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2,000 corn farmers block City Hall

More than 2,000 corn farmers blockaded City Hall on October 1 as they awaited a Cabinet decision on fixing corn prices.

Nopniwat Krailerg
Over 2,000 corn farmers from Mae Chaem blocked the four entrances of City Hall on Tuesday October, 1, 2013 at 6:30 a.m. saying they would not disperse until the Thai Cabinet announced their decision on fixing the price of corn.
Led by Uthai Buntiam the group began their rally on September 28, camping out at City Hall. However once they blocked the entrances, riot police were sent in to control the protest. The protesters blocked City Hall on the first day that the new Governor started work in Chiang Mai.
Uthai Buntiam said that Mae Chaem had 7,948 corn farmers registered and 132,616 acres of corn planted.
The farmers first held a meeting on September 11, then again on September 17 when they submitted a letter to the Governor to give to Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra. Then a third rally in Mae Chaem on September 24 at the Mae Chaem District Office but as they saw no progress from the government in fixing corn prices they traveled again to City Hall to present their demands
At 11.30 a.m. Ritthipong Techaphan the Chiang Mai Deputy Governor invited the leader of the group to meet to discuss to solving the problem of the blockade but they said they were waiting for the Cabinet’s answer that was expected that day. Later in the day the Cabinet approved a budget of 2,300 million baht to intervene in fixing corn prices at 7 to 9 baht per kilogram. The protesters left at 5:45 p.m. as their demands had been met..
 


Lin Ping arrives safely in Chengdu

Chiang Mai bids farewell to their favorite panda

Lin Ping lovers gathered at the Bifengxia Conservation Center at Ya'an City to welcome Lin Ping to China.

Nopniwat Krailerg
There was a steady stream of last minute visitors to the Chiang Mai Zoo to bid Lin Ping a fond farewell as the 4 year old panda goes to China to find a mate at the Bifengxia Panda Conservation Center at Ya’an City.
The Chiang Mai Zoo gave the panda a sendoff on September 28, 2013 with a parade (which she did not take part in) of well-wishers and panda lovers from the Zoo to the Chiang Mai International Airport. The parade included the Lin Ping mascot, members of the Lin Ping Fan Club, Lin Ping caretakers, Zoo officials and students from various schools who went to meet Lin Ping at the airport.
Former Prime Minister Somchai Wongsawat met with members of the Lin Ping Fan Club to lead the farewell.
Lin Ping traveled to the airport by van at 9:50 a.m. and arrived a little stressed as she had never traveled outside the Zoo before. She flew on Thai Airways A300 with 300 government representatives, the executive board of the Zoological Park Organization under the Royal Patronage of H.M. the King, fan clubs and media at 10:30 a.m.
Lin Ping was in the pressurized cargo cabin with 6 caretakers alternating care during the flight. They said she was frightened during the flight and cried and made noises, often shaking her head. On arrival in Chengdu her cage was taken to the Bifengxia Panda Conservation Center at Ya’an City.
A welcome ceremony was held for Lin Ping on September 29 with Thai representative, Karnchana Silapaarcha, of the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment and Executive of Zoo Organization.
Lin Ping will stay at the center for one year as they hope she chooses a mate from one of the 6 male pandas in residence there. Officials expect it to take at least a month for Lin Ping to feel comfortable in her new surroundings but her Thai caretakers will remain for 15 days to watch her closely. They expect it will take her a few days to settle in and begin eating. Once she is more settled they will make sure she is well and then introduce her to the other pandas.
Officials of the Bifengxia Panda Center said the center was committed the collaboration of research with international organization and to create extensive relationships with 9 zoos in places such as Thailand, the USA, and England by sending 20 pandas that have given birth to a total of 15 pandas. The center had largest area for pandas of Sichuan including 1 research center and 3 breeding centers. They care for 188 pandas, 19 pandas are baby pandas. They said that the Thais can trust they will take good care of Lin Ping.


