HEADLINES [click on headline to view story]:

Chiang Mai New Years countdown

ASEAN University Games in Chiang Mai

Hilltribes receive aid for coffee processing facility

Mae Hong Son readies for PAO election

Sustainable farming promoted to stop burning

Commander of 3rd Army meets with Mae Hong Son locals

Meet the Consuls

National Disaster Day in Mae Hong Son

Chiang Mai bomber arrested

Illegal weapons factory in Mae Ai

Begging street elephants remain a problem

Yabaa traffickers arrested


Chiang Mai New Years countdown

Mayor Tussanai Buranupakorn and President of the PAO Boonlert Buranupakorn introduce the lighted decorations that symbolize the 7 wonders of the world.

By Phitsanu Thepthong

Chiang Mai Municipality invited all walks of life to ring in the New Year at the “Chiang Mai Count Down 2010” held from December 25, 2010 –January 1, 2011 at Tha Pae gate grounds and around the city moats.

Mayor Tussanai Buranupakorn and Boonlert Buranupakorn, the President of Chiang Mai Provincial Administrative Organization (PAO), said at Chang Puak Gate that this year the Municipality and the PAO organized the New Year’s celebration under the theme of “Honoring His Majesty the King with the 7 wonderful things of the world” to run for 7 days and 7 nights, honoring the 7 wonders of the world.

Festive seasonal lighting has been installed at the moats and inside the old city.

This grand event is held to celebrate His Majesty the King’s 84th birthday in 2011 as well as focus on the cultural diversities of Chiang Mai..


ASEAN University Games in Chiang Mai

Chiang Mai welcomed the athletes of the 15th ASEAN University Games this past month. Hosts Thailand remained at the top of the board with 58 gold medals, ahead of Indonesia with 46, Malaysia with 37 and Vietnam 34. Full story and pictures on page 20, while you can meet some of the athletes on Sports

Hilltribes receive aid for coffee processing facility

Khun Chang Kian villagers receive aid from the Japanese government for a coffee processing factory.

The Government of Japan, under its Grant Assistance program provided 5,343,600 baht to the project “Raising the standard of living of minority ethnic groups near Chiang Mai, Phase 3”, at Khun Chang Kian village in Chiang Mai and Mae Suai and Wiang Pa Pao Districts in Chiang Rai Province. On December 22, 2010, Kazuo Shibata, Consul-General of Japan in Chiang Mai, Hidefumi Ichikawa, Trustee of All Life Line Net, a nonprofit organization registered in Japan, and Jumphol Yangyuenkul, the chief of the Khun Chang Kian village attended the opening ceremony of a coffee processing.

In order to promote sustainable agriculture for hilltribe people, All Life Line Net has planted young coffee trees in hilltribe villages in cooperation with the Faculty of Agriculture of Chiang Mai University. The coffee trees, which were planted at Khun Chang Kian village and Mae Suai District during the first and second phases of the project funded by the Japanese Government, are now growing steadily.

All Life Line Net held a preliminary seminar about techniques of processing coffee beans and development of market channels, and have constructed the coffee processing facility, because the coffee trees are now profitable to harvest. Chiang Mai University is also continuously providing technical support. All Life Line Net have held a seminar about forestry preservation and sustainable agriculture as environmental education for children, enhancing this community’s future by expanding the project site.

It is expected that the hilltribe people’s living standards will be improved and the project will lead to sustainable development in those areas. For more information, please contact: Mr. Sato, Consul or Ms. Hoshii and Ms. Hamaguchi, Coordinator for GGP Consulate-General of Japan in Chiang Mai,Airport Business Park, 90 Mahidol Road, T. Haiya, A. Muang, Chiang Mai 50100 053-203-367 (PR)

Mae Hong Son readies for PAO election

Candidate number 2, Arkaradej Wanchaithanawong is running for the President of the PAO in Mae Hong Son.

Khajohn Boonpath

Two candidates registered in the first day for the President of the Provincial Administration Organization (PAO) in Mae Hong Son accompanied by cheering supporters, particularly Karen hilltribes people who turned up to support their local-born candidate, Chaipetch Ingaew of the Democrat Party who stressed the importance of electing local Mae Hong Son people to solve Mae Hong Son issues.

