Happy Birthday to HRH Princess Sirindhorn
Happy birthday to HRH Princess Maha
Chakri Sirindhorn on her birthday, April
The Chiang Mai Mail joins the Kingdom of Thailand in wishing Her Royal
Highness Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn a very happy birthday on April 2.
We join in with our most humble wishes for HRH Princess Maha Chakri
Sirindhorn for a long, healthy and happy life.
Her Royal Highness Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn was born on April 2,
1955, the third child of Their Majesties the King and Queen of Thailand. She
earned a Bachelor of Arts from Chulalongkorn University, a first class
honor, and a gold medal in History in 1976. She earned an M.A. in Oriental
Epigraphy (Sanskrit and Cambodian) from Silpakorn University in 1978, and an
M.A. in Pali and Sanskrit from Chulalongkorn University in 1980 and a
doctoral degree in Developmental Education in 1987.
HRH the Princess has developed special interests in agricultural extension
to improve school children’s nutritional conditions; supports education from
pre-school to tertiary levels; and mother and child care. She has also
concentrated on helping the handicapped, especially in using information
technology (IT) to develop independent living and learning skills.
HRH the Princess has been Executive Vice President of the Thai Red Cross
Society since 1977; Executive Chairman of the Chaipattana Foundation (in
charge of His Majesty’s development and environmental preservation
projects), Ananda Mahidol Foundation (to promote higher education), the King
Rama II Foundation (to conserve and promote Thai Culture); President of the
Sai Jai Thai Foundation (to support disabled veterans), Prince Mahidol Award
Foundation (to award prizes annually to members of the international
community for outstanding performances in the fields of medicine and public
health); and Adviser of the Committee of Thai Junior Encyclopedia Project by
Royal Command of H.M. the King.
HRH Princess Ubolratana
The Chiang Mai Mail humbly joins the Kingdom of Thailand
in wishing Her Royal Highness Princess Ubolratana a most happy birthday on
Her Royal Highness Princess Ubolratana Rajakanya Sirivadhana Phannavadi was
born on April 5, 1951, in Lausanne Switzerland. She is the eldest child of
Their Majesties the King and Queen.
HRH Princess Ubolratana is a very devoted leader of young people in the
campaign against drugs, and as such has instituted and keenly watches over
the To Be Number One project, encouraging family values, music and sport as
alternatives to drug use. She has also set up the Khun Poom project to
assist autistic children in Thailand.
In 2008, HRH Princess Ubolratana played the main role in the Thai film Where
The Miracle Happens. She has been an active supporter of the Thai film
industry for many years promoting Thailand as a destination for filming,
production and post-production.
HRH Princess Ubolratana has also shown a keen interest in the way Thailand
is being promoted by the TAT, and regularly attends the International
Tourism Bourse (ITB) in Berlin.
Two years ago, Her Royal Highness Princess Ubolratana graciously donated two
million baht in cash and a number of blankets to aid disaster victims of a
massive earthquake and tsunami in Japan.
HRH Princess Ubolratana presides over Bangkok Airways
45th anniversary in Berlin
HRH Princess Ubolratana Rajakanya Siri Vadhana
Phannavadi presided over Bangkok Airways’ 45th Anniversary Celebration at
the fairground of Internationale Tourismus Boerse 2013 (ITB) held in Berlin,
Germany. The princess’s presence was received by Bangkok Airways’ President
- Capt. Puttipong Prasarttong-Osoth (2nd right) together with Mr. Peter
Wiesner Senior Vice President – Network Management, M.L. Nandhika Varavarn,
Vice President - Corporate Communications and Khun Ariya Prasarttong-Osoth,
Vice President – Sales, and executives from Sales Department. The
celebration was also joined by Mr. Sorajak Kasemsuvan, President of Thai
Airways International and Mr. Suraphon Svetasreni, Governor of Tourism
Authority of Thailand (TAT).