New Governor arrives in Chiang Mai

Wichian Phuttiwinyu new Chiang Mai Governor

Nopniwat Krailerg
Wichian Phuttiwinyu arrived in Chiang Mai on Tuesday, October 1, 2013 to take up his duties as Chiang Mai Governor. He immediately traveled to the key sacred locations in Chiang Mai; Chang Puak Gate, Wat Chiang Yuen, the Three Kings Monument, Wat Sadue Muang, Wat Chiang Mai and the Joss house at the Chiang Mai City Hall before meeting the chiefs of various units. Accompanied by his wife Angkana and his daughter, the former Governor Nonthaburi said that he was sent by Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra to develop tourism, help combat drugs and face other key issues in Chiang Mai including the development of the Pinkanakorn Development Agency (Public Organization), Royal Park Ratchaphruek and CMICE.
Governor Wichian Phuttiwinyu, age 57 was born on May 14, 1956. And graduated high school from Amnuay Silpa School, earned a Bachelor of Political Science from Ramkhamhaeng University and a Masters of Development Administration from NIDA. He began serving the crown in 1979 as a Community Development Official at Phen district in Udon Thani. From 1980 to 1996 he was a Deputy District Chief and Minor District Chief in various areas. In 1997 he was made District Chief at Na Yai Arm district in Chanthaburi and held the office of Nonthaburi governor from 2009 to the present.


Candidates in the Mayoral race

6 people have declared their candidacy for Mayor.

Nopniwat Krailerg
The Chiang Mai Municipality announced the full list of candidates for the Mayor election that is scheduled to be held on November 3, 2013. Each candidate drew a number and that is prominently displayed on their campaign posters and signs.
Candidate number 1 is Thidarat Siriwittayakorn of the Phuer Chiang Mai party, number 2 Samphan Chatmongkolphan, independent, number 3 former Mayor Tussanai Buranupakorn of the Chiang Mai Khunnatham party, number 4 Pornchai Jitnavasathien, number 5 Wanlop Saetiaw, number 6 Non Hiranchet and number 7 Kamhomphukaew Suankaew.
Yongyut Auiprapatsorn, President of the Chiang Mai Municipal Election Commission said there are 108,497 voters in the municipality but in the last election turnout was 60.99%. This election the target is to see the number of voters rise to 70% of registered voters.
Thidarat Siriwittayakorn said she wants to improve the quality of life of people and is not worried about competitors because each is doing his job and she will do hers to the best of her ability.
Samphan Chatmongkolphan said this election is his 10th election. He plans to campaign with integrity without buying votes.
Tussanai Buranupakorn said his successful work as Mayor for the past 4 years made him confident voters will want him to continue his projects.
Pornchai Jitnavasathien said he wants to make the city a livable city for tourists and residents, improve the public transit system and improve education. In the short term to fix sidewalks that are cluttered with power lines and light poles.
Former Mayor Tussanai Buranupakorn resigned to become a monk on September 3 triggering the election on November3, 2013.


Samoeng receives fire truck from Japanese government

Mr. Akihiko Fujii, Consul-General of Japan in Chiang Mai, and Mr. Praphan Kawinna, Mayor of Samoeng Tai Municipality signed the funding contract for the new fire engines on September 23, 2013.

The Government of Japan, under its Grant Assistance for Grassroots Human Security Projects Scheme (GGP), will provide funds amounting to 3,715,000 baht for “the Project for Procurement of Fire Engines in Samoeng Tai Municipality in Samoeng District, Chiang Mai Province”. On 23 September, 2013, Mr. Akihiko Fujii, Consul-General of Japan in Chiang Mai, and Mr. Praphan Kawinna, Mayor of Samoeng Tai Municipality, jointly signed the funding contract at the Consulate-General of Japan in Chiang Mai.
The problem of wildfires and haze arises every year during the dry season and wildfires damage the natural environment; while the resulting haze threatens the health of residents and the quality of agricultural produce and also disrupts transportation due to poor visibility.
Samoeng Tai subdistrict, located in a mountainous area about 40km southwest of Chiang Mai City, is 208km2, 90% of which is covered by forest. As most of the forest areas are designated as national forest or national parkland, residents engage in farming in the narrow flat areas between the mountains. Every dry-season, forest fires break out but in recent years they have become more serious, threatening the loss of homes, possessions, and lives of residents, and health problems from haze, as well as floods and landslides in the rainy-season due to deforestation. The Samoeng Tai Municipality has made great efforts in firefighting and prevention as well as education, in order to control the outbreak of wildfires and prevent their expansion. However, the 20-year-old large-sized fire engines the Municipality possesses are decrepit and unreliable, which frequently causes problems on the mountainous roads, such as stalling due to insufficient horsepower and other kinds of breakdowns. As a result, the fire fighters often arrive late on the scene, when the fire has already spread dangerously and caused serious damage over a wild area. Besides, the narrow roads in the mountains make it difficult for the large fire engines to pass, thus, there is a great need for fire engines with higher mobility.
In response to a request from Samoeng Tai Municipality, the Government of Japan will bear the costs of purchasing two fire engines, one is medium-size with a comparatively-large feed tank and the other is small with high maneuverability and a short turning circle, and fire-fighting equipment to make firefighting more efficient and effective.


