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Vol. XI No.2 -February 1 -February 29, 2012


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NEWS
 

Chiang Mai welcomes new U.S. Consul General

New U.S. Consul General raises a toast to HM King Bhumibol Adulyadej.

Shana Kongmun, Photos by Supoj Thaimyoj

The U.S. Consulate General’s charming location on the river was filled with people of all nationalities coming to greet the new U.S. Consul General, Kenneth L. Foster. Mr. Foster was on hand to receive the many hundreds of well wishers which included the Governor of Mae Hong Son, Consuls General from China and Japan, Consuls, Honorary Consuls, Army and Police officers, government officials both provincial and local, local business leaders, and members of not only the American community but the entire expat community in Chiang Mai.

The receiving table was piled high with the abundance of beautiful flowers as Ken Foster greeted his guests. He then joined the party to raise a toast to the friendship between the United States and the Kingdom of Thailand and toast His Majesty the King on the occasion of his 84th birthday. He then went on to note that as far back as 10 years, Chiang Mai was his dream post and that he was thrilled that his dream finally came true.

Chiang Mai Governor ML Panadda Diskul then took the stand to raise a toast to the United States and to President Barack Obama and the First Lady, Michelle Obama. The crowd enjoyed his speech as he talked of the long history of the relationship between the two countries and how HM King Rama V, King Mongkut, who considered President Abraham Lincoln a good friend, offered President Lincoln elephants for use in the Civil War.

The cloudless evening remained pleasant as Mr. Foster had yet another enjoyable introduction to Chiang Mai.

Chiang Mai Governor ML Panadda Diskul (center) shares a drink and a laugh with U.S. Consul General Kenneth L. Foster and Chiang Mai business and academic leaders.

Chinese Consul General Zhu Wei Min and his wife greet the new American Consul General.

Mae Hong Son Governor Naruemol Plawat greets the new Consul General with a gift of flowers.

Provincial Police Region 5 officials offer American Consul General Kenneth Foster flowers to welcome him to Chiang Mai.

The gathered crowd listened to the new U.S. Consul General give his speech in both Thai and English.


City police make an arrest in Top Charoen murder

The suspect in the murder of Sakulwaree Deemak was surrounded by police and wearing protective clothing as he left the Top Charoen Optical Shop on Chotana Road, outside of which angry citizens had gathered.

Supoj Thaimyoj

Provincial Police Region 5 and the Chief of Chiang Mai police announced the arrest of a suspect in the murder of 25 year old Sakulwaree Deemak on February 24, 2012. Ms. Sakukwaree, an employee of the Top Charoen Optical Shop was found murdered in her rooms above the Top Charoeon Optical shop on Chotana Road on February 20, 2012.

Her body was found by co-workers on the morning of February 20 where she had sustained fatal wounds to her head and her gold necklace, ring and bracelet had been stolen.

31 year old Oh Jittung has been charged with the murder after he was arrested at the Cosmo Gas Station in Saraphi where he worked as a security guard and where they also found a tire iron they believe was used in the attack.

The suspect has been charged with trespass at night, and robbery with murder. The accused confessed to the charges and was taken to the shop for a reenactment where police and the suspect were surrounded by angry citizens.


Car in the moat

The car of a 23 year old young CMU student ended up in the moat at 4 p.m. February 23, 2012 but nobody was injured in the accident. The young woman said that she was coming along the road inside the moat and just as she reached the u-turn near Somphet Market, a Dodge vehicle came through the area very fast, cutting her off and forcing her to turn the wheel quickly, which caused the car to end up in the moat. (Photo by Sitthixay Ditthavong)


Haze eases in the city

As winds cleared the haze and reduced PM10 levels of 180 micrograms per cubic meter, which was dangerously high to recent readings of 81 mcg, the city and police increased efforts to reduce current and future pollution in the city with smog checks of vehicles on the road and fire trucks sprayed water in the air to reduce the dust. The city has instituted pickups of leaves and plant material on Saturdays and Sundays. Please call 053259117, 085 7179196 to collect leaves. The government has set up hotlines for members of the public to call if they see fires. Inside the city please call 053 234444, 234193. The number for fires in the Province and outside Chiang Mai city is 05 340 9345.