Candidate number 2 went to Arkaradej Wanchaithanawong, former 2 term PAO President and son of a Chiang Rai Member of Parliament, who stressed his administrative experience in the position.

Election day is set for January 30, 2011 and out of a total population of 240,000 people about 140,000 people are eligible to vote.

Sustainable farming promoted to stop burning

Local scientists, farmers and monks join together in Mae Chaem

Farmers prepare the furrows for planting
in the sustainable agriculture workshop held in Mae Chaem.

A new program was initiated in December by the “Postgraduate Volunteer Monk Campaign for Hilltribe Development” (PVMCHD) of the Mahachulalongkorn Buddhist University in Chiang Mai. Twenty-five local monks and highland farmers gathered at Wat Koo in Mae Chaem for the First Annual Workshop and Seminar on Sustainable Farming. The Workshop, supported by a grant from the National Science and Technology Development Agency (NSTDA) Northern Network, was conducted by faculty from Maejo and C.M.U. Colleges of Agriculture.

Anyone who lives in Chiang Mai or the surrounding area is well aware of the terrible pollution problem that descends upon us every year from March to May due to the burning of forests and fields in the highlands,

The Symposium consisted of one full day of training on modern sustainable farming techniques designed to promote soil fertility and combat soil erosion in a sloping highland terrain.

Ajarn Teerapong from the Maejo Faculty of Agriculture presented his award-winning technique for utilizing rice straw and corn stalks to create compost instead of burning. Dr. Mattiga from C.M.U. taught the participants how to cultivate their land utilizing a special technique for furrow planting and all-year/multiple cropping. Based on over 35 years of field research, her methods are proven to enhance productivity, and soil fertility, and minimize soil erosion. If the farmers adopt these methods, it will eliminate the “need” to clear their fields by burning.

The second day was devoted to hands-on training at a nearby Research Demonstration Farm, conducted by the C.M.U. Faculty of Agriculture. Participants were trained to prepare the furrows for planting following the proper contour lines utilizing specially designed farming equipment.

The Workshop also featured the introduction of a unique portable “Nigino” tilling machine, provided by I.E. Machine Tools Co., a co-sponsor of this event. The machine, which is a key component of this initiative, was used to demonstrate to hilltribe farmers the feasibility of automated tilling as a viable alternative to traditional slash and burn clearing and cultivation methods.

According to Pa Suchat, the Director of the PVMCHD Program, it has proven to be ineffective to ask indigenous farmers to abandon their traditional method of burning (which is simple and easy) for alternative methods that are too labor-intensive and difficult. He feels that education, automation, and support and inspiration from his Graduate Monks are the keys in helping to change these traditional methods and attitudes.

This program is focused, structured, and committed to sustainability. The Graduate Monks, who are the primary change-agents, will have heartfelt motivation and eyes-on-the-ground 365 days per year.

If this initial pilot Program is successful, attempts will be made to secure additional funding to replicate this process for the remaining 100 villages in the five other Networks; to provide more training and more machines for more farmers.

For further inquiries and opportunities for collaboration: contact Dr. Jonathan Nash, Project Coordinator at [email protected]

Commander of 3rd Army meets with Mae Hong Son locals

Third Army Region Commander Lt. Gen. Wannathip Wongwai visited Mae Hong Son to meet with local government officials, politicians, kamnans, village heads, and community leaders and members to discuss prevention measures to deal with drug smugglers along the border with Myanmar. About 500 people attended the meeting held in December at the Srisangwal Hospital to listen to the Commander stress the intent of the Army in blocking drug trafficking into Thailand. (By Khajohn Boonpath)

Meet the Consuls

Honorary Consul of the Republic of Austria

Khun Pravit Arkarachinores, the honorary consul for the Republic of Austria is a charming man with a twinkle in his eye and, as a native of the city, an expert in the way things work here. He is one of the longest serving honorary consuls in Chiang Mai. A graduate of Montfort College, he earned his Bachelor’s in Economics at Thammasat University in Bangkok and Master’s in Economics at Colorado State University in the United States. He said he lived in the cold of Colorado for three years and didn’t mind the snow but loved the beautiful colors of the autumn.

