Army tackles Northern haze
Fire ban in place in Chiang Mai
Fires have been seen across Chiang Mai in fields
and on road sides, many fires go unreported and unchecked. (Photo courtesy
of Ajarn Ron).
The 3rd Army launched their headquarters to battle forest fires and
the smoke that envelopes the North on January 23 when Lt. Gen. Preecha Chan
O-Cha, Deputy Commander of the Operations Forces of the 3rd Army held the
opening ceremony at the7th Battalion Pin Klao Camp in Mae Rim district
,Chiang Mai with various agencies.
Lt. Gen. Preecha Chan O-Cha said that His Majesty the King and Her Majesty
the Queen were very concerned about the fires and haze that blanket the
region on an annual basis. They raised concerns that they fires were causing
serious damage to natural resources and the environment, loss of wildlife
and that the choking smog affects the respiratory health of the people.
He reported that the 3rd Army saw the need for all sectors to focus and
collaborate in reducing forest fires and smoke in 2013-14. He added that the
military would provide all necessary support personnel and equipment to
Director of the Regional Environment Office 1 Apiwak Kunarak confirmed to
Ricky Ward that a total fire ban has been set in place and that setting a
fire in a forest area can lead to a jail sentence, fires in town to a fine.
The Hotline number 1784 has been set up for members of the public to report
At the Prime Minister’s initiative the Government has appointed Deputy Prime
Minister Plodprasop Suraswadi to oversee implementation of new reporting
requirements that will see four provinces required to report their haze data
as well as provide a summary for the previous week for each Cabinet meeting.
The Pollution Control Department will monitor fires using satellite imagery
with sanctions against provincial governors where suppression is inadequate.
An interactive website has been set up to monitor fires:
Site of Women’s Prison to become a green area for city
Buddhist shrine to be completed in 2600 BE
Buddhist monks perform a
ceremony to honor those who had died in prison before the demolition of the
The demolition of the Women’s Prison located inside the old City began on
January 26, 2013 as Phrathep Kosol, Dean of Chiang Mai monks, Governor Tanin
Subhasaen and Dr. Chao Duangduan na Chiang Mai, President of the Chiang Mai
Culture Council, presided over the ceremony to create the Kuang Luang Wiang
Kaew green space in the space.
Many people visited the prison in the last days before destruction and on
the day the Governor and his team hit the front wall with a hammer to start
Phra Thep Worasithajarn the abbot of Wat Phra That Doi Suthep invited the
Buddha image inside the prison and performed a Buddhist ceremony for those
who had lost their lives in the prison.
The Chiang Mai Women’s Prison was built on the former site of a palace of
King Mengrai called Wiang Kaew who built the city in 1296. In 1902 the
remains of the palace were pulled down and the City Hall, Provincial Court
District Office and Central Prison were built in the area. The Cabinet gave
approval to the development of the new green area at a meeting on January
Governor Tanin said that the government had held a public hearing as to how
to develop the area and the public chose to add a green space inside the old
city. The Fine Arts Department of the Ministry of Culture will explore the
area to find historical evidence and finally a shrine will be completed by
the year 2600 B.E., the 2,600th anniversary of Buddha’s enlightenment. The
green space is slated to be open to the public by December 5, 2013 in honor
of HM the King’s birthday.
Public hearing on proposed High-Speed train Project
The proposed joint China – Thailand high speed
train project could connect Chiang Mai to Bangkok by rail in 3 hours.
The Director of the Office of Transport and Traffic Policy led a
public hearing on the proposed high speed railway project connecting Chiang
Mai and Bangkok on January 22, 2013. The hearing was attended by
representatives of government agencies, local government officials, private
business people, representatives from educational institutes and the general
public. More than 200 people from around the North, including Uttaradit,
Phrae, Lampang, Lamphun, Chiang Mai and Sukhotthai attended the meeting to
hear the scope of government plans and to offer feedback on the proposed
The Central government has set its sights on developing high speed rail
transport to develop the region, and improve economic conditions and
competitiveness. The government believes that development of the high speed
rail line along four routes including Bangkok-Chiang Mai, Bangkok - Nakhon
Ratchasima, Bangkok - Hua Hin and Bangkok - Chonburi/Pattaya would optimize
travel and transport interconnectedness in the region. The OTP has assigned
a feasibility study to be done and hopes to open the Bangkok – Chiang Mai
line by 2018.
Attendees were told that the train would travel the 680 km distance from
Chiang Mai to Bangkok in about 3 hours at speeds up to 300 km / h. The train
would be able to carry around 800 passengers at a cost of 1700-2000 Baht per
person. After public hearings in the affected provinces are concluded the
matter will be brought to the Cabinet again.
