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Update October 2016

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Rajamangala University of Technology Lanna mourns His Majesty the King with giant heart

Three thousand lecturers, staff, students and personnel of Rajamangala University Technology of Lanna joined the nation in mourning the passing of His Majesty King Bhumibol on Wednesday, October 19 by joining together to form a giant heart shape with the number 9 inside.

Nopniwat Krailerg

Students, faculty and staff of the Rajamangala University Technology of Lanna joined the nation in mourning the passing of His Majesty King Bhumibol on Wednesday, October 19 by joining together to form a giant heart shape with the number 9 inside.

President of the University Associate Professor Numyoung Songthanapitak spoke on the passing of His Majesty the King and everyone including staff, lecturers, and students united together to plede allegiance to the values and principles of living espoused by His Majesty.

Three thousand people joined together to form a giant heart with the shape of the number 9 in Thai script inside.

For the 70 years long of His reign, the Rajamangala University of Technology Lanna worked in cooperation with King Mongkut’s University of Technology, Thonburi and academic organizations to serve the Royal Project and  Projects initialted by His Majesty by offering supporting academic work and energy and environment engineering technology to develop agriculture systems in areas of Royal Projects. They worked with personnel and staff of the Royal Project Stations to share knowledge and skills of engineering and energy and environment systems, maintenance of equipment and machines through preventive maintenance and total productive maintenance and others.

With His Majesty’s  boundless and gracious kindness, the students and staff of  Rajamangala University of Technology Lanna have conducted his initiatives in practice, research, development, and to further knowledge with the purpose of transferring knowledge to communities to create sustainable opportunities and careers for local people.

Expats air their concerns with Minister of Tourism & Sports

Shana Kongmun

In the highest level meeting between resident expats and government officials in over seven years the Minister of Tourism traveled to Chiang Mai to meet with members of the local expatriate community at the Long Stay Tourism Seminar held at the Empress Hotel on Friday, October 21, 2016.

The day started off with members of the business and governmental communities discussing growing long-stay tourism not just in Chiang Mai but also Lampang, Lamphun and Mae Hong Son. The need to expand international standard medical services, improve infrastructure and grow human resources to cope with the influx including better language skills and service training were identified as the major factors addressed at the start of the seminar.

The meeting, which saw about 125 people attending from the business sector, government and local resident expatriates, was opened by Deputy Governor Prajuab Kantiya representing the Upper Northern Provincial Cluster 1 and Tomrong Vongtaveesukcharoen, Chief of Strategy and Information for Lampang Provincial Office.

The Deputy Governor said “Tourism is like a flower that blooms in many colors” and that they government understands the importance developing friendship relationships with foriegners “But the most important thing we want to know is what do foreigners think? What do we need to change? What do we need to do more of or less of? We look forward to hearing from you on this.”

The main objectives of the seminar were to support tourism, support development, knowledge and understanding of long-stay tourism in the North and increase the understanding of how to be a good long-stay tourist. . Long stay tourists are defined differently by different departments, the TAT identifies anyone as a long-stayer who has been in Thailand more than year, while other organizations can view people as long-stay who are here for more than a month.

Dr. Kannika Pornpatkul, talked about the development of long stay tourism, with a focus on health and wellness noting that Chiang Mai is already well-placed to take advantage of the growth in people coming to stay in Chiang Mai for longer periods of time, not just medical tourists but those who live. She added that developing facilities to an international standard not only provided for the foreigners coming here but also gave local Thai people access to much better medical care. She noted that the government estimates there are 30,000 expats in the North, mainly Americans followed by Japanese and Koreans.

She added that there are four main groups that come to stay in Chiang Mai; to retire, to access health care, to obtain an education and to work, especially remotely.  Some of the local expats offered that there needs to be some way for people on visa extensions to enroll in the health care scheme. Also brought up was the issue with terrible air quality in the smoke season but also pollution from cars and trucks. Also mentioned was an interest in retirement communities will assisted living services.

Dr. Kannika was followed by Dr. Korawan Sangkakorn of the Center of Tourism Research and Development at the Social Research Institute at Chiang Mai University who presented the Master Plan that was ordered by the government and submitted to it for consideration. The master plan was quite comprehensive and addressed issues such as developing the infrastructure including access for the disabled, public mass transportation, and signage in other languages. The plan includes the creation of a website for visitors to access information on services and products in the four Upper Northern provinces as well as the improvement of products and services for visitors. Included is the need for promotion and marketing in other areas besides Japan or Europe and cooperation from all sectors in Thailand to achieve the necessary goals.

They were followed by a panel led by Rachan Veeraphan, Bangladesh Honorary Consul, and member of the Chiang Mai Chamber of Commerce comprising Wisut Buachoom of the Tourism Authority of Thailand, Suthon Wichairat director of the Tourism and Sports Office in Chiang Mai and two representatives from Immigration.

Wisut addressed the need to differentiate marketing to long-stayers and marketing to tourists. Under the TAT a long-stayer is defined as staying one year, the government has a policy of emphasizing the promotion of long-stay visitors and he noted that the TAT and Ministry of Tourism are paying close attention to the long-stay but agreed that there were many problems that needed to be worked in.

Suthon Wichairat talked about the state of tourism in Chiang Mai and the Upper North nothing that the area had much to offer from a thriving art and culture scene to handicrafts, good weather and beautiful nature spots.