Chakri Day is April 6
Chakri Memorial Day falls on Saturday, April 6 this year. As it falls on a
weekend, Monday April 8 will be the substitute public holiday. Government
offices and some businesses will be closed. Chakri Day commemorates the
establishment of the Chakri Dynasty and the founding of Bangkok by King
Buddha Yodfa Chulaloke in 1782.
their National Day
70 elephants gather to feast on National
Elephant Day, a week after the Prime Minister agreed to outlaw the ivory
trade in Thailand.
In a day made special for Thai elephants by the fact that Prime
Minister Yingluck Shinawatra recently agreed to ban the trade of ivory,
elephants celebrated National Elephant Day with a great feast at the Maesa
Elephant Camp in Mae Rim on March 13, 2013.
More than 70 elephants took part in the 14th annual National Elephant Day
feast that saw Chiang Mai Governor Tanin Subhasaen visit with honored guests
U.S. Consul General Kenneth L. Foster, Chinese Consul General Zhang Weicai
and Choochart Kalmapichit, President of the Maesa Elephant Camp in
The elephants feasted together upon their favorite foods such as bananas,
sugarcane, pineapple and watermelon in this massive feast.
On May 26, 1998 the Thai Cabinet approved the designation of March 13 as
Thai Elephant Day to raise and sustain public awareness of the importance of
elephants. Elephants are recognized as the national animal of Thailand.
National Elephant Day is an occasion when people show their love for
elephants and many of the elephant parks hold special events where visitors
can look after the animals and help with the feeding.
Previously it had been legal for ivory taken from elephants in Thailand to
be bought and sold within Thailand but on March 4, 2013 Prime Minister
Yingluck Shinawatra announced that her administration would take crucial
steps to ban the trading of ivory in Thailand.
Local charity wins
2nd Best NGO in the North
In an awards ceremony at the Gateway Hotel in
Phayao on March 7th, 2013 Operation Blessing Foundation (Thai) received
second place honors as best non-government organization (NGO) in the
northern provinces. The annual awards are presented by the League of
Foundations Under the Royal Patronage of H.M. the King. The League of
Foundations oversees all registered Thai foundations—about 26,000—to ensure
that they act with excellence and integrity, and fulfill their stated
missions under Thai law. The first place winner in the north was the Destiny
Rescue Foundation which works in the area of trafficking; third place went
to the Operation Blessing Chiang Rai Foundation which operates children’s
Safety bicycle lanes announced
Bicycle safety lanes will be marked around the
city in major tourist areas.
The Chiang Mai Municipality and the Traffic and Tourist Police
announced the launch of the project “Safety Zones” which will offer 8 major
bicycle routes in tourist areas with signs in Thai, English and Chinese.
Mayor Tussanai Buranupakorn noted, at the launch on March 14, 2013, that the
growing numbers of Chinese tourists visiting Chiang Mai tend to use bicycles
and the bicycle lanes need to be marked and enforced so as to reduce traffic
and increase the safety of riders.
It was noted that the lane on Loi Kroh Road often used by motorbikes to go
against the one way direction is, in fact, strictly for bicycles and that
motorcycles should not be using that lane for going the wrong way.
Additional bicycle routes will be marked in 7 other major tourist roads
including Tha Pae and Ratchadamnoen.
Chiang Mai signs agreement with Hokkaido
Chiang Mai Governor Tanin
Subhasaen signed a cooperation agreement with the Governor of Hokkaido,
Japan on a recent trip to Japan. Thai Ambassador to Japan Thanatip Upatising
and Thongchai Srimada of the Thailand Convention and Exhibition Bureau
(TECB) Boonlert Buranupakorn President of Chiang Mai Provincial
Administration Organization (PAO) and Dr. Sarawut Srisakul the President of
Pinkanakorn Development Agency (Public Organization) were on hand for the
signing ceremony. The agreement will strengthen ties between Thailand and
Japan and will be the starting point in creating and developing cooperation
in trade, tourism and education between Chiang Mai and Hokkaido.
New Tourist Office opens
Mayor Tussanai Buranupakorn was on hand for the
opening ceremony of the new Tourist Office on the west side of Nawarat
Chiang Mai Mayor Tussanai Buranupakorn held the opening ceremony for the new
Tourist Information Center from the Chiang Mai Municipality on West Nawarat
Bridge on March 14, 2013. The Tourist Information Center will be staffed by
Municipal staff as well as by Tourist Police to assist travelers and
tourists to Chiang Mai.
