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XII No.4 - Sunday february 24 - Saturday March 9, 2013


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Update by Saichon Paewsoongnern
 
 
 
NEWS
 

Rally at City Hall for transparency on new green area

Call for public participation in city projects

The Chiang Mai Community Conservation group calls on the government for transparency and public participation in determining the usage of the space at the old Women’s Prison.

Nopniwat Krailerg
Around 20 people from the Chiang Mai Community Conservation group, led by Panngam Somna and Saowakon Sriboonruang, rallied at City Hall on February 5 to present a petition to Governor Tanin Subhasaen calling for a public meeting on the fate of the site of the old Women’s Prison inside the city. They asked for a meeting with the public for feedback on the proposed Kuang Wiang Kaew green space.
The group submitted a letter calling for a public forum hosted by the Chiang Mai Provincial office to brainstorm ideas and allow for public participation in the project, calling for full transparency into the project. Panngam Somna said that the decision on the area requires the participation of all sectors and that the group would like the government to oversee the project, they also said that they did not feel another Buddhist shrine there as the old city already has 38 temples.
The Mahanakorn Chiang Mai group also held a meeting on the proposed site at Buddha Satan on Sunday, February 17, 2013. The group is also calling for transparency and public participation in decisions.
Additionally the Chiang Mai Community Conservation group called on the Governor to check out shops, restaurants, pubs and karaoke bars in town to ensure that they are following all laws closely and are not allowing for excessive noise or underage drinking.
 


Makha Bucha Day on February 25

This year Makha Bucha Day falls on Monday, February 25. Makha Bucha day is one of the most important days in the Buddhist holy calendar which commemorates the miraculous event when 1,250 disciples traveled to meet with the Buddha with no prearranged agreement, at Weluwan Mahawiharn Temple in the area of Rachakhryha, India, seven months after the Buddha began his teachings.
This took place on the full moon of the third lunar month, a month known in the Buddhist Pali language as ‘Makha’. “Bucha’ means to venerate or to honor. There will be a candlelight procession as devout Buddhists walk in a clockwise direction three times around the ordination hall or Phra Ubosot. Called “Wian Tian”, each person will hold a lighted candle, incense and flowers, the walk around the Ubosot is for each of the Three Jewels – the Buddha, the Dharma, and the Sangha.
This day is a public holiday and government offices, banks and many businesses will be closed. It is against the law for businessmen to distribute alcohol. This includes bars and restaurants, supermarkets, convenience stores, department stores, and community retail stores. An amendment to the decree exempts hotels from the ban. Those caught breaking the law can face up to six months in jail and fines up to 10,000 baht.


Cobra Gold military exercises headquarter in Chiang Mai

U.S. Ambassador co-chairs opening ceremony

U.S. Ambassador Kristie Kenney and Admiral Yuttana Phagpolngam, Deputy Supreme Commander of the Thai Armed Forces join hands with partner nations in the 32nd annual Cobra Gold exercises held in Thailand from February 11-21, 2013.

Nopniwat Krailerg
U.S. Ambassador Kristie Kenney visited Chiang Mai on February 11, 2013 to join Admiral Yuttana Phagpolngam, Deputy Supreme Commander of the Thai Armed Forces in chairing the opening ceremony of the Cobra Gold joint exercises at Le Meridien Hotel in Chiang Mai.
Cobra Gold 13 (2013) is an annual military exercise with the joint forces of the Thai military and the United States Army that has been held for 32 years. 7 main countries participate; USA, Thailand, South Korean, Japan, Indonesia, Singapore and Malaysia. A further ten countries take part as observers including Brunei, China, Laos, Netherlands, New Zealand, Russia, South Africa and United Arab Emirates. Joint military exercises are held in Lopburi, Phitsanulok, Sukhothai, Chonburi and Chanthaburi while the exercises are headquartered in Chiang Mai.
The exercise, which ended February21, will improve the capability to plan and conduct combined-joint operations and will provide an opportunity for partner nations to build relationships and improve interoperability across the range of military operations. CG 13 is designed to advance regional security and ensure effective response to regional crises by exercising a robust multinational force from nations sharing common goals and security commitments in the Asia-Pacific region.
A total of 12,593 soldiers are taking part in the exercises, nearly 9,000 from the U.S., 42 from Singapore, 69 from Indonesia, 72 from South Korea, 74 form Japan, 65 from Malaysia and over 3,200 from Thailand.
The exercise includes humanitarian and civic assistance projects, a staff exercise and field training exercises. Joint and multinational training is vital to maintaining the readiness and interoperability of all participating military forces.
When you train together, talk together, plan together … I know that if a disaster strikes my country or a neighboring country you will all be there,” said Kristie A. Kenney, U.S. Ambassador to Thailand. “You’ll be there at once because whether it’s flooding in Thailand, a typhoon in the Philippines or a tsunami in Indonesia, you know because you’ve worked together how to respond immediately and effectively to save lives. As a civilian, I know that makes us safer, more productive and more prosperous.”