Rachan then called on Immigration telling them he would like to see Immigration supporting long-stayers and implementing policies across that country that do so. Deputy Superintendent Satri spoke on Immigration’s main goals which were security and service. He cited the new Immigration policy of “Good guys in, bad guys out” noting that they could not sacrifice security for service.

The Chiang Mai Immigration Office has seen the numbers of people using the office grow, in 2016 they have handled 185,000 requests of which 3,500 were retirement visas. He added that there are 800,000 foreigners living illegally in Thailand but did not go into details of the nationalities of those foreigners.

 He noted that the move to Promenada had eased the parking and space issues but noted that there are still manpower issues. He said that Immigration has recently changed their requirements and it is now possible to apply for your visa extension 45 days before expiry. He encouraged foreigners to come in early to renew and not wait until the last minute, noting that the expiry date will remain the same regardless of when you come in to the office.

They have also just started a Priority Lane on the 2nd floor for disabled people elderly people or those with emergency needs. However, pre-screening is required and when asked by Rachan how people would contact Immigration he said that they are still working on the system but it should be in place fully soon.

The Immigration officer also announced that they have the budget for the new building and it is expected to be completed in one year and six months. When it is implemented they will have a new system in place that should solve the issues people currently face. He added that they have also increased the office hours – on Monday and Wednesday they will open at 8:30 am and close at 6:30 pm and on Tuesday, Thursday and Friday close at the usual 4:30 pm as per government regulations.

This was followed by a panel led by British Honorary Consul Ben Svasti Thomson consisting of representatives from four different countries and areas; Toshiki Kawashita representing Japanese long-stayers, Mun Ryung Dal of Korea, Montha Chiang representing Taiwan and Nancy Lindley representing USA, Australia and Europe.  

The panelists addressed the main issues expats face in Chiang Mai with Nancy starting off listing some major concerns but also pointing out “We are not tourists, we bring our possessions, our pets. We intend to spend our lives here, we support families. I would liken us more to shrubs or trees than flowers, we put down roots.”

Nancy noted that the service problems expats face in Chiang Mai Immigration are not duplicated across the country, that all they want is an equivalent service level to that given in Phuket or Pattaya. She also asked that Chiang Mai Immigration fall in line with other offices in enforcing rules, noting the implementation of the requirement of a TM30 form by people applying for extensions noting that some people have been forced to move because their landlord cannot or will not supply the needed form. Other provinces do not require this form.

She mentioned national problems such as 90 day reporting, the foreign national information forms and spot checks on homes. Locally Chiang Mai suffers from poor air quality, “The seasonal issue is getting worse and needs to  be addressed” and finally other issues expats face around the country such as health insurance, property ownership and getting scammed out life savings buying homes they do not own, allowing volunteerism from those on retirement visas and the issue of digital nomads who work online, get paid overseas and yet have no access to a long-term visa.

Toshiki mentioned that while he gains many benefits from living in Chiang Mai he would like to contribute to society in Chiang Mai and yet is not allowed to do so as he is on retirement visa. Montha came next saying she is Thai but her husband is from Taiwan and the issues they face on the marriage visa extension even though he has been in Chiang Mai for many years. From the need to prove income with a letter, to providing the same documentation year after year, even though they are still married to the lack of a online queue reservation system.

One member of the audience noted that the technology exists to solve many of these problems but the government does not utilize it. Ben Svasti Thomson informed the audience that everything was being recorded and would be presented to the Minister as well as their questions when she arrived.

The Minister flew in from Bangkok arriving in time to speak with the group at the end, bringing up His Majesty King Bhumibol Adulyuadej. Minister of Tourism and Sports Kobkarn Wattanavrangkul said, “I am talking about His Majesty the King because the way of His Majesty was to welcome all. I am here to walk his path. I know there have been many obstacles, many promises that have never been realized so I want to make sure that we still walk this path, to solve these problems together.”

She continued, “We have just finished drafting the four-year long term policy for the path of tourism. Tourism for old age and tourism for all is part of our four-year strategy, we have included medical and wellness. The Ministries recognize the importance of this and it will be part of the ten most important industries for investment.”

“We want to grow the Lanna region for quality leisure tourists, aiming for people to stay longer, visit often and pay more per day,” which elicited a laugh from the Minister and the audience. She added they are aiming for ASEAN connectivity and greater implementation of the Greater Mekong Sub-region.

Minister Kobkarn said “I don’t believe in a beautiful plan but rather real action. It is the general opinion of the government that we must work in collaboration, that we work with other ministries and other organizations together.”

“I come with realistic news and to hear realistic plans for the future. We never stop to work for you because you are friends of our country as per our King.” She then called on members of the group to address long-term issues that need to be addressed.

The smoke issue is a major concern of everyone who lives in Chiang Mai, this writer pointed out, it affects tourism by turning away visitors, grounding planes and affects the health of everyone who lives here, expats and Thais alike. While it is a regional issue affecting not just Chiang Mai but Lampang, Lamphun, Mae Hong Son and Chiang Rai the solutions must be made at the local level. Local enforcement of the no burning laws must be done, local governments need to enforce the laws and people need to understand that they cannot burn.

The Minister replied that the government does place the smoke issue as one of its top problems but added that the issue has become international with Myanmar, Laos and Cambodia also burning. She said the government feels that education on the issues and a concerted education campaign can work to address these issues.

