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Update December, 2014


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Update by Natrakorn Paewsoongnern
 
 
 
NEWS
 

Police check club scene on Rajvithi Road

Urine tests for patrons

Around 50 police descended on the club scene at Rajvithi Road to test the urine of club goers at 11 p.m. on December 29, 2014.

Chiang Mai Mail reporters
Bystanders at clubs along Rajvithi Road reported that police descended en masse to the clubs to test the urine of club goers around 11 p.m. on Sunday, December 28, 2014. Around 50 police and officials tested the urine of people in the bars. According to eye witness reports police tested both foreigners and Thais in a dirty bathroom behind the bars.
It was unclear how many people were arrested but witnesses at the scene believe at least some were. According to a recent pamphlet handed out by the Thong Lor Police in Bangkok on the Stickboy website, foreigners may take photos of police before the search begins, searches must be carried out in well – lit areas. The pamphlet from the Thong Lor Police states that urine testing must be carried out in the police station. Finally, foreigners are not required to carry their passports but should have a copy of both the ID page of the passport as well as the entry stamp.
Police have not yet issued a statement about last night’s raid but the provincial government did state earlier that the police were instructed to enforce laws, ensure the safety of the public and tackle drug problems in the city for the New Year.


Governor warns vendors to treat tourists fairly over New Year

Chiang Mai Mail reports
Governor Suriya Prasatbuntitya issued a warning to vendors in Chiang Mai including restaurant owners, shops, entertainment venues, and street vendors as well as songthaew and bus operators to treat tourists fairly during the New Year period.
Chiang Mai is a top destination for both Thai and foreign tourists for the New Year holiday period and thousands of people are starting to stream into the city for the long holiday weekend beginning December 31, 2014.
According to a recent survey by hotel booking site hotels.com Chiang Mai topped their list of ten most searched destinations for Thai travelers during the New Year. Chiang Mai came in first for Thai searchers while other top five destinations included Tokyo, Hua Hin and Bangkok followed by Pattaya at 5th.
The Governor warned businesses that it was important to charge tourists fair prices and treat them fairly to ensure the good reputation of Chiang Mai’s tourist industry.


New Year celebrants start leaving Bangkok

Many New Year travellers started leaving the capital by train and bus over the weekend as Hua Lamphong, the capital’s main railway station, and the Mo Chit and southern bus terminal, are doing brisk business.
State Railway of Thailand (SRT) officials said they had projected that more than 20,000 train passengers would leave Bangkok on Sunday, compared to over 23,000 passengers on Saturday.
SRT estimates that its ticket sales, excluding revenue earned from advance ticket bookings, would be Bt1.6 million.
Railway officials expected more passengers would leave Bangkok Monday and Tuesday to celebrate the New Year holidays.
Similarly Mo Chit and the southern bus terminal are crowded with people boarding buses for the provinces. The state-operated Transport Company. said 292,320 passengers travelled by bus on the weekend.
The company said it believed most bus passengers would travel on Tuesday, with more than 100,000 persons traveling tomorrow.
The Transport Company estimates that more than one million passengers will travel by bus during the New Year holidays, almost the same number as last year. (MCOT online news)


Officials check Nimman Snow Festival for health dangers

Safeguards for disposal after January 4

Workers sweep salt off the sidewalks and away from the roads in a bid to keep the salt from the Nimman Snow Festival out of the streets.

Nopniwat Krailerg
The Nimman Snow Festival launched by Tan Passakornnatee at Think Park on the corner of Nimmanhaemin and Suthep Roads has caused a fair bit of controversy both online and off. The “snow” is tons of salt poured onto the ground to create a snow effect; the festival runs until January 4, 2015.
Academics, environmentalists and many locals have come out to express concerns about the effects on health and the environment, with concerns that salt will seep into the soil and into the storm drains.
The owner cleaned the salt off the sidewalks and the streets after concerns were raised and installed artificial grass as a barrier to keep the salt from spreading into the streets. Additionally trees were wrapped in plastic, across the trunk and over all exposed soil, to keep the salt from leaching into the soil.
However, on December 22, Chiang Mai Public Health and Municipality officials checked the “artificial snow” on December 22 to determine its content and found it was 99>85% pure salt with no iodine added and a moisture content of .15%, with no artificial colors or additives. However, due to the purity of the high salt content, there are concerns of contamination.
Mayor Tussanai Buranupakorn said that the city has checked the salt and said if it gets into the sewers it will be treated at the wastewater plant before being released into the river. The organizers confirmed with the municipality that they will clean all the salt by January 4. The Municipality will send specialists to ensure that the salt is removed and stored correctly and that disposal of the salt will not cause environmental damage.
Paisal Thanyawinichkul, the Head of the Chiang Mai Provincial Public Health Office said that the odor and fumes from the salt may have an impact on some people and on the environment. He said that people should not let children play in the salt alone or for more than 30 minutes, that they should be careful to avoid getting salt into the mouth, nose and eyes and noted that any injuries should be covered well before playing in the salt. He also said children should wear shoes while playing in the salt and should avoid direct contact with the skin. Adults and children should not be in the area for more than an hour because the fumes from the salt could affect the respiratory system and cause a sore throat and irritated eyes. He added that if anyone has these symptoms they must leave the area immediately and rinse the mouth and eyes with clean water immediately.
Concerns still persist on social media about the long term effect on the environment and on the ultimate disposal of the tons of salt.


Army destroys opium fields in Doi Ang Khang

Soldiers destroyed illegal opium fields in Doi Ang Khang recently, the fields remote location and proximity to the border have seen it raided regularly for opium cultivation.

Nopniwat Krailerg
Soldiers and officers from the 3rd Army Region and the 5th Cavalry Regiment Task Force joined officers of the Office of the Narcotics Control Board in destroying opium fields at Sui Tang path in Doi Ang Khang in Fang and Chai Prakan Districts.
Sui Tang Path in Doi Ang Khang is set in a high valley with cold weather, fertile soil and is adjacent to the border making it difficult to reach and making it easier to evade detection by authorities. Officials from the Narcotic Crops Survey and Monitoring Institute found illegal opium under cultivation on 12 plots on 29 rai of land.
Lt. Gen. KasemThanaporn, 3rd Corps Commander and Deputy Commissioner of National Command Centre for Drugs, said that in 2012/2013 they destroyed 23.55 rai and 10.5 rai in 2013/2014 and 29 rai in 2014/2015 so far. The National Command Centre for Drugs Elimination of the 3rd Army Region surveyed and find out 432.95 rais of opium fields in total of which 432.07rai had already been destroyed.