Prime Minister launches bio-gas project in Mae Taeng

Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra had a busy schedule on a recent visit to Chiang Mai, overseeing the launch of a bio-gas project in Mae Taeng, visiting Mae Rim and CMU Art Museum to preside over the opening ceremonies there.

Nopniwat Krailerg
Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra had a full schedule on a recent visit to her hometown of Chiang Mai on February 14 and 15 where she visited several projects around the province.
On February 14 she presided over the opening ceremony of a project to launch an integrated environmental community with the underlying philosophy of theSufficiency Economy at the Chiang Mai University Art Museum on Nimmanhaemin Road, members of community networks around the North attended the event.
The Prime Minister then traveled to the Mae Rim campus of Chiang Mai Rajabhat University to sign a cooperation agreement between the Fund and the National Community institutions and relevant sectors. The financial community will assist in raising funds raised for the project”A million new shares. Open the financial community “which will formalize the transfer of funds to the one million baht village fund. A total of 15,027 funds received a total 15,027 million baht with 8,000 people attending.
The Prime Minister traveled to Mae Taeng on February 15 to preside over the launch of a Compressed Bio - methane Gas for transport in Mae Taeng District. This pilot project sees the integration of several sectors of the government and the private sectors to develop renewable energy from the raw materials from agriculture. Waste from pig manure is used to produce biogas and converted to gas CBG and can be used as natural gas NGV vehicles, the project is a possible alternative fuel for the transportation sector in the future.


Lin Ping wins votes as favorite panda

Giant Panda Zoo Awards

Lin Ping poses with her gold medal win as “Most Beloved Panda outside China” at the Chiang Mai Zoo.

Nopniwat Krailerg
Beloved Chiang Mai Giant Panda Lin Ping took the gold medal award in the Giant Panda Zoo Awards 2012 after she garnered the most votes as “Most Beloved Panda outside China”. The poll saw 28,000 people participating around the world, the Chiang Mai Zoo announced on Valentine’s Day. The awards are held to raise awareness for the need to preserve the Giant Panda species. The awards have ten categories of which Lin Ping took the gold medal in her category.
Chiang Mai Zoo Director Thanapat Pongpamorn said that everyone at the Zoo was very excited and proud of Lin Ping’s win. Wen Xia Yu, Miss World 2012 visited the Zoo when the announcement was made and gave fruit and bamboo to Lin Ping as a gift.


Eco-rally on bicycles

Chiang Mai Deputy Mayor Soonthorn Yamsiri joined a group of concerned citizens who held a bicycle rally at 3 Kings Monument on February 17, 2013 as part of a program to not only encourage students to ride bicycles but to also to bring students and teachers together on a bicycle tour of the city to learn more about its history and heritage. The students and teachers cycled around the moat to visit historic sites.


New Fire and Smoke Protection center opens

Plan to bring burning under control in 80 days

Deputy Governor Adisorn Kamnerdsiri chairs the new Fire and Smoke Protection Center meeting held at City Hall.