A former President and one of the original founding members of the Northern Thailand Chamber of Commerce he was also a member of the drafting committee for the 1950 Constitution, a member of the Chiang Mai Municipal Council and then a councilor. He was also the Chairman of the Chinese Temple, the oldest one in the city he noted, and the managing director of Lanna Hospital.

He became Honorary Consul in 1994 when the Ambassador to Thailand at the time realized Austria needed an Honorary Consul in Chiang Mai because of the numbers of tourists that needed some help. ‘I didn’t have any connection but a Chiang Mai University professor recommended me to the Ambassador and he felt that my good connections in the city would be of help,’ Khun Pravit said.

The Austrian Honorary Consul offers services to Austrian residents of the Northern provinces of Chiang Mai, Chiang Rai, Lamphun, Lampang, Mae Hong Son, Phrae, Sukhothai and Uttaradit. Notarial services and document certification and he said they are willing to help people do their Visa applications and will send them to the Austrian Embassy for them, “No need to make the long trip to Bangkok,” Khun Pravit said, “We are here to help. We have time to sit and talk with you and help you with your paperwork.”

He added that any Austrian in need is more than welcome to come to the Consulate which is found on Huay Kaew Road, just before the Canal road. He said, however, that the Austrians tend to not have many problems. He noted that the most Austrians living in the North are in Chiang Mai.

He noted Thailand’s friendly relations with Austria since King Rama V travelled there for a visit. In past years, they have hosted an annual party on Austria’s National Day with government officials, consuls and others coming to the parties.

He said one of the things he finds most interesting about Chiang Mai are the large number of temples or Wats to be found scattered around the city. He said he has always wondered where they found the money to build so many, where all the people came from to build them as, he noted, the city had a very small population when it was first founded. He hopes to have a chance to sit down with some of the noted experts at Chiang Mai University to discuss the reasons for so many temples in the town. Another unique aspect of Chiang Mai that he loves is the fact that “Chiang Mai still has its own royal family, it’s not the same as other provinces.”

He expressed concern that this beautiful, old city needs to be preserved however, “It has grown very modern and efficient compared to before, but we have a unique culture and history and we need to preserve Old Chiang Mai. Chiang Mai people need to work and preserve the Old City.”

He said, as a native of the city, one of the things he loves most is the friendly and gentle nature of its citizens. “Chiang Mai people have good hearts and are generous,” he added, noting their acceptance of so many different races and nationalities to the city.

National Disaster Day in Mae Hong Son

Khajohn Boonpath

Mae Hong Son provincial authorities organized a promotional campaign marking National Disaster Day on December 26 in a bid to increase awareness of safety measures and disaster mitigation.

Mae Hong Son Governor Kamthorn Thavormsatit presents a helmet to one of the students as part of the safety campaign which included wearing helmets while driving motorcycles.

Governor Kamthorn Thavornsatit presided over the opening of the parade led by an ATV rider and consisting of motorcycles from various organizations, students, and government and army officials, and public relief organizations. The Municipality sent its fire engine to offer demonstrations to interested students.

Governor Kamthorn noted that six years ago on December 26 the tsunami disaster hit the 6 southern provinces of Phuket, Phang Nga, Krabi, Ranong ,Satun, and Trang, in the worst disaster in Thailand’s recent history killing 5,300 Thai and foreigners.

“That was a lesson learnt that we should be on alert and be prepared to prevent the damages caused by disasters, so people should be aware of safety measures to help mitigate disasters. On this occasion, I would like to ask everyone in Mae Hong Son to concentrate more on mitigating the damage from disasters, so that the people in society can live safely,” he concluded.

Chiang Mai bomber arrested

Nopniwat Krailerg

Chiang Mai police arrested a front line member of the Red Shirt group- who bombed four places in San Kamphaeng district, according to the Provincial Police Bureau, Region 5.

Pol Lt Gen Chaiya the Commissioner of Provincial Police Region 5 with the suspected bomber; Theersak Suwan

Commissioner of Provincial Police Region 5 Pol. Lt. Gen. Chaiya Siri-amphankul reported that Theerasak Suwan a 31 year old resident of Kheelek in Mae Rim had been arrested with a knife and the components to make more bombs.