New Year Countdown 2015 at Central Festival Chiang Mai

(From left) Wisut Buachoom, Director of the TAT Chiang Mai, Pol. Col. Montree Sambunnanon, Commander of Chiang Mai Provincial Police, Orachorn Chanwiwattana, General Manager of Central Festival Chiang Mai and Vice President of the Chiang Mai PAO Pichet Pisuttakul announce Chiang Mai Countdown 2014 to be held at Central Festival on New Year’s Eve.

Nopniwat Krailerg
Chiang Mai Countdown 2015, Sawasdee to the World, will be held at Central Festival on December 31, 2014 from 5 p.m. onwards and will include various activities including booths selling goods and offering games as well as music from popular entertainers like Crescendo, Playground, Season Five, Sixty Miles, followed by a beautiful fireworks show.
Pichet Pisuttakul, Vice President of the Chiang Mai Provincial Administration Organization (PAO) was joined by Wisut Buachum, Director of the Tourism Authority of Thailand, Chiang Mai office (TAT), Pol. Col. Montree Sambunnanon, Commander of Chiang Mai Provincial Police, and Orachorn Chanwiwattana, General Manager of Central Festival Chiang Mai in announcing the festival on December 21, 2014.
The Vice President said the event will bring smiles and happiness to the people of Chiang Mai and tourists both in Thailand and overseas to celebrate the countdown to 2015. This will be the biggest countdown event in Chiang Mai and will promote a positive image of tourism and expressed the readiness of Chiang Mai to accommodate and welcome all tourists.


Chiang Mai farmers to receive land under government plan

Chiang Mai Mail reporters
The government announced a plan to distribute 11 million rai of forest land to 450,000 disadvantaged people nationwide. The Minister of Natural Resources and Environment, General Dapong Rattanasuwan said the first phase of the project would begin in February 2015 when 9,000 poor farming families in Chiang Mai, Mukdahan, Nakhon Phanom and Chumpon would receive 53,000 rai of land in national parks and Sor Por Kor 4-01 land, which is reserved for farmers and cannot be bought, sold or used as collateral for a loan but can be left to heirs.
The government’s recent survey found that there are around 450,000 landless farmers in the country and the ministry plans on speeding up the survey of land which can be distributed to these farmers. The government believes that more than 80% of them will receive land through this title which will prevent them from selling the land to others but allow them to farm.


Chiang Mai readies for “7 Dangerous Days of New Year”

Chiang Mai Governor Suriya Prasatbuntitya chaired the Road Safety Center meeting with related agencies including the police and officials from the Land Transport Office.

Chiang Mai Mail reporters
Governor Suriya Prasatbuntitya chaired the committee meeting for the Road Safety Center at City Hall on December 22, 2014 to discuss measures to reduce traffic accidents during the New Year holiday. The meeting discussed such as issues as road blocks to check for drunk drivers, traffic engineering to reduce traffic jams including the plan to ban buses on Doi Suthep, as well as law enforcement for traffic and the use of bike lanes as alternative transportation by visitors.
The government plans on constructing bicycle routes for Doi Inthanon in 2015 as part of their program to promote cycling in Thailand.
Other safety measures in addition to alcohol checks include strict enforcement of traffic laws including driving down the wrong side of the road, wearing of helmets on motorcycles and running red lights.
The “7 Dangerous Days of New Year” begin on December 26, 2014 and end January 2, 2015. Last year Chiang Mai ranked 2nd for road accidents during the 7 dangerous days of New Year and saw 11 people killed and 119 accidents. Nationwide 366 people were killed and 3,345 people were injured in in 3, 174 accidents during this period.


Japanese government improves medical care for remote Lampang District

Mr. Akihiko Fujii, Consul-General of Japan in Chiang Mai, and Mr. Jukkapun Klittamanorote, Director of Muangpan Hospital signed the funding contract to purchase a 4 wheel drive ambulance and medical equipment to serve remote mountain villages.

The Government of Japan, under its Grant Assistance for Grassroots Human Security Projects Scheme (GGP), is providing funds amounting to 2,655,000 baht for “The Project for Procuring Medical Equipment for Residents in Mountainous Areas in Muangpan District, Lampang Province”. On December 23, 2014, Mr. Akihiko Fujii, Consul-General of Japan in Chiang Mai, and Mr. Jukkapun Klittamanorote, Director of Muangpan Hospital, jointly signed the funding contract at the Consulate-General of Japan in Chiang Mai.
Muangpan District is located in a mountainous area in the north of Lampang Province, much of which is designated as national forest or national parkland. Muangpan Hospital, a community hospital serving the entire district, has provided regular mobile clinics for residents in the remote mountain villages who have difficulty visiting the hospital for both geographical and economical reasons. Moreover, since 2003, the hospital has provided a registered nurse from the hospital to each of eight local health centers in the district as well as lending out rehabilitation equipment to one of them. This is a unique effort to increase access to medical services for residents by enhancing the availability of human resources and the equipment at each of the local health centers which are the nearest medical facilities for residents. However, the ambulances that Muangpan Hospital possesses are all 2WD. Thus, procurement of a 4WD ambulance capable of negotiating rough, unpaved roads in the mountainous areas is an urgent issue that needs to be addressed. Some medical equipment also needs to be procured because of a shortage due to the increase in the number of patients and the aging of existing equipment.
In response to a request from Muangpan Hospital, the Government of Japan has decided to provide funds for a 4WD ambulance and some medical equipment. One of the equipment will be installed in one of the local health centers on loan from the hospital. It is expected that this support will contribute to improving the emergency transport system in remote mountainous areas and to providing better medical services in Muangpan District. [For more information, please contact the Consulate-General of Japan in Chiang Mai Grant Assistance for Grassroots Human Security Projects Scheme (GGP) for more information. Tel: 053-203-367 / Fax: 053-203-373 / Email: [email protected]


Region 5 police arrest Chiang Rai man for trafficking drugs

Smugglers pose as tourists during the busy holiday season

Region 5 police display the 304,000 methamphetamine pills valued at 66 million baht that were seized in Phrae.

