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HEADLINES [click on headline to view story]:

Nine Hill Tribes Come Together to Celebrate HM the King

Narcotics Smuggling and Border Security Main Topics of High Level Meeting between Police and Military

Refugees in Mae Hong Son Pay Homage to HM the King.

3rd Army Region Keeps A Watchful Eye on Undercurrent Rumors

Chiang Mai Winter Rose 2006

Photo Exhibition Celebrates HM the King in Chiang Mai

Tourism Entrepreneurs Protest at Thai Airways

Police Officer Fatally Wounds another Officer in Crowded Pub

Immigration officers arrest illegal immigrant at Korean restaurant

Chiang Mai Tae Kwon Do Championship 2006 held to promote the sport and fight against drugs

Nine Hill Tribes Come Together to Celebrate HM the King

People from various hill tribes join in the parade to pay homage to HM the King

Saksit Meesubkwang
On December 2-3, at the Virtual Hilltribe Museum (Chang Peak sub-district of Muang Chiang Mai), 9 hill tribes came together to celebrate the 80th anniversary of HM the King’s birthday.
Following the opening ceremonies on December 2, the 9 tribes put on tribal and cultural shows. On December 3, 20,000 people witnessed a parade paying homage to HM the King from the Chiang Mai Provincial Government Office. At the parade, people held HM the King’s image and Thai national flags, which resulted in many drivers parking their cars to take photos. Then, at the event, people laid a flower tray in front of the image of HM the King. This event was led by HSH Prince Bhisadej Rajani, president of the Royal Project. More cultural shows from the hill tribes followed, including shows that told the story of HM the King.
Even though the way of life of each hill tribe is different, without exception they are all loyal to HM the King. The 9 hill tribes participating were Karen, Hmong, Yao, Lisu, Tai Tribe, Lua, Akha, Palaung, and Mia.


Narcotics Smuggling and Border Security Main Topics of High Level Meeting between Police and Military

Saksit Meesubkwang
A meeting was held on November 30 at the 33rd Army Area Kawila Camp. Lt. Gen. Jiradej Kotcharat, commanding general of 3rd Army Region, and Pol. Lt. Gen. Kittithat Ruanthip, Commissioner of Provincial Police Bureau Region 5, met with superintendent-rank police officers from 8 northern provinces of Provincial Police Bureau Region 5 (Chiang Mai, Chiang Rai, Lamphun, Lampang, Phayao, Phrae, Nan, and Mae Hong Son). Lt. Gen. Jiradej said the conference was to coordinate duties between the police and the military, especially when the army is in charge of interior security matters.

Lt. Gen. Jiradej Kotcharat, commanding general of 3rd Army Region.

Lt. Gen. Jiradej said that because many problems had occurred at the border area of the upper northern region, officers needed to cooperate with each other to provide security. They also needed to work together on other issues, such as narcotics, illegal immigration, and human trafficking issues. From the Prime Minister’s directive, it was up to the officers to solve these problems, especially the narcotics issue. It was also decided that officers should continue to monitor the illegal lottery.
He also reported that while there were always rumors about an undercurrent in the upper northern region, there was no known activity at this time. Officers are always on the alert as they still provide security in the area. He cautioned that this is the time for peace, not to cause any chaotic situation in the country.
In the case of a lower secondary-school student in the San Kamphaeng district who set off a bomb in the school by remote control, officers are still investigating. The student said the bomb was his friend’s, and not his own. Pol. Lt. Gen. Kittithat Ruanthip confirmed that the investigation for this case is in progress, but added that the material used in making the bomb and the real cause of the bomb are still unknown. Police have found that the bomb had been made with high technology, and believe that a student could not make it by himself. They declined to elaborate further pending the conclusion of the investigation.
Also, on November 30, at Pha Muang Task Force in Chiang Mai, Lt. Gen. Jiradej met with police, military, and the Office of Narcotics Control Board (ONCB), who are in charge of narcotics suppression. The purpose of the meeting was to make a mutual understanding about narcotics prevention and suppression in border areas and nearby locations. Mainly, it was to emphasize the cooperation needed between the police and the military.
Lt. Gen. Jiradej said that the situation varies depending on the day. Officers must always keep monitoring, and do whatever it takes to suppress any spread of the narcotic drugs. He admitted that there are still drugs being smuggled in from border areas. Mostly, they come mixed in with other goods, or after having been ingested by the smuggler. Smaller amounts of the drugs are usually brought in by amateurs because the bigger groups are more closely monitored.
Lt. Gen. Jiradej also spoke about martial law enforcement in Chiang Mai province. A military force is needed because Chiang Mai is a border area, and there are numerous people entering. However, following the law shouldn’t cause any trouble for people. Although many people believe that martial law should be ended, everything continues normally. Tourists still visit Chiang Mai.