SIPA announces plan for 2014

Nopniwat Krailerg
The Software Industry Promotion Agency (SIPA) announced their strategy for 2014 to increase the number of software entrepreneurs in the 8 provinces of the North recently.

Trairat Chatkaew, the President of SIPA, announced the agencies strategic plan to grow the number of software developers in the North for 2014.

Trairat Chatkaew, the President of SIPA, said the agency hopes to grow the number by 10% next year from 120 entrepreneurs to 150. The agency will operate in 2 provinces per year to encourage software entrepreneurs to establish there. The first two provinces to be promoted are Chiang Mai and Lamphun.
It will also create a group of entrepreneurs with the ability to penetrate the market in Japanese customers that focus on 4 Digital Content such as Animation, Game, New Media and E-Learning by selecting the best 10 from 200 entrepreneurs. The agency will also provide Business Matchmaking Program between entrepreneurs and users of software and continue promoting existing projects such as the”Chiang Mai, I Love You”, Project “Ancient Lanna Platform Software” and “Smart ICT for Tourism”.


Robinson Bright & Charm Awards 2013

Charoenrit Sanguansat (4th front left), Vice Governor of Chiang Mai and Chao Duangduen na Chiengmai (5th front right) presided over the opening ceremony of the Robinson Bright & Charm Awards 2013. With them is Preecha Ekkunakul (5th front left), President of Robinson Department Store, Rattana Anunotkarun (2nd front right) Assistant President of Robinson Department Store, Wachara Tantranont (2nd back right) Executive Director of CR Chiang Mai (Thailand) Co., Ltd. and Boonlert Buranupakorn (2nd front left) President of the Chiang Mai Provincial Administration Organization. They are joined by 8 winners in 8 categories at the event that was held at Robinson Chiang Mai on September 21, 2013.


Blossom Melodies on the table at Robinson Chiang Mai

Robinson Chiang Mai held the Luxury Home & Gift show which featured elegantly laid tables in the theme “Blossom Melodies on the table” from Nakara Jardin, Siripanna Resort & Spa, Vulcano Restaurant, Sala Lanna restaurant and the Rim Tara Boutique Resort. Also Special Guest singer Jennifer Kim designed the table for Robinson. The opening ceremony of the event was presided over by Chao Duangduen na Chiengmai, President of the Chiang Mai Culture Council and was welcomed by Rattana Anunotkarun Assistant President of Robinson Department Store and Wachara Tantranont Executive Director of CR Chiang Mai (Thailand) Co., Ltd. In addition to showcasing the art of dining table, there also held exhibition of special World class brands product of home department. Here the chef of Nakara Jardin discusses the design and layout of this table set for high tea.


Rules to be set for foreign drivers renting cars

Nopniwat Krailerg
After receiving numerous complaints from local people about foreign tourists renting cars and motorbikes in Chiang Mai the Chiang Mai Provincial Land Transportation Office and the Chiang Mai Police have decided to implement rules requiring rental agencies to check the driver’s license of tourists before allowing them the rent a car.
Charnchai Keelapaeng, the head of the Chiang Mai Provincial Land Transportation Office, said that the complaints stemmed from foreign tourists from Europe, America, and Asia but especially the large influx of Chinese tourists that don’t follow traffic signs, drive the wrong way and cause traffic jams and accidents.
The Office and the Police will establish aTourist Assistance Center and Training center at the Chiang Mai Provincial Land Transportation Office. Enforcement of the rules will begin November 1, 2013 and rental agency owners that allow tourists who do not have a driver’s license to rent will be punished under the Motor Vehicle Act. The Office will coordinate with each consulate to publish the information.