Mae Suai villagers receive funds for water supply system from Japan
On 30 January 2013, Mr. Kazuo Shibata,
Consul-General of Japan in Chiang Mai, and Mr. Thomas Benton, Country
Director of Adventist Development and Relief Agency Thailand (ADRA
Thailand), jointly signed the funding contract at the Consulate-General of
Japan in Chiang Mai.
The Government of Japan, under its Grant Assistance for Grassroots Human
Security Projects Scheme (GGP), is providing funds amounting to 2,832,900
baht for a project entitled “the Construction of Water Supply Systems in
Thako Subdistrict, Mae Suai District, Chiang Rai Province”.
ADRA Thailand is an NGO that has been working among the hill tribe
communities of Thako Subdistrict, Mae Suai District since 2006 with a
sustainable community development approach in order to alleviate poverty and
improve people’s livelihoods.
Villagers in Thako earn their living by farming the limited land, from which
they can earn a very small income. Besides, the geographical conditions
impede the development of sufficient social infrastructure, i.e., medical
services, education, water management, electricity, communication, etc.,
causing the villagers considerable hardship. The lack of a sustainable
supply of sufficient clean water in particular is a major concern for
villagers especially in the 10 targeted villages along the Mea Tam
catchment, one of the valleys in the area. They suffer from chronic water
shortages and contamination, which have affected their health and recently
become more serious. The improvement of water supply systems is thus an
urgent need. Nevertheless, the problem remains unsolved because the local
government has a small budget and limited technical capacities.
ADRA Thailand, with many years’ experience in the provision of water supply
systems, has planned this project with the participation of local people as
well as the understanding and cooperation of the local government. In
response to the request from ADRA Thailand, the Government of Japan will
bear the costs of the construction of water supply systems.
Consulate-General of Japan in Chiang Mai, Grant Assistance for Grassroots
Human Security Projects Scheme (GGP) 053-203-367.
Asia-Pacific Water Forum Summit to be held in Chiang Mai
Thailand will host the 2nd annual Asia-Pacific Water Forum Summit
(APWF) at the new International Exhibition and Convention Center on May 19
Dr. Plodprasop Suraswadi Deputy Prime Minister asked the sub-committee that
has been meeting regarding this conference to present their budget to the
government. He noted world focus will be on this meeting and the Thai
government can show that they are working on water management and are paying
attention to the problems of water; floods and drought in order to increase
foreign investor confidence in Thailand. International leaders will be
attending the meeting.
The APWF began in 2006 with its headquarters in Tokyo, Japan, and former
Prime Minister of Japan Yoshiro Mori as its Secretary-General. The APWF has
pledged a leading role in forging regional collaboration in water resources
Nakornping Hospital celebrates 33 years
Nakornping Hospital administrators celebrate the
hospitals 33rd year of operations.
As Nakornping Hospital enters its 33rd year, the hospital director
Dr. Virat Phanpanich reported that the hospital, which started out with just
65 beds on its opening September, 1980 has grown to 665 beds with 114
medical specialists in 30 different fields, 19 dentists and a total of 1,889
personnel. The hospital has developed as a high end center specializing in
accidents, heart disease, cancer and newborns. The Hospital serves 3
provinces; Chiang Mai, Lamphun and Mae Hong Son and has helped over 2.2
million people including migrant workers, tourists and residents.
The hospital serves and average 2,100 people per day, far beyond its
capacity of 800 patients per day and so has implemented a fund raising
campaign to begin construction of a 5 story treatment services center with a
Radiology Department, Pathology and ICU as well as Delivery rooms and
Operating rooms with a budget of 204 million Baht. Additional construction
includes a 7 story building for outpatient and emergency care. Once all
construction is completed the hospital will be able to accommodate more than
3,000 people per day. Additionally they hope to build a 9 story car park to
add convenience to those visiting the hospital.
East-West Seed hosts International Field Day in Chiang Mai
Showcases new tropical seed innovation
Farmers and dealers from around the world
visited the International Field Day held on
East – West Seed showcased their innovative seed technology and
plant breeding to farmers and dealers from around the world at the
International Field Day at Simon Groot Research Center in San Sai District
Chiang Mai, as part of the celebration of their 30th anniversary.
