No damage from 5.1-power earthquake in Chiang Mai. Building regulations revisions expected
The Department of Public Works, and Town and City Planning in Chiang Mai
agreed to implement a standard of building construction in order to
withstand high tremors after an earthquake (measuring 5.1 on the Richter
scale) occurred. The center of the tremor was located in the Mae Rim
district. It was feared that if a quake reaches 7 on the Richter scale,
buildings might collapse. Many agencies surveyed the effects of this
earthquake, but no damage was found in Phra That Doi Sutep, and Mae Kuang
Udom Thara is also in good condition.
Prachon Prachsakun, head of Chiang Mai Provincial Disaster Prevention and
Mitigation Office, disclosed that the earthquake happened late at night on
December 12 at 12:02 a.m., and the center of the tremor was in the seam of
Mae Rim and San Sai districts. Every district and Local Administration
Organization (LAO) was ordered to check for damage. However, there was no
report of damages from the quake. Although a crack was found in male
dormitory 4 of Maejo University, it turned out to be a pre-existing crack
from old plaster.
Rangsit Chansiripitikul, head of Engineering Department of Mae Kuang
Reservoir project, said that after checking Mae Kuang Dam after the tremor,
no damage was found there either. He confirmed that the dam was strong, and
officers always check and maintain it. Chuan Phadwan, temple affairs manager
of Phra That Doi Suthep Temple, said that after the earthquake, the temple
had checked Doi Suthep Relic of Buddha immediately, but did not find any
damage. However, it will still be looked at by officers of the Department of
The Chiang Mai Deputy Governor said that the buildings in Chiang Mai are
strong - especially buildings which have been built recently. However, in
the future, safety measures to prevent damage from earthquakes will be
stricter. The central official department will announce these measures.
Wirat Tangmankhong-worrakul, Engineer 8 of Chiang Mai Provincial Public
Works, Town and City Planning Office, disclosed that the office had
coordinated with every district and Chiang Mai Municipality to check for any
damage. He believes that no severe damage was found because most buildings
in Chiang Mai are well designed, and can withstand an earthquake with a 5-6
Richter level. However, if there is an earthquake of 6-7 Richter, it is
possible that buildings will collapse. There is discussion about a building
height regulation, but the limitations would vary depending on each area.
The buildings will be checked to ensure they passed the standard set by
Statue of Buddha casting ceremony at Ratchaphruek
People buy pipal leaves to
write sentences honoring HM the King
The staff of the International Horticultural Exposition Ratchaphruek 2006
created a statue of Buddha from pipal leaves written by people honoring His
Majesty the King. It is estimated this Buddha is worth 8 million baht.
On December 13, Monk President Chao Pra Khun Somdej Phra Maha Mangklajarn,
and Theera Suthabuth, the Minister of Agriculture and Cooperatives,
officiated at the statue of Buddha casting ceremony. People were given the
opportunity to donate and write sentences honoring HM the King on pipal
leaves, and then to attach them on a loyalty pipal tree at the International
Horticultural Exposition Ratchaphruek 2006. Thus far, about 8 million baht
has been donated.
The staff had recently conducted a casting ceremony for a statue of a
meditating Buddha in order to honor HM the King, celebrating the 60th
anniversary of his ascension to the throne. This Buddha contained 67,975
pipal leaves from visitors from November 1 – December 5. The statue’s hair
will be cast from gold when enough gold (or money to purchase the gold) is
A second statue of Buddha will be cast on the auspicious occasion of
honoring HM the King, celebrating the 80th anniversary of his birthday. This
statue will be cast from pipal leaves collected from December 6 – January
31, 2007. The casting ceremony will be occuring on January 31, 2007.
N.B. The Sacred Fig Ficus religiosa, also known as Bo (from the Sinhalese
Bo), Pipal (Peepul) or Ashwattha tree, is a species of banyan fig native to
India, southwest China and Indochina east to Vietnam. It is a large dry
season-deciduous or semi-evergreen tree up to 30 m tall and with a trunk
diameter of up to 3 m.