Charnchai Keelapaeng and the Chiang Mai Traffic Police agree to enforce regulations requiring visitors to have driver’s licenses before they can rent a car.


Chiang Mai Night Safari wins Thailand Tourism Awards 2013

On September 27 2013 at the 9th Thailand Tourism Awards 2013 at Royal Jubilee Ballroom, IMPACT Muang Thong Thani Somsak Pureesrisak, Minister of Tourism and Sports awarded the Chiang Mai Night Safari with the Excellence Award. Netnapha Suttithamdamrong, Deputy Director of the Chiang Mai Night Safari accepted the award on behalf of the Night Safari. Dr. Sarawut Srisakul, Director of the Chiang Mai Night Safari said the office has been working hard to improve and develop activities to serve the Chiang Mai Night Safari over the past 3 years. The Night Safari remains committed to developing and maintaining high standards of service to travelers and to developing educational activities for youth and tourists.


Zoo trying to inseminate Lin Hui

Zoo veterinarians announce that Lin Hui will be inseminated as she appears to be in estrus already.

Nopniwat Krailerg
The Chiang Mai Zoo announced plans to attempts to artificially inseminate Lin Hui mother of Lin Ping, as it appears she has entered into estrus.
On Sep 25, 2013 at Chiang Mai Zoo Dr. Singthong Buachum, member of a special committee appointed by the Zoological Park Organisation to take care of pandas and other animals, Tanapat Pongpamorn the Chiang Mai Zoo Director and veterinarians Dr. Boripat Siriaroonrat, Dr. Ampika Thongphakdee and Kannika Chantararangsee announced at the press conference that she had appeared to be behaving differently and her estrogen levels have been rising since September 16, 2013.
The team inseminated her on October 1 2013 although according to veterinarian Dr. Kannika Chantararangsee initially had hoped that Lin Hui and Chuang Chuang would breed naturally but determined to inseminate her artificially after all. If the insemination is successful this will be the second panda bred in Thailand after Lin Ping who has gone to China to be bred with a male panda there.


Rising Buddhist Extremism in Myanmar

Ali Fowle, Myanmar
As the anti-Muslim 969 campaign spreads throughout Myanmar, more and more ordinary Buddhists are displaying the movement’s logo on cars and shops. “I have it because now Muslim people are very extreme so we should be extreme too,” says one local taxi driver.
The 969 campaign has been blamed for provoking deadly anti-Muslim riots and now the striking multi-colored 969 logo has become a familiar sight across Myanmar. The image was created and designed at a monastery in Mawlamyine, Mon state, under the guidance of head monk, Ashin Sada Ma.
“It is for contemplating the enlightenment; the six colors don’t mean to harm any religion, or individual,” argues Ma, “That is why we included this, to bring back significance to Buddha’s religion.” Ashin Sada Ma began the 969 sticker campaign in October last year when religious tension in the country was high.
Since then violent clashes between Buddhists and Muslims have spread across the country and dozens of people have been killed. Local people displaying the 969 image connect the symbol with the rise in anti-Muslim sentiment. But Ashin Sada Ma insists the design has no message regarding other faiths and refutes the implication there is any connection with the clashes.
“In every situation many people are having trouble with conflict and violence,” he says, “This has not been started from 969 or Buddhism.”
Despite his insistence, the sticker is being used as a way to identify places as exclusively Buddhist, thereby isolating Muslims. Many taxis, shops and even public buses now display this symbol. “In some cases taxi drivers are asking more price from Muslims,” says another taxi driver, “Everyone acts differently.”
But other taxi drivers say they have had to remove the stickers to make Muslim customers feel more comfortable. “Some people don’t put it on because Muslim people also want to take taxi. If they see the 969 sticker many Muslims don’t want to take the taxi so some people took it off again,” explains the taxi driver.
U Wirathu, who has been described as the ‘Buddhist Bin Laden,’ is an outspoken monk and the face of the nationalist, anti-Muslim movement. Although 969 has been portrayed as a Buddhist movement, leading Buddhist figures reject it, including U Ghambira, a prominent figure from the 2007 anti-government protests.
“I don’t like Nine Six Nine. This concept is completely against what Buddha taught,” states Ghambira.
But Wirathu’s views are gaining traction and have led to a proposed anti-interfaith marriage law that has some support on the streets.
“Burmese women are getting married to other religions and other races and I don’t want this to happen,” says Wirathu, “I remind them.”
U Wirathu has been accused of inciting violence against Muslims with hate speech and racist views. Monk Ashin Sada Ma says he is protecting Buddhists from the influence of other faiths and insists the movement is peaceful. “U Wirathu knows what the purposes of 969 are,” he says.
And despite the racist message the symbol has become associated with, Ma doesn’t regret creating the sticker campaign. “I do not regret at all because I believe our purpose is right,” he says.
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.portalkbr.com/asiacalling.