Nancy Lindley addressed the concerns she had brought up in the panel; why Chiang Mai Immigration has such major issues in providing services that other Immigration offices do not, why they insist on enforcing difficult rules that no other office does. The Minister said she will look into why Chiang Mai Immigration is less effective and said she sees this will have a solution in the short to medium term.

Nancy brought up the need for some kind of health care for expats, suggesting that an option be to bring them into the National Social Security health care scheme albeit with higher rates, another member of the group asked if it were possible for the Thai government to come to some agreement with foreign countries so that nationals could use their Medicare insurance here.

The Minister said she would look into this and also check with insurance agencies about possible solutions for elderly expats.

Neal Robinson brought up the issue of the annual renewal of the visa, suggesting that perhaps after five years of one year extensions retirees be eligible for a long-term visa, from 5-10 years with a report every year. Minister Kobkarn said that they are working on the length of stay and that the government realizes this is an issue. She also addressed the issue of volunteerism that Nancy Lindley had brought up, saying “You are the brain bank of the country. We need this kind of synergy, it will definitely help Thailand and the region and it is something we are working on. It may be in the long-term but we recognize that it is there.”

Martin Venzky-Stalling urged that the government consider the long-term implications and establish goals for long-stay development, noting that most expats consider themselves part of the community, not tourists and they want to be included in the community.

Several members of the Chiang Mai Chamber of Commerce stood up and spoke up stating that these changes were absolutely necessary were Chiang Mai and Thailand to see a growth in long-stayers. Noting that this had been discussed many times but nothing had ever been accomplished. The Chiang Mai Chamber of Commerce has been pushing the government for a five year long-stay visa for over 6 years.

Minister Kobkarn concluded, “I am here to let you know that this is an important issue for Thailand. I will go back and talk with the Governor, the Chamber of Commerce and I hope it can be a priority for the government. I do hope that it will be a dream we can work on together.”

Funeral rites for His Majesty King Bhumibol Adulyadej

Royal Household Bureau announcement

Nopniwat Krailerg

The Royal Household Bureau issued an official statement on the funeral services for His Majesty King Bhumibol Adulyadej recently, including a timeline of his passing and early ceremonies at the Grand Palace.

The Royal Household Bureau announced the passing of His Majesty King Bhumibol Adulyadej at 6.55 pm on Thursday October 13, 2016. His Majesty had gone to Siriraj Hospital for medical treatment on Friday 3 October 2016 according to an announcement made by Royal Household Bureau. Although, medical team worked hard to treat His Majesty his health continued to deteriorate and he passed away peacefully at 3:52 pm on Thursday, October 13, 2016 at the age of 89 years old.

On Friday October 14, 2016 at 3.40 p.m., The Crown Prince, Vachiralongkorn Prince went to the Pimanrattaya Throne Hall, Grand Palace to await the arrival of His Majesty’s funeral cortege, which left Siriraj Hopistal at 4 p.m., led by Somdej Phawannarat, Abbot of Wat Bawornniwejwiharn to the Chalermphakiat Building. The cortege moved from Siriraj Hospital to the Grand Palace as the streets were lined with tens of thousands of people who came to pay their last respect with sadness and tears. The nation also watched the procession and ceremony on televisions across the country.

The funeral will be held at Dusitmahaprasart Throne Hall for 100 days or the mourning period. The ceremony will start each day at 6 a.m. for monks' chanting followed by food offerings at 7 a.m. This will be followed by further chanting from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m. when the monks will be offered lunch. Further prayers will be at 12 noon and 3 p.m. followed by 6 p.m. to 7 p.m. and again at 9 p.m.  

The Royal Funeral Ceremony or Sattamawarn Ceremony which is held on the 7th day, was held on Wednesday, October 18, 2016 at 5 p.m. when thirty monks chanted Buddhist mantra followed by a sermon and chanting from four monks.

On Thursday October 20,2016, thirty monks changed for blessings at 10.30 a.m. followed by food offerings. This was followed by a sermon and chanting performed by four monks, and lastly presenting ropes to 89 monks in regards to His Majesty’s age.    

The Panrasamawarn Ceremony, which marks the 15th day, will be held on Thursday October 27, 2016 at 5 p.m. and Friday  October 28, 2016 at 10.30 a.m. The Panyasamawarn ceremony, which marks the 50th day, will be held on Thursday December 1, 2016 at 5 p.m.  and on December 2, 2016 at 10.30 a.m. The 100 days ceremony or the Satamawarn ceremony (100 days) will be held on Friday January 20, 2017 at 5 p.m. and on Saturday January 21, 2017 at 10.30 a.m.

 The Royal Household Bureau announced that people will be allowed to pay respects in the Dusitmahaprasart Throne Hall from October 28, 2016 at 1 p.m. onwards.

Royal allowance is made to allow people to pay respect in front of HM the late King’s photo at Sahathai Samakom Pavilion, Grand Palace every day from 8.30 a.m. to 4 p.m. There is a book for mourners to sign at the Pavilion.

Royal allowance is made to allow people to pay respect HM the late King at Dusitmahaprasart Throne Hall after completing 15 days of the  Royal Funeral Ceremony from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. every days starting from October 28, 2016 at 1 pm.