Nopniwat Krailerg
A Fire and Smoke Protection Center was opened at the Chiang Mai Environment and Natural Resources Office, located in Chiang Mai City Hall on February 6, 2013 with Deputy Governor Adisorn Kamnerdsiri presiding over the opening ceremony.
The Center will focus on prevention, preparation, response and recovery and plans to implement 8 main measures to bring the burning under control within the next 80 days. Those include risk prevention, promoting community support to stop burning, promote private sector participation and partnership networks in preventing smog, provide alarms for smoke levels, and to expand cooperation with neighboring countries in order to reduce haze over the region and finally to establish a regional smoke and haze center to allow for cooperation between countries.
Measures include a fire ban that has been in place since January 21 and extends through April 30, 2013. The government has also started a project to allow the private sector public and private organizations take part in raising funds to fight forest fires in the region.
The Deputy Governor noted that the reduction of haze and smoke in the region is necessary to the public health and overall economy of Chiang Mai.


34 couples join the 5th Season of Love in Pai

Valentine’s Day in Mae Hong Son

Mae Hong Son Governor Narumon Palawat joins the newlyweds in offering alms at the Pai Historical Bridge.

Nopniwat Krailerg
The 5th Annual Season of Love in Pai was held on February 14 and 15 at the Bura Ram Pai Resort. 34 couples joined in the event with 3 getting married. One couple traveled as far as Koh Samui to participate in the events and the oldest couple was 71 years old.
Narumon Palawat, Governor of Mae Hong Son, presided over the ceremony held at the Pai Historical Bridge where the newly married couples joined in giving alms to 11 Buddhist monks. Following the ceremony the couples were given a marriage gift and anointed with ritual water before registering their marriages at the Pai District Office.
The Royal Park Rajapruek also held a “Season in Love” event for 22 couples who registered their marriages at the Royal Pavilion.


International Tomato Breeder’s Roundtable Forum in Chiang Mai

World leading tomato experts from Europe and America

Tomato breeders meet in Thailand to discuss methods of improving yield and reducing disease to help feed a growing world population.

For the first time since 1955, the ‘International Tomato Breeder’s Roundtable’ (TBRT) was held in Asia on February 6, 2013, with a total of 90 world-recognized tomato breeders and plant scientists from Europe and America and over 50 plant scientists and geneticists from Thailand attending. The 44th Tomato Breeder’s Roundtable Forum, presided by the Minister of Science and Technology, Mr. Woravat Auapinyakul, took place in Chiang Mai, during February 6-8,2013. This adds to the celebration of the 30th anniversary of East-West Seed in Thailand.
The Tomato Breeder’s Roundtable started as an informal meeting of tomato breeders in 1955 in the USA. Over the past five decades the TBRT has become an important meeting for tomato researchers and breeders from public institutions and industry across the world. Today, it is one of the world’s most recognized forum for the leading researchers, scientists in genetics and genomics and highly regarded tomato breeders to meet, update and exchange new knowledge and new technology.
The discussions focused on the development of improved tomato varieties that have stronger resistance against diseases and pests, resulting in higher yields and contributing to better food nutrition for the increasing world population.
Among the many high-profile plant scientists attending was Dr. Jay Scott, professor of horticulture from the University of Florida. Dr. Scott is well respected in the US for tomato breeding. Much of his recent work has involved the discovery of molecular markers linked to disease resistance genes. At the TBRT, he presented current approaches for developing bacterial spot resistant tomato cultivars.
Conference chairman of TBRT 2013, Dr. Darush Struss, biotechnology and molecular plant breeding manager at East-West Seed, revealed that the company was chosen for this special event following its staging of a successful international conference on Solanaceae in Thailand in 2011 in cooperation with NSTDA, Maejo and Chiang Mai universities with over 300 participants.
“This conference offers a tremendous opportunity for Thailand’s scientific communities and those who are involved in vegetable breeding, as well as horticultural scientists and students, to acquire first-hand information regarding advanced breeding technology,” said Dr. Struss.
“Our breeding programs for tomato are focused on better fruit quality, higher yield, and development of resistances to disease and pests. When plants have stronger resistance to diseases, farmers not only have better productivity but also have less need for chemical pesticides. For consumers, that means cleaner, more nutritious vegetables,” Mr. Simon Jan de Hoop, Vice President for Research and Development at EastWest seed added.
“Thailand holds a key position as a high quality hybrid seed producer, has good infrastructure and is a conducive business environment for research companies. This is why Thailand is important as an R&D and innovation base for East-West Seed,” Mr. de Hoop concluded.