Region 5 police announced the arrest of a 28 year old man from Chiang Rai on December 23, 2014 in Phrae after discovering he was allegedly smuggling 304,000 Yaba or methamphetamine pills.
Pol. Lt. Gen. Tanitsak Theerasawat, Police Region 5 Commissioner, Pol. Maj. Gen. Panudet Boonrueng, Commander of Phrae Provincial Police, Pol. Col. Wichanyut Khuncharoensuk, Superintendent of Song Police station in Phrae, and Col. Amnaj Chamnongsong, Deputy Director of Center for Drugs Suppression in Northern Border announced the arrest Phitak Kamalasbucha, age 28, who works as a gardener at a famous hotel in Bangkok. Police said that the driver of a Nissan Navara was ordered to stop at a police checkpoint in Phrae at 5:50 a.m. on December 1, 2014 but the driver quickly drove off to escape police. Police saw a black Toyota Vigo turn back from the checkpoint immediately after the Nissan and sent investigators out to find both vehicles suspecting that they were together.
Police received a report that the Toyota had fallen into a ditch about 10 kilometers from the checkpoint but villagers had helped the driver out of the ditch and the truck had driven off.
Officers followed the escape route of the Nissan and found that the suspect had allegedly hidden drugs in the forest about 22 km from the checkpoint. Police, having details of the cars, arrested the suspect at an apartment in Bangkok.
Phitak confessed to police that he had been hired to navigate and that two relatives, Phichit Saefah and Amornthep Saefah, who work in a hotel in Chiang Rai, had been paid to smuggle the drugs to Bangkok. Phitak was paid 50,000 baht to help smuggle drugs with a value of 66 million baht.
Pol. Lt. Gen. Tanitsak Theerasawat, Police Region 5 Commissioner said that smugglers will try to take advantage of the increased numbers of tourists on the road to pose as tourists and smuggle drugs. The police and military have increased their presence but have also asked for public cooperation to report suspicious behavior.


Patient numbers rise in Chiang Mai as cold hits region

The number of patients with respiratory diseases in this northern province has risen 5 to 6 times the normal level as freezing temperatures hit the region. Dr Surasing Visaruthat, deputy chief of the Chiang Mai Provincial Pubic Health Office, said today that hospitals in all 25 districts here reported increased numbers of patients suffering from respiratory complaints by 5-6 times.
Most patients diagnosed with the diseases were children and elderly, said Dr. Surasing, adding the number of patients was particularly high at hospitals in areas hit by the severe cold. Dr Surasing said he has instructed all hospitals to prepare a sufficient supply of medicine, doctors and nurses to handle the higher number of patients.
He also ordered sending public health volunteers to each community to provide knowledge to local villagers on how to better protect themselves against the cold to help reduce the impact of the lowering temperatures.
The temperature in the heart of Chiang Mai was recorded at 12.6 degrees Celsius on the morning of December 23, 2014.
Meanwhile, the Northern Meteorological Centre forecast that Thailand's northern provinces will experience a drop in temperature of 2-3 degrees Celsius between December 22-25, with lowest temperatures at 10-16 degrees Celsius. The centre also said that the temperature would rise a little on December 26-27. (MCOT online news)


Snow Festival at Think Park brings fun and controversy

Tan Passakornnatee, CEO of Mai Tan Inc opens the new Snow Festival at Think Park

By Shana Kongmun
Tan Passakornnatee, the charismatic owner of Think Park, the Eastin Hotel next to it and founder of Oishi Tea, opened the newest attraction at Think Park, the Snow Festival on Friday December 20, 2014. Joining him were Chiang Mai Mayor Tussanai Buranupakorn and other executives of the hotel. The Snow Festival runs concurrently with a Beer Festival at Eastin Hotel until January 4, 2014. Additionally the festival will offer live jazz music for guests.
The Snow Festival has created not only a lot of fun photo ops for locals and tourists and worked as a draw to the shopping area but also a great deal of controversy as residents worried about the effects on the soil, the roads and the sewage systems.
In response to social media postings the organizers have added more plastic around the sidewalks and covered them in grass to keep the salt from drifting into the road. According to executives the soil was completely covered by plastic before the tons of pure salt was dumped.
Chiang Mai Governor Suriya Prasatbuntitya sent an official to check the site, test the salt and ensure that salt does not enter the sewage system. The official tested the lines and said the amount of salt in the lines was at acceptable levels. Additionally the salt was tested and is pure sodium chloride with no added iodine or other chemical additives so it is safe for children to play in.
The controversial Snow Festival has drawn hundreds of locals and tourists to Think Park for the event.

Children play in the snow, which according to tests is pure sodium chloride and not harmful to humans.


Government speeds development of Mae Sot Special Economic Zone

Chiang Mai Mail reporters
The Commerce Ministry plans on speeding up establishment of the planned special economic zone in Mae Sot, Tak Province Ministry officials recently reported. The government wants to boost trade and investment between Thailand and Myanmar in 2015.
The Commerce Ministry visited the border town last week and viewed progress on the project. The zone is expected to be established by the end of January 2015 and plans on establishing a business council to facilitate trade between the two countries. The governments are also working together to construct a route linking Mae Sot to Myawaddy and Kawkarek in Myanmar. The construction is due to be completed by July 2015 and is predicted to boost border trade to more than 100 billion baht, up from the current value of 60 billion baht and boosting Thailand’s export growth to 4%.


Massive drug bust uncovers 1.2 million Yaba pills

Police uncovered 1.2 million methamphetamine pills and 30 kilograms of crystal methamphetamine hidden in the car of a Chiang Rai woman. A warrant is out for the arrest of the owner of the car and her husband.