Royal allowance to allow various sections including personal, government section, state enterprises, private and civil section to host royal funeral of chanting rite after completing of 50 days of the royal funeral ceremony.

The Royal Household Bureau asks that tourists in Thailand understand the sadness of the Thai people and to act accordingly. Tourists are asked to wear dark tones or somber clothing and the government has asked for cooperation from all sectors to refrain from parties, live music and concerts from October 14 – November 13, 2016.

Governor presides over merit-making for His Majesty the King at 3 Kings Monument

Next ceremony to be held October 27

Chiang Mai Governor Pawin Chamniprasart and President of the Provincial Red Cross Monsuda Chamniprasart offer monks food to mark the Sattamawarn Ceremony held at Three Kings Monument.

Monks chant at the Sattamawarn Ceremony marking the 7th day of His Majesty the King’s passing at Three Kings Monument.

The Governor lights candles and incense as part of the ceremony to mark the 7th day.

Government officials, military, students and members of the public turned out for the Sattamawarn Ceremony held on October 19, 2016. The next ceremony will be held at Three Kings Monument on October 27, 2016 to mark the 15th day.

Chiang Mai Governor Pawin Chamniprasart presided over the Sattamawarn Ceremony at Three Kings Monument to mark the seventh day of the passing of His Majesty King Bhumibol Adulyadej on Wednesday, October 19, 2016. He was joined by government officials, military and others in presenting food offerings to 89 monks, to mark the age of His Majesty.

The Governor was joined by his wife Monsuda, President of the Chiang Mai Provincial Red Cross, Red Cross officials, students, and members of local organizations as well.

The Panrasamawarn Ceremony, which marks the 15th day, will be held on Thursday October 27, 2016 at 7:30 p.m. at Three Kings Monument and members of the public are invited to join in the ceremony.

Governor leads mourning ceremony at City Hall

Ceremonies to be held at temples around Chiang Mai

Nopniwat Krailerg

The Governor of Chiang Mai led government officials, members of the Chiang Mai Provincial Red Cross, students, organizations and foreigners in paying their respects to His Majesty the King at 8:30 a.m. on October 16, 2016 at City Hall. The group of over 300 people formed a giant heart to pay their respects, the event was broadcast across the nation.

Governor Pawin Chamniprasart led the ceremony which saw simultaneous events held across the country in twelve provinces; Khon Kaen, Ubon Ratchathani, Chiang Mai, Phistanulok, Chantaburi, Kanchanaburi, Phuket, Surat Thani, Songkhla, Nakhon Si Thammarat, Trang, and Yala. The remaining provinces will organize their ceremonies later.

 The Governor invited the residents of Chiang Mai to sign the mourning book at City Hall or at their District Offices. 

Ceremonies have been held at Wat Jet Yod on October 19 and at Three Kings Monument followed by Wat Srisoda on October 27, 2016, Wat Suan Dok on November 3 and Wat Prathat Doi Suthep on November 10. Wat Phadapirom in Mae Rim will have ceremonies on November 17 followed by Wat Chedi Luang Worawiharn on November 24 and Wat Phra Singh on December 1, 2016.

Bank robber leaves extra cash on the road

Keeps amount to pay back loan on coffee shop

Nopniwat Krailerg

Police announced the arrest of a Bangkok man in the robbery of the Krung Thai Bank on Nimmanhaemin Road on October 17, 2016, reporting that he had taken the amount he needed to pay off a loan for his coffee shop and abandoned the rest of the cash in a bag on the side of the road after robbing the bank on October 15, 2016.

Thirty-year-old Chapanon “Mink” Noochnu of Bangkapi in Bankgok was arrested for robbing the bank and also for motorcycle theft. He confessed to police that on October 15 at 1:25 p.m. he knocked Bussaborn Tiewtraakul off her motorcycle near Wat Suan Dok and stole the motorbike. He told the police that he then drove to the bank and robbed the bank at knife point. He then drove the motorcycle off to Chiang Mai Maharaj Nakhon Hospital where he changed clothes and abandoned the motorcycle.

Police found cash totalling 173,960 baht along with a knife, a full-face motorcycle helmet and clothing worn while committing the offense from dense grass in Soi 6, Suan Dok behind Suan Dok community.

They used CCTV to track the robber, finding he had parked his own motorcycle about 400 meters away from where he stole the motorcycle. They checked the registration plate and identified and tracked down the suspect. They arrested him at 11 p.m. on October 16, 2016 wit  9,180 baht in various bank notes.  

The suspect confessed to police that he had stolen the money to pay off his debts. He told police that he had taken out the money he needed for the loan then put the remaining cash with shirt, pants, and sharp knife in a green bag on Soi 6 Suan Dok where police had found the cash.

Mae Ai man arrested with 20 kilograms of heroin hidden in gas tank

Nopniwat Krailerg

Phrae police announced the arrest of a Mae Ai man who had hidden 20 kilograms of heroin in the gas tank of his pickup truck. Police stopped 29 year old Jeerapan Wattanchart of Mae Ai, Chiang Mai at a checkpoint at Baan Huay Rai in Den Chai Phrae for acting suspiciously.

Police saw the truck make a fast U-turn just before the checkpoint and managed to stop the truck. At first they could not find anything but the suspect was shaking and behaving in a suspicious manner so they ended up scanning the truck where they found 60 bars of heroin weighing 20 kilograms hidden in the gas tank.