Remote Uttaradit residents receive ambulance from the Japanese government

Mr. Akihiko Fujii, Consul-General of Japan in Chiang Mai, and Mr.Wichan Chantasing Director of Bankhok Hospital, jointly signed a funding contract for the project at the Consulate-General of Japan in Chiang Mai on September 30, 2013.

The Government of Japan, under its Grant Assistance for Grassroots Human Security Projects Scheme (GGP), is providing funds amounting to 3,344,000 baht for “The Project for Improving Medical Service for Residents in Remote Areas in Bankhok District, Uttaradit Province”. On September 30, 2013, Mr. Akihiko Fujii, Consul-General of Japan in Chiang Mai, and Mr.Wichan Chantasing Director of Bankhok Hospital, jointly signed a funding contract for the project at the Consulate-General of Japan in Chiang Mai.
Bankhok district is a remote region surrounded by mountainous areas and the east part borders Laos for 115km. The majority of the population are Thai-Lao people engaged in agriculture. They live in a hard environment on poor hilly farmland. As a result, people survive in extreme poverty and suffer from chronic malnutrition, diarrhea, food poisoning, parasitic diseases and dengue fever. Unfavorable geographical conditions and poor maintenance mean that many roads in these steep mountainous areas are muddy or blocked in the rainy season, impeding access to health care. It is impossible for many to receive adequate medical services. (Cut one paragraph)
Bankhok hospital, which is the only government hospital in the district, covers 15,000 residents of 28 villages in 4 sub-districts, and treats about 62,000 cases a year. Moreover, it provides humanitarian treatment regardless of the expense, because there are many Lao patients coming across the border to receive the medical treatment from Laos as there is no well-equipped medical institution in their area.
Bankhok hospital has provided regular mobile clinics which include dentistry and prenatal checkups, targeting remote mountain villages. Moreover, the hospital also conducts referral services between villages and hospital for people who lack any other means of transport. However, because there is no four wheel drive ambulance, only a pickup truck which has neither bed nor life support equipment can be used to transport patients. Therefore, many patients lose vital time in receiving treatment.
In response to a request from Bankhok hospital, the Government of Japan has decided to provide funds for a four wheel drive ambulance with life support equipment and medical equipment for Bankhok hospital. This will give patients better prospects for recovery through prompter treatment and transportation.
For more information, please contact the Consulate-General of Japan in Chiang Mai, Grant Assistance for Grassroots Human Security Projects Scheme (GGP). Tel: 053-203-367 / Fax: 053-203-373 / Email: [email protected]


Research reveals alarming statistics of abuse amongst male sex workers

Jarrett Davis of Urban Light presents the data on MSM workers that the organization has recently collected.