Nopniwat Krailerg
Police uncovered a huge stash of drugs hidden in the car of a Chiang Rai woman parked in the parking lot of the Women’s Wing of the Mae Sai Hospital in Chiang Rai. Police had been investigating NatchayananMahattanasittichoke age 24 and herhusband, Nattachai Tanlapan age 47 as being members of the Col. Yi Sae gang of drug traffickers when they discovered Natchayanan’s parked car.
In addition to 1.2 million methamphetamine pills in the car, police found 30 kilograms of crystal methamphetamine or Ya Ice as it is known in Thai. Police had been investigating the couple for acting as distributors for the drug trafficking network.
The couple managed to escape detection and a warrant is out for their arrest. Police confiscated a house, car and motorcycle in Chiang Rai belonging to Natchayanan after the discovery as part of the law that allows police to seize property suspected of being obtained due to drug trafficking.


21 districts in Chiang Mai declared Cold Weather Disaster Areas

104 villages suffer average temperatures less than 15 degrees

Chiang Mai Mail reporters
Twenty-one districts in Chiang Mai have now been declared cold weather disaster areas by the Provincial Public Disaster Prevention and Mitigation Office after average temperatures dropped below 15 degrees Celsius. Last week twelve districts were declared disaster areas and on December 22, the government added nine more. Any area affected by average temperatures below 15 degrees Celsius for three straight days fall under the Finance Ministry’s definition of a disaster area and receive relief assistance immediately.
Provincial authorities are being joined by private organizations and individuals in providing blankets for affected people. The government is currently seeking an additional 8 million baht to purchase more blankets.


Ad Hoc Headquaters set up to prevent forest fires and smoke

Army readies for the burning season

Army officials are asking residents cooperation to refrain from setting fires during the dry season in a bid to reduce smog.

Nopniwat Krailerg
The 3rd Army Area at the 7th Artillery Battalion was tapped to head the Ad Hoc Headquarters in charge of tackling the forest fires and smog issue that plagues Northern Thailand annually, Col. Suwit Wangyao, Director of Civil Affairs Division, 3rd Army Area reported. The Ad Hoc Headquarters of Forest Fire and Smog Control of 3rd Army Area was set up at the 7th Field Artillery Battalion, Mae Rim district in Chiang Mai effective from December 16 2014 to April 30 2015 and Lt. Gen. Kasem Thanaporn as commander of the headquarters.
The headquarters will work to prevent forest fires by training in fire emergency drills and demonstrations for the relevant government agencies in the Upper North. Eight military units in the North will be sent out to raise awareness in the public, provide surveillance for forest fires and operation teams to control forest fires and fight smog. They will ask for public cooperation in preventing fires and smog that affects the health of citizens, especially children, respiratory patients and the elderly.
The Army has asked for people to refrain from burning of rubbish, weeds and agricultural refuse and to report forest fires at the headquarters 24 hours a day. 053-112-387.


Geminids Meteor Shower fills the sky at Doi Inthanon

The Geminids Meteor Shower on December 14, 2014 at Doi Inthanon by NARIT.

Nopniwat Krailerg
The Geminids Meteor Shower filled the skies of the North every year in December, this year from December 4 – 17, 2014.Dr. Saran Poshyachinda, Deputy Director of National Astronomical Research Institute of Thailand (Public Organization) (NARIT) appears nightly at approximately 8 p.m. coming from the northeast, appearing as a white streak across the sky with about 130 meteors an hour, by 9 p..m. the concentration reached 200 per hour. Many people joined at Doi Inthanon to watch the showers.
The viewing is part of the project “Open skies to find stars” held in coordination with NARIT and Navaminda Kasatriyadhiraj Royal Air Force Academy to watch the meteor shower. In addition to the watching the meteor shower, NARIT installed more than 10 telescopes in the area for people to observe celestial objects with officials for advice.
December 14 saw the highest concentrations of shooting stars in the skies over Doi Inthanon.


Bus traffic to be barred from Doi Suthep over the New Year holiday

Private cars and songthaews allowed

Bus traffic will be barred from Doi Suthep during the New Year holiday period to try and alleviate traffic jams.

Nopniwat Krailerg
Large buses will be barred from driving up Doi Suthep over the New Year holiday and instead will have to park at the International Convention Center and tourists will take red songthaews up Doi Suthep instead.
Chanchai Keelapaeng, Chief of the Chiang Mai Provincial Land Transport Office said that the office is working in conjunction with the Provincial Police and the Office of Disaster Prevention and Mitigation in establishing guidelines for the transportation routes for Doi Suthep.
Chaired by Deputy Governor Chana Pangpibul, the meeting established guidelines for the holiday period from December 27, 2014 to January 4, 2015 requiring all buses to park at the Convention Center. Passengers will take red songthaews at the cost of 20 baht per person to go from the Convention Center to Kruba Srivichai Monument, 40 baht to Wat Phra That Doi Suthep, 70 baht to Bhubing Palace and 90 baht per person to Doi Pui.
Additionally, all vehicles will be able to only travel one way up Doi Suthep from 6 a.m. to 9 a.m. and noon to 3 p.m. and drive one way down from 9 a.m. to noon and 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. Private cars going up Doi Suthep can wait for the return period at the Chiang Mai Livestock Office.


Cabinet approves a five day holiday

Special Bank Holiday on January 2

File photo of Doi Inthanon, the highest and coldest spot in Thailand (Photo by [email protected] commons)

Chiang Mai Mail reporters
The Thai cabinet approved setting Friday January 2 as a public holiday and also making it a Bank Holiday. The New Year holiday will now extend from December 31 to January 4 allowing a five day holiday. The government set January 2 as a Bank Holiday to support the five day holiday in a bid to boost spending and promote domestic tourism during the holiday period.
Chiang Mai is bracing for heavy traffic and large number of tourists during this period as cold weather temperatures continue to grip the North. Doi Inthanon, which has seen record cold temperatures, is a top destination for Thai tourists coming to view frost on the mountaintop. Last year over 549,000 tourists visited Doi Inthanon, the highest mountain in Thailand.
Doi Inthanon recorded minus one on December 21 and cool temperatures and gusty winds will keep those temperatures low. The Chom Thong District Office is struggling to cope with the high number of tourists and traffic, nearly 5,000 people visited the mountaintop on Saturday alone.


