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Vol. XIII No.18 - Sunday September 7, 2014 - Saturday September 20, 2014


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Bangkok Air launches new Chiang Mai routes

Bangkok Air will be using the ATR 72 on the new routes to Myanmar. (Photo by Aero Icarus from Zürich, Switzerland via Wikimedia Commons)

Chiang Mai Mail reporters
Bangkok Air announced the launch of two new direct routes from Chiang Mai to Myanmar; Chiang Mai – Yangon, and Chiang Mai – Mandalay, scheduled to begin October 26, 2014. New domestic routes that are also scheduled to begin October 26 are Chiang Mai – Udon Thani and Chiang Mai – Phuket.
Bangkok Air has decided to use Chiang Mai as a hub for the Greater Mekong Sub-region with the new flights. The flight to Yangon will depart Chiang Mai daily at 11 a.m. arriving in Yangon at 11:50 a.m. and will return at 12:50 p.m. arriving at 2:55 p.m. The daily flight to Mandalay also departs and returns at the same times. Promotional prices, good for bookings until September 30 are set at 5,965 baht return.
The daily flight to Udon Thani in North Eastern Thailand will depart at 8:25 a.m. arriving at 9:50 a.m. and return at 5:55 p.m. arriving in Chiang Mai at 7:20 p.m. Promotional prices for this trip are set at 990 baht and 940 baht for a one way trip. The flight to Phuket will leave daily at 2:20 p.m. arriving in Phuket at 4:25 p.m. and the return flight from Phuket will depart at 11:30 a.m. arriving in Chiang Mai at 1:40 p.m. Promotional prices are set at 1,690 baht, return.


Rich variety of local textiles presented in little-known bank museum collection

By Paul Surtees
Many visitors and newcomers to Thailand’s Northern areas are much impressed by the great variety and high quality of the traditional South-East Asian textiles, with lots of fine examples of old Lanna textiles. The Bank of Thailand has - displayed in a special museum at its Northern Thailand Regional Office in Chiang Mai - a superlative collection of them.
North of the Kuang Singh intersection, at 68/3 Chotana Road, almost opposite the Ratchamangkala Park, the building has an eye-catching modern design and almost mirrors that of the strikingly-modernistic (built in 1992) Ministry of the Interior building in Riyadh, the capital of Saudi Arabia.
There is a security check as you enter the bank’s compound, the museum is behind the main building. Bring along some I.D. with you, such as a copy of your passport. Entry is free. This museum is generally open from Mondays to Fridays from 9am to 4pm, and closed noon to 1pm. Best to call ahead (on 053 931182/3) to make sure it is going to be open when you’d like to visit.
The numerous items on display within this museum of traditional local fabrics are rich and very varied. For the most part, they are labelled in both Thai and English. The collection comprises ceremonial blankets; a vast range of lovely tube skirts; banners; lovely shawls, curtains; Buddhist manuscript-wrappers; shoulder cloths for both men and women; sarongs; floor-cloths; tube skirts and more.The very varied displays here include mock-ups of rooms, a loom, photographs, paintings, raw materials, dioramas, silver belts and other ornaments coming from India, Laos and Cambodia, as well as from nearer by.
The huge range of textiles on display here includes numerous designs which are traditional, intricate, imaginative, traditional, colourful and attractive; all well-displayed. Woven designs are shown in abundance; as, also, are many varieties of dyes, materials, embroidery, applice, silver and gold threads on satin, cotton, wool and silk. Rich colours of purple and maroon are interspersed with intricate and symbolic but harmonious designs.
These galleries of traditional local fabrics are not all there is to see at this location. There is also a fascinating display of many of the bank’s collection of items telling the story of the history of money in this part of the world.
The displays at the Bank of Thailand Museum ranges from the origins of money in Turkey some 2,600 years ago, and even includes some pre-historic barter items. In earlier ages, wealth could be accumulated by collecting silver utensils and ingots.. Drum money, bracelet money, saddle money, cowrie shell money, ring money and junk money are all included here, as the precursors to coins in silver, copper and nickel.
The current displays from the fabrics collection are in two parts. One is the extensive permanent display, another shows a temporary exhibition of additional items. The current temporary exhibition is about Nan River Basin textiles, which comes to an end this November.


Elephants win in the King’s Cup Elephant Polo

Bill Heinecke, CEO of Minor International, is joined by last year’s Ladies Day winner at the King’s Cup Elephant Polo in congratulating this year’s winner Sarah from Canada.

By Shana Kongmun
The wet weather and pitch didn’t dampen the fun or the spirits of the King’s Cup Elephant Polo held by Anantara Resorts on the weekend of August 27 -31, 2014. Although many of the later matches ended up as penalty shootouts due to the wet pitch, a few matches were played under cover with a bigger ball that left many of the elephants thinking it was their chance to go for the ball instead.

The Elephant Parade team joined the King’s Cup Elephant Polo on August 27 – 31, 2014.