Police arrested the suspect and will investigate further to find the drug trafficking network responsible.

Governor gives OK to Loy Krathong events

Must be held in appropriate fashion

Chiang Mai Governor Pawin Chamniprasart met with Mayor Tussanai Buranaupakorn, tourism officials and business organizations to discuss the Loy Krathong or Yee Peng Festival. He’s given the go ahead on the events but the concerned parties will meet again on Friday, October 21, 2016 to determine the most appropriate formats for the event.

Nopniwat Krailerg

Chiang Mai Governor Pawin Chamniprasart gave the go ahead for Loy Krathong events to be held after conferring with Chiang Mai Mayor Tussanai Buranupakorn, Deputy Mayors, the Ministry of Tourism and Sports, the Tourism Authority of Thailand and the Chiang Mai Tourism Association. However, they will reconvene on Friday, October 21 to determine the most appropriate formats for the event.

Many businesspeople asked the Municipality to reconsider the ban on the city’s famed Yee Peng parades and events citing that it falls at the end of the 30-day mourning period issued by the government.

The Chiang Mai Governor said that they had not been ordered to halt the Red Cross Fair, the Krathin ceremony; the annual merit-making ceremony in which new yellow robes are presented to Buddhist monks or Pha Pa: making and off-season offering of robes and other needs to monks, and other religious activities. These can be organized as usual, but shall not have any musical performances or concerts.

The traditional and annual events are not prohibited, but shall be in appropriate formats. The concerned parties will meet again on October 21, 2016 to determine the appropriate formats for Yee Peng or Loy Krathong on November 13 – 15, 2016.

Governor announces Walking Street Markets, Night Bazaar to continue

Chiang Mai Governor Pawin Chamniprasart announces that the Chiang Mai Municipality has rescinded the order to halt sales at the Saturday and Sunday Walking Street Markets and stalls at the Night Bazaar.

Nopniwat Krailerg

The Chiang Mai Municipality issued a notice on October 14 asking for cooperation to suspend sales or any activity on the Saturday and Sunday Walking Streets and stalls at the Night Bazaar on Chang Klan Road in mourning for the loss off His Majesty King Bhumibol Adulyadej.

Chiang Mai Governor Pawin Chamniprasart announced on October 15, 2016 that the Municipality had cancelled the order after some discussion and will allow people to sell goods in the three areas as usual, on Ratchadamnoen Road area for the Sunday Walking Street Market, Wualai Road area for Saturday Walking Street Market and the stalls at the Night Bazaar on Chang Klan Road. However, vendors should be dressed in mourning clothes, either black or white and not play music or perform. He called on cooperation from the public and businesses to join the nation in mourning the loss of Thailand’s revered King.

Vendors will be allowed to sell at the Walking Street Markets and Night Bazaar but are asked to wear mourning clothes in black or white and refrain from music and performances.

Progress report on Mae Jo tunnel from Highway Office

Expected completion January 2018

Construction at the Mae Jo intersection of the Superhighway is moving ahead of schedule despite delays in moving water pipes and is projected to be completed by January 2018.

An artist’s rendition of the completed construction at the intersection. Once done the new underpass should ease traffic flow at the busy intersection.

The new bridge at Pa Tan crossing the Ping River will ease bottlenecks caused by the narrow bridge.

Nopniwat Krailerg

The Chiang Mai Highway Office 1 reported that the construction on the Superhighway for the Mae Jo tunnel, Pa Tan Bridge and highway expansion are due to be completed by January 2018.

Mr. Rattapong Lertsuwanpaisan, Inspector from the Chiang Mai Highway Office said that currently the tunnel is at 40 percent completion, the bridge at 40 percent and the expansion of the current bridge at 60 percent completion. The Mae Jo tunnel will be at the intersection of Highway 11 and 100 and includes the expansion of the Pa Tan Bridge, and road expansion to ten lanes.

The new tunnel and road expansion will ease traffic congestion on the Superhighway and ease the bottleneck that occurs at the Pa Tan Bridge where the road crosses the Ping River. The contract started in March 2015 and is scheduled for completion on March 2, 2018 with Chiang Mai Construction Co. Ltd.

The biggest obstacle has been moving 600mm and 900mm around the side of the Pa Tan Bridge due to obstruction from the foundation posts. Moving the pipes requires the cooperation of the Provincial Works Authority and has delayed the movement of the pipes until the end of October. This has delayed further construction but once the pipes are moved further work can be done on the expansion of the bridge. The expansion and new part of the bridge are expected to be finished by the middle of 2017.

The Mae Jo tunnel is currently at 40 percent completion which is further along than originally planned. The road expansion plans have also hit some obstacles due to the need to remove and replace underground water pipes. Mr. Rattapong said that the entire project could open as early as the end of 2017 or January 2018, ahead of schedule.

Governor joins elderly people in mourning the loss of HM King Bhumibol Adulyadej

Governor Pawin Chamniprasart lights a candle as part of the ceremony to mourn His Majesty King Bhumibol Aduladej at a ceremony held specifically for the elderly community in Chiang Mai as part of the International Day of Older Persons.