Under the spotlight: Caroline Marsh

LCLN, smog and what we can do to help

Caroline Marsh of the Lanna Community Life Network gives a dragon fruit plant to Chairman of the Schools’ Foundation Khun Metta Soratiwa. This year the Chairman of the Schools’ Foundation Khun Metta Soratiwa, Puttisopon Director Banyot Somlid, Acharn Monk Sombat Siriponno, Kru Nongluck DaengThai Head of Social Studies whom invited HEUSP and other school representatives along with head of the PTA Khun Manit Hongkaew celebrated by giving 87 students each a 1000 Baht to help support their studies with many children having social issues as sadly many have lost parents with mainly Grandparents without government support caring for these kids and families under the poverty line. (Photo courtesy of LCLN)

Shana Kongmun
The Lanna Community Life Network was set up after a group of concerned locals got together in 2009 to organize a walk and deliver petitions to the U.S., Japan, and Chinese Consulates in support of the global climate change meeting in Copenhagen. Sadly, Caroline Marsh, one of the co-founders of LCLN, pointed out, that fell through to special interests.
There may be something in the air or water just that special Chiang Mai something that attracts strong women who end up staying. Caroline Marsh has been in Chiang Mai for 25 years and it has not been difficult to find other active, dynamic and socially active women who have been here equally as long or even longer.
Caroline is married to a Bangkok native and has children in school here, hence her deep and abiding concern for the health risks posed by not only the annual smog and haze caused by burning but the year round pollution emitted in large part, she says, by diesel engines. It is well known that diesel, while more fuel efficient, emits ultrafine particulate matter into the atmosphere which is damaging to lung health, especially to children and the elderly.
She initially came to Chiang Mai fresh out of school, graduating early, at the age of 19 she said she had a visa to India in her pocket and was going to see the world. She ended up trying to get into Chiang Mai University’s architecture department but, at that time, it wasn’t possible for her to get in. She ended up marrying, and living in a small neighborhood in the old part of the city where she helped her neighbors learn English.
“The English level in Chiang Mai was much lower than it is today,” she added, noting that she ended up helping the kids after school and the parents after that. She and her husband started an eco-trekking business which didn’t make it a big leap to concern for the environment around her.
She pointed out that the old houses used to be in family compounds, planted with trees and medicinal and edible plants. “We need to preserve local culture” she pointed out, noting that valuable information on medicinal plants and herbal remedies could be dying out as the older people pass away and the younger people have no interest in their local wisdom.
Caroline has a few small remedies, ones that each and every one of us can do. Drive less, cycle more. Turn off the lights, conserve energy, recycle and reuse. For the government and the community at large she points out that the bike lanes need improving, people need education on allowing bicycles to use these lanes. She added, slow down the traffic around the moat, 60 kph is too high and dangerous for people who want to walk and for people on bicycles.
“All these Chinese tourists are all renting bicycles. With a real mass of people we can force a change.”
The government needs to pull in all polluting vehicles, no matter who is driving them or what they are. They need to equip the police with equipment to test for pollution and require them to fine vehicles that pollute. Styrofoam should be banned and fees for plastic bags. Tour buses should turn off their engines while they are waiting, people can sit in a warm bus for the few minutes it takes to cool it down again, Caroline added. A law needs to be put in place requiring land owners to green some of their property.
She bemoaned the early announcement of the fire ban, stating that it just gave people plenty of warning and they all started burning before the fire ban was put in place so the “burning just starts earlier.”
Caroline said a key factor “is to bump up pride in the local community. The community does have pride in Chiang Mai but it is under-utilized. The tourism community also needs to get involved and take the lead. They need to extend their boundaries to effect the neighborhoods around them, not just their own properties.”
LCLN has offered a series of pledges, for both companies and inviduals, to plant trees, save energy, refuse Styrofoam, use bicycles and more. People sign the pledge and, “we hope will follow it!”
Finally, she noted that kids need to feel empowered. “Kids are aware of the future of the environment, they are learning about these things but they feel they have no ability to make changes,” Caroline noted. She added that often they feel that nobody is listening. “Also, the small children have empathy for the environment but as they age they get indoctrinated by the media, the internet, their parents and only care about what kind of job they can get and how much money they can make. Dentistry is very popular,” Caroline said, adding that it was seen as an easier way to make money.
“We need to have a healthy city, and we need to safeguard the well-being of our children.”
More information about the Lanna Community Life Network can be found online. http://lannacom munitylife.org/