Popular Royal Project Fair opens at CMU Convention Center

Open through December 21

The front of the Convention Hall is filled with gorgeous floral displays with beautiful and unique flowers honor Their Majesties the King and Queen.

Shana Kongmun
HRH Princess Soamsawali presided over the grand opening of the Royal Project Fair on Thursday, December 18, 2014. The popular fair, which features products from the highly successful Royal Project, is held annually at the Chiang Mai University Convention Center on Nimmanhaemin Road.

HRH Princess Soamsawali is greeted by Chiang Mai officials on her arrival at the Chiang Mai University Convention Center to open the Royal Project Fair 2014.

HRH Princess Soamsawali viewed the many projects on display as well as met with His Serene Highness Prince Bhisatej Rajani, Chairman of the Royal Project and President of Chiang Mai University Professor Dr. Pongsak Angkasith who reported on the development and its activities.
His Majesty the King began the Royal Project in 1969 to help hilltribe people grow cash crops that would replace opium poppies as income. The Project also works to change slash and burn agricultural practices that lead to deforestation and smog. This year there are several new strains of fruits, vegetables and flowers on display and for sale including a unique heart-shaped bitter cucumber, radish, turnips, Siamese tulips, new strains of chrysanthemums, begonias and others.

Also for sale are the popular Royal Project strawberries, cape gooseberries, vegetables including broccoli and other cooler mountain top crops as well as handwoven handicrafts, cut fresh and dried flowers, flowering plants and trees as well as herbs.

The annual event will run through December 21, 2014 at the Chiang Mai University Convention Center

Crowds flock to the Royal Project Supermarket which features fruits and vegetables as well as teas, baked goods, and more.


Three Swedish organizations based in Bangkok join forces to raise 138,000 baht for charity

Children with the Kid’s Ark Foundation, a registered non-profit organization that is committed to help disadvantaged children whose lives have been affected by poverty, will receive presents from Santa this year thanks to three Swedish organizations.

DIAKRIT International Ltd., Swedish Women’s Educational Association (SWEA) and The Milk Project joined forces this year to initiate fundraising for the Kids Ark Foundation (KAF) in Thailand. The companies came together in hopes of helping the KAF to develop their facilities and programs further, thus providing even better care for the children. DIAKRIT placed donation boxes in each of its offices, boxes that the company and its employees used to collect a total of 88,000 baht.
“DIAKRIT has been helping the KAF for the last ten years and it is immensely satisfying to see how the hard work of the people that run KAF is helping so many children.” says Fredrik Bergman, DIAKRIT’s President & CEO. “DIAKRIT firmly believes in giving back to the less fortunate. We are therefore more than happy to lend a helping hand to the KAF children in hopes that in doing so we are helping to pave the way for these children to have a brighter future.”
The Milk Project raised THB 20,000 thanks to the generous donations of numerous miscellaneous donors. KAF plans on using these funds to buy a large dining table for the children to be able to sit and have dinner together. SWEA chose to donate a wide range of practical Christmas presents valued at THB 30,000. Representatives from SWEA and The Milk Project went to IKEA and purchased the Christmas presents, gifts that which included pens, notebooks, and easels. They also purchased kitchen equipment, Swedish Christmas treats, and a whole lot of toys.
“We called the KAF and asked them to send us a wish list for Christmas, which they gladly did.” says Maria Mellblom, Chairman of SWEA, Bangkok. “Together with The Milk Project we went and bought everything KAF wished for, from IKEA. This Christmas the KAF children will be visited by the SWEA Santa who will deliver their presents to them. It feels incredibly fun and delightful that we have had the opportunity to spread the Christmas cheer with these children.”


German government donates to projects in the North

Helfen Germany helps coordinate efforts

Ban Mai Pattana in Galyani Vadhana District received a water filtration system and tank for the village of around 100 people. Previously villagers would have to burn wood to boil the water to purify it for drinking. The German government donated 420,000 baht for this project developed by the Musekee Foundation.

Shana Kongmun
The German government donated nearly 2 million baht through the German Embassy in Bangkok in 2014 to various projects around the North. Those projects range from building dormitories for the Ban Dek Yearee in San Sai for 30 Lahu children in need of housing, to providing clean water and tanks to a remote Galyani Vadhana District village through the Musekee Foundation and toilets for handicapped men women and children as well as agricultural produce such as fruit trees and chickens for the New Life Foundation in Chiang Dao.
Other projects that received funding included support for children in Mae Sai, a gathering point for children to beg at the bridge at the border in Mae Sai, many of the older children end up at risk for trafficking when they can no longer earn enough money begging to support their families. Baan Nana in Mae Sai provides shelter, and help with education. Funding was a joint project between the French and German governments.
Outside Northern Thailand the Home for the Destitute in Prachuab Khiri Khan received fudning for an agriculture project that allowed residents to provide for themselves by growing pineapples, flowers and fish for sale. In Myanmar the government provided funds to the Pyi Lone Monastery School in Mawlamyine to build buildings and toilets for the school that helps 60 children orphaned after Cyclone Nargis, the devastating storm that hit coastal Myanmar in 2008 killing more than 138,000 people and devastating entire villages.
The German government, through the aid of Helfen, has provided funding for other ongoing projects in the North. Helfen plans on assisting organization in requesting funding from the German government on more projects in 2015, with four planned for Thailand and four in Myanmar.


Temperatures continue to fall as Chiang Mai gets chilly

Chiang Mai Mail reporters
Friday’s temperature on Doi Inthanon reached a chilly 3 degrees Celsius and frozen dew was seen on the mountaintop. The Meteorological Office said that temperatures in the city reached 15 degrees with a high of 30. Temperatures are expected to continue to drop a further one or two degrees with lows in the lower parts of the province expected to reach 11 degrees Celsius. Very cold weather and isolated frost is expected on the mountain tops, with minimum temperatures reaching as low as three degrees on the lower mountains. Doi Inthanon is the highest point in Thailand, in Chom Thong District of Chiang Mai and reaches 2,565 meters.