Long-Necked Karen villages to be combined and relocated
Mae Hong Son Governor Direk Konkleeb disclosed that he is still working on a
project to move 2 Long-Necked Karen villages. The villages to be relocated
are Baan Huay Sua Thao in the Pha Bong sub-district, and Ban Nai Soi in the
Pang Moo sub-district of Muang Mae Hong Son. The goal is to have them live
together in Baan Huay Poo Kaeng in the Pha Bong sub-district of Muang Mae
The National Security Council (NSC) has acquired the data necessary to move
both villages. A Long-Necked Karen Cultural Center has been planned for Baan
Huay Pu Kaeng. It will be divided into many zones to attract visitors, and
will be located on 105 rai, near the Pai River. Visitors will be able to
visit Baan Huay Pu Kaeng by car, or by rafting on the Pai River.
Direk Konkleeb, the director of Thai Border Command Center in Mae Hong Son,
disclosed that this relocation plan aims to promote tourism in Mae Hong Son.
Although there are many objections, the province still wants the Long-Necked
Karen village to have a cultural center. Leaders of Long-Necked Karen tribe
have authorities to manage for themselves. There are currently about 177
Long-Necked Karen tribesmen in Baan Huay Sua Thao, about 233 in Baan Nai
Soi, and about 199 in Baan Huay Pu Kaeng. If tribesmen from both villages
are moved into Baan Huay Pu Kaeng, it will be the biggest Long-Necked Karen
village and cultural center.
Chiang Rai’s Akha New Year Festival details announced
Arthorn Youlue, a Samakkhee-Kao village headman, announced the details for
the Akha New Year Festival. A committee from Samakkhee Kao village, alumni
from Sri Som Wong Border Patrol Police College, and the Mae Fa Luang Tambon
Administration Organization will organize the Akha New Year Festival on
December 30. The festival will begin at 9.30 a.m. at Sri Som Wong Border
Patrol Police College in Baan Samakkhee-Kao, Mae Fa Luang sub-district.
This year the focus will be on remembering HRH Princess Mother’s
graciousness, honoring HM the King, learning about Akha culture, conserving
nature and the environment, and promoting tourism in the Mae Fa Luang
For information on Akha culture, staying overnight with tribesmen, or to
find camping locations, telephone 086-116-4118 or 084-616-8418, or speak to
the Samakkhee-Kao village headman.
Precautions taken against arson in Northern Region schools
Lt. Gen. Jiradej Kocharat, commanding general of the 3rd Army
Region, said that after the National Security Council (NSC) seized the
previous government’s power, politicians of the old regime who lost their
power and money might be motivated to cause trouble. After an outbreak of
fires in several schools, it is feared that they might be attempting to
commit arson in many schools in the Northern Region.
Gen. Jiradej Kocharat, commanding general of the 3rd Army Region, giving an
To combat this problem, on December 14 Lt. Gen. Jiradej broadcast an urgent
order to governors and directors of regional educational offices in 17
Northern provinces. They were ordered to closely monitor safety and security
for academies and schools in their areas. This included inspecting all
electrical wires and fuses to prevent any short circuits. All the reports
must be submitted to the 3rd Army Region by December 20.
After acknowledging the order, Dr. Surasen Thangthong, director of
Educational Office: Region 1, complied with the demands and requested the
other 121 directors of educational offices to do likewise. Any damages,
especially to fuses, must be repaired immediately. In addition, every
academy must provide security guards. If any negligence is discovered, the
director of that educational office will be penalized. Also, any damaged
electrical equipment found after the inspection will be found in violation
of the order and the director will be punished.
Thief gets away with 200,000 baht in gold necklaces
On December 14, police were informed a robbery was in progress in a gold
shop at the Baan Du market in Muang Chiang Rai. When officers arrived at the
“Supharp Gold Shop, the owner, Supharp Boonsri (50), informed them that a
male, wearing a handkerchief mask, came to the shop and threatened them with
a pistol. Then, he shot a bullet into the ground and took 15 gold necklaces
(19-baht weight) before fleeing on his red Honda motorbike. The necklaces
are valued at 200,000 baht. Officers radioed other units to try to catch the
thief, but were unsuccessful.