Nawamin students protest at City Hall to remove the school director

Students from Nawamin Ratchutit Payap school gathered at City Hall to demand the ouster of the school’s director.

Nopniwat Krailerg

Students from Nawamin Ratchutit Payap School gathered in front of City Hall on Friday, February 17, 2012 to protest against the school’s Director, Nikhom Sindhuphong.

More than 1,000 students submitted a letter of protest to the Director of Education for Area 34, Manop Deemee to request the removal of the Director for malfeasance.

In the list of reasons for his removal were the use of inappropriate language with students and teachers, corruption and asking students for money, and berating teachers and students publicly. Additionally, money was used for unnecessary buildings when the school has a shortage of toilets for the students.

The students negotiated with the head of the Education Department who had said that Director Nikhom would be removed on February 20, but students felt that was too much of a delay and demanded his immediate dismissal. The Education department considered the requests of students, teachers and board members and the director of the school was dismissed.


City surveys areas for underground cables

The Chiang Mai Municipality has begun working with the Provincial Electricity Authority (PEA) and other cable providers in surveying areas around the city to have electric, cable and phone lines buried in a project to beautify the city and restore the beauty of the city’s historical sites and neighborhoods.


25 year old woman murdered in robbery

Nopniwat Krailerg

A 25 year old Lampang resident was murdered in her rooms over the Top Chareon Optical shop on Chotana road on February 20, 2012 in what police believe was a robbery and attempted rape.

25 year old Sakulwaree Deemak was found murdered in her rooms over the Top Charoeon Optical shop on Chotanan Road on February 20, 2012.

At 11:00 a.m. on February 20, 2012 Chang Phuak Police were informed that the young woman had been found murdered in her rooms in the three storey building. Police found Sakulwaree Deemak lying face down on her bed with severe injuries to the side of her head where she had been struck with a blunt object.

The victim had been alone in the building, and was last known to be alive at midnight when she phoned a friend to discuss work.

The motorcycle shop attached to the side of the building had been broken into, giving the thief access to the shop. Police surmise that someone had then attacked the woman in an attempt to rape her and when she died during the struggles, stole a gold necklace off her body.

Region 5 Police continue the investigation to find the murderer of the young woman.


Shallot farmers ask for government assistance as prices decline

Doi Tao shallot farmers meet with Governor ML Panadda Diskul to request government assistance in obtaining fair prices for their shallots.

Nopniwat Krailerg

More than 100 Doi Tao District shallot farmers gathered at City Hall to request government assistance due to the declining prices of red shallots.

Representatives of the farmers said, in the claim submitted to Chiang Mai Governor ML Panadda Diskul on February 20, 2012, that brokers were suppressing prices to only 5 baht per kilogram even though market prices were at 9 baht per kilogram. They added that many had increased production after the price of shallots reached 15 baht per kilogram last year and that Chinese shallots distributed under a Free Trade Agreement were flooding the market and causing prices to fall. They asked for government assistance in setting the price per kilo of shallots.

Governor ML Panadda Diskul said that would encourage retailers to buy directly from local farmers instead of middlemen and would urge the Department of Trade and supply chain organizations to accelerate the purchase yield of shallots in Chiang Mai.


Smog blankets Chiang Mai

The smoke season starts as Chiang Mai skies are covered in haze on February 17, 2012.

Nopniwat Krailerg

As smoke and smog covered the famed view of Doi Suthep in Chiang Mai on February 17, 2012 the Pollution Control Department reported the PM10 numbers or particles larger than 10 microns ranged from 83.4 to 235.3 micrograms per cubic meter. The Air Quality and Noise Management Bureau in the Pollution Control Department said the overall air quality would have an effect on health but was not yet at crisis levels in Chiang Mai.