Shana Kongmun
Urban Light, a local organization dedicated to working with underage and trafficked male sex workers held a seminar in conjunction with Love 146 to discuss the results of a recent survey of male sex workers in Chiang Mai.
One of the things that was pointed out by Dr. Glenn Miles of Love146 is that the male sex industry is largely overlooked by NGOs, with 84% of research articles focusing exclusively on girls and women. Boys and men are seen as not being vulnerable and yet 1 in 6 boys are sexually abused as compared to 1 in 4 girls. Love 146 is based out of Phnom Penh and works with local organizations around Asia.
Research that the organization did in Cambodia showed that boys aged 12-15 say they had been sexually abused by the age of 9. Jarrett Davis was the lead researcher in Chiang Mai and said that they had great difficulty in finding respondents as some clubs would not allow any access, others would allow it but the manager sat nearby as the person was being interviewed. They visited massage places, karaoke bars, show bars and known gay bars to interview and found 51 who were willing to answer to some extent. He noted that most of them do not actually identify as gay and may find full disclosure shameful for their culture. Research showed that 68% of respondents identified as straight, 20% as gay and 12% as bisexual.
39% of those interviewed were born in Burma while 58% were born in Thailand. Of those, 47.22% came from Northern Thailand. 11.11% from Isan and 19.9% were born near the border. He noted that most of them were from ethnic minorities and many had ID card issues which would not allow them to find regular work. 1 in 5 had no schooling whatsoever while 80% had a 9th grade education or lower. The age ranged from 15 to 35 but most of the respondents were in the 15-24 year old age bracket.
One of the things researchers pointed out was that the information given was what the respondents were willing to admit, even though they had been told that it would not be revealed and they would not be reported. 21% admitted that they had begun work before the age of 18 and 45% before the legal age of 20. The youngest were usually freelance workers.
A large number said they were in the business to send money to their families either for debts or for family assistance for things such as education, food etc. For 88% of those interviewed they said sex work was their only source of income. Karaoke and male massage workers usually earned a salary but most of those working in showbars earned only tips.
Most of the workers felt they had no choice to do the work they were in and if given a choice said they would take other work. 69% said their families were unaware of their work and 25% said their partner was unaware.
The researchers noted that getting accurate numbers was difficult because of the difficulty in gaining access to a larger number of respondents and that they wanted to find more hilltribe language speaking researchers to be able to access younger workers. They expect to publish further results at the end of the year but called on people to be aware that while boys are expected to be resilient and invulnerable the truth is that boys and girls were both vulnerable to exploitation.


TCEB works to push Chiang Mai as MICE hub of ASEAN

The TCEB predicts MICE revenues will grow by 10% this year and is working to push Chiang Mai as the MICE destination for ASEAN.

Nopniwat Krailerg
The Thailand Convention & Exhibition Bureau (TCEB) are cooperating with Chiang Mai Province to push the 2nd phase of the “Chiang Mai MICE City” road map in a rush to promote Chiang Mai’s convention market regionally through both the Greater Mekong Subregion and BIMSTEC or the Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-Sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation which will push for a free trade agreement between Bangladesh, Bhutan, Burma, India, Nepal, Sri Lanka and Thailand by 2017.
The TCEB organized a seminar at the International Convention Center from September 26 to 28, 2013 on the project of promoting Chiang Mai moving confidently to become a meeting destination of Thailand. The projects aim to build knowledge, understanding and skills for entrepreneurs and relevant agencies, lay the foundation MICE industry and push Chiang Mai to become the center of MICE industry in ASEAN.
Nopparat Methaveekulchai, President of TCEB said that the TCEB realizes the potential of Chiang Mai in the development to become a MICE city. The Thai government defined 2013 as the Year of MICE of Chiang Mai then initiated the MICE Summit in January 2013 to integrate collaboration with Chiang Mai and 7 partnership networks; the Chiang Mai Provincial Administrative Organization, Chiang Mai Chamber of Commerce, Chiang Mai Tourism Business Association, Office of Commercial Affairs Chiang Mai, Tourism Authority of Thailand Chiang Mai Office, Chiang Mai Creative City (CMCC) and Chiang Mai University as representatives of 8 University in the North. These groups are to define the operational framework to develop Chiang Mai to be the center of MICE industry of ASEAN within 5 years. The operations are divided into 3 phases; the1st phase in 2013 focuses on the domestic market and lays the foundation of MICE industry, build knowledge, understanding and develop infrastructure for Chiang Mai to be a strategic town for MICE.
The 2nd phase is in 2014-2015 and will promote regional market through cooperation frameworks of the GMS and BIMSTEC and the 3rd phase in 2016-2017 will raise Chiang Mai as a destination for international meetings.
Chiang Mai Deputy Governor Ritthipong Techaphan said the implementation of the plan in the past 9 months ago has had the desired results. Chiang Mai has over 33.000 rooms, and has the 3rd largest international airport in Thailand. The Chiang Mai International Airport has 401 domestic flights a week and 76 international flights a week totally 12,377 flight per year with 8 million passengers per year and supports air cargo of 30,000 tons per year.
The value of the MICE industry of Chiang Mai in 2012 totaled 3,859 million baht, MICE travelers both domestic and international MICE totaled 68,976 people and there were490 MICE events. This year they expect growth of 5% or 72,424 MICE visitors while revenues from MICE events are expected to grow 10% in 2013 totaling 4,245 million baht. The overview of the MICE industry in Thailand of 2556, TCEB has targeted 15% growth or 4.3 million MICE visitors bringing in revenues of more than 13,706 million baht.


