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Zip-line victim’s family receives ‘record’ payout

The victim’s father accepts the 2.8 million baht compensation for his daughter’s death.The victim’s father accepts the 2.8 million baht compensation for his daughter’s death.

The family of a Chinese woman killed at a Chiang Mai zip-line line has received what was described as the largest-ever compensation payout for a tourist-related death.

Provincial Gov. Pawin Chamniprasart on Oct. 21 invited the parents of 32-year-old Wang Qi to meet with representatives from the Tourism and Sports Ministry, Chiang Mai Business & Tourism Association, local police, and executives from the Flying Squirrel zip line and its operator, Tree Top Flight.

Pawin said all the area’s tourism organizations regret the death of Wang, who fell from the Pong Khrai ride and suffered a broken neck Oct. 12.

Flying Squirrel’s insurance policy paid the family 1 million baht. In addition, the Ministry of Tourism & Sports contributed 300,000 baht and Flying Squirrel put in another 1.5 million for a total 2.8 million baht.

Chiang Mai Business & Tourism Association President Pornchai Jitnawasathiern said that amount is the most ever paid anywhere in Thailand after the death of a tourist.

Patchamon Suntrakorn, CEO of the Tree Top Flight, apologized to the family on behalf of area tourism groups and her staff, which has been vilified on social media for apparently attempting to shift blame for the accident, initially telling police Wang had a heart attack. It wasn’t until friends questioned that determination that a postmortem examination was performed, showing the true cause of death.

Flying Squirrel Manager Santhi Pitikarm, who attended the meeting with the family, was subsequently arrested after authorities determined the zip-line ride was operating without a permit and had encroached on the Mae Rim National Forest Reserve.

Patchamon asked for consideration from the public, claiming her company has taken full responsibility and has worked to do the best thing possible for the family.

Wang’s father prepared a letter in Chinese, which was read out in English. In it, he said Flying Squirrel did take full responsibility and “the Thai government has kept its promise to compensate them.”

“Although we have lost somebody very precious, I will return to China and tell the media that everything has gone well in accordance to what was stated by the Thai government and will encourage people to still visit Chiang Mai,” he said.


Kingdom celebrates 105th Chulalongkorn Day

HM King Chulalongkorn the Great.

Friday, October 23, marks the 105th anniversary of HM King Chulalongkorn’s passing. Chulalongkorn Day is a national holiday here in the Kingdom, meaning banks and government offices will be closed. However, as usual, ATMs and many foreign exchange booths will remain open.
His Majesty King Chulalongkorn the Great (Rama V) was born in 1853, the son of His Majesty King Mongkut (Rama IV) and Her Majesty Queen Thep Sirinthorn. In 1868, He was given the title Duke ‘Meun Phikhartnaresueansurasangkas.’
HM King Chulalongkorn ascended the throne in 1868, with the title ‘Phrabat Somdej Phra Paraminthra Maha Chulalongkorn Bodinthorn Thep Phaya Maha Mongkut Burutsaya Ratanaraj Rawiwong Warut-tapong Saboripatara Wora Khatiyaraj Nikarodom Jaturatana Borom Maha Chakarapaddiraj Sangart Boromtammika Maha Raja Thiraj Boromanat Bopitara Phra Chulachomklao Chao Yoo Hua’.
His Majesty King Chulalongkorn lived with one purpose in his mind and heart: the happiness and well-being of the Siamese people. His Majesty would often dress as a commoner and move among his people with only two or three advisors. In this way, he could find out how his subjects really felt and see what was happening in his Kingdom.
There is one famous story of His Majesty and two counselors who, after a hard day’s travel, stopped at a farmer’s house to ask for a drink of water. Rural hospitality being a hallmark of Thai people, the family asked the three strangers to stay and have food with them. Speaking freely, the farmer and his wife told the strangers of how their life was progressing and what they would like to see done for their village by the ‘Great King who lives in the Palace in Bangkok.’ The farmer’s son noticed that one of the strangers looked familiar. He went and looked at a daguerreotype the family had of the King. Running back to the group, the family learned that they were serving food to the ‘Lord of Life’ in Siam. HM King Chulalongkorn the Great did this often and thus became ‘in touch’ with the needs of the Siamese people.
Another story of the great love and respect happened in 1893. The territory hungry French had formulated a plan to take the Siamese territory of Laos and certain valuable territories on the Eastern Seaboard which produced precious rubies and sapphires.
In a carefully formulated plan, a French warship entered the Chao Phraya River. It was required by international law that all foreign ships fly their colors when entering the waters of another sovereign country. The French deliberately did not do this. When hailed by the river guard to fly their colors, the French ignored the guard. The guard fired a warning shot over the French ship’s bow.
The French Embassy in Bangkok was prepared in advance to carry out the plan. Bringing a letter sent from France months before the incident, it stated that Siam had performed an act of aggression on the French and must pay huge reparations.
The French were not prepared for what happened next. Hearing of the huge demands, Siamese both wealthy and poor brought cartloads of jewels, precious metals and every valuable possible to the Royal Palace and offered it to His Majesty to keep the French out of Siam.
The French had not imagined that Siam was so wealthy and the people so devoted to their King.
Siam was able to pay the reparations but the French, deciding this was not enough, took all Siamese territory east of the Mekong River.
His Majesty King Chulalongkorn was wise, knowing that Siam could not resist the French and British and held the motto of ‘giving up some so as not to lose all.’
Siam lost over 160,000 sq. kilometers of territory to the French and British.
His Majesty King Chulalongkorn was the first Siamese monarch to visit the West. He believed in adopting all things good from the West while Siam kept its culture. The wise King Chulalongkorn made Russia a strong ally of Siam to counteract the British and French influence in SE Asia. He followed the Chinese concept of ‘have strong allies but make sure their borders are far away.’
Many of the Royal Princes were sent to study in Russia. In His letters to His sons, HM King Chulalongkorn wisely warned them ‘do not feel that you are important because you are a prince. In Siam, there are many princes, whereas in Russia there are few. Do the best you can at your studies and that is enough.’
HM King Chulalongkorn’s most noteworthy achievement in Siam was the abolition of slavery. He did not do this in a haphazard manner as it was done in other countries. He devised a complex method of ‘freeing’ slaves so that older ones would not be left in poverty with no place to live. Younger slaves were to be released by ‘stages’, responsibility falling to the owner to see that they had a way of supporting themselves.
His Majesty King Chulalongkorn the Great is beloved of Thai people and considered a truly ‘enlightened’ ruler among historians. His Majesty passed away 105 years ago, on October 23, 1910, after the second longest reign in the history of the Thai nation.
He is remembered and loved by the Thai people and the date of his death is commemorated every year. Ceremonies are held, offerings are made to his memory and the entire student body from the university that bears his name perform obeisance before his statue.
Locally, city officials, people from the business community, members from local charitable organizations, the private sector and many local residents hold ceremonies in the morning at the Chulalongkorn monument in front of the Banglamung district offices to celebrate this Remembrance Day for King Rama V, all paying homage to one of the greatest and most highly revered Kings of Thailand. Each organization and institute will present wreaths to the King Rama V statue.
Would that all countries were so lucky to have one such enlightened ruler in their collective histories.