Values between 101-200 can cause harm to people’s health and so health officials have warned residents with respiratory problems to avoid outdoor exercise and for everyone, especially the elderly and children to also avoid prolonged outdoor activities.

The AQM’s report stated that the PM10 level at Chiang Mai City Hall was 109.58 micrograms per cubic meter while Yupparaj Witthayalai School Station reported 91.20 mcg.

Other northern provinces were hit harder with most monitoring stations exceeding the Thai government’s recommended maximum levels of a 120 mcg per cubic meter; Lampang City Pillar station reported 235.33 mcg, Mae Moh 192.33 mcg, Lamphun PAO stadium 194.74 micrograms per cubic meter. Phrae meteorological station 218.08 mcg, Knowledge Park, Phayao 121.46 mcg, Nan municipality 92.92 mcg, Mae Hong Son 109.33 mcg while Chiang Rai saw pollution levels at 86.46 micrograms per cubic meter.

Mr. Banpot Kanthasen, Director Office of Natural Resources and Environment Chiang Mai, said in a video February 15 that the province had been working with relevant authorities to establish a center to coordinate between the 15 districts in tackling forest fires and to prevent haze. The center will coordinate resources and manpower among provincial, district and local governments to mobilize against forest fires and promote cooperation among farmers and people in urban areas to not burn fields or rubbish.


Flood aid distributed to victims

Muang Chiang Mai District Chief Adisorn Kamnerdsiri joined with Chiang Mai Mayor Tussanai Buranupakorn and other government officials in distributing flood aid to victims of last year’s floods on February 16, 2012. The Municipality, in cooperation with the Provincial Office of Social Development and Human Security, has distributed a total of 892,000 baht to needy families in the city.


50 kilos of Ya Ice 1.73 million Yaba tablets seized in Chiang Rai

Largest drug seizure of the year

Police display the 50 kg of crystal methamphetamine and over 1.73 million methamphetamine tablets seized in Chiang Rai.

Nopniwat Krailerg and Supoj Thaimyoj

Pol. Gen. Priewphan Damapong with Police Region 5 Commander Pol. Lt. Gen. Suthep Dejraksa announced the arrest of Worranat Changtaeng, age 24, at Police Region 5 on February 14, 2012, with the largest drug seizure of the year; 1,736,000 methamphetamine tablets or Yabaand 50 kilograms of crystal methamphetamine, or Ya Ice, worth over 500 million baht.

Police have been investigating cross border drug trafficking groups that have been entering the country through Phaya Meng Rai in Chiang Rai province. A tip off led police to search a hut where drugs had been reported to be hidden before being transported to Bangkok in Baan Huay Nam Lat in Chiang Rai.

Police found the young Hmong hilltribe man living in the hut and arrested him when they found 17 bags of Yaba and 50 kg of Ya Ice hidden in a hole in the ground that had been covered up with grass. He declined comment on the drugs, saying he was watching them for someone else.

National Police Chief Damrong added that the police had been instructed to concentrate on the interception of smuggled drugs by working with the military and administrative officials to coordinate on investigation and interception of drug smugglers.

Further investigation has led to the arrest of 5 more in Mae Pao in Chiang Rai.


Cycling for a green city

Dutch Ambassador joins in bicycle tour of monumental trees

Dutch Ambassador Joan Boer is joined by the President of Mae Jo University, Assoc. Prof. Dr. Chamnian Yosarat, Director of the Regional Environment Office 1, Apiwat Kunarak, and the Deputy Secretary General of the Offices of Natural Resources and the Environment, Mr. Santi Boonprakub, Ms. Daphne Dernison, Agricultural Counselor for the Dutch Embassy, city officials and students and Yawanit Tharachai, who helped survey the trees.