The location on the west side of Nawarat Bridge opened fully, the Mayor
announced. “It is now 100% ready for service.”
The center will also offer OTOP products from Chiang Mai province for sale
in a display room along with advice, information, maps and more.
Fest of the Five Regions
The Fest of the Five Regions of Thailand is
being held this weekend at Chiang Mai Central Airport’s Central Hall and
features a travel fair promoting the five main regions of Thailand; North
Eastern or Isaan, North, Central, Eastern and Southern. A press conference
was held on Monday, March 18 to announce the Fest will be hosted in Chiang
Mai March 22-24. The fest travels Thailand and visited Udon Thani in
February, will head to Rayong in May, Hat Yai in July and Cha-Am in
September. The Fest will see vendors from around the country with special
promotions, as well as products and food.
Open Lanna to the World…
The hit TV shows Lanna World and Lanna: Miracles and More will come
to Chiang Mai’s Prasert Land on April 4-7, 2013. This borderless festival of
creativity and culture will feature the best of Lanna handicrafts, world
musiq, food and fun. Produced by Todd “Tongdee” Lavelle, he said, “The
essence of Lanna is molded like clay into myriad forms and mixed with colors
from throughout Thailand and Planet Earth to create a rainbow of
possibility. Our audience-each festival-goer (it’s FREE!) takes part in
interactive performances, offers their ideas on the creative process and
then sits back to enjoy great Singha products and Lanna World Culture.”
Each night will start with local Lanna World Play offs, where young
musicians and performers will play the music of Lanna in both old and new
ways, mixing it with rock, blues, jazz and funk. Then there will be feature
shows celebrating the provinces of the North: Chiang Mai, Lamphun, Lampang
and Mae Hong Son followed by international performances from Korea, India,
the USA and more. There will be concerts by well known names in Thailand
such as Luang Kai (Southern Thailand), EedBonglang-Sa-On (ISAN or Northeast
Thailand), TikShiro and others who share their skill with local drummers,
dancers and singers from each province.
One Tablet per Child (OTPC)
Learning Application Contest
The Office of the Basic Education Commission held a workshop on
creating learning applications for tablets for students of grade 1.
Attended by teachers and educational personnel, Dr. Benjaluck Namfah,
Vice Secretary General, announced a contest to create a learning app for
Android tablets for students in Grade 1 at the meeting held at the
Chiang Mai Orchid Hotel on March 13, 2013.
Digital media education is increasing with the implementation of the
government’s one tablet one child policy and the contest will cover
students in Level 1 (Grade 1-3) and Level 3 (Grade 7-9). The Office of
Basic Education has been working to provide teacher training to 1,000
people covering 5 regions including Bangkok, Surat Thani, Ubon
Ratchathani, Mahasarakham and Chiang Mai. The training will include the
application form for the course (Learning Media) Application form for
teaching (Instruction Media) and knowledge application (Construction
Chiang Mai prepares to host
ICSA international conference
Southeast Asian Weather and Climate
The annual ICSA conference on South East
Asian weather and climate change will be held at Le Meridien in
The International Conference on Southeast Asian Weather and
Climate 2013 (ICSA 2013) will be held in Chiang Mai at Le Meridien Hotel
on November 27-29, 2013. The annual conference is held by the Thai
government and private organizations such as the Green Tree Foundation
Chiang Mai Rajabhat University, National Museum of Scientific
Organization. (NSM), the Institute for the Promotion of Teaching Science
and Technology (IPST), Royal Rain Making and Agricultural Aviation and
Northern Meteorological Center, the conference and will see attendees
from across South East Asia, China and Australia.
The conference will see specialists in the environment and climate
change from around the world with more than 1,000 attendees expected to
come. Discussions will range from the science of climate change, natural
disasters, agriculture and food security.