Primed and pelleted seeds, coated seeds, and grafting technology were among
the innovative technologies presented at the International Field Day. More
than 200 improved varieties with stronger resistance against diseases and
better fruit quality were on display over a combined 4 rai land area in San
There were14 varieties in the open fields including sweet corn, waxy corn,
yard long beans, French beans, lettuce, kangkong, coriander, amaranth,
basil, bunching onions, and okra. Cucurbits like cucumber, bitter gourd,
pumpkins, bottle and wax gourds, zucchini and watermelons. Showcased on the
open fields were both indoor and outdoor varieties of solanaceae crops like
tomato, eggplant, hot pepper and sweet pepper, Indoor farming is becoming a
growing trend in many parts of the world so greenhouse varieties of
cucumber, melon and bitter gourd were also highlighted. A tasting booth lets
guest try a new commercial varieties of corn melon and papaya. Over 150 of
East-West Seed’s dealers and farmers from 25 countries in Africa, Middle
East, Latin America, South Asia and South East Asia participated in this
Bert van der Feltz, Senior Vice President of
East-West Seed Group introduced the company’s latest technological
developments at the International Field Day held in San Sai.
Bert van der Feltz, Senior Vice President of East-West Seed Group, said this
year East-West Seed celebrates 30 years in Thailand as the market leader in
tropical vegetable seeds. “It’s great opportunity to host the International
Field Day here in Thailand and to showcase our long- standing expertise,
innovation and leadership in vegetable seed technology,” he said. Mr. van
der Feltz added that Thai farmers have benefitted a great deal from seed
technology and continued development of new varieties with higher
productivity and better resistance to pests and diseases.
Celebrate the Year of the Snake this weekend!
Celebrate Chinese New Year
2013 at Chiang Mai China Town from 10-11 February, 2013 at Waroros Market
from 9 a.m. to midnight. The opening parade will start on 10th February
about 9 a.m. from Thapae road (in front of Wat Saen Fang), then turn right
to Trok Lao Joa (Kuang Meru Road) and turn right to Wichayanon Road (in
front of 7-11). There will be plenty of Chinese activities and performances
including a fire dragon parade, Chinese music show, Chinese Dances, Lion
dancers, Chinese Kid Contest and lots of Chinese food. For further
information please feel free to contact TAT Chiang Mai at Tel. 66 (0) 5324
8604, 66 (0) 5324 8607 every day from 8.30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. or at TAT Call
Center Tel. 1672 from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.
Thailand places in top ten for best retirement haven
International Living, the self-proclaimed number one resource for helping
people find the best places to retire around the world, has recently
released their annual list of top retirement havens. Thailand, long a
mainstay on surveys detailing possible locations for spending one’s golden
years, placed 9th for 2013.
This year’s list focuses on the 22 best retirement destinations based on
eight categories including climate, affordability, and ease of integration,
as well as real estate, special retirement benefits, entertainment, health
care and retirement infrastructure. Editors at InternationalLiving .com
analyzed the feedback they received from correspondents in the places most
popular with American and Canadian retirees.
Topping the list for the fifth straight year was Ecuador, highly regarded
not only for its wonderful weather and remarkably inexpensive cost of
living, but for the ease with which expats can integrate into life there.
Thailand, an immensely popular destination for tourists – as evidenced by
the nearly 22 million who visited the country in 2012 – is also well
regarded for its retirement opportunities. The Land of Smiles scored highly
in two important categories: cost of living, where its 97/100 rating was
second best on the list to the Philippines, and entertainment & amenities,
where a score of 96 placed it in the top 5.
The index also points to the diversity of lifestyle options awaiting
retirees in Thailand. Expats can choose between the bustling city life of
the capital, Bangkok, and the white-sand beaches and clear blue waters in
the south, or the slightly more temperate higher elevations in the north.
The report also brought attention to the inexpensive accommodation costs, as
condo rentals can be had almost anywhere for just $500 (USD) per month.
While earning high marks in many areas, the report did indicate that
Thailand looks to improve on special benefits offered to retirees, such as
discounts on goods & services or duty-free imports of home furnishing, and
the English proficiency of the locals.
Rounding out the top 10 was Malta due to its very low crime rate,
Mediterranean climate and large numbers of English speakers. Other EU
members making the list include Spain, Ireland, France, Portugal and Italy.
Thailand was one of only two Asian countries to make the top 10, along with
Nok Air launches new
Chiang Mai – Hat Yai route
Trips to the South just got easier with direct
Chiang Mai – Hat Yai flights from Nok Air on a daily basis.
Nok Air announced the launch of additional routes including a direct Chiang
Mai – Hat Yai flight that travels between the two cities once a day. The
Boeing 737 carries 189 passengers and began flying to the Southern city on
January 1, 2013. The flights depart daily at 8:40 a.m. and returns from Hat
Yai every day at 11:15 a.m. The flight takes around two hours each way.