Shana Kongmun

A new book titled Monumental Trees was launched at Tha Pae Gate on Wednesday, February 15, 2012 at 9 a.m. by the Dutch Ambassador to Thailand H.E. Mr. Joan A. Boer who was joined by Municipal Officials as well as collaborators on the book, the President of Mae Jo University, Assoc. Prof. Dr. Chamnian Yosarat, Director of the Regional Environment Office 1, Apiwat Kunarak, and the Deputy Secretary General of the Offices of Natural Resources and the Environment, Mr. Santi Boonprakub.

Today’s ride, titled “Go Green Go Dutch Go bike Go Chiang Mai” saw the Dutch Ambassador joined by cycling groups, students and government officials in the ride from Tha Pae Gate to Suan Buak Haat Park to view some of the old monumental trees in the city.

Local cycling groups joined the tour and encouraged residents of Chiang Mai to get off their motorbikes and out of their cars and ride a bike.

The new book on Monumental Trees in Chiang Mai has been produced by the Office of the Ministry of Economic Affairs, Agriculture and Innovation, the Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands and the Urban Development Institute, Yawanit Tharachai from Mae Jo University, and Dr. Duangchan Apavatjrut Charoenmuang of Chiang Mai University’s Social Research Institute.

About 20-25 trees in public places around Chiang Mai qualified as monumental either due to size, age, or religious significance and were included in the book and many were visited on the bicycle tour today.

Ambassador Boer stressed the importance of green cities and praised Chiang Mai’s willingness to aim for that goal. He said he was looking forward to the ride, pulled off his tie and said “I am Dutch and we have much experience with bicycles!”

Readers interested in obtaining a copy of the book on Monumental Trees, which is in English and Thai, can be obtained by writing to [email protected]. The Embassy has kindly offered some copies for Chiang Mai Mail readers.

Serious cyclists joined the ride as well as those just in it for the fun, these gentlemen proving that keeping fit keeps you young!

Daphne Dernison, Agricultural Counselor for the Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands joins students for the ride.


Couple arrested after assault and robbery of Chinese tourist

The young couple arrested for the assault and robbery of a Chinese tourist in Chiang Mai last month, re-enacted the crime for the Muang District Police.

Nopniwat Krailerg

Chiang Mai police arrested a young Thai couple in conjunction of the assault and robbery of a Chinese tourist, Ms. Liu Xiao Hong, age 36, who was assaulted by the couple at Wat Chedi Luang at 6 a.m. on January 25, 2012.

Ms. Liu was hit in the head with a piece of wood and her purse was stolen by a young couple on a blue Honda Mio motorbike. The victim was taken to the hospital where she remained in care for a week.

Eyewitnesses were able to give the Chiang Mai police a good description and a review of known criminals led police to investigate Nattapong or Benz Chaithep, age 19, who had been arrested for similar crimes in August of 2010 and was released on Royal Pardon in December 2011.

Police searched his home in the Wat Gate area where they arrested Benz and his girlfriend, 21 year old Netamporn Insao. Police found the mobile phone that had been stolen by a German tourist on February 3 in the Phra Singh area.

The couple confessed their crime, Muang Police Chief Pitsanu Oonhaseri said, noting that they admitted to preying on tourists because they wouldn’t be staying in Chiang Mai long and would be unlikely to provide many details of their attackers.

Chiang Mai Governor ML Panadda Diskul noted that crimes of opportunity can happen everywhere but that the Chiang Mai police are working hard to make the city safe for visitors and residents. He added that they may have to revise their guidelines on those receiving Royal Pardons.

A representative from the Consulate General of the People’s Republic of China offered the Consul General’s gratitude, adding that the travel warning on the website was not recommend that people not come to Chiang Mai but rather that visitors should exercise caution, especially women. He added that Chiang Mai is a peaceful city and is becoming more known among Chinese tourists and that the Consulate wants Chinese visitors to travel to the city and have a feeling of security.