The conference will involve case studies from Chiang Mai province and
seek ways to solve problems that arise such as the annual smog and haze,
flooding, agricultural crises, and health problems. Included will be the
introduction of traditional knowledge used in problem solving and to
Two students dead in school bus accident in Chom Thong
One Highways Department worker was killed
and three others injured when the truck transporting them slammed into
the back of this pickup truck.
Two students aged 12 and 14 were killed instantly when the
school van they were riding in went out of control and slammed into a
parked six wheel truck and overturned on Monday, March 11 at 4:40 p.m.
The van had picked up the students from school and was returning along
the Chiang Mai – Hod Road in Chom Thong when the accident occurred. 9
students were injured in the crash.
A second fatal accident occurred a week later on Monday, March 18 at
8:30 in the morning when a truck transporting workers from the
Department of Highways slammed into the back of a pickup truck on the
Superhighway at the Chiang Mai – Lampang Road. The truck was carrying
workers to trim trees on the roadside when the truck, travelling at high
speed, swerved to avoid a car parked on the side of the road after a
breakdown and hit the back of a pickup truck.
One worker was killed Panae Saoyen, age 61 and 3 others were injured in
Two Hmong men killed in gunfight with police
Police seize 1 billion baht of Yaba
Four men were arrested and two killed after
a police checkpoint stop ended in a gunfight. Drugs valued at over 1
billion baht were found hidden in the truck.
The Chiang Rai Provincial Police and officers from the Narcotics
Suppression Bureau were attempting to arrest drug traffickers along a
route through Chiang Rai’s Baan Chiang Kiean, in Thoeng District when a
gunfight ensued, killing two of the drug traffickers.
The police had received a tip off that traffickers were using this route
and went to investigate on Sunday, March 10, 2013. Two men in a truck
fired upon the police and Tawee Techalertwattan and Captan Wadeesukasem
of Tak were killed in the ensuing gun battle with police.
Four other men were arrested at the time, Harn Chareonwattana who was
driving a truck used to vacuum out septic tanks, Chakkapong
Charoenchaidej, passengers in the pickup truck and Yongyut Petsakulprai
who was driving a large motorcycle in lead of the two vehicles.
Police uncovered 2 million methamphetamine pills concealed inside the
truck and 50 kilograms of crystal methamphetamine. Police stated the
street value of the seized drugs is over 1 billion baht.
In an earlier incident in Chiang Mai, on March 8, 2013 the Border Patrol
Police killed three men after a gun battle ensued in Chiang Dao. The
three men resisted arrest during a raid on a house at Baan Nong Keaw
Road in Muang Na sub district. The officers found the three men dead,
with 3 AK-47s and more than 9 million baht in cash in 3 backpacks.
Police believe the three men worked for a drug trafficking gang and were
planning on using the money to buy drugs at the Myanmar border in Chiang
Dao when they were discovered by police.
Suspicious bag found
near U.S. Consulate
Bomb squad finds only clothes
Bomb squad technicians from the Chiang Mai
Police investigate a suspicious bag found on the banks of the river
opposite the U.S. Consulate General.
Heightened security at the U.S. Consulate after the government announced
a potential threat from Al Qaeda resulted in the bomb squad being called
out for a bag found on the banks of the Ping River across from the U.S.
Consulate on March 10, 2013 at 7:30 p.m.
Police closed off Wichayanon Road temporarily while the bomb squad dealt
with the unknown bag. A high pressure water gun revealed that the bag
contained only some women’s clothes and cosmetics. Police believe that
visitors to the scenic spot forgot the bag but they will view the CCTV
cameras installed in the area to ensure that it wasn’t someone trying to
The U.S. Consulate General in Chiang Mai was identified as a possible
source of Al Qaeda trouble in mid-February and Chiang Mai police set up
a guard post and police guards 24/7 to prevent any serious incident from
Driver arrested in bank delivery heist
9.2 million baht stolen from delivery van
9.2 million baht was stolen from a Krung Thai Bank delivery van
on March 6, 2013 at 9 a.m. in Mae Rim. The driver of that van along with
another driver and an employee were arrested for involvement in the
On March 6 the driver and guard of the delivery vehicle for the Krung
Thai Business Services parked the van in a lot and went for breakfast,
they claimed that while they were gone someone broke into the van and
stole 3 bags of cash.