Northern Food Valley showcases food production

Governor Suriya Prasatbuntitya views a display on food products produced in Northern Thailand at the opening of the Northern Food Valley Showcase on Friday, December 19, 2014. The event, which is being held at the Industrial Promotion Center on Thung Hotel Road. The initiative works to promote innovation in food production and packaging. This exhibit focuses on new products and new businesses in the North, looking to build networks and promote information and economic planning throughout the supply chain with the development of the Northern Food Park Project and create a sustainable food industry in the North


Countdown to New Year to be alcohol free

Governor Suriya Prasatbuntitya, President of the Provincial Administration Organization Boonlert Buranupakorn, Mayor Tussanai Buranupakorn, the Provincial Public Health Office and Police and sponsors Bangkok Air represented by Passapong Jirawattanasak, Regional and International Corporate Communications Department Manager onstage for the press conference.

Shana Kongmun
New festivities at Tha Pae Gate are to be alcohol free it was announced at a press conference held by the government of Chiang Mai, the Municipality and other organizations. Countdown to New Year will be held at Tha Pae Gate from December 25 to December 31, 2014 and will feature concerts by popular singers and performances. The festival will also offer a variety of food and products for sale as well as the ever popular street side massage.
Governor Suriya Prasatbuntitya welcomed everyone to the event noting that Chiang Mai is one of the top New Year’s Eve destinations in Thailand. He was joined onstage by President of the Provincial Administration Organization Boonlert Buranupakorn, Mayor Tussanai Buranupakorn, the Provincial Public Health Office and Police as well as sponsors Bangkok Air represented by Passapong Jirawattanasak, Regional and International Corporate Communications Department Manager.
The government is working to reduce the number of drunk driving accidents over the New Year period in Chiang Mai and offering a family friendly atmosphere at Tha Pae Gate for visitors and locals.

Along with massages there will be food, music and fun.


Japanese government helps local migrant children with education

The government of Japan provided funds for Wat Papao to build a school for children of ethnic Shan migrant workers in Chiang Mai.

The Government of Japan, under its Grant Assistance for Grassroots Human Security Projects Scheme (GGP), has provided funds amounting to 3,707,000 baht for a project entitled “The Project for Construction of a Schoolhouse for the Myanmar Ethnic Group in Muang District, Chiang Mai Province”. On November 26, 2014, Mr. Akihiko Fujii, Consul-General of Japan in Chiang Mai, and Phra Khru Amornveerakhun, Chairman of the Wat Papao Foundation for Promotion of Education, Art and Culture, Mr. Chumphol Ratolertlop, Director of Chiang Mai Primary Education Service Area Office 1 and Nithithorn Thepthewin, Director of Non-formal and Informal Education Muang district office were present at the project completion ceremony at Wat Papao, Muang district, Chiang Mai.
The majority of Shan ethnic people residing in Northern Thailand are displaced persons who fled into Thailand to escape threats of various persecutions in Myanmar. Most of them have been earning their livelihood by working as laborers in the agricultural, construction, manufacturing and service sectors because they are able to communicate in Thai language which belongs to the same language group as Shan. However, they have been under the rough living-working condition. On the other hand, theThai government, with the background of the necessity for countermeasures to combat the serious labor shortage and the need to improvement of Thai - Myanmar relation resulted from the beginning of democratization of Myanmar, has embarked to improve the lives of displaced persons and migrant laborers from Myanmar in the terms of labor, education and welfare.
Wat Papao Buddhist temple was established in Chiang Mai city by Shan people about 400 years ago and has performed a central role in maintaining the religion and traditional culture of Shan people in Northern Thailand. The Wat Papao Foundation for Promotion of Education, Art and Culture was established in 1997. The foundation procured permission from the Ministry of Education and established a primary school (with kindergarten) and a school for adults within the temple ground, has accepted displaced Shan children and adults and tried to preserve the Shan language and traditional culture by using the class schedule of cultural and club activities.
Under these circumstances, in response to a request from the foundation, the Government of Japan provided the costs of construction of a new schoolhouse in order to resolve the lack of classrooms for new applicants to enter the school and the construction of the 3 storey schoolhouse has now been completed.
It is expected that this project will promote basic education, understanding about the situation in motherland, and empowerment with abilities as citizens of civil society, which will further lead them to play a role of community development leaders after their eventual return to homeland, and assist in the stabilization of Myanmar society in the long term. Furthermore, it is also anticipated that this project will lead to build co-existence relationship of Thai - Shan people, stabilization and improvement of the welfare of communities in the city area.
Through its Grant Assistance for Human Security Projects scheme (GGP), the Japanese government intends to continue to support projects which contribute to Human Security including assistance to improve the welfare of ethnic nationalities from Myanmar.


Ten districts in Chiang Mai declared cold weather disaster areas

Worrawit Intajai, Head of the Emergency Relief of Disaster Prevention and Mitigation Chiang Mai Provincial office announced that ten districts have been declared disaster areas by the Governor.

Nopniwat Krailerg
Chiang Mai Governor Suriya Prasatbuntitya declared ten districts in Chiang Mai Province as disaster areas due to cold weather as temperatures in the mountains continue to drop. Worrawit Intajai, Head of the Emergency Relief of Disaster Prevention and Mitigation Chiang Mai Provincial office said that the Meteorological Department has forecast a high pressure area from China extend covering Northern Thailand, which makes temperatures drop.
Remote mountain areas have seen lows of around 15 degrees Celsius over a period of 3 consecutive days, affecting 281,259 victims, 89,336 households, 466 villages, 43 subdistricts, in 10 districts. The ten districs are; Galyani Vadhana, Om Koi, Wiang Haeng, Mae Chaem, Fang, Chai Prakan, Samoeng, Mae Taeng and Muang districts.
In addition to assistance from the local government companies have offered assistance including Honda Fund Thailand, Thai Nakorn Patana Company Limited and Spring News extend to various area such as Doi Tao, Om Koi, Chom Thong, Mae Chaem Doi Saket, Hot and Mae On donating 13,000 blankets and overcoats to victims.
Those who are neediest are elderly, poor children, and the disabled need 254,490 blankets, 22,624 wool blankets, 50,783 sweaters, 3,995 other clothes. However, members of the private sector expressed a desire to donate sweaters through the Governor. More disaster areas are expected to be declared if the temperatures continue to drop.