Thailand Long stay Seminar in Chiang Mai

Japan Consul General Kazuo Shibata and President of the Chiang Mai Chamber of Commerce Narong Kongprasert visit the seminar held at the Kantary Hills Hotel on Friday, February 10, 2012.

The Chiang Mai Chamber of Commerce together with the Tourism Authority of Thailand Osaka office held a seminar titled "Thailand Longstay Seminar in Chiang Mai" on Friday, February 10, 2012 at the Kantary Hills Hotel Chiang Mai. Japanese Consul General Kazuo Shibata joined President of the Chiang Mai Chamber of Commerce Narong Kongprasert at the seminar.

This seminar was held for Japanese tourists who are interested in staying long term in Chiang Mai. About 40 people traveled from Japan with several different tour companies to visit Chiang Mai and attend the seminar.

Lectures were held on the potentials of long stay visits to Chiang Mai by the President of the Japanese Long Stay group Mr. Kunitada Shoji and Mr. Yasuo Tomnitani. Prof. Dr. Kannikar Pornpatkul, Vice Chair of the Chiang Mai Rajjavej Hospital and President of the Thai Hotels Association for the North, Phunat Thanalaopanich talked to attendees about medical facilities and accommodation in Chiang Mai. Many Japanese find Chiang Mai an attractive retirement location due to the climate, availability of facilities and health care.


Dredging project begins

The Chiang Mai Municipality is working with Wing 41 to improve drainage of water running into the city from the mountain by creating a reservoir at Wing 41 and by dredging canals and waterways to improve water flow and increase water storage in a bid to reduce flooding in the city in the upcoming rainy season. Chiang Mai Mayor Tussanai Buranupakorn joined with city officials and Wing 41 officers to mark the beginning of the project on February 9, 2012 AT 10 A.M. at Wing 41 Air Force Base.


Mobile clinics continue around the city

MOBILE: Local residents brought their pets in for free rabies vaccinations. Also available were free health checkups, eye checks, haircuts, massage, and low cost organic vegetables along with motorbike and appliance repair provided by Rajabhat Technology Institute students.

The Department of Public Health and the Chiang Mai Municipality are offering mobile clinics around the city with services such as health checkups, eye checks, rabies vaccinations, local organic vegetables and motorbike and appliance repair for free to local residents. The most recent event took place in Chang Phuak on February 8, 2012 from 4:30 p.m. The Municipality is continuing the program from last year when hundreds of people received medical care and vaccinations for their pets at mobile clinics. 053-259-121 for more information.


Under the Umbrella of the King: the 36th annual Chiang Mai Flower Festival

The beautifully decorated floats that traversed the city streets also featured the Miss Chiang Mai, Miss Flower Bloom and Miss Flower Bloom International winners. (Photo by Shana Kongmun)

Supoj Thaimyoj

The 36th Annual Flower Festival was held in Chiang Mai from February 3 to 5 with the theme “Under the Umbrella of HM the King”. The aim of this year’s Flower Festival was to not only pay homage to HM the King for his 84th Birthday, but to HM the Queen Sirikit for her upcoming 80th Birthday on August 10 and the 60th birthday of HRH the Crown Prince Maha Vajiralongkorn.

In addition, the exhibitions of flowers, plants and herbal products on display and for sale at Suan Buak Haad Park also saw gardening seminars and exhibitions on conservation. There was a beauty pageant, Miss Flower Bloom 2012 with 30 contestants from around Chiang Mai province and an International Miss Flower Bloom that featured 15 international contestants. The winner of the Miss Flower Bloom International is a French native that has been living in Chiang Mai and studying Thai at Payap, Eva Simon, while Miss Flower Bloom 2012 is a student at Naresuan Unviersity, she also won media favorite; Kanae Pointhamun.