Children’s Day saw kids from around the area visit the free event; get a chance to meet the players and the elephants. There were also two elephant feasts for the elephants. The King’s Cup Elephant Polo is more than a good time, many if not all of the 50 elephants are working on the streets with mahouts who must search to find a comfortable place for them to rest and enough food to eat. Anantara Resorts uses this opportunity to provide the participating elephants with a full medical checkup and treatment if necessary, lots of food, freedom to walk on the grass and be out of traffic and noise in forest environment and a comfortable place to rest at night. The mahouts are also given food and accommodation as well.
Since its inception in 2001 the King’s Cup Elephant Polo has raised over $750,000 towards to various charities that benefit the elephants of Thailand. These include housing for the mahouts and families, shelters for the elephants and a mobile blood centrifuge and elephant ambulance for the Thai Elephant Conservation Centre (TECC). This year Chiang Mai’s own Elephant Parade featured heavily with large size painted elephants positioned around the pitch and a tent selling smaller painted elephants and souvenirs to benefit the program.
Since 2009 donations have also gone to funding the world’s first ever elephant therapy program to research the rehabilitation benefits for autistic children. The Thai Elephant Therapy Project (TETP) was created in conjunction with Chiang Mai University and the TECC, initially allowing a further five elephants to be rescued off the streets of Bangkok, rented and trained as assistant therapists for autistic children. The program now runs free therapy sessions for Thai children every year. Other projects that have received funding from the event are the first elephant hospital in Krabi, research and tree planting to build elephant corridors in Kui Buri to avoid elephant/farmer conflicts; and funding the first educational computer application for children to teach them the importance of conservation and protection of wild elephants in Thailand.
The Ladies Day event is always a popular one with newly local Bangkok teacher Sarah from Nova Scotia, Canada taking the top prize for her stunning purple Thai silk jacket and matching hat. Bill Heinecke of Minor International, owners of the Anantara brand, was there to present her with the winning trophy.
The event, held in Bangkok for the first time this year, was a big draw with many Bangkok residents saying that they were glad to have it closer to town, while Anantara executives pointed out that it had gotten too big and too popular hence the move to Bangkok.
Teams from around the world joined in with former members of the New Zealand All Blacks rugby team one of the favorites. They were joined by Anantara Resort’s Arabian Knights from Dubai, local hotels including The Peninsula and from countries as varied as Sri Lanka, Hong Kong and others.
Many of the players are experience polo players adding that while the mahout steers their elephant, many of the elephants, especially the younger ones, really get into the spirit of the game and enthusiastically go after the ball. However, sometimes elephants become too good of friends and cannot play on opposing teams as they end up following each other around.
Much of the playing was originally delayed as the pitch was too wet and they would not risk the elephants, the mahouts or the players for the game. However, everyone had a good time and the elephants certainly seemed to enjoy their time in the fresh air and green grass.


BOI makes changes that affect local businesses

Roadshow held to explain new investment promotion policies

Director of Regional Investment and Economic Center 1 Sakchai Luangsathitkul is joined by Consuls General, Honorary Consuls and local businesspeople before the event, Martin Venzky-Stalling made sure to include Chiang Mai Creative City.

Shana Kongmun
The Board of Investment (BOI) recently made the decision to implement a new 7 year investment promotion plan that will see big changes in promoted industries as well as in changes to promotions for regions and the introduction of new “clusters” for promotion. The BOI is holding roadshows around Thailand and the Northern branch of the BOI met with consuls, investors and businesspeople from around the North on August 22, 2014 at the Empress Hotel.

Duangjai Asawachintachit, Deputy Secretary General of the Board of Investment, spoke at length on the changes and encouraged interested parties to contact the BOI for more information and assistance.