Refugees in Mae Hong Son Pay Homage to HM the King.

Saksit Meesubkwang
On December 5, at Baan Pang Tractor Refugee Camp in Muang Mae Hong Son, about 25,000 refugees initiated a ceremony to pay homage to His Majesty the King to celebrate his birthday. The ceremony began in the morning when an honoring speech was given by Deputy Mae Hong Son Governor Chana Naksuriya. At 7.00 p.m., refugees lighted candles to pay homage to HM the King at the refugee camp.
Ma-ngae, one of Long Necked Karen who joined the ceremonies, said that she was happy to celebrate HM the King. She has warm feelings for Thailand, and, because of the continuing violence in the Shan State, never thinks of returning to Myanmar. She added that although she was of the Karen tribe and she and her people still admire HM the King.


3rd Army Region Keeps A Watchful Eye on Undercurrent Rumors

Saksit Meesubkwang
On December 6, Lt. Gen. Jiradej Kocharat of the 3rd Army Region had a meeting with Pol. Lt. Gen. Kittithat Ruanthip, Commissioner of Provincial Police Bureau Region 5, and Deputy Chiang Mai Governor Wichai Srikwan, about a rumor of an undercurrent. The meeting was to share information and optimize cooperation between the three units.
Lt. Gen. Jiradej spoke about an undercurrent in the northern region. Because there have been many rumors of undercurrents in many areas, officers are on alert, closely monitoring this issue. The meeting with police and the Chiang Mai Governor was to brainstorm on how they could best cooperate and use the information they had collected. He said it was important that people are well informed, and given information to prevent wrongdoers from misleading them.
“Martial law is still used in areas where there are rumors of an undercurrent. I do not worry because it is the 3rd Army Region’s duty to take care of the area. Officers have also been closely monitoring rumors of demonstrations in Bangkok on December 10. However, many specifics are still unclear, and others must remain confidential to prevent any ill effects. Officers will protect every area in the northern region,” Lt. Gen. Jiradej added.
Pol. Lt. Gen. Kittithat Ruanthip said that officers have been sent into many areas to find intelligence on whether there was any adverse movement. So far, nothing unusual has been found. However, officers will still keep watch for any movements.


Chiang Mai Winter Rose 2006

Chiang Mai Rose Growers Group

The Chiang Mai Rose Growers Group in cooperation with the Chiang Mai Provincial Administration Organization (PAO), Office of Agriculture Career Promotion and Development in Chiang Mai, and JJ Market have organized the Chiang Mai Rose Growers Group’s annual rose show. ‘Chiang Mai Winter Rose 2006,’ continues the tradition of rose shows that began in 1987. This show will be on display from December 22-24 at JJ Market, Atsadathorn Road.
At the exhibition, there will be a rose contest, and an exhibition showing how to plant roses, entitled “Roses from Phuping Palace.” Another exhibition, “Chao Dara Ratsamee and Chulalongkorn Rose,” explains how to breed roses, a new innovation for Thai people. There will also be a demonstration on making dried roses, a flower arrangement contest, a painting contest for students, and “Rose Clinic,” a consulting service by skilled rose planters. Other features include a specially decorated area for visitors to take photos, and vendors for patrons who are looking for stems or flowers of any rose species.
This is a non-profit exhibition for Chiang Mai residents who love roses. However, it will maintain the atmosphere of a professional flower exhibition.
All members of the public are invited to visit “Chiang Mai Winter Rose 2006,” December 22-24 at JJ Market on Atsadathorn Road from 9.00 a.m. – 9.00 p.m. There is a parking area provided without entrance and parking fee.


