|VOL.VI NO.42||16 October 1998|
|News | Sports | Columns | Features | Letters | Mail Market | Sports Round-Up|
|101 trespassers to put up a fight
Renewed government interest stirs local reaction
The recently renewed interest of the central government in the South Pattaya landfill and pier project has once again brought out the fighting spirit of the 101 trespassers with "illegally built" businesses on the Golden Mile.
Naris Petchrat (right), President of the Walking Street Committee, presents a petition to Mr. Sonthaya Khumpleum (left), Deputy Minister of Communications, watched carefully by Dr. Sansak Ngarmpiches (2nd left) and Chanyuth Hengtrakul (3rd left).
On October 6-7, newspapers stated that, "the Cabinet agrees with the plan to tear down the 101 buildings built illegally on Pattayas beaches."
The ministerial committee published the following:
The committee agreed with the Ministry of Science and Technology and the Environments agreement with experts that the following should be done:
The committee agreed that the 101 buildings should be torn down as the Public Works and Provincial Authority suggested.
The committee agrees with the building of a Pattaya Pier as designed by the Public Works department and orders it begun.
The committee agrees with the land-fill project in order to build edifices which would be an integral part of the Pattaya Pier. This would be on a land area of approximately 18.79 rai.
To delay the building of a dike in the Dusit Resort Point area and the landfill and beach restoration, for a while. This will give the Public Works committee time to devise the most efficient way to accomplish these. This will also give the Public Works Department time to report the changes which will occur in Pattayas shoreline before going ahead with the project.
The Public Works Department and Pattaya City should do this work with as little adverse effect to the environment as possible. A committee will be set up to see that this is done. This committee will consist of the Public Works Department, Pattaya City, the Port Authority, the Office of Policies and Environmental Planning and the Pollution Control Board.
Chonburi Province should report on the progress of the removal of the buildings which are trespassing on public lands (South Pattaya Beach) every 6 months.
When the Provincial Authorities have finished the demolition, the Public Works Department will begin the beach restoration.
There was considerable agitation among the trespassers after the above was published on the first page of Thai and foreign language newspapers. The 101 of Pattaya did not expect to be thrown off the land upon which they were trespassing. Gathering themselves into a righteous group of protesters, the group held a hurried meeting to find ways to foil the attempts of overzealous lawmakers. The 101 put ads in newspapers, asking the Council of Ministers to review their decision.
Leading the group was Mr. Naris Petcharat, the Head of the Walking Street Committee, Mr. Jaran Jitiwuthikarn, owner of King Seafood, Mr. Narongchai Bowornratanakosol, owner of Central Gems, Mr. Amarin Phachernyuth, owner of the Golden Mile Plaza, Mr. Vichai Wongdecho, owner of Sallys Jewellry, Mr. Santi Phakdirathanmint, owner of Santi Gallery, and Mr. Mohondr Singh Kalati, owner of Playboy Fashion. A large group of trespassers was in attendance, along with the above leaders.
The meeting was held on October 5th with Chanyuth Hengtrakul, Member of the Provincial Council in attendance.
Mr. Naris said the governmental decision was unfair to the 101 trespassers. "When the government made these decisions, the trespassers were not allowed to be present at the meeting to present their points of view."
He also said that the governments claims that the 101 trespassers were polluting the water was also unfair, "as there are other people polluting the water too. The wind and tide have also brought in much of the effluvia from other areas and we are not the only culprits. The rains are especially insidious at washing pollution into the area. During the cool season, the southern Monsoon wind is culpable, as it brings out the pollution. Many hotels and other establishments are also responsible for the pollution."
He said the governmental committee never knew the real truth about the situation and blamed it totally on the trespassers. "Demolishing the 101 buildings will not solve the problem as completely as the government thought. We have laid pipes in the area, which are connected to waste water treatment plants."
Mr. Naris continued, saying that the landfill project could be done without demolishing the 101 illegal buildings, claiming, "Doing this would be tantamount to burning down a house to chase away a few cockroaches."
He reminded Mr. Chanyuth that the trespassers businesses were their livelihood and the livelihood of many Thai people. "The number of people who make their living working in the restaurants, shops, Go-Go Bars and other establishments number in the hundreds of thousands."
Mr. Naris waxed eloquent, saying that Pattayas Golden Mile "was the citys birthplace. This one area of Pattaya is the citys main generator of foreign currency and brings in tens of thousands of millions of baht each year. Tourists from around the world choose this one area of Pattaya more than other area for their vacations."
Mr. Naris spoke of the Walking Street, saying that the trespassers had built it for tourists delectation, with the city, the Tourism Authority of Thailand and the public and private sectors blessings.
He said that once the construction of Pattayas waste-water treatment plant was completed, only then would Pattayas roads be able to match the international quality of the Walking Street into which the trespassers had poured their hard-earned baht.
He asked if the government, sitting comfortably in their air-conditioned offices, were aware of this.
Mr. Naris stated that if the demolition came out of truly "pure" intentions for the good of the nation, none of the 101 trespassers would utter a word. But everyone must remember that the Golden Mile was Pattayas "trademark".
The compensation money the government was offering was not enough to make up for the losses which would be incurred. "To take the peoples tax money to demolish an area which was making money for the country is unfair," said Mr. Naris.
He said this tax money could be used to develop other areas along the coastline which were lagging far behind Pattayas Golden Mile.
He told Mr. Chanyuth that the trespassers were more than happy to have any edifice which protruded more than 40 meters out into the sea demolished. This had been agreed upon long ago. After this was done, the governments land should revert to the government and they could rent the land out to the trespassers.
He said that the Tourist Pier and accompanying buildings could be built according to the Public Works Authoritys plans.
He also did not agree with the governments changing the Tourist Piers location. Why did the government want to build it on Bali Hai point now? This also meant that the Tourist Pier would be far away from the 101 buildings, so why did they wish to tear them down?
He revealed that the former area belonged to an influential politician who wanted to build an Aquarium. He said that the residents of Pattaya and the whole country probably had the same question, "For whose benefit are the buildings being torn down?"
Later, at the OD Bowl, trespassers presented a letter to Mr. Sonthaya Khunpleum, Deputy Minister of Communications, stating their protests. Mr. Sonthaya accepted the letter from the trespassers to give to the governmental committee, and told the trespassers, "If the demolition does go through, it would cause people a lot of hardship. I doubt if the people of Pattaya will allow it."
He told the trespassers that the Environmental Standards Board was probably looking at the situation from a different point of view. They were environmentalists and wish to emphasize nature. He said that it must be decided which is of basic importance; nature or the economy.
Mr. Sansak Ngarmphiches, Head of the Parliamentary Committee on Tourism, told the trespassers to write a letter of protest to the Council of Ministers and the Environmental Board and the Head of the Parliamentary Board on Tourism, which was having a meeting soon.
The two governmental officers told the trespassers that this might help stop the government from acting and make it review its decision.
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