CCTV video footage taken at bombing sites in San Kamphaeng between December 19 and 22 led the police to arrest Theerasak. Theerasak confessed to police that he had placed bombs in a rest room at the San Kamphaeng District office, at an orchard in Chaechang district and on a road leading to Chaechang village and finally in the restrooms at Wat Chaechang; the bombs damaged both the District Office and the Wat.

The suspect said that he used to take part in political demonstrations with the Red Shirt groups before but that he had not done this out of political motivation or that he had been ordered but to create disruption and chaos. Police continue to investigate the background of the bombings. Pol. Lt Gen Chaiya added this was a serious issue for national security.

Illegal weapons factory in Mae Ai

Authorities confiscated a number of illegal weapons in Mae Ai.

Nopniwat Krailerg

Acting on a tip off, authorities raided a factory producing illegal weapons manufactured to sell to drug traffickers along the Myanmar border in Mae Ai on December 23.

Police at the Provincial Police Region 5 headquarters said they arrested Suriya Thiongrat, Suchart Artha, and Wicharn Kantha, from Mae Ai, and charged them with possession of illegal weapons and drugs and of the illegal manufacture of weapons after drug suspects arrested in Chang Puak were found with guns they said that had been purchased from the factory in Mae Ai.

Begging street elephants remain a problem

Mahout charged with assault on foreigners

Rittiphong Techaphan, representing the Governor, talks with Saengduen Chailert of the Save the Elephant Foundation and other supporters at the protest at City Hall after a mahout was in court for attacking foreigners.

Nopniwat Krailerg

Members of elephant protection groups demonstrated at City Hall and submitted a petition to the Chiang Mai Governor to present to Prime Minister Abhisit Vejajiva on December 24. A mahout in charge of a begging street elephant appeared in court that day charged with the assault of Australians Kingsley William 41 and Kim Kavanagh, 31 on Loi Kroh street on December 13 after they had an altercation regarding the begging elephants.

Sangduen Chailert, chairwoman of the Save the Elephant Foundation, praised by Time magazine as a Heroine of Asia in 2005 was accompanied by Carol Buckley, founder of Elephant Aid International and representatives of the Elephant Home Foundation were joined by about 30 foreign volunteers from the elephant preserve and concerned residents at Chiang Mai City Hall.

Holding signs protesting the begging elephants, they submitted the letter to Rittiphong Techaphan, chief of the Chiang Mai Provincial Authority Office.

Saengduen Chailert of the Save the Elephant Foundation said that at there are an increasing number of mahouts and elephants begging on the streets of Chiang Mai. “There are about 200 elephants in the country; this gives the country a very bad reputation when film crews come to Thailand to cover Thailand’s elephants.”

She added “We have also submitted about 30,000 signatures of foreign tourists protesting against the roaming elephants and mahouts. It is a shame since the Thai elephant is the symbol of Thailand. We will continue to fight against this problem until the Thai government helps to solve the problem of begging elephants.”

Carol Buckley of Elephant Aid International added that they were calling for changes not just to remove the elephants but to offer better living conditions for mahouts and elephants. She pointed out that “Thai elephants are really a beautiful thing for Thailand, and Thais should help protect and preserve these elephants in the right manner.”

She said that elephants find the city streets torturous, adding, “I believe that the Thai government has a budget to help relieve the status of Thai elephants. And from traveling around the world, I have never seen the roaming elephants anywhere like in Thailand.”

Yabaa traffickers arrested

Using govt concession bus to transport

Two men were detained by police after it was found they had transported drugs via the Nakorn Chai Air bus company.

Saksit Messubkwang

After finding bus tickets on the passengers of a Toyota pick up truck on December 14, police stopped the Nakorn Chai Air from Mae Sai to Bangkok and found a package containing 46,000 Yabaa tablets and 770 grams of Ya ice that had been placed in the bus by the two men.

A police checkpoint set up by the Pha Muang Task Force and the Mae Chan police in Chiang Rai intercepted two men in a pickup truck. A search of the truck yielded two bus tickets in the names of the two men leaving Mae Sai at 6 a.m. This alerted police who stopped the bus and found the packages of drugs in the hold.

Wed Sirisalung 33 and Pong Ladsalung 38, of Pattananikhom District, in Lopburi Province were detained for further questioning and legal action.