Photo Exhibition Celebrates HM the King in Chiang Mai

HSH Prince Bhisadej Rajani visits the photo exhibition honoring HM the King

Preeyanoot Jittawong
A photo exhibition of 300 photographs honoring His Majesty the King (celebrating the 60th anniversary of his ascension to the throne) has been organized by the Chiang Mai Reporter’s Association on the 2nd floor of the Denchai Trading Building.
HSH Prince Bhisadej Rajani presided over the opening of the photo exhibition on December 1st, which displays photographs from mass media during HM the King’s stay in Chiang Mai. This exhibition is to encourage Thai people to realize HM the King’s graciousness, and show how he worked so tirelessly for Thai people. This exhibition also aims to encourage teenagers who are interested in a mass media career to be good news reporters in the future.
This photo exhibition will continue until the end of December at the Exhibition Hall on the 2nd floor of the Denchai Trading Co., Ltd. Building. There will also be a writing competition for teenagers in an attempt to seek out new talent in the younger generation. They will produce an article, entitled “King of Thailand,” which should help them improve their writing and researching skills. A photo contest, “Phirab Noi” (Little Pigeon), allows students to select the best shots that show creativity in reporting news. The winner will receive a scholarship from the Chiang Mai Reporter’s Association.

Chiang Mai Governor Wichai Srikwan (3rd left) and Bea Camp, U.S. Consul General to Chiang Mai (3rd right) at the exhibition


Tourism Entrepreneurs Protest at Thai Airways

Tourism business owners protest outside the THAI Office in Mae Hong Son.

Khajohn Boonphat
Following many complaints about Thai Airlines service to Mae Hong Son, a protest was staged on December 1st. 100 people from the Lanna Tourism Network of Mae Hong Son Tourism Business Association and Municipality demonstrated at the office of Thai Airways International Airlines (THAI).
They were led by Chotti Naramonthon, president of the Lanna Tourism Network, Suthep Nootsuang, Mae Hong Son Mayor, and Supoj Klinpraneet, president of Mae Hong Son Tourism Business Association. During the protest, the situation became tense with many offensive signs and words. Afterwards, they presented a wreath to Taewan Damronghad, manager of the THAI Office in Mae Hong Son.
Supoj Klinpraneet said that THAI airfares from Chiang Mai – Mae Hong Son have increased from 1,290 baht to 1,950 baht, while bus fares from Chiang Mai to Bangkok have increased 200 baht. This has affected the tourism business in Mae Hong Son. He said that 80 percent of tourists who had reserved tickets to visit Mae Hong Son had cancelled their reservations. If THAI does not decrease the price of airfare, Mae Hong Son Tourism Business Association will invite reporters from international sources to a seminar, exposing the practices of Thai Airways. This will give THAI a bad image to the public.
Taewan Damronghad replied that he was under orders from higher executives, and did not personally make the decision to raise the fares. He promised that all the complaints from Mae Hong Son residents will be delivered to the CEO to consider the airfare issue.
Previously, Mae Hong Son Governor Direk Konkleeb has asked Thailand’s Prime Minister, the Minister of Transport and Communication, and the CEO of THAI to reconsider this issue because it directly affects the tourism business in Mae Hong Son.


Police Officer Fatally Wounds another Officer in Crowded Pub

Saksit Meesubkwang
On the evening of December 5, officers of Phuping Police Station were informed of a gunfight at the Monkey Club pub on Nimmanahaeminda Road in the Suthep district of Muang Chiang Mai.
An investigation team arrived at the scene to find numerous teenagers who were hanging out at the pub. Officers closed the pub and confiscated approximately 300 I.D. cards from youngsters. Alcoholic-drink bottles, soft drinks, tables and chairs were scattered on the floor of the pub. Officers also found a bloodstain on the floor, and a 9-mm. bullet shell, which they kept as evidence.
A wounded man, Pol. Cpl. Jirasak Khuanphetch (30), a police officer from Muang Chiang Mai Police Station, was shot in his left temple though to the nape of the neck with a 9-mm bullet. He was sent to Maharaj Nakhon Chiang Mai Hospital, where he later passed away.
During the investigation, it was learned that Pol. Cpl. Jirasak was shot by Pol. Sgt. Weeraphon Pongpad (33), a police officer from Hang Dong Police Station. At the time of the incident, Pol. Cpl. Jirasak, Pol. Sgt. Weeraphon, and another officer, known as “Man,” were hanging out together with 2 women. While they were dancing in the pub, some teenagers touched one of the women who came with the officers. The officers became angry, and there was a fight. Pol. Sgt. Weeraphon drew his pistol and accidentally shot Pol. Cpl. Jirasak. The gunshot caused everyone in the pub to panic and run for their lives.
Pol. Maj. Col. Veerapol said that Pol. Sgt. Weeraphon had contacted his friends to find a solution, and he believed the officer would soon surrender. Pol. Sgt. Weeraphon is often seen at entertainment places and has many friends. It is believed that the gunshot stemmed from the crowded area, coupled with jealousy and anger because of the incident with the woman.
Later that night Pol. Sgt. Weeraphon surrendered to Pol. Col. Charin Jaengkrajang, superintendent of Hang Dong Police Station. The sergeant was charged with causing an accidental death, and with carrying a weapon in a public place. Pol. Sgt. Weeraphon testified that he had a quarrel with teenagers in the pub after they hit a table where he and his friends sat. They had also argued in the restroom. He decided to draw a pistol to threaten them when the accidental gunshot occurred.
Pol. Lt. Gen. Kittithat Ruanthip, Commissioner of Provincial Police Bureau Region 5, confirmed that Pol. Sgt. Weeraphon had surrendered and has taken responsibility for his actions. However, the investigation would continue to ascertain if he had argued with his colleague before the gunshot. Pol. Sgt. Weeraphon is temporarily suspended from his duties pending completion of the investigation.


