Every year in provinces all over Thailand we see tree planting ceremonies in honour of HM King Bhumipol led by government officials such as Governors, District Heads and the like.

When I have witnessed these events, the big boys have always been in their Sunday best and kneel on a little carpet, to keep their pressed trousers clean, while they “plant” ( actually a worker digs the hole and does most of the actual planting).

When I see this public comedy I always recall the story of HM planting not one, but nine trees at Kasertsart University and think about the arrogance of the actions of the government officials as they have their pictures taken.

Nine seems to be something of a magic number for Buddhists and I recall when offering trees to a temple for planting in Mae Taeng that the abbot asked for nine trees.

Well, late last year 2011 a.d. or 2554 b.e. provincial officials out did everybody. Led by the President of the Provincial Assembly Boonlert Buranupakorn ( yes the former Mayor of Chiang Mai and uncle of the present incumbent and his big sister newly elected MP) and the Provincial Governor, himself of royal blood, together with officials of the Environment Ministry a “Double Nine” planting took place.

Double Nine: as nine Yang Na trees were planted in a row along the remnants of the once exquisite avenue on the ChiangMai-Lamphun Rd in Nong Peung, and each according to my estimate nine metres high. Further as one might expect the ending is as that of “I knew an old lady who swallowed a fly…”  . DEAD OF COURSE.

Well that’s my assessment, unless you call a nine metre high tree sprouting a few pathetic shoots from its base while all above is as dry as parchment, alive.

Now I am told from the folk down the road to Sarapee where conservation of this historic avenue is taken seriously, that that the local community had opposed this tokenistic planting. Each tree had cost 15,000 baht I informed. So the cost of the show must have exceeded 135,000 baht. Yes 135,000 baht, from the Provincial Administrative Organisation budget, to kill nine beautiful trees and not just any tree as like Teak trees Yang trees have special protection under Thai Forest Law.

Will anybody be called to account for the contempt the organisers have shown?