Police found the driver of the van to be behaving suspiciously and
arrested Sudpreecha Thongphan age 46 head of money transportation
control and Chatpong Yuttayan age 36, the van driver. Investigation
revealed that another person was suspected to be involved as CCTV and
witnesses reported a black Honda City at the scene of the crime.
Police uncovered the vehicle and found that Sumek Lertpanupat, a driver
for the company, had borrowed the car from his girlfriend that day.
Police issued an arrest warrant and searched his house in Mae Wang where
they uncovered most of the money, some had been spent already.
Sumek pled guilty to the theft and said he knew that money was being
transported that day and that the driver and guard on that route were
known to be lax. He said that he stole the money because he was fed up
with the bank but police believe he did not act alone and that the two
men arrested early in the investigation are involved in the crime.
Police continue to gather evidence and hope to prosecute the other two
men for the theft.
Lampang police uncover nearly 400,000 Yaba tablets
5 kg of crystal meth
Police uncovered nearly 400,000 Yaba tablets
and 5kg of Ya ice hidden in the bed and undercarriage of this Mitsubishi
Lampang Police arrested two men at a police checkpoint on March
16, 2013 and uncovered 197 packages of Yaba and 5 kg of Ya Ice hidden in
the panels of the truck. The police stopped the vehicle on the Sop Prap
– Sernm Ngam Road just after the bridge over the Wang River when the
driver displayed suspicious behavior.
An investigation found that the bed and undercarriage of the truck had
been modified to hide drugs. The police uncovered 394,000
methamphetamine tablets and 5 kilograms of crystal methamphetamine
hidden in compartments in the body of the truck.
The two men, Sittidej Siwalee age 28 from Pai, Mae Hong Son and
Sitthikorn Saelee age 30 from Phrao, Chiang Mai were arrested and
confessed to police that they had been hired to pick up the drugs from
near the border in Chiang Mai and deliver to them to dealers in Bangkok.
Nimmanhaemin one way soi system scrapped
Residents of the Nimmanhaemin neighborhood
met with Traffic Police on Wednesday to learn that the two month one way
trial for the sois of Nimmanhaemin would be scrapped and the two system
would be implemented on April 1, 2013.
Police met with concerned Nimmanhaemin citizens on Wednesday,
March 27 at the Anuban Suan on Nimmanhaemin soi 17 to discuss the one
way soi system implemented in February. Residents expressed their
concerns regarding the one way system which saw each soi becoming one
way in alternating directions starting at soi 5 and ending at soi 15,
noting that it had increased traffic on the central soi that runs
parallel to Nimmanhaemin as well as on Sirimangkalajarn.
Another issue raised by the members of the Nimman Club (found on
Facebook at www.facebook.com/NimmanClub) was that the one way soi system
had increased speeds along the sois as drivers were no longer slowed
down by traffic, resulting in several accidents. Other accidents were
caused by people either not seeing the do not enter signs or not paying
attention to the one way signs and going the wrong way down the one way
system. One Nimman resident pointed out that the large signs erected by
the police were not standard and did not look like one way or do not
enter signs but rather like large advertisements.
Additionally, residents noted that problems tended to occur after 9 p.m.
when people started flocking to area bars, restaurants and clubs
resulting in faster driving and more accidents. The group suggested that
if the police intended on keeping the one way system that speed bumps be
installed along the sois to slow people down.
The traffic police acknowledged these issues and announced that on March
31the one way system would be scrapped and the two way system
implemented on April 1. They vowed to enforce the even/odd parking on
the sois so that they would remain clear to traffic. Parking is a major
issue on the Nimmanhaemin sois, with several residents complaining
loudly that parking was not enforced and offenders continued to block
people’s driveways and entrances. One householder said that he put
potted plants in front of his driveway to stop people from parking there
and they just moved the plants.