The Government of Japan provides a Fire Engine for Huaypong Sub-District, Mae Hong Son Province

Mr. Shinya Aoki, Consul-General of Japan in Chiang Mai (4th left), and Mr. Satien Khayandee, (4th right),Chief Executive of Huaypong Sub-District Administration Organization jointly signed the funding contract at the Consulate-General of Japan in Chiang Mai.

Consulate-General of Japan in Chiang Mai

The Government of Japan, under its Grant Assistance for Grassroots Human Security Projects Scheme (GGP), is providing funds amounting to 2,858,000 baht for “the Project for Procurement of a Fire Engine in Huaypong Sub-District Administration Organization in Muang District, Mae Hong Son Province”. On 13 October, 2015, Mr. Shinya Aoki, Consul-General of Japan in Chiang Mai, and Mr. Satien Khayandee, Chief Executive of Huaypong Sub-District Administration Organization, jointly signed the funding contract at the Consulate-General of Japan in Chiang Mai.
Huaypong Sub-District is located in the southern part of Muang Mae Hong Son District, and is a vast mountainous area. The Sub-District has a population of 6,952 in 15 villages and most of the residents comprise ethnic minorities with low average incomes such as Shan and Karen and are engaged in agriculture. As the west part of the Sub-District borders Myanmar, there are also almost 5,000 refugees and migrants from Myanmar living in this area. They can live peacefully alongside the residents without any communication problem because they are also Shan and Karen. However, problems associated with rapid population growth, such as shortage of agricultural land and scarcity of water for daily life are beginning to surface.
In such a mountainous area, haze from agricultural burning and forest fires is a serious issue because many inhabitants are still engaged in slash-and-burn agriculture. Most of the residents use water from streams for daily life, however, the shortage of running water in the dry season from January to May is becoming a serious problem which is exacerbated by climate change due to global warming, deforestation in water resource areas and increasing demand for water for agricultural. Therefore the Sub-District Administration Organization is obliged to supply water to all 15 villages daily during the dry season using a single fire engine. However, this is practically impossible because of the wide area to be covered and the age and poor condition of the vehicle.
In response to a request from Huaypong Sub-District Administration Organization, the Government of Japan will bear the costs of purchasing a medium size fire engine with a water tank and crane. It is expected that this support will contribute to ensuring the security of the residents in Huaypong Sub-District and the nearby area as well as mitigating smoke haze and aiding conservation of the natural environment in the north of Thailand.
The Japanese government intends to continue supporting projects which contribute to the mitigation of haze and the preservation of the environment as well as projects which improve Human Security of ethnic minorities from Myanmar in the north of Thailand through its Grant Assistance for Human Security Projects scheme (GGP).


 
HEADLINES [click on headline to view story]

Update November 3, 2015

Zip-line victim’s family receives ‘record’ payout

Update October 23, 2015

Kingdom celebrates 105th Chulalongkorn Day

The Government of Japan provides a Fire Engine for Huaypong Sub-District, Mae Hong Son Province