Prayuth’s Stopping List

Yesterday the government announced details of plans for a legislative assembly. One of its early tasks will be the approval of the annual budget for government.

In the lead up state bodies will be preparing their Shopping Lists for projects they wish to embark upon. However they are still spending money from the previous budget and much is going on projects, where going on past performance corruption has been going on behind the scenes. Hence the need for a Stopping List.

The government has repeatedly said it will move to stamp out corruption and has acted already to quash the uneconomic fast train project, a case of policy corruption.

Here we make some suggestions for the Chiang Mai area and readers are invited to suggest their own.

Stop Concreting our Mae Ping

Concreting the Mae Ping

Recent years have seen large expenditures along the Ping River supposedly to flood proof Chiang Mai. Historically floods have not been a problem for Chiang Mai and during the 2011 rains which brought death disaster to the central plain of Siam, Chiang Mai city had two days of minor flooding.  This was despite the fact that the Ping River had been deepened by dredging but it was made worse by levy construction and dredging upstream which prevented the usual spreading of water to low lying agricultural land.

In 2012-13 large water gates were constructed down stream of the city which if opened should allow the river to act as a fast flowing drain. However a series of weirs between downtown and the gates have not been removed so they can not perform their purported role.

Nimmanhaemin Rd sign to Wiang Kum Kam heritage site.Mae Ping Watergate

Construction work in February 2014

 

 

Now more of our taxes are being wasted on the destructive concreting of the river which has not seriously misbehaved since it destroyed Wiang Kum Kam over 700 years ago resulting in the the new Chiang Mai.

Please Khun Prayuth order this be stopped now.

Stop wasteful road works

Muang Chiang Mai

The lively Nimmanhaemin area of Chiang Mai is under threat from road department plans to turn the road into a high speed route around the city.

Despite the lack of agreement from the Royal Thai Air Force to permit a section of the road to pass through Air Force land which would clearly endanger the security of the air base the Main Roads Department has acquired land and demolished valuable housing, including a large mansion and modern block of apartments to build a divided highway stopping at the entrance to Wing 41.

For three years residents in the Nimmanhaemin area have expressed opposition to the plans which has failed to prevent the destruction which was only completed this January.

Gone for Nimmanhaemin Rd widening - MansionGone for Nimmanhaemin Rd widening - FlatsFlats demolition complete

We thank the RTAF for its stance and request it continue to protect our city from this project.

 

 

We would ask Khun Prayuth to order revocation of the main road reserve between Wing 41 and the Super Highway at Huai Keow Rincome interesction.

Further we would welcome money being transferred from the roads budget to construct much needed public housing for low income workers, many of whom live in slum conditions. Many slum dwellers who often are in occupations shunned by others,  prefer to remain in unsanitary conditions within easy travel to work but where they have some security of tenure which they should also be given if relocated.

Mae Rim

Another  over engineered and therefore over priced road project is underway on route 107 at Mae Rim. The project which is over a year from completion involves a road tunnel to speed traffic on the Chiang Mai – Mae Rim road. The traffic must pass through high activity urban areas with services such including markets and a major hospital and the effect of the tunnel by speeding the traffic will be to the detriment of  local people. Meanwhile delays caused by the restrictive traffic light regime which is in place at all such tunneled intersections in Chiang Mai will lead to continued delays, pollution build up and waste of fuel.

Alternative intersection treatments such as in the example from Cairns in Queensland reduce accidents and congestion. Here again is a project we would ask Khun Prayuth to consider before further work proceeds.

Mae Rim - Outer Ring Rd IntersectionCairns Highway Roundabout

 

Consoling the contractors

While our suggestions above would if acted upon disrupt the work of contractors on the projects cause them serious loss  which would not need to be compensated for under the provisions of martial law we would urge the government to deal fairly and find other suitable work e.g. bridge work for railway duplication.

The recent meeting with Korean companies over likely changes to the giant water scheme is sets a welcome precedent but only in so far that the project which was conceived in a corrupt and illegal manner is properly evaluated. Here again the possibility remains to scrap the dams opposed by country folk and offer the Korean companies a role in railway upgrading.

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No swimming at Hangdong Canyon after latest drowning.

With the weather at its hottest in April last year we wrote about swimming in a flooded quarry  which has come to be known as the Hangdong Grand Canyon water hole.

Cliffs above perilously deep water.

Since then pictures of this beautiful spot have appeared on various websites promoting Chiang Mai.

In May 2013 two boys drowned as reported on the Chiang Mai City Life website, during a morning swim after they had walked up to Wat Doi Suthep the night before.