On the occasion of the opening of the new route Nok Air invited media from
Hat Yai to explore the tourist attractions of Chiang Mai while media from
Chiang Mai traveled to the Southern city to see the many interesting sights
around Hat Yai and Songkhla Province. They also traveled to Phattalung to
see the many beautiful natural sights there.
Nok Air flights can be reserved online at www. nokair.com or by dialing 1318
to reach the call center. Payment is easily made at ticket agents or counter
services in 7-11s nationwide.
10th Miracle of Lanna festival at Ton Pao
Unique Sa Paper products
Ton Pao in San Kamphaeng readies for the Sa
Paper festival to be held from February 14-17, 2013.
Ton Pao Municipality in San Kamphaeng District is hosting the 10th
annual Miracle of Lanna; Ton Pao, city of Sa Paper festival from February
Sa Paper, or Mulberry paper is made from bark harvested from the Mulberry
tree in remote areas of the North by villagers and hilltribe people, it can
take a full day for one person to harvest 5 kilos of good quality washed and
dried bark. Traditionally used in Buddhist texts, these days Sa paper is
used for everything from greeting cards and wrapping paper to napkins and
Supakin Wongsa, the Mayor of Ton Pao Municipality reported that the concept
of the event this year is “Miracle of Love -Love and Harmony” with an aim to
promote tourism in Chiang Mai, preserve local culture and promote the
production of local handicrafts. Ton Pao has the largest variety of Sa Paper
products and will offer a variety of activities including a beauty contest,
and Lanna Victory Drum contest as well as a huge variety of Sa Paper
products for sale. The opening ceremony will held on Thursday, February 14,
2013 at 5 p.m.
Famed local bakery damaged in fire
Bakery at Suan Dok Gate was damaged in a fire on Monday, January 28.
Fire inspectors suspect an electrical short.
Well-known and popular local bakery Fai Bakery near Suan Dok Gate in the
Sri Phum District was damaged in a blaze that broke out at 11 p.m. on
Monday, January 28, 2013. Fire fighters were called to the scene to find
the fire spreading quickly and already reaching the ceiling.
Fire fighters battled the blaze for more than 20 minutes before they
were able to put out the worst of it and enter the building to eliminate
Fire inspectors checked the building and believe the fire may have been
caused by a short circuit, the sparks igniting the flammable materials
stored there caused the fire to spread quickly. Preliminary damage
estimates are set at around 400,000 Baht.
Police Commission Council receive report from Region 5 Police
Provincial Police Region 5 Commissioner Pol
Lt-Gen Suthep Dejraksa reports on the latest arrest numbers in drugs,
prostitution and gambling in the North.
The Chairman of the Police Commission Council Somchai
Lohsatapornpipit and the Board of Directors visited Police Region 5
offices to receive a briefing on the problems of gambling, prostitution
and drugs in the 8 upper North provinces from Provincial Police Region 5
Commissioner Pol Lt-Gen Suthep Dejraksa.
The Commissioner reported that the Region 5 police had been fighting
continuously against the problem of gambling in the region and that many
people travel to neighboring countries to visit the more than 20 large
casinos operating. Additionally, they had uncovered 3 illegal casinos
operating in the North since October 2012 and had arrested 12 people in
those operations. A further 526 people were arrested for gambling
Since the beginning of the year, the police have arrested 52 people on
prostitution charges. The drug trafficking problem remained strong in
2012 as neighboring countries continue to produce large quantities of
methamphetamine and crystal methamphetamine and smuggle them into
Thailand. Police set up 113 checkpoints across the North and arrested
24,930 people in 2012, seized nearly 25 million Yaba or methamphetamine
tablets, 413 kilograms of Crystal methamphetamine or Ya Ice and 273
kilograms of heroin. More than 211 million baht in property has been
seized under the law allowing the proceeds of drug trafficking to be
seized by the government.
44 year old Swiss man dies in guesthouse
The Muang Chiang Mai Police were called to the Inter-Inn
Guesthouse on Kotchsaran Road at 11 am. on January 25 by staff. Police
and the medical team from the Maharaj Nakorn Chiang Mai Hospital and
Ruam Jai Rescue Foundation rushed to the scene where they discovered the
body of 44 year old Swiss man Stephane Claude in his room. The body of
the Swiss man was found sitting with his head close to the wall and
holding a bottle in one hand and a folded piece of paper with an unknown
white powder inside.
Doctors estimate he had been dead for -2 days. The body was taken to the
Forensic Department of Maharaj Nakorn Chiang Mai Hospital to determine
the cause of death.