The meeting was opened by the Director of Regional Investment and Economic Center 1 Sakchai Luangsathitkul who spoke to the Chiang Mai Mail before the meeting saying that the meetings were held to inform investors of the changes and to let potential investors know of the benefits of BOI promotion. He added that the BOI works to promote and facilitate investment and will offer foreign investors the same services as Thai. He invited potential investors to their BOI office in the Airport Business Park on Mahidol Road where they are more than happy to sit down and explain requirements and the process to interested people. They also work to help investors with by troubleshooting applications and facilitating the process.
He noted that a BOI company can be 100% foreign owned and can still sell locally, bringing in raw materials for manufacture, but it must export and if it sells in Thailand will need to pay tax on that. He added that they are also allowed to bring in foreign experts and technicians but noted that with the new regulations those that work to provide expert technical training for workers will receive better promotion.
Duangjai Asawachintachit, Deputy Secretary General of the Board of Investment then took the stage to explain the changes in policy and promotions, the meeting while held in Thai, offered dual translation in both English and Japanese for interested parties.
She said that the government is turning their focus towards promoting knowledge based and creative industries that add value to the Thai economy, as well as the green industry, alternative energy and logistics to promote the country as a logistics hub for the upcoming ASEAN Economic Community.
The broad based investment promotion will become more focused and prioritized after January 1, 2015 and merit based incentives will be implemented and some promotion incentives will be available to qualifying companies after the promotion period ends. Incentives will vary depending on the importance of the activity and criteria will be more specified as the BOI hopes to eliminate labor intensive industry promotion.
Merit based incentives will replace sector based incentives and will include research and development or design, advanced technology training, funding educational and research institutions to promote research and contributing to the S&T Development Fund. Merit based incentives include additional 1 – 3 years of tax holiday. She added that high tech businesses will enjoy a lot of incentives as the country hopes to increase spending on R&D. Currently R&D spending is only .3 percent of GDP and they hope to boost it to 1%.
Zoning incentives will be reduced as the government works to promote regional industrial clusters that will see new industrial clusters promoted in each region and in border areas to create new investment concentration. The BOI will also include outbound investment in the new promotion. The BOI has not yet defined the clusters which will be promoted with special incentives while tax incentives will be reduced and facilitation oriented promotion will be offered instead, this means working with other departments in the Thai government to ease licensing etc.
The BOI is looking at ways to promote upcountry provinces, allowing them to promote their own specialties. So, for example, the thriving software industry in Chiang Mai could band together and apply to the BOI for inclusion in the promotion scheme. There will also be a specific tourism cluster for 8 provinces, food processing and special economic development zones at the borders.
The current list of promoted activities in regional clusters includes agro-industry and agricultural products, minerals, ceramics and basic metals, light industry, metal products, machinery and transport equipment, electronic and electrical appliances, chemicals, plastics, paper, and service and public utilities.
The BOI is looking to add value to the Thai economy through Skills, Technology and Innovation industries and companies promotions will be determined by the value added to the country. Those promoting R&D and advanced technical training will see great benefits in the new investment promotion scheme.
The BOI also offers online work permit renewals for those companies who have already been approved for promotion and noted that you can use the One Stop office in Bangkok to complete all paperwork and then apply in the North. The BOI is working to streamline the process and is hoping to move much of the process online.
Smith Taweelerdnithi of Nithi Foods said that the BOI has proven itself to be one of the most flexible of the government departments he has dealt with. “They do listen to business people and investors and are willing to make changes based on feedback which makes them much easier to work with.”


Property market is recovering, Sansiri confident in Chiang Mai

Suriya Wannabuit, Assistant Vice President for Project Management and Marketing of Sansiri (Public) Co. Ltd said the company is confident in the Chiang Mai property market and is not only offering special deals for buyers to boost sales in the second half but has already planned two projects for next year.

Suriya Wannabuit, Assistant Vice President for Project Management and Marketing of Sansiri (Public) Co. Ltd. said that the company has seen signs of growth in the second half in the property market as increasing consumer confidence and increased purchasing power is felt.
In a bid to stimulate the real estate market in the third quarter Sansiri is launching a new campaign titled Make It Yours, which will offer special discounts for buyers of single homes, condos and townhouses as well as offering discounts for fully furnished units. In Chiang Mai the company will be offering discounts of up to 1.2 million baht for their Satthasiri San Sai project, the company’s first single house project in Chiang Mai.
Condos at their dcondo Campus resort will also see special promotions that end September 31, 2014.
The Assistant Vice President expressed their confidence in the strength of the property market in Chiang Mai and noted that they believe that the market will continue to recover in the second half of the year. They noted that fully furnished, move in ready housing projects have been very popular with both Thai and foreign investors.
He added that Sansiri has two more projects scheduled for early next year and the year end and that dcondo Campus Resort in Faham near Central Festival is set to expand to 35 rai in two phases later on. (PR)


Central Plaza wins Best Company from Labor Protection Department

The Department of Labour Protection and Welfare awarded Central Plaza Chiang Mai Airport as Best Company for Labor Relations and Welfare for the year 2014 at the Convention Center, IMPACT Muang Thong Thani on August 20, 2014. The company was awarded for its efforts in raising Thai labor standards..Panich Jitjang (3rd left), Director General of the Department of Labour Protection and Welfare presents the award to Wilai Chaisamon (1st left), head of Human Capital Management acting as a representative for Chiang Mai Central Airport.


Zoo welcomes new red kangaroo joey

Nipon Wichairat, Assistant Director of the Chiang Mai Zoo reported that at 9.30 a.m. on August 22. 2014, a baby red kangaroo, also known as a joey, emerged from the mother’s pouch. The mother, 10 year old Khun Nai, has proven to be a very protective mother so the Zoo has not yet been able to determine the gender of the baby kangaroo, the Zoo will hold a contest to name the new joey. The Zoo already has a one year old male named Phromphon and Khun Nai.


HEADLINES [click on headline to view story]

Bangkok Air launches new Chiang Mai routes

Rich variety of local textiles presented in little-known bank museum collection

Elephants win in the King’s Cup Elephant Polo

BOI makes changes that affect local businesses

Property market is recovering, Sansiri confident in Chiang Mai

Central Plaza wins Best Company from Labor Protection Department

Zoo welcomes new red kangaroo joey

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