The police addressed this issue saying that resources were limited but
that they would patrol the sois and enforce parking. Residents
volunteered to assist by photographing offenders cars. Other residents
offered up suggestions for parking issues including the Municipality
offering public parking or police issuing stickers for residents of the
neighborhood. It was pointed out that all the Nimmanhaemin sois suffer
this problem, even the dead end ones like Soi 1 and Soi 2 where the
entrance is blocked by parked cars. One member asked police to please
enforce the even/odd parking for motorbikes too, noting that they parked
anywhere and blocked the road.
Police vowed to enforce the parking regulations and asked for people’s
cooperation in following the signs and not blocking the sois.
Municipality asks city residents for cooperation in tackling the smoke
Chiang Mai Mayor Tussanai Buranupakorn asked Chiang Mai city
residents to do their part in helping to cope with the smoke that has
settled heavily on Chiang Mai in the past weeks, noting that PM10 levels
or particulate matter over 10 microns has been registering in the unsafe
levels at the monitoring stations at City Hall and Yupparaj Witthalayu
School. Although the smoke is coming from outside, he noted that
residents may be able to help raise humidity levels in the city by
spraying water around their houses and on the roads in front which would
help in bringing down dust levels. Additionally, he asked that at risk
residents stay at home and that everyone wear a mask when going outside.
The city has been distributing masks and spraying water in the air in an
attempt to dampen down some of the pollution.
One concerned resident, Ricky Ward has suggested that the authorities
consider evacuating all school age children, adding that the poorer
residents have no way of leaving during these levels of high pollution.
According the United States EPA site particulate matter is the term for
solid or liquid particles found in the air. Some particles are large or
dark enough to be seen as soot or smoke. Others are so small they can be
detected only with an electron microscope. PM 10 is the particulate
matter that is 10 micrometers or less in size, because of their small
size they are more dangerous because they can penetrate the deepest part
of the lungs.
You can read the daily average PM10 readings at http://aqmthai.com/.
Mini-concert to announce upcoming Lanna World Festival
Todd Thongdee took to the stage at Tha Pae
Gate on Wednesday to announce the upcoming Lanna World Festival and to
introduce the popular singer Lanna Commins.
A mini-concert featuring Chiang Mai favorite Lanna Commins was
held on Wednesday, March 27, 2013 at Tha Pae Gate as a precursor to the
upcoming Lanna World Festival that will be held at Prasertland on
Nimmanhaemin soi 6 from April 4-7, 2013.
The Lanna World Festival is the brainchild of long time resident and TV
personality Todd Thongdee and will offer performances from not only
Northern musicians such as Maehongson World, Chang Saton Lanna World
Funk, The Smooth and Himmapan but also World Music singers such as
Cameroon’s Corry Denguemo, often called the “Voice of Cameroon”. Other
performers include the New Orleans Gumbo Brothers, Bamako Express,Indus
Joy from India, and Tik Shiro and Musiq and many others.
Performances begin at 6 PM every night with Lanna World opening the
event on April 4 followed by Corry Denguemo at 8 p.m. The festival ends
on April 7 and is free to the public.
Japanese government assists villagers with alternative energy sources
The Government of Japan, under its Grant Assistance for Grassroots Human
Security Projects Scheme (GGP), has provided funds amounting to
3,582,000 baht for a project entitled “Promoting Alternative Energy,
Growing Organic Produce and Environmental Conservation for a Sustainable
Community”. On March 21, 2013, Mr. Kazuo Shibata, Consul-General of
Japan in Chiang Mai, Mr. Setthakit Sakyakul, Assistance District Chief
Officer of Jae Hom District and Dr. Pattama Sirithunya, professor of the
Faculty of Science and Agricultural Technology of Rajamangala University
of Technology Lanna, were present at the project closing ceremony at the
agricultural practice center in Thung Hang Village.
Thung Hang Village in Lampang Province with a population of 698, is 100
km north of Lampang city. Its main activity is agriculture, and
long-term use of fertilizers and pesticides has caused soil
deterioration and water pollution. Moreover, the effects of climate
change have been remarkable. In October 2011, extreme weather consistent
with global warming caused massive flooding which inflicted
unprecedented damage on the lives of Thai citizens all over the country.