Authorities in Thailand appear to take a cavalier approach to public safety and to drownings as this report on Mekong River deaths from WAtoday.com indicates

“Local police reported that it was not unusual for tourists to drown in the area, where the river ran fast, acting state coroner Evelyn Vicker was told.

The river had claimed the lives of eight foreign visitors during the 15-month period from January 1, 2011, but Mr Lewis had not been identified as one of them.”

In April City Life did a photo shoot at the canyon, and I wrote asking for a life buoy to be installed offering to contribute to the cost.  As can be seen from today’s photo above, I wrote in vain.
Last week a Korean visitor drowned and the canyon now has the following sign prohibiting swimming. Visitors may still enter and should one slip and fall assistance without a life buoy may fail to prevent another drowning.
No Swimming
So as usual. A death, no talk of an inquest, just as in the recent night train race and murder, but instead an knee jerk reaction, and a public asset lost.

 

 

 

 

 

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James Austin Farrell rants again

Like the many readers who miss the writing of James Farrell, recently departed ChiangMaiCityNews.com editor. I am pleased to see he has lost none of his brilliance and speed typing ability, as his post today on his Facebook page reveals.

Yesterday James wrote the following brief comment in introducing a article from Bloomberg ( whence the pic below originates ).

“The man who brought dangerous food to Thailand in order to fuck up the next generation gets richer because of coup. Happy days for a man living in Thailand 17 years and can’t speak any Thai – and to think he was naturalized!

I actually met him years ago, at the elephant polo. He wasn’t very nice, but then neither is polo.”

Heinecke safely aove the sound of bids & frogs

Jamezes (no apostrophe s thanks ) comment brought about some less than flattering responses to which he responds eloquently as in his self described rant below:

“I don’t much feel like a pseudo-Communist despot for vilifying these junk food magnates. Their poisons infect large groups of the population, causing widespread ill-health, disease, depression, and a pervasive general malaise. Their happy products are steeped in ill-will and insidious intent. Look at all the richest people in Thailand, and then research their products, and the harm they cause: CP, Red Bull, Chang, Singh, and this foreign invader, the USA junk food importer. The last thing Thailand needs is to recreate the American eating model and push aside a very healthy eating model of its own creation; nor does Thailand need to embrace harmful GMOs, and sly aggressive marketing designed to hoodwink kids and their easily prostrated uncritical parents. But it will happen; it will happen because the herds don’t see what’s coming; they don’t give a shit, just as long as they look good, keep face, or at least stay in line with their peers. Thailand is here for the taking! The great plague of junk genericy has landed. Roll on illness, and so we can combat our weakness with drugs, American and British drugs, aided and abetted by Thai investors living in the Swiss Alps; occasionally coming home for a TV wai or to talk about Thainess, great traditions, and reform…when they are nothing more and nothing less than your everyday common capitalist atavist.

In fact, I only know one man in Chiang Mai with an ego big enough to create a religion replete with thousands of followers? Comparing my rant with Pol PotI, is this some kind of guilt impulse? I’m merely a critic of what i think is something very detrimental to society. I am not attempting to arrest people’s minds, or offer an alternative way of living. As to your daft knee-jerk comment, my lifestyle is fairly healthy. I eat well, cycle and run every day. This gives me the clarity to see how these evil fucks are penetrating society with their despicable products, designed to influence, and create disease. The big bucks are sucked into their infinite pockets, and just in case we suffer too much of an overdose, then Big Pharma is always there to pick up the pieces, at a price of course – they make you more sick. These products are the scourge of every school, as is our fascination with out-buying each other for temporary egotistical relief.

Ollie, you’re an apologist and your cynicism is utterly selfish. With an attitude like this who do you serve? I guess no one but yourself. Enjoy the bowling…I guess you believe in this non-participatory shit as you are making a good living yourself out of marketing a dubious brand. Don’t tar me with the same brush.

I may have eaten a KFC, I may have quaffed a bottle of wine, but that doesn’t mean to say i agree with these addictive foods being marketed to Thai kids. Thai kids had good food already! This will lead to an unhealthy, over-weight, depressed generation. You don’t think that’s worth criticizing?
It’s got fuck all to do with Marx, it’s common sense, humanitarian common sense. Aren’t you the big positivist? Well work it out, these products are very dangerous. And that man pushing them, well, he deserves my rancour. The excuse, ‘well, someone would do it if he didn’t’ is just so damned weak and evasive. What are we to do? Lie down and be quiet as we are raped and plundered? Apathy is a far worse condition than ignorance.