Former Prime Minister Somchai Wongsawat presents Mayor Tussanai Buranupakorn a plaque for the Municipality’s beautiful float. (Photo courtesy of Chiang Mai Municipality)

The Flower Parade took place on Saturday February 4 and wound its way from Nawarat Bridge where the opening ceremony was presided over by former Prime Minister Somchai Wongsawat, President of the Provincial Administration Organization Boonlert Buranupakorn, Deputy Governor Worakarn Yokying and Chiang Mai Mayor Tussanai Buranupakorn.

The Flower Festival was expected to bring in more than 150 million Baht a day in revenues to Chiang Mai and many hotels saw nearly full capacity.

The floats in the parade were covered in beautiful blooms. (Photo by Shana Kongmun)

Miss International Flower Bloom 2012 Eva Simon is joined by runners up Mika Lim of South Korea and Li Dai Lan of the People’s Republic of China. (Photo by Supoj Thaimyoj)

The winner of the Miss Flower Bloom 2012 contest and the runners up joined the opening ceremony of the parade. (Photo by Shana Kongmun)

Floats featured fantastic creatures from Thai and Hindu mythology as well as traditional Thai themes. (Photo by Supoj Thaimyoj)


3 car accident involving school bus and tourist bus kills one

The horrific crash involved four vehicles; a minivan carrying schoolchildren, a tourist bus filled with Korean visitors, a Honda Wave motorbike and the Mitsubishi Pajero that had one passenger die in the accident. (Photo courtesy of Korean Consulate)

Nopniwat Krailerg

A gray minivan carrying young students from the nearby Wat Darun Pattana Kindergarten School in Mae Rim collided with Mitsubishi Pajero and a green Siam IT tour bus carrying 11 Korean tourists from the city at Baan Kaew Sa on February 6, 2012 at 8:30 a.m.

13 children were on board the minivan, aged between 2 and 10 years old, 7 of whom were seriously injured and taken to the hospital. The 87 year old passenger of the Mitsubishi that was also involved in the crash had to be cut out of the vehicle, Wandee Muensawang died on the way to the hospital while her husband Sawang Muensaweng 84, and son Rewat Muensaweng 54 were both seriously injured.

Witnesses at the scene said the minivan pulled out in front of the speeding bus which caused the bus to slam on the brakes, it hit the minivan, forcing both vehicles into the oncoming traffic where the Mitsubishi was hit. Also involved in the accident was a blue Honda Wave motorbike which was also struck as the vehicles swerved into the oncoming lane.

This stretch of road on Highway 118 in Mae Rim is infamously known as 100 corpses curve as it is the common scene of accidents.
 


Municipality offers health education for the elderly

The Chiang Mai Municipality held a health education seminar for the elderly in Chiang Mai at Buddha Sathan on January 27, 2012 in conjunction with the Department of Public Health.

The number of elderly in Chiang Mai is increasing and so are the health problems associated with an aging population such as increased cases of diabetes, respiratory ailments, high cholesterol and heart disease. The Department of Public Health held the seminar in conjunction with the Municipality and area hospitals to teach older people proper diets and the importance of exercise. Health checkups were also offered with eye, ear, dental and mental health checkups available for the many elderly people who attended the free event.
 


HEADLINES [click on headline to view story]

Chiang Mai welcomes new U.S. Consul General

City police make an arrest in Top Charoen murder

Car in the moat

Haze eases in the city

Nawamin students protest at City Hall to remove the school director

City surveys areas for underground cables

25 year old woman murdered in robbery

Shallot farmers ask for government assistance as prices decline

Smog blankets Chiang Mai

Flood aid distributed to victims

50 kilos of Ya Ice 1.73 million Yaba tablets seized in Chiang Rai

Cycling for a green city

Couple arrested after assault and robbery of Chinese tourist

Thailand Long stay Seminar in Chiang Mai

Dredging project begins

Mobile clinics continue around the city

Under the Umbrella of the King: the 36th annual Chiang Mai Flower Festival

3 car accident involving school bus and tourist bus kills one

Municipality offers health education for the elderly
 

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