Tai teens arrested in robbery and attack on foreign tourist

Another four arrested in murder

Police arrested a gang of 5 young Tai men after an attack on a foreign tourist in January.

Nopniwat Krailerg
5 ethnic Tai youth ranging in ags from 16-24 were arrested on February 12 after an attack on an Australian tourist resulted in injury and police investigation led to their capture.
On January 19, an Australian tourist was held up at knife point at Phra Pokklao Road, Soi 13, her mobile phone was stolen and she was injured in the knife attack. The phone was tracked down to a phone shop in Santitham where the shop’s CCTV recorded the seller. Police tracked down the five young men at a dormitory near Wat Suan Dok.
On February 12, Pol. Maj. Gen. Kasemsan Boonyakran, Commander of Chiang Mai Provincial Police and Pol. Col. Aksorn Wongyai Superintendent of Muang Chiang Mai Police announced the arrest of the five men; Ungjor Loongsor age 18, Lor Loongta age 19 Jang Naiong age 19, one boy age 16 and San Ngwe age 24, resident in Baan Piang Luang Wiang Haeng Chiang Mai.
In a separate case, 4 Tai teens were arrested after an attack on a young man at a bar resulted in his death. The four men had an altercation with Prakobkran Srithong, age 20, at Wiangping Road in Chiang Mai and came back to attack him with a long knife. They stabbed him in the neck and he died on the way to the hospital.
Police later arrested four men; Kum Nuwa, Nor Loongta, Nor Loonglar and Nu (last name unknown) at a construction site in Fahmai in Haiya.
Pol. Col. Aksorn Wongyai said that in this case the criminals had come to Chiang Mai to work, police will continue to investigate migrant workers for criminals and to arrest illegal immigrants.


DSI continues investigation of fake ID cards

DSI officials continue their investigation into government officials after one was arrested in Wiang Haeng for issuing thousands of fake ID cards.

Nopniwat Krailerg
The Chief of the Department of Special Investigation (DSI) Tharit Pengdit and department officers met with Chiang Mai Governor Tanin Subhasaen and officials from the ID card department on February 11, 2013 to continue the investigation into the fake ID cards uncovered in Wiang Haeng.
The government intends to prosecute any officials found involved in the scam that saw the issuance of perhaps thousands of ID cards to undocumented people by government officials. Tharit Pengdit said that the ID cards were a serious threat to national security as the cards could have been issued to known, wanted criminals. He added that the investigation of the Registration and ID card officers in Chiang Mai would conclude and all officials would be required to follow all procedures strictly as the Registration offices need to prepare for the ASEAN community in 2015.


One dead in high speed accident in Mae Rim

Motorcyclist killed

A 58 year old Mae Rim resident was killed after a car struck his motorbike on the Chotana Road.

The driver of a red Honda motorbike was killed in Sanpong in Mae Rim on February 12, 2013 after he was struck by a car traveling on the Chotana Road.
Ambulances were called to the scene opposite Tarnporn Villa after a Mitsubishi car struck Vilas Chomsak, age 58 as he tried to cross the road. Witnesses told police that the car, driven by Pipatpong Duangkaew, age 20, was seen traveling at high speeds along the road coming from Mae Rim. Police believe that he struck the motorcycle as it attempted to cross the road.Mr. Vilas was struck by the car and landed on the windshield before being flung into the road where he was severly injured and died at the scene before any medical teams could render assistance.