Governor Pawin Chamniprasart was joined by elderly members of the community at Wat Suan Dok on October 15, 2016 to honor the International Day of Older Persons. The World Health Organization established the International Day of Older Persons in 1990 to raise awareness of the importance and needs of the elderly in society. As society ages so increases the importance of helping elderly people to remain an active and vital part of that society.

Governor Pawin Chamniprasart led a ceremony of blessings for His Majesty the King and joined the elderly community in holding the ceremony and giving them a chance to pay their last respects to His Majesty who passed away on October 13, 2016 after 70 years of reign. For many of the people attending this event the memories of his ascension to the throne remain strong while for others he has been the only King they have ever known.

The hall at Wat Suan Dok was filled for the blessing ceremony held on Saturday, October 15, 2016 to honor HM the King as part of the International Day of Older Persons events, giving the elderly a chance to pay their last respects.

Chiang Mai Mayor announces cancellation of Loy Krathong events

Letter from Chiang Mai Mayor Tussanai Buranupakorn cancelling Yee Peng or Loy Krathong festivities.

Chiang Mai Mayor Tussanai Buranupakorn announced the cancellation of city sponsored Loy Krathong events such as the parades and other festivities. However, individuals will still be able to honor Loy Krathong by releasing krathongs on the waterways and Khom Loy balloons, restrictions will still apply to the release of the hot air balloons on only the 14th and 15th of November.

Additionally the Mayor announced the closure of the Saturday Walking Street market on Wua Lai and Sunday Walking Street Market on Ratchadamnoen. The period of time was not announced but the government did announce an official period of mourning of one month and asked people to refrain from celebrations during this period to show respect for the grief of the Thai people.

Many events have been cancelled and people are asked to dress in black or somber colors out of respect for the nation’s loss.

Good Samaritan red truck driver returns forgotten bag

A red truck driver returns the belongings forgotten in the back of his songthaew by a Chinese tourist, she thanked him and gave him a reward for returning her property.

Nopniwat Krailerg

Red songthaew driver Somkiet Luangtumma contacted tourist police after finding a bag left in the back of his red truck. The driver said he found a green bag on the backseat, opened it and saw the passport of a Chinese national. The tourist had taken the songthaew from Tha Pae Gate to Central Plaza Chiang Mai Airport.

Mr. Somkiet contacted the tourist police and Pol. Lt. Winai Konsombat, Sub-Inspector of the Chiang Mai Tourist police said they had examined the passport and found the tourist who was staying in a hotel in the city. Li Jing thanked the driver for returning her belongings including two pairs of Ray Ban sunglasses, 700 Yuan and $AU460.

Miss Li Jing said she was delighted to get her property back and thanked the driver and offered him a reward for his kindness, noting she had been told of the kindness of Thai people and had now experienced it for herself.

Eastin Tan Hotel investigated for operating without a license

Governor states the owner is not being targeted

District officials question the hotel manager about operating without a license.

Nopniwat Krailerg

Eastin Tan Hotel on the corner of Nimmanhaemin Road and Huay Kaew Road was raided as part of a government policy to crack down on hotels operating without a license last week.

The hotel, owned by well-known businessman Tan Passakornnatee or Tan Ichitan as he is know because of the green tea business he started in Thailand, explained in a letter that the hotel had applied for a license but after new zoning laws was denied and had to appeal the decision.

The government ordered Eastin Tan Hotel to cease hotel operations after it was found to be operating without a hotel license last week. The owner has appealed the decision.

The Chiang Mai Assistant District Chief Officer revealed that permission had been granted for the construction of a condominium before 2012. After 2012, the new Hotel Act was issued and the owner applied to change permission allowing for hotel rooms on the 2nd -4th floors and the 5th- 7th floors to be condominiums. Permission was denied because of the size of the building and that the plans were not correct according to the Building Control Act. The Governor did not approve the application but the building still opened as a hotel.

Tan Passakornnatee explained via his personal Facebook page “I insisted that Eastin Tan Hotel operate with honesty and full disclosure. We would like to cooperate with the government to explain this situation.” He also issued a letter that detailed the case including the fact that after the application for a change of use was denied the company appealed that decision. He added that the company had never intended to be violating the law, and had paid all taxes during the entire time.

The Tourism Council of Chiang Mai called on the government to resolve the hotel business problems in Chiang Mai as there are currently many hotels operating without licenses, in part due to zoning changes and difficulties in obtaining licenses.

Burmese residents protest against military attack on Kachin State in Myanmar

Local Kachin groups protested in front of the Myanmar Consulate General calling on the government to stop its bombardment and military attacks on the Kachin and Shan states in Myanmar.

Nopniwat Krailerg

Burmese residents in Chiang Mai protested in front of the Myanmar Consulate General and left a protest letter in the mail box at the conclusion of the peaceful protest on October 10, 2016.

Led by Mr. Norkam and Mr. Norlon, both members of the Kachin ethnic group, and Sangmeuang Mangkorn, who is of the Tai Yai ethnic group in Myanmar, were joined by around 50 people in front of the Myanmar Consulate General to call on the Myanmar military to stop its military actions in the Kachin state. They read the announcement and sang the Kachin National song. When no one from the Consulate came to receive the letter they left it in the mailbox.

Representatives said that the Myanmar military has been attacking Kachin State since June 2011 and it has recently intensified. They called on the army to stop attacking both Kachin State and Shan State where a two year old was recently killed in a military attack.