He does not deserve to be punished under the drunken violence of that heinous law, but he does deserve to be trampled to death by a million fat kids with diabetes. The fact he’s getting rich(er) off the back of coup, and so defends it, is quite devilish in itself. But making money has never been a very nice thing, has it? Democracy in America is as tainted as a rolled up 10 dollar bill.

Once we discover how many people are filling their pockets through this great reformation it will become clear what the raison d’etre is and has always been of politicians and those suspended on the highest branches of the cultural hierarchy. But then hey, we always knew this eh, this is the free market, it’s just how the world works. Don’t forget Mao and Pol Pot, and fuck reading what Marx actually wrote, sit back and enjoy your mixed drink as the world’s worst monsters creep around in the background coming up with new ways how to fuck you over and get rich off your disease.

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Panic the Horses

Perhaps we are fortunate in the new ruler of Thailand  “General Prayuth Chan-ocha, army chief, used a televised address to urge people not to panic and said the military was taking over “to restore …”  , I could write more except that this quote came from a Google search which led to warnings about the veracity of the site.

Our leader obtained his Doctorate some years back on the subject of non-traditional threats and roles of the military, or something to that effect.

Presently soldiers sitting doing nothing with weapons at the ready can be seen stationed under makeshift tents at conspicuous points in Chiang Mai.

Panicum maximum - Huai Teng Tao, Chiang Mai

Meanwhile vast areas of army managed land are suffering a huge invasion of Panicum maximum the highly flammable fast growing, introduced grass also known as Guinea grass. The army’s horses have disappeared from view and its elephants have long retired to tourist amusement centres, and not one infantry man appears to be detailed to address this non-traditional threat. as the grass spreads along roadsides and into forest areas.

Panicum maximum - Irrigation Canal Rd, Chiang Mai

Last dry season much of the infested areas burnt thereby exacerbating Thailand’s greatest security threat, Global Warming, or as we say in Thai  โลกร้อน   (Hot Earth).

Your ideas on how to manage Guinea grass are most welcome, as we fear for the future of a decade’s worth of forest restoration efforts in Chiang Mai.

Panicum maximum - Seed Head Panicum maximum - Seed Head. dry

 

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Junta Reinstates Yingluck

On Monday 15th June, news came from an ecstatic member of the Gum Hak Doi Suthep planting team, that Chiang Mai’s new governor Suriya Prasatbuntitya had given a TV address to announce the government was embarking on a program to plant 800 million trees to reforest Chiang Mai. The announcement, she said, included an invitation to residents to visit government nurseries to request trees for planting and for information to visit the Environment Department office.

 

SONY DSC

The figure of 800 million trees, might make sense in a country with the population and area the size of China, but not at all in one province of Thailand, so I thought I would try to find out the truth of the matter. Common planting practice here is to plant 400 trees per rai, an area 40 x 40 metres, so where could 2 million rai of land be found?

Firstly I visited the provincial office of the Royal Forest Department (RFD) in Charoen Pratet Rd. The RFD operates a wide network of tree nurseries, however there the staff new nothing about the governor’s announcement, but I was told they had organised planting, together with local villagers,  in reserved forest of the Mae Wang district in the vicinity of Doi Ithanon for 24th June. For more information I was advised to visit the office of the Natural Resources and Environment Department across the road on the banks of the Ping River. Here again I drew a blank but was given the phone number of an absent officer who may be able to assist. Later by phone he suggested I visit the Sala Klang government office park in Mae Rim.

Three days later at the Sala Klang I headed straight for the governor’s office. As he had made the announcement his staff should be able to set things straight. Yes the 800 million figure was correct. However it is for planting for the whole of Thailand and planned t0 take place over the five year period 2014-16 a.d.  beginning from the 80th birthday of Her Majesty Queen Sirikit.

Huai Keow Tree Nursery

For details I was advised to consult firstly the Mae Hong Son government website, but then when I protested that were in Chinag Mai the Chiang Mai PAO site details were provided. However there was no news to be seen of a recent announcement from the governor. So I did a search of the site typing in “800″ and lo and behold details of the project launch appeared complete with photos of Prime Minister Yingluck and her Peur Thai aides hard at work.

So it appears that Yinguck has not been banished after all, if we are to believe local sources, rather than the heavily censored press. But local sources are not restricted governor’s announcements nor to official websites. Visits to government tree nurseries where hundreds of thousands of trees propagated two years ago remain unplanted, and where no new trees for this enormous program are in the pipe line tell another story.

Will the junta be told this truth and if so how will they respond?

 

 

 

 

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Skateboarders Evicted

Thanks to a grant of $US 1.81 million from GEF - the Global Environmental Fund of the World Bank the once popular 3 Kings evening exercise spot for our Skateboarding boys has been destroyed and skateboards are now forbidden there.  Instead the boys are now forced to go across the river and either play around the decrepit Railway Park swimming pool or as they informed me beyond the Super Highway at Promenada.