FTA Watch rally against EU FTA talks in Chiang Mai

Around 2,000 protesters rallied at Tha Pae Gate and then marched to Le Meridien to present letters to the Thai and EU representatives at the Free Trade Talks held in Chiang Mai.

Nopniwat Krailerg
The Thai government is undergoing free trade agreement (FTA) talks with the European Union and Chiang Mai was the scene of not only the most recent talks but also nearly 2,000 members of the group FTA Watch who gathered to protest against the talks on September 19, 2013.
The group, wearing orange shirts and carrying posters in both English and Thai gathered at Tha Pae Gate on September 18 to protest the second round of treaty negotiations that were held at Le Meridien Chiang Mai from September 16 – 20, 2013. On September 20 the group rallied at Tha Pae and then marched to Loi Kroh Road and to Le Meridien Hotel to present their demands in person.
Riot control police were brought in and halted the group at the intersection next to Centara Duangtawan Hotel and Le Meridien Chiang Mai. The protesters were blocked there for some time as they demanded to meet with representatives from both Thailand and the EU.
Representatives came out to meet the protesters and receive a letter amid strict security. The Thai representatives assured the protesters that they will negotiate with the European Union with caution and will maintain benefits to Thai people and not impact the Thai workers or the public negatively.
Olarn Chaipravat, President of the Thailand Trade Representative announced that this round of negotiations is an important step in the draft of the discussion that covers trade, investment and sanitation and phytosanitary measures. Other issues discussed include the issue of Intellectual Property in regards to access to medicines and medical supplies, protesters stressed that the Thai government needed to give precedence to public health.
Thailand will negotiate with the principles of the agreement on Trade Related Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPs) under WTO and on the Doha Declaration on the TRIPs Agreement and Public Health. However, the EU said they were aware of the concerns of Thai people and confirmed that the EU will be flexible on this issue and come to a decision that is beneficial to both sides.


1 million methamphetamine tablets uncovered in Mae Sai

Phrao police found 40,000 methamphetamine pills in a canal

Police uncovered 40,000 methamphetamine tablets in a bag thrown in the canal in Phrao after locals reported a strange acting man in the area.

Nopniwat Krailerg and Chiang Mai Mail reporters
The Mae Sai police and Pha Muang Task Force uncovered 1 million methamphetamine tablets hidden in the pickup truck of Phichit man Warayut Yomsri on a road along the Thai – Burma border on September 21, 2013. Police said they flagged down the truck and a search found the drugs in a sack on the back seat. The driver told police he had picked up the drugs from Lahu people in Ban Pha Hi to carry to Nonthaburi. He said he had been paid 300,000 baht for the trip and that he had successfully carried drugs twice before. He told police that he needed the money to pay for treatment for his sick wife.
Pol Maj Gen Wanchai Suwansirikhet, the Chiang Rai provincial police chief announced that the drugs came from the gang led by Lt Col Yi Sae and that they hope to arrest members of the gang shortly.
In Phrao on the same day police received a report from a resident of a strange man pacing up and down the street in Rom Klao village in Phrao, Chiang Mai. The resident said that the man had told the villagers that he had lost his necklace and was looking for it in the canal that was in the village. However, when police arrived he jumped into a pickup truck and drove away. Police found a black bag in the canal and inside there were 40,000 methamphetamine tablets.
Police believe the drugs came from a gang in the area and suspect that it’s the same gang that saw two men escape on a motorbike at a police checkpoint the day before after police had received a tipoff about trafficking between Phrao and Chiang Mai city.
Border Patrol Police arrested two men at a checkpoint on the road between Ban Salak and Ban Wawee in Mae Ai on September 23, 2013 after a Burmese man named Arlong (surname unknown) and Chiang Rai man Wichian were stopped at the checkpoint on a motorbike. The two men were carrying 1 kilogram of crystal methamphetamine. They told police that they were being followed by a Chiang Rai man who was driving a white pickup truck. Police arrested Somchai Chaiyutsakul when he passed the checkpoint.
Police have stepped up investigations at checkpoints because of an increase in drug trafficking in the area.