Parade for Anti-Corruption Day

Students and members of government organizations joined in a parade on December 8, 2014 to celebrate International Anti-Corruption Day Parade which is honored around the world on December 9. The UN enacted International Anti-Corruption Day in 2005 in a bid to raise awareness of and fight corruption around the world. This year UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon said, “To dismantle corruption’s high walls, I urge every nation to ratify and implement the UN Convention against Corruption. Its ground breaking measures in the areas of prevention, criminalization, international cooperation and asset recovery have made important inroads, but there is much more to do.” (Photo courtesy of Harm DeVries)


New baby albino wallaby welcomed to Night Safari family

The Chiang Mai Night Safari shows off the new baby albino wallaby.

Nopniwat Krailerg
The newest member of the Chiang Mai Night Safari was announced by Dr. Sarawut Srisakun, Acting Director of the Pinkanakorn Development Agency (Public Organization), a baby albino wallaby. The new baby was released into the display area on December 15, 2014.
Wallabies are a member of the kangaroo family but are smaller in size and native of Australia. Full grown wallabies are about 1 meter tall and weigh between 11 – 26 kilograms. The tail of the wallaby is long and strong and used for balancing and jumping. The albinism in the baby wallaby is caused by disorders of the blood cells and may shorten the life of the baby.


GMS sub-region human trafficking report released

Knowing about the risks of human trafficking is not stopping an estimated 3 to 5 million people from Laos, Cambodia, Myanmar and Vietnam from migrating for work in richer neighbouring countries, a new research study has found.
The lure of earning enough money to send back to their families often overrides known risks or actual previous experiences of exploitation, dangerous working conditions or excessive hours, revealed the World Vision research being launched days before International Migration Day on 18 December.
“This is the first time we can confirm, with empirical evidence, that prevention work relying on raising awareness is not enough. Young people will continue to migrate. It’s time trafficking prevention agencies shift the focus of prevention work to safe migration,” said John Whan Yoon, World Vision’s End Trafficking in Persons Regional Programme Manager.
“Raising awareness on the risks of migration needs to focus on changing risky behaviour to protective behaviours, such as travelling with formal documents and keeping in regular contact with family members,” Whan Yoon added.
The Vulnerability Report: Human Trafficking in the Greater Mekong Sub-region, a first of its kind regional study supported by a leading UK research university, draws on responses from close to 10,000 children, young people and adults in communities across Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, Thailand and Vietnam.
The report further found that young people who knew how to protect themselves were more likely to have a job with good working conditions and earn enough money to send home.
“We are not advocating for young people to move beyond their borders for work. However, we are seeking to empower youth with protective behaviours that could keep them safe in case they decide to work in another country,” Whan Yoon said.
Across Vietnam, Laos, Thailand, Cambodia, China and Myanmar, World Vision works with young people children and youth clubs where they learn about safe migration and how to protect themselves from the risks of exploitation and from being trafficked.
The report’s release also coincides with an art and multimedia exhibition at the Bangkok Arts & Culture Centre from 16-21 December entitled "Journey of Voices" –hosted by World Vision and the International Labour Organisation as part of the inter-agency Saphan Siang campaign – to bring attention to the realities of the migrant labour experience in the region.


Hang Dong residents turn out for newest Rimping Branch

The Rimping Supermarket brand continues to expand after renovations on the Kad Farang branch in Hang Dong Sub-district opened to great fanfare and many excited area residents on Sunday, December 14, 2014. The new Rimping branch brings the locally owned supermarket chain to a total of nine branches including smaller Express type branches. The original store was a mom and pop grocery store started over 60 years ago and has grown into a full service western style supermarket specializing in organic and safe foods.


PTT and Bangchak lower fuel prices

Chiang Mai Mail reporters
PTT Public Co. Ltd. and Bangchak Petroleum Public Co. Ltd both announced plans to lower prices at the pump beginning December 16, 2014. The companies will lower prices across the board, including benzene, gasohol and diesel.
Benzene and gasohol will both see price drops of 2 baht per liter, although E85 will only be lowered 20 satang per liter. Diesel will be lowered by 1 baht per liter.
Prices for Benzene 95 stand at 37.36 baht per liter, Gasohol 95 at 30.30 baht per liter, Gasohol 91 at 28.28 baht per liter, E85 at 22.48 baht per liter and Diesel at 26.89 baht per liter.
The companies have lowered fuel prices in reaction to lower costs of oil, as the benchmark price for U.S. oil dropped 48% in the past six months. CEO of the Bangchak Petroleum Public Company Limited, Wichien Ussanachote reported that he believes the price of crude oil per barrel in Dubai would continue to drop in 2015. He noted that major oil producers in the Middle East, West Africa and Atlantic have not lowered production and a strong dollar would bring down prices.


Chiang Mai Japanese Association raises funds for the Red Cross

The Chiang Mai Japanese Association donated funds to the Provincial Red Cross on December 11, 2014 to help needy Chiang Mai residents. A representative of the Chiang Mai Japanese Association was joined by Japanese Consul-General Akihiko Fujii at the donation ceremony which saw the group hand over 80,762 baht to the President of the Chiang Mai Red Cross Mananya Prasatbuntitya who received the donation on behalf of the Red Cross. The funds were raised by the Chiang Mai Japanese Association from a Charity Bazaar event and the Thai-Japan Golf Friendship tournament.


Donations received for the Red Cross Winter Fair

Chiang Mai Mail reporters
Chiang Mai Governor Prasatbuntitya and Mananya Prasatbuntitya, as President of the Chiang Mai Provincial Red Cross received donations for the Red Cross Winter Fair on December 11, 2014. The annual fair is a popular event in Chiang Mai featuring fun rides, games, raffles, and prizes. The Red Cross Winter Fair also sees Miss Chiang Mai chosen to represent the city in the Miss Thailand contest.
The first Winter Fair was held at Yupparaj Wittayalai School in 1936 before being moved to the Municipal Stadium in 1954 and finally to the vacant land behind City Hall. The event is being held from December 26, 2014 to January 4, 2015.