Pol. Lt. Col. Thosphum said that the inspectors learned that the suspect was
a male in his early 30’s. He is described as stocky and dark-skinned, and he
uses a pistol. The description is similar to a man who robbed a petrol
station in Mae Yao sub-district. By comparing the robber’s pistol, his
appearance, and his vehicle, they believe he is the same man. However, they
think his license plate was fake. Officers were ordered to continue their
investigation, and to focus on movements of teenagers in the area. Police
are confident they will make an arrest soon.
Border patrol police arrest 41 Burmese hidden in petrol tank
On December 15, Pol. Lt. Gen. Rangsitmunt Songkrotham, Commander of the
344th Border Patrol Police at Tha Song Yang district of the Tak province,
noticed a suspicious 18-wheel yellow Volvo petrol transporting truck driving
on Highway 105 from Mae Sot to Mae Sariang.
When he and his officers stopped the truck at Baan Huay Pang Yang in the
Maetan sub-district, they found a driver, Thaptim Srimuang, 40, and a
passenger, Thon Thunpakdee, 37. The officers then inspected the vehicle.
When the petrol tank was opened, they discovered 41 Burmese laborers hiding
Police report that during the investigation, the driver admitted that he
charged 4,000 – 5,000 baht per illegal worker to transport them to Bangkok.
He picked them up from Baan Mae Pa, in Tak, and drove on Mae Sot-Mae Sariang
road to try to escape officer’s attention. He was charged with bringing an
illegal alien into the kingdom. All of the Burmese workers were arrested.
5-months pregnant Akha woman arrested for selling US currency coins
Police arrested a married couple from the Akha tribe on December 4 for
selling counterfeit US currency coins to a tourist. Even though the arrested
female is five months pregnant, the officers denied her bail. In response,
50 Akha tribes people asked for assistance from Pol. Lt. Col. Mongkol
Sampawapon, superintendent of Muang Chiang Mai Police Station.
The Akha delegation, led by the president of the Akha Tribe Club of Chiang
Mai, Manoon Thainurak, presented a petition to the superintendent on
December 14. They asserted that the woman, Kingkaew Pamornwijit, 27, and her
husband, Athu Chamloot, 23, had been incarcerated for more than ten days at
Muang Chiang Mai station. Both are residents of Chiang Mai.
Manoon said that the couple sold souvenirs at the nearby night bazaar. Two
days before the arrest, an American tourist bought ten antique collectible
US$ coins for 60 baht each, and ordered more 650 coins. The tourist later
went to the police. The couple was charged with selling counterfeit coins.
A few days later, relatives of the two offenders requested the court to set
bail, and offered to submit property worth 100,000 baht and 50,000 baht in
cash for each of them to secure their release. The court denied their
request, saying that their actions may affect the country’s economic
security. The relatives then requested the officers allow only the wife to
be bailed out because they were afraid for the health of the unborn baby.
Manoon added that the Akha tribe met with officers of the US Consulate to
Chiang Mai and learned that the coins should not be sold as souvenirs.
However, they said they were unaware of this previously, and more than 20
sellers along the night bazaar had been selling this type of coin as a
The superintendent of Muang Chiang Mai Police Station decided to command
investigation officers to allow the court to set bail for the pregnant
woman. Even though they may not have known their practice was illegal, they
were still guilty of breaking the law. Nevertheless, if they could prove
they did not know it was illegal, he promised to consider leniency.
Mae Hong Son border-patrol police bust ya ba smuggling ring
On December 13, an informer told the commander of the 336 Division
Border-Patrol Police in Mae Hong Son that alien laborers were smuggling ya
ba pills into Thailand. The commander issued an order to a squad leader to
set an ambush at Baan Huay Phueng, between the Thai and Burmese border.