Although the Thai government urges the public not to burn fields and
promotes recycling garbage to reduce carbon dioxide, its recommendations
are still widely ignored.
Meanwhile, it is necessary to change the lifestyle of residents to solve
the environmental problems and live in coexistence with nature.
Although, residents have shown interest in organic farming which can
avoid the cost of fertilizers and pesticides, and in the utilization of
alternate energy, which can improve their income, they haven’t yet
adopted these measures, because of lack of knowledge and funds. To
address this situation, Rajamangala University of Technology Lanna plans
to carry out training in organic agriculture and alternate energy use
for local residents, in order to increase awareness and encourage them
to protect the environment. The aim is to empower them to realize both a
reduction in the effects on the environment and to achieve sustainable
In response to a request from Rajamangala University of Technology
Lanna, the Government of Japan bore the costs of training, and of
purchasing equipment for a photovoltaic unit, a biodiesel and bioethanol
producing machine, and a biomass generation unit for promoting organic
agriculture and utilizating alternative energy. It is expected that this
will help to develop a low-carbon society, and create a vibrant local
The Japanese government intends to continue supporting projects which
contribute to environmental protection activities at local residents’
level through its Grant Assistance for Human Security Projects scheme
(GGP). For more information, please contact the Consulate-General of
Japan in Chiang Mai
Grant Assistance for Grassroots Human Security Projects Scheme (GGP) or
if interested in applying for aid. 053-203-367 / Fax: 053-203-373.
Art as a form of protest in Burma
Burma protest art is starting to see the
light of day in Myanmar.
By Helen Regan, Rangoon, Burma
“They stripped the mountain of her clothes and people protecting her are
put in prison,” says Burmese political artist Myint Soe.
As Burma’s old censorship laws are being relaxed, protest groups are
using art to spread their message – and exhibitions are now showing
political art openly. Myint Soe’s exhibition is being used to raise
funds for protests against a controversial copper mine, jointly owned by
the Chinese in the northern part of the country.
“I am attached to politics. In my paintings, you can see my paintings
are political,” he says, “My style depends on the political and economic
Before, paintings like his would have been banned from being displayed.
The censors would come and check for anything offensive. Though
censorship is supposed to have been relaxed, galleries still have to go
through the process”, says Aung Min Soe, owner of Pansodan Gallery.
“This year is a very relaxed. In reality they still check what you are
doing, how the exhibition goes. And we still have to submit to apply to
the censorship board to come to the gallery. These routines are still
continuing,” he says.
But now exhibitions purely dedicated to showing political events are
pushing the boundaries.
“In the copper mine case, I tried to depict the need under the reality,”
explains Myint Soe, “If all is gone, in this area, there will be
bloodshed. We are burning inside.”
People that live around the Latpadaung copper mine say they are being
forced from their land. Recently, the protests turned violent when
police cracked down on protesters.
“Mountains are normally still but I wanted to paint with movement to
reflect the turmoil of the situation,” says the artist, “Even though
they said politics is allowed, in reality one night before the
Latpadaung exhibition, they came to ban the exhibition.”
But the authorities didn’t manage to shut Myint Soe’s exhibition
down.There is a lot of confusion now as to what is, and isn’t, allowed,
says gallery owner Aung Min Soe.
“They don’t inform us officially. So this is also a problem – we are
still confused,” he says, “Shall we inform them? Or do we still need to
get the censorship board to come and check everything. There may not be
total freedom of expression yet, but there is a larger platform
emerging, and the artists will carry one what they’ve always been doing.
When I make a drawing I don’t think about censorship, I just draw what I
think,” says Myint Soe.
Censorship rules are still unclear, but as long as artists keep pushing
boundaries now – they will be able to set the benchmark for future
This article was first broadcast on Asia Calling, a regional current
affairs radio program produced by Indonesia’s independent radio news
agency KBR68H and broadcast in local languages in 10 countries across
Asia. It is published in conjunction with the Faculty of Mass
Communications, Chiang Mai University. You can find more stories from
Asia Calling at www.asiacalling.org.