Immigration officers arrest illegal immigrant at Korean restaurant

Saksit Meesubkwang
On December 5, Pol. Col. Jedsada Yaisun, superintendent of Mae Sai Immigration in Chiang Rai, Pongsakorn Yamasak, Chiang Rai Employment Office, Pol. Maj. Gen. Suthep Dejraksa, commander of Chiang Rai Provincial Police, and investigation officers of Muang Chiang Rai Police Station raided a 2-storey Korean restaurant located on Jed Yawd Road in Chiang Rai, was suspected of illegally harboring North Korean’s who were hidden there in preparation to move into another country.
Police arrested South Korean citizen Kim Sung Jin, (59), who was charged with illegal immigration, and restaurant owner Suphin Bae, (42), a resident of Muang Chiang Rai, who was charged with providing help to an illegal immigrant.
Kim Sung Jin claimed that he had been in Thailand since May 30, 2002, and lived in the restaurant with his Thai wife, Suphin’s sister. He said his bags and passport were stolen. Luckily, he receives income from his family and friends. Police officers sent him to Chiang Rai Provincial Court on December 6. Suphin later paid the 100,000 baht bail for Kim and confessed to the charges against her.
Pol. Col. Jedsada said that the investigation found that Kim Sung Jin had a police record in South Korea. He came to Thailand and allowed his visa to expire without renewal. He was charged with helping North Korean people by being a van-rental broker to take the North Korean’s to their destinations illegally. It is alleged the restaurant business is a cover for his criminal activities.
Kim’s wife, Phakjira, is indeed Suphin’s sister. Suphin herself has a husband who is a Korean citizen. They opened the Korean restaurant with a shelter at the back that appears to be a dormitory for tourists.
Many Korean citizens have been immigrating to Thailand. Officers will conduct legal proceedings to break up the Korean trafficking network. The Council for National Security (CNS) has set a policy, which states that any brokers who provide help to Korean citizens to immigrate into Thailand via China must be penalized.
The illegal aliens often come by boat on the Mekong River, and cross through the border area at Chiang Saen district in Chiang Rai. At that point, they willingly surrender to Thai officers so that they can be transported to South Korea. On average, 20 North Korean citizens are arrested each month.


Chiang Mai Tae Kwon Do Championship 2006 held to promote the sport and fight against drugs

The Tae Kwon Do champions pose proudly with their trophies.

Nopniwat Krailerg
Tae Kwon Do athletes from 50 clubs in Thailand entered a competition to win the royal cup from HRH Princess Ubolratana Rajakanya. The competition, “Chiang Mai Championship 2006” ran from December 2-3 at Sky Hall, on the 5th floor of the Kad Suan Kaew department store.
The competition was held by the Sports Association of Chiang Mai, in cooperation with the Physical Education Institute of the Chiang Mai Campus, and the Chiang Mai Provincial Administration Organization (PAO). The purpose is to promote tae kwon do, and to campaign against narcotics. There were more than 60 teams from 50 clubs (about 1,000-1,300 athletes) from all over Thailand. Athletes were from 5 regions in 12 provinces. The winners expressed their satisfaction and promised to continue training to reach the next level.