Nearly half a million Yaba pills seized in Chiang Rai

Further 400,000 uncovered in Lampang

Two men were uncovered carrying 410,000 Yaba tablets for delivery to Chiang Rai on February 11, 2013.

Nopniwat Krailerg
Police seized 410,000 Yaba or methamphetamine pills in Chiang Rai on February 11, 2013 after two men on a motorcycle attempted to flee a police checkpoint.
The motorcycle was seen heading towards Chiang Rai city and when police signaled to the driver to stop he tried to break through the blockade. Police managed to stop the motorcycle and detained the two men on it. A search of the two men uncovered 410,000 methamphetamine tablets. Pol. Maj. Gen. Wanchai Suwansiriketh Commander of Chiang Rai Provincial Police announced the arrest of Lorma Shemer, age 25 and Arsanai Mernlae, age 36 of Baan Therdthai in Mae Fah Luang District were charged with drug trafficking. The men confessed that they had been hired by a Mr. Lorpool (surname unknown) to deliver the drugs to the King Mengrai Monument in Chiang Rai for 150,000 Baht.
On February 15, Pol. Lt. Gen. Suthep Dejraksa Commander of Police Region 5, announced the arrest of 46 year old Boonsri Choklab of Chiang Mai with 400,000 methamphetamine tablets hidden in his White Hino 6 wheel truck.
Police had a tip off to expect a major shipment of drugs through Lampang and set up a checkpoint where they stopped the truck at 2 a.m. Upon searching the truck, loaded with ceramic dishes and cups, the police uncovered 4 bags of methamphetamines with 400,000 tablets in total.
Boonsri told police that he was a professional truck driver delivering cargo to customers but that he had started carrying drugs as well as ceramics and deliver to a dealer in Bangkok. Police are searching for the dealer in Bangkok.


Fraud complaints filed over new luxury condo project on Nimman

Victims of alleged fraud involving a luxury condo project planned for Nimmanhaemin Soi 15 meet with their lawyer and the press to push their complaint forward.

Nopniwat Krailerg
A group of condo buyers intend to file a complaint of fraud with the police over the construction of the Rawee Waree Residences planned for Nimmanhaemin Soi 15. Kwanprewee Wongsri, one of the victims of the alleged fraud, told reporters that many people had paid a lot of money to reserve condos in the new project that was reportedly supported by CJR Group Co. Ltd. managed by Chitsanupong Tangsiroj. According to the victims, the owner of the project was Raweewan Wongwai and that the project would have a total of 69 apartments with prices ranging from 2.85 million to 7 million Baht. The group said they had been told there were special promotional rates for pre-booking.
However, by April 2012 a billboard had gone up in front of the site announcing that the project was not affiliated with the CJR Group Co. Ltd., that the contract had been cancelled and that CJR Group was not responsible in any way for the project. The group has filed a case with the Civil Court ordering that the rooms cannot be sold on by the new project manager. Former Miss Thailand, Panadda Wongpudee said that the group had filed a claim with the Consumer Protection Board in Bangkok.
Phruektaphong Rattanasangwan, lawyer for the group, said that an audit had found that the project had assigned CJR Group Company Limited as Sales Management. The lawyer noted that the two companies have a legal responsibility to refund the money deposited already. If they take no action then criminal fraud charges will be filed.


 
HEADLINES [click on headline to view story]

Rally at City Hall for transparency on new green area

Makha Bucha Day on February 25

Cobra Gold military exercises headquarter in Chiang Mai

Prime Minister launches bio-gas project in Mae Taeng

Lin Ping wins votes as favorite panda

Eco-rally on bicycles

New Fire and Smoke Protection center opens

34 couples join the 5th Season of Love in Pai

International Tomato Breeder’s Roundtable Forum in Chiang Mai

Under the spotlight: Caroline Marsh

Tai teens arrested in robbery and attack on foreign tourist

DSI continues investigation of fake ID cards

One dead in high speed accident in Mae Rim

Nearly half a million Yaba pills seized in Chiang Rai

Fraud complaints filed over new luxury condo project on Nimman

 

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