Patient escapes from hospital, drowns in irrigation canal

Nopniwat Krailerg
5 patients escaped from the drug and alcohol treatment center at Chiang Mai Thanyarak Hospital on September 20, 2013, officials managed to find four of the patients but one man remained missing. On September 23 the body of the missing patient, Bunpaeng Loiperm, age 56, was found in the water of irrigation canal near the hospital.
Investigation did now show any signs of violence on the body. Relatives told police that they had taken the man to the hospital to treat his alcoholism on September 18 but he ran away and was not found until they recovered his body a few days later.


Soldier found dead in his car

Nopniwat Krailerg
A 37 year old Royal Thai Army soldier from Artillery 7 was found dead in his car on September 22, 2013 by a security guard. Chang Puak police responded to a report and found Sgt. Maj. 1st Class Phuwanai Chaiphrom in the driver’s seat of his pickup truck parked behind a restaurant.
His wife told police that he had gone outside to move the car when someone had complained that it blocked the way. A security guard noticed that the truck was still obstructing the way and went to check and found him dead inside. Police suspect carbon monoxide poisoning as they think he may have gone to take a nap in the car as his wife told them he had stayed up all night the night before on duty and may have fallen asleep in the car due to exhaustion.
He had just been promoted to a commissioned officer. Police sent his body to the forensic department at Maharaj Nakorn Chiang Mai Hospital for autopsy to determine the exact cause of death.


Karaoke pubs told to stop charging exorbitant prices

7 pubs meet with government

Nopniwat Krailerg
Chiang Mai Governor Tanin Subhasaen invited relevant departments to a meeting on September 23, 2013 to solve the problem of karaoke pubs charging customers exorbitant prices. This is the second such meeting the Governor called to try and resolve the problem.
The agencies have asked cooperation from 7 pubs that have had a history of complaints from customers; I IE Karaoke, Violin Karaoke, Bunny Girl, Pink Lady, Casanova Karaoke, Rose and Cleo. They were asked to resolve conflicts over expensive charges and informed that if they were found to not cooperate in regards to the problems would find themselves punished by both criminal and administrative sanctions.
The measures will be extended to other pubs as the city plans to use it as a framework for the behavior of these businesses. The 7 pubs that are currently involved will be inspected periodically as officials monitor the situation. The Regional Revenue Office 8 has been assigned to review the taxes for the 7 pubs and to determine if the businesses are still owing revenue as well as instruct them in the appropriate taxes to charge.
All relevant agencies must report the results on the operations to the government every month start on Sep 30, 2013.


Police uncover unidentified human bones on Doi Suthep

Nopniwat Krailerg
A forestry official uncovered human remains in a dense forested area around 50 meters from the road between Wat Pha Lad and a forestry checkpoint on September 20, 2013.
Phuping police sent a forensic team and a forensic doctor from Majaharaj Nakorn Chiang Mai Hospital to investigate the area and retrieve the bones found at the scene.
The forestry officials said that a villager who had been foraging in the forest had found the bones on September 17, 2013 but had not given them clear directions to find the remains so the officer started searching and finally found them on the 20th.
At the scene police found the remains, an aluminum cane and a backpack which contained a mobile phone, iPod and a passport belonging to American Mark Meurs.
Mark Meurs, age 59, was a Chiang Mai resident who went missing in February 2012. U.S. Consular officers have contacted the family and the police will conduct DNA testing to confirm the identity of the remains but the identity as yet remains unconfirmed.


 
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