The letter also said that the Kachin people requested Mrs. Aung San Suu Kyi to negotiate with Burmese army to stop attacking various ethnic groups and to ask the government to help evacuees escaping war in Kachin State. Additionally, requirement was made Burmese Government to help and support evacuees who want to come back to their motherland with safety.

Driver’s license exams to become more difficult in 2017

Land Transportation Department increasing training and tests

The Director of the Chiang Mai Land Transport Office Chanchai Keelapaeng reported on the new developments in driver’s license exams and training.

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The Chiang Mai Department of Land Transportation will be tightening up testing, training and requirements for applicants for driver’s licenses beginning January 1, 2017 the head of the department recently announced.

Education training at the Department will be increased from four hours to five and applicants must have 90 percent of their answers correct in order to pass the test.

Beginning in October 2017 applicants will also be required to attend a standard driving school before they can get apply for the license.

Chanchai Keelapaeng, Director of Chiang Mai Provincial Land Transport Office reported that the Department of Land Transport adjusted the criteria for the issuance of drivers licenses for all kinds of vehicles. Applicants must have at least 45 correct answers out of 50, or 90 percent and the test will be revamped breaking up into different parts. Samples will be available online for study at

Next year the office will require five hours of theory and 10 hours of practical training. Currently the DLT is certifying driving schools so that people taking classes can use their certificate to apply for a driver’s license at Provincial Land Transport Office across the country. This policy will become effective on October 1, 2017 and the Provincial Land Transport Office will not responsible for providing training anymore.

The Director of Chiang Mai Provincial Land Transport Office said that Chiang Mai province has over 200 applicants daily, both Thai and foreign. About 70% of applicants could pass the test and there were persons passing the test with full scores every day. The E-Driving System has been currently used for practical testing instead of using officers’ vision assessment since June 2016. At the beginning only 20% of applicants could pass the test due to unfamiliarity with using the computer’s assessment. However, over 60% of applicants could pass the practical test.

Provincial Health Office focusing on protecting pregnant women from Zika

Dengue kills three people this year


The Provincial Health Office is calling on everyone to eliminate mosquito breeding grounds to combat Dengue and Zika viruses carried by the insect.

Nopniwat Krailerg

The Chiang Mai Provincial Public Health Office is focusing efforts on pregnant women to prevent the transmission of the Zika virus due to the birth defects associated with the mosquito born disease. The Office reported that 16 infected patients have been found. All districts in infected areas were strictly ordered to eliminate larvae of common mosquitoes.

The latest Zika patient was found in San Sai on October 1 and is a 33 year old male. Of the sixteen patients, three were pregnant women. All of the infected people have recovered from the illness which is characterized by a low fever and rash.

The government has been monitoring all areas and examined all pregnant women in areas with the infection of suspected to have it. The disease is mild in most people and not a danger but is linked to birth defects in babies whose mother’s contract the disease while pregnant.

The government has called on people to cooperate in removing all breeding grounds for mosquito larvae as it can also cause Dengue fever as well.

Since January there have been 41,000 cases of Dengue fever in Chiang Mai province, three patients died and five districts have the highest rates; Mae Taeng, Doi Saket. Mae Wang, San Kamphaeng and Muang districts.

Nearly 52 million Yaba pills seized in the past year

Heroin arrests down, Ya Ice arrests up


Police seized over 51.9 million Yaba pills in the past year in the North.

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The Northern Border Narcotics Control Management Center (NBNCMC) announced the results of their drug suppression efforts in the year since October 2105, reporting that 51.9 million methamphetamine or Yaba pills were seized in 21 districts.

Maj. Gen. Sompong Jangjamrat, Commissioner of Northern Border Narcotics Control Management Center (NBNCMC) announced results of drug seizures and arrests in the past year.

Maj. Gen. Sompong Jangjamrat, Commissioner of Northern Border Narcotics Control Management Center (NBNCMC) announced that in the year from October 2015 to September 2016 police and army seized 51,910,000 methamphetamine pills entering the country. He noted that heroin arrests were down 61.1 percent compared to the previous year but arrests for Ya Ice or crystal methamphetamine were up 81.1 percent.

Seizures and arrests occurred in 21 districts and three provinces. Police also conducted random urine checks and sent addicts for rehabilitation. The NBNCMC established three learning centers of sufficiency economy and participated in activities to strengthen communities in the village projects Mother Fund, Civil State for Unity project in 13 villages.

The Northern Border Narcotics Control Management Center (NBNCMC) also provided help for victims of disasters totaling 3,400 people, joined 48 tree planting exercises and built 53 check dams.

Buzzing noise coming from passenger bag delays AirAsia flight

An EOD officer checks a bag after baggage handlers noticed a bag buzzing suspiciously. The object turned out to be a sex toy that had not had the batteries removed.

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AirAsia flight FD3438 was delayed on the tarmac on September 28, 2016 after baggage handlers discovered bag vibrating suspiciously. They called the bomb disposal team to check out the bag as there were concerns it could be a bomb. The EOD team opened to bag to find a sex toy that had been inadvertently turned on, causing the bag to vibrate.

The Communications Division of Thai AirAsia Airlines reported that the flight was only slightly delayed by the confusion as the EOD team turned off the device, removed the batteries and packed it back into the bag. They reminded people to not pack battery operated devices or to remove all batteries before checking bags.