Skateboarders Evicted

It would appear that the GEF grant entitled :

Chiang Mai Sustainable Urban Transport Project

has determined that a large expanse of stone paving, replacing former paving of similar extent, and providing almost no shade is conducive to walking and bicycling in the hot tropical sun.

Skateboarding ForbiddenSkateboarders Beware

Some years before the project’s commencement a 2 km bicycle lane had been painted beginning at the Ping River Iron Bridge, along Loi Kroh to the western extreme of the old city moat. In recent years this has become a danger as the municipality has failed to repaint the road markings, however none of the $1.81 million was spent on this. Instead we saw a bizarre paint job.

While Chiang Mai appears determined to make the center of town as hot and as unpleasant and walking and biking unfriendly as the ugly Super Highway, in Ho Chi Minh City the residents enjoy a great oasis of shade. The trees Hopea odorata are also indigenous here in Chiang Mai but the city plants none.

Park in Ho Chi Minh - Hopea odorata

Park in Ho Chi Minh - Hopea odorata

 

 

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Oops – World Environment is Every Day

Oops – We got the date wrong. As Sanitsuda points out in a Bangkok Post article today 5th June, the 4th is designated by the  UN as World Environment Day. Here in Thailand we also have Thai Environment Day in the official calendar and that is on 4th December followed the next day by Father’s Day which is also the birthday of  HM King Bhumipol and it is common to plant trees in his honour. So perhaps it is preferable to take Sanitsuda’s advice and make every day Environment Day.
This year despite the good rains we have met some obstacles to planting for forest regeneration. Most of the more active participants in Gum Hak Doi Suthep are away. Also the situation regarding supply of trees from supply of trees from government nurseries remains under a cloud of corruption. Trees grown at the suggestion of the King and due for planting last rainy season have not been released and thousands suitable for lowland riverine planting remain behind bars of bamboo at the Huai Keow Arboretum tree nursery. Thirdly an unseasonable fire at the end of May on the Army managed land at Huai Teng Tao has swept through a large planting site there.

USA Consulate General and the White Chedi
However on the bright side, the staff of the Consulate General of United States of America have kindly warmed to a suggestion to plant a selection of indigenous trees in the extensive gardens around the premises they rent on the Ping River Esplanade. The plan includes tall growing trees which in time to come should provide shade to folk who come to enjoy the river view.

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World Environment Day, Thursday 5th June 2014

2014 has seen early rains compared to the previous year. As a result Chiang Mai is looking green and weeds and local plants alike are growing vigorously.

Mae Hia Nai Walking Trail

So let us do some planting and weeding to celebrate World Environment Day, Thursday 5th June 2014.  If that is inconvenient for some how about a Satuday 7th effort?

Let’s meet at 9:00 am. (With gloves, long trousers, sturdy shoes and tools)

RSVP via the comments box and give your preference and number of folk in your group so we can organize trees.   Thanks for caring.

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Mad Dogs

What’s been happening in Bangkok of late, when combined with the photo here taken from the Khaosod website, makes one think of the witty words of Noel Coward Mad Dogs and Englishmen go out in the midday Sun“.

Mad Dogs at Government House

However the pedestrians in this photo taken certainly to not look like Englishmen to me and it’s little wonder if the harsh environment around the shadeless Government House has driven them insane.

Perhaps they are also genuine royalists and further maddened at the contempt that successive governments have shown towards their Thai Majesties by failing to plant shady trees, as for example the forest of Yang Na trees planted by His Majesty in the grounds of the nearby Chitlada Palace grounds.

However it is not only Prime Ministers and their cabinets which have failed Bangkok residents in this respect. On State Railways of Thailand open space beside the airport rail link station where the line meets the MRT a great open space, suitable it appears only for a form of bizarre meditation by a sole monk from Korea perhaps, remains treeless.

SRT - MRT Junction Park

Further to ensure it does not become a informal football field, note it has strips of gravel laid to deter local children.

But downtown Bangkok, deprived of access to Lumpini Park for months, is not totally park less.  Hidden away in the Sathorn area is a park built to honour King Bumipol’s 80th birthday.

80th Birthday Park - Sathorn

Although nearly 7 years old it appears that only two of the many trees there have grown appreciably. Of these one is the extremely hardy Butea superba and the other a self sown Rain Tree.  All the trees planted were over advanced specimens.

With global temperatures on the rise and no moves to green and shade Bangkok and Chiang Mai it appears the country will continue to be run by mad dogs for sometime.

 

 

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