


Lampang plans strict enforcement against alcohol sales

Thaweerat Pensalaphan

Lampang officials are implementing strict enforcement of laws relating to sales of alcohol to minors and alcohol advertising Thepin Inthakanok, Coordinator for the Lampang No Alcohol Network reported.

The Office of the Alcoholic / Beverage Control Board, Department of Disease Control, Ministry of Public Health along with Lampang Provincial Public Health Office are coordinating on the campaign to inspect restaurants and shops for sales to minors and alcohol advertisements that breach laws.

Members of the No Alcohol Network will be joined by other anti-alcohol groups to give out reminder notices of the laws to food shops, pubs and restaurants about alcohol sales.

The Lampang Provincial Public Health Office reported that last year there were 13,051 injured and 227 deaths from road accidents and of those 3,972 were injured and 76 died due to drunk driving. This year, road traffic and accidents have injured 10,592 and killed 153 while 3,255 of the injured and 67 of the deaths were from drunk driving.

Dr Chinoros Leesawas, of Health and Prevention, urged a promotional campaign showing the effects of drinking and driving, citing the deadly statistics.



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