International Puppet Festival ties together ASEAN countries

Noppadon Pakprot, Executive Director of Events for the Tourism Authority of Thailand, Deputy Governor Supachai Iamsuwan, and Assistant Professor Suphachai Chuaratanaphong, M.D., Vice President for University Council Affairs and Vilawan Svetsreni, Director of Center for the Promotion of Arts and Culture are joined on stage for the grand opening ceremony by visiting and local puppets, puppeteers, and honored guests.

Shana Kongmun
The International Puppet Festival is being held at the Lanna Traditional House Museum on Canal Road from December 12 – 14, 2014 and features puppeteers and unique puppets from 10 countries, ASEAN countries and three others.
“The International Puppet Festival ties the countries of ASEAN and two other countries through the unique form of puppetry,” said Vilawan Svetsreni, Director of Center for the Promotion of Arts and Culture at the opening ceremony held on Friday, December 12, 2014. She was joined in the grand opening by Noppadon Pakprot, Executive Director of Events for the Tourism Authority of Thailand, Deputy Governor Supachai Iamsuwan, and Assistant Professor Suphachai Chuaratanaphong, M.D., Vice President for University Council Affairs.
Dr. Suphachai Chuaratnaphong said that the event brings a better understanding of each other’s cultures through art, while the Deputy Governor emphasized the importance of close ties of ASEAN countries and the continued exchange of art and culture as we head to the ASEAN Economic Community.

Hanuman’s cheeky ways kept the children entertained at the opening night’s show.

The International Puppet Festival features puppets from Japan, China, Philippines, Laos PDR, Indonesia, Vietnam, Myanmar, Singapore and others. The unique Vietnamese Water Puppets along with traditional Central Royal puppets, Shadow puppets from Southern Thailand and Indonesia, Chinese hand puppets and string puppets are just some of the many elaborate puppets performing every evening. Additionally workshops are being held daily as well as lovely handcrafted items such as phasin, bags, clothes and toys.
Workshops are held daily from 9:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. and puppet performances from 3 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. and in the large venue from 6 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. at the Traditional Lanna House Museum at the corner of Canal and Suthep Roads.


Lamphun school gets water source thanks to Japanese government funds

The Consul General of Japan signs the funding contract with Kasem Tre-intong, Director of Chalermprakiet 48 Pansa School, Lamphun so that the school can have an adequate supply of drinking water.

The Government of Japan, under its Grant Assistance for Grassroots Human Security Projects Scheme (GGP), is providing funds amounting to 3,144,000 baht for “the Project for Improvement of Groundwater Supply System at Chalermprakiet 48 Pansa School, Muang District, Lamphun Province”. On December 9, 2014, Mr. Akihiko Fujii, Consul-General of Japan in Chiang Mai, and Mr. Kasem Tre-intong, Director of Chalermprakiet 48 Pansa School, jointly signed the funding contract at the Consulate-General of Japan in Chiang Mai.
Chalermprakiet 48 Pansa School is a private lower and upper secondary girls' boarding school, licensed as a welfare school by the Ministry of Education. The school provides free education and board for 350 disadvantaged students such as AIDS orphans and children from mountainous areas at risk of human trafficking. The school not only provides a formal curriculum for them, but also provides optional vocational training programs to prepare those who have difficulty accessing higher education so that they can be financially independent.
As the public water supply system has not yet reached Tonthong Sub-District, where the school is located, the school set up a groundwater supply system on their premises ten years ago in order to provide water for their students. However, the water did not meet the quality standard for daily use, nor did it meet the criterion for drinking water even after treatment by a water purifier. There has therefore been concern over its effect on the health of students. Moreover, the inadequate volume of water supplied by the current system has been an inconvenience to the students' daily life.
In response to a request from Chalermprakiet 48 Pansa School, the Government of Japan will bear the costs of improving the groundwater supply system. This support will enable the supply of adequate water for usage in daily life and for drinking water that meets the water quality standard to ensure a safe and comfortable living environment for students. (GGP)


 
HEADLINES [click on headline to view story]

Police check club scene on Rajvithi Road

Governor warns vendors to treat tourists fairly over New Year

New Year celebrants start leaving Bangkok

Officials check Nimman Snow Festival for health dangers

Army destroys opium fields in Doi Ang Khang

New Year Countdown 2015 at Central Festival Chiang Mai

Chiang Mai farmers to receive land under government plan

Chiang Mai readies for “7 Dangerous Days of New Year”

Japanese government improves medical care for remote Lampang District

Region 5 police arrest Chiang Rai man for trafficking drugs

Patient numbers rise in Chiang Mai as cold hits region

Snow Festival at Think Park brings fun and controversy

Government speeds development of Mae Sot Special Economic Zone

Massive drug bust uncovers 1.2 million Yaba pills

21 districts in Chiang Mai declared Cold Weather Disaster Areas

Ad Hoc Headquaters set up to prevent forest fires and smoke

Geminids Meteor Shower fills the sky at Doi Inthanon

Bus traffic to be barred from Doi Suthep over the New Year holiday

Cabinet approves a five day holiday

Popular Royal Project Fair opens at CMU Convention Center

Three Swedish organizations based in Bangkok join forces to raise 138,000 baht for charity

German government donates to projects in the North

Temperatures continue to fall as Chiang Mai gets chilly

Northern Food Valley showcases food production

Countdown to New Year to be alcohol free

Japanese government helps local migrant children with education

Ten districts in Chiang Mai declared cold weather disaster areas

Parade for Anti-Corruption Day

New baby albino wallaby welcomed to Night Safari family

GMS sub-region human trafficking report released

Hang Dong residents turn out for newest Rimping Branch

PTT and Bangchak lower fuel prices

Chiang Mai Japanese Association raises funds for the Red Cross

Donations received for the Red Cross Winter Fair

International Puppet Festival ties together ASEAN countries

Lamphun school gets water source thanks to Japanese government funds


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