The EOD officer repacked the bag and the plane let only five minutes late.

Southern drug smugglers arrested transporting 300,000 Yaba pills

Police arrested three people, two women and one man from Trang on trafficking 302,000 methamphetamine pills at a hotel in Saraphi.

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Police announced the arrest of three suspected members of a Southern drug gang and the seizure of 302,000 methamphetamine pills after the driver of a pickup truck abandoned the vehicle at a temple near a checkpoint in Chai Prakarn District on September 25, 2016 at 10 p.m.

The driver of the truck fled the scene, leaving the gray Isuzu truck parked at Wat Pang Makam Pom. Police inspected the vehicle and discovered 302,000 methamphetamine or Yaba pills concealed in bags of fruit in the truck. Police tracked the driver down to a hotel in Saraphi where they arrested the driver, a 33 year old man named Wongwanich, or Non, and two women; 55 year old Nittaya or Nid and 30 year old Wanitchaya or Gib of Trang Province.

The three suspects confessed to police that they belonged to the notorious Jak Muang Trang gang that is known for not only smuggling drugs but also involved in civil unrest in the Deep South.

Police have been trying to track the leader of this drug trafficking gang for some time and plan on further investigations with the three suspects to trace other gang members.

Former student returns to college in uniform to steal

Police arrested a former Chiang Mai Rajabhat University student for stealing at the campus cafeteria.

Police confiscate the motorbike of a former Chiang Mai Rajabhat University student who confessed to police that she dressed in her old uniform to steal on campus.

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A former Chiang Mai Rajabhat University student returned to the university cafeteria to steal items from students and staff police alleged at Chang Pueak Police Station on September 27, 2016 as they presented the suspect to the press conference.

Police arrested 27 year old Pattrawan Jaiban of San Sai after using CCTV footage to investigate thefts from the cafeteria at the university on September 23, 2016.

The suspect confessed to police that she had been a student at the school and was familiar with the place. She told police that she dressed like a student several times to steal items from students and staff at the cafeteria.

Provincial Employment Office moves daily labor service behind City Hall

Yaowapa Piboonphol, Director of Chiang Mai Provincial Employment Office announced the new building and results for employees and employers since December 2015, employees and employers visit the new site regularly.

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The Director of the Chiang Mai Provincial Employment Office reported recently that the office has moved the location of its office for daily labor applications to a building behind City Hall. The office enables daily laborers and employees seeking laborers to connect.

The Office has organized work for employees resulting in creating income totaling over 2.7 million baht in the period from December 15, 2015 to September 20, 2016. The office has helped 2,124 employers recruit laborers and 6,690 people find laboring work in that period.

The jobs include construction, manual labor, gardening and cleaning. Many people come to the office after harvest season looking for temporary work. The Office is open in the building behind City Hall every day from 6:30 a.m. to 12 noon including public holidays. For more information, please contact Employment Service Center for Thai people, Chiang Mai Provincial Employment Office at 0-5311-2774-6.

Australian Embassy to conduct a Consular outreach visit to Chiang Mai October 14

The Consular Section of the Australian Embassy in Bangkok announced that it will be holding a Consular outreach visit in Chiang Mai on Friday, October 14, 2016 at the Le Meridien Chiang Mai.

The outreach, which will be held in the VIP lounge, will be between 9 a.m. to 12 noon and 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. The

During the outreach visits, the Consular section will be providing the following services;

  • Passport applications (please ensure you bring all original documents and a photocopy of each document with you)

  • Notarial services

  • Statutory declarations for marriage, retirement visas and driving licence renewals

  • Witnessing documents

  • Certified true copies of documents (please ensure you bring the original and a photocopy of each document with you)

Fees are payable in cash only so people are asked to please bring the right change with you. Please contact the Consular section on 02 344 6300 or email [email protected] prior to your visit if you require further details and/or to confirm fees payable..


HEADLINES [click on headline to view story]

Rajamangala University of Technology Lanna mourns His Majesty the King with giant heart

Expats air their concerns with Minister of Tourism & Sports

Funeral rites for His Majesty King Bhumibol Adulyadej

Governor presides over merit-making for His Majesty the King at 3 Kings Monument

Governor leads mourning ceremony at City Hall

Bank robber leaves extra cash on the road

Mae Ai man arrested with 20 kilograms of heroin hidden in gas tank

Governor gives OK to Loy Krathong events

Governor announces Walking Street Markets, Night Bazaar to continue

Progress report on Mae Jo tunnel from Highway Office

Governor joins elderly people in mourning the loss of HM King Bhumibol Adulyadej

Chiang Mai Mayor announces cancellation of Loy Krathong events

Good Samaritan red truck driver returns forgotten bag

Eastin Tan Hotel investigated for operating without a license

Burmese residents protest against military attack on Kachin State in Myanmar

Driver’s license exams to become more difficult in 2017

Provincial Health Office focusing on protecting pregnant women from Zika

Nearly 52 million Yaba pills seized in the past year

Buzzing noise coming from passenger bag delays AirAsia flight

Southern drug smugglers arrested transporting 300,000 Yaba pills

Former student returns to college in uniform to steal

Provincial Employment Office moves daily labor service behind City Hall

Australian Embassy to conduct a Consular outreach visit to Chiang Mai October 14


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