Region 5 police arrest
189 people in two provinces
More than 1000 people took part in a series
of raids in Nan and Phrae that resulted in the arrest of 189 people for
drugs and other illegal activities.
Police Region 5 organized a cordon search operation in Phrae and Nan
provinces in a bid to crack down on drug trafficking and other illegal
activities in the two provinces.
Deputy Commander Police Region 5 Pol. Maj. Gen. Chamnan Ruwdrew led the
opening ceremony for the search operation on January 23, 2013 where he
oversaw 1,082 officers from the Phrae Provincial Police, Nan Provincial
Police, Investigation Division Police Region 5, Office of Narcotics
Control Board (ONCB) Region 5, 324th Border Patrol Police, 12th Cavalry
Regiment, Highway Police, Forensic Police, Public Health Office and
volunteers take part in the searches.
59 people were arrested in Phrae with 521 methamphetamine or Yaba
tablets, 6 guns, 2 chainsaws and 76 pieces of processed wood that is
suspected to be illegal. More than 10.89 million Baht in property was
seized under the law that allows the government to seize the proceeds of
In Nan Province, 130 people were arrested with 3,551 methamphetamine
tablets and police destroyed 2 opium filed. Police arrested 189 people
in the two provinces in the raid.
Norwegian man found dead in condo
A 75 year old Norwegian man was discovered dead in his bed by
his wife on the morning of January 28, 2013 according the Mae Ping
Police who were called to scene by the Norwegian woman. The forensic
medical team from Maharaj Nakorn Chiang Mai Hospital and the Rescue
Foundation went to the 7th floor condo and discovered 75 year old
Norwegian Jan Homeland.
Doctors reported no sign of injury or struggle and his wife told police
that he suffered from congenital heart failure. She slept in a separate
room at night and when she awoke in the morning discovered her husband
had passed away during the night. Doctors expect the cause of death to
be heart failure due to his heart problems. The body was taken to
Maharaj Nakorn Chiang Mai Hospital. to determine the cause of death.
DSI investigates corruption in issuance of ID cards
Deemed a serious threat to national security
The Chief of the Department of Special Investigation, Tharit
Pengdit, met with Deputy Governor Adisorn Kamanerdsiri to discuss cases
of corruption in the issuance of Thai ID cards on January 24, 2013. The
Ministry of the Interior and the Department of Justice believe that
officers have been taking money to issue identification cards to illegal
aliens. The government is concerned that the ID cards could not only be
used for drug trafficking, but human trafficking and would allow
criminals to escape detection and prosecution. The Department stated it
considers this a serious threat to national security.
Chief of the DSI Tharit said that ID cards or certificate of
registrations had been issued to unqualified people and that it is
believed officers had taken money to issue the ID cards. The
investigation found that the people who do not have Thai national status
in Wiang Haeng district in Chiang Mai had been surveyed and added to a
database of approximately 19,000 people who were registered with about
100,000 documents. They believe illegitimately issued cards are mixed in
with legitimate ones. Each case must be examined and when illegitimate
cards are found to have been issued then action will be taken against
the officers and aliens involved and either criminal or disciplinary
actions will be issued. The investigation is expected to be completed
within two months.
Kachin Community protests against Myanmar government
Rally held in front of Chinese and U.S. Consulates
More than 60 members of the Kachin community in Chiang Mai
joined a rally held outside the Chinese Consulate General on Chang Loh
Road calling for the Chinese government to use its influence to push the
Burmese government and military into a dialogue with the Kachin. They
also called on the Chinese government to help in resolving the conflict
and allow for Kachin refugees fleeing from violence and abuse into China
and provide them with safe shelter. They also asked that China allow
international aid agencies to be able to provide assistance to the
Kachin refugees who have fled into China
The group, led by Mr. La Nu Nan and Mrs. Seng Zin then travelled to the
U.S. Consulate General to submit a request for the U. S. government to
provide humanitarian assistance to refugees from at camps along the
border with China and around Laiza city and other areas. They requested
the U.S. put pressure on the Burmese government with trade sanctions and
to push the Chinese government to allow the UNHCR access to refugees on
the border. Additionally they asked the U.S. to put pressure on the
United Nations General Assembly to consider the case of the Kachin
people and to put pressure on the Burmese government to enter into a
According to the group, the conflict between the Kachin Independence
Army and the Myanmar Army has resulted in the displacement of more than
100,000 people since June 2011. They said the Burmese Army has used
aircraft and artillery to bombard Kachin strongholds and refugee camps
resulting in the loss of many lives. They said this action made it clear
that the Myanmar government’s announcement for equal rights for all
ethnic groups was not real but that the government intended to eliminate