At 2.00 p.m., when a tall man with a backpack approached the area, officers
apprehended him and found 3 bags of WY ya ba pills (1,000 pills). The
Burmese perpetrator, Noi, (last name unknown), is a Tai tribesman. Police
say he alleged that a Thai financial backer hired him to deliver the package
to Mae Hong Son. The financial backer would then distribute the package to
teenagers in the area.
Pol. Maj. Col. Aphichart Rakpong, commander of the 336 Division
Border-Patrol Police, said their intelligence discovered that the ya ba
dealing network has changed their delivery methods. Previously, they used a
caravan and hired alien laborers who would immigrate into the city to
deliver the package. However, this old way became too risky and they
sometimes fought with Thai officers. In the new method, a single smuggler
carries less than 1,000 pills. Although they are still occasionally
arrested, it is easier to escape unnoticed than when they travel in a
Record visitors at Thailand’s historic Floral Expo
Chiang Mai, Thailand, December 21, 2006 — Thousands of
visitors are flocking to the “Royal Flora Ratchaphruek”, the international
horticultural expo being held in the northern Thai city of Chiang Mai as
part of the celebrations commemorating the 60th Anniversary of His Majesty’s
Accession to the Throne.
Designed to celebrate the agricultural ingenuity of His Majesty the King and
his extensive contributions to the rural development of Thailand, the expo
bears the theme “To Express the Love of Humanity”, a reflection of the
King’s belief that even in these days of high-technology, flowers and plants
will always be an integral part of people’s life.
The expo opened on 1 November 2006 with a projected estimate of two million
visitors. However, as word spreads of its inspiring message and professional
organisation, the numbers are expected to double. The prevailing good
weather conditions are creating an additional incentive.
As of 1 December 2006, the expo had already recorded one million people.
Roughly 2.5 million plants and flowers, including some rare species of
orchids, are on display at the expo which bears a strong environmental
message and is helping to create a whole generation of
environmentally-conscious young activists who will take His Majesty the
King’s message forward into the future.
From a tourism perspective, the expo is boosting domestic tourism, raising
hotel occupancies in Chiang Mai and giving extensive exposure to North
Thailand, projected to be a bridgehead for Thailand’s future economic
development plans and linkages with the Greater Mekong Subregion.
Organised by the Ministry of Agriculture and Cooperatives, Department of
Agriculture, and Horticultural Science Society of Thailand, supported by the
International Society for Horticultural Science and the World Flower
Council, the expo is being widely promoted worldwide by the Tourism
Authority of Thailand (TAT), Thai Airways International, Royal Thai
embassies and the entire Thai travel and tourism industry.
The Tourism Authority of Thailand’s Deputy Governor for Marketing and
Communications, Mr. Suraphon Svetasreni said, “Thailand is very proud to be
hosting such a magnificent event for the first time. It fits in perfectly
with our plans to diversify our range of destinations, spread visitors
around the country and raise the incomes of rural people.”
The expo is spread over 80 hectares at the Royal Agricultural Research
Centre on the outskirts of Chiang Mai city, amidst the lush landscape of the
The conceptual designs and layouts of the event are directly linked to the
philosophy and wisdom of King Bhumibol whose kindness towards his people is
like the comforting shade of a big tree with a canopy that extends
incessantly to provide sanctuary for his people.
The event is the first ever international horticultural exposition with A1
status recognised by the Association of International Horticultural
Producers (AIPH) and the International Exhibitions Bureau (BIE) to be held
in Thailand which also becomes the first country in Southeast Asia to host
an A1 exposition.
The A1 status places the Royal Flora Ratchaphruek in the same league as
other global expos such as the IGA Rostock in Germany and FLORIADE in
Leading Thai and global companies have sponsored individual corporate
gardens, all of which are elaborately designed to be both scenic and
educational, incorporating His Majesty’s concepts and theories of economic
self-sufficiency, and also reflecting Thailand’s art, culture and way of
There are also 32 international gardens contributed by nations with whom
Thailand has shared history, cultural, diplomatic and trade ties.
There is still time to visit this historic event. Please check the website
http://www.royalfloraexpo.com/for further details as well as to book online