Judiciary’s housing project opponents stand firm on their demand for demolition of the project

Opponents of the judiciary’s housing project at the foot of Doi Suthep forested mountain in Chiang Mai’s Mae Rim district remain persistent in their demand for the demolition of all the residential units of the project and restoration of the land plot to its pre-construction condition.

The uncompromising standpoint of the opposition group, known under the name of Network to Reclaim Doi Suthep Forest, was expressed at a meeting held at Kawila barrack in Muang district under the chairmanship of Lt-Gen Vichak Siribansop, commander of the Third Army Region.

Also present at the meeting aimed to work out a solution to the controversial housing project were Chiang Mai governor and representatives from the Treasury Department, the Region 5 Appeals Court, police and the military.

John Noppadol Wasinsunthorn, co-member of the network, told the media after the meeting that the group opposes the project because the project was luxurious as it went against the principle of sufficiency economy, caused environmental damage and its location is unsuitable.

He also dismissed by the recent claim made by the secretary-general of the Office of the Judiciary Mr Sarawut Benjakul that no big trees were felled but dug out and replanted elsewhere in the course of the construction, saying that pictures sent to the network by some witnesses showed otherwise that trees were cut down forming a long stripe empty land.

The group has wanted all the 45 detached housing units and nine condominium buildings for the judges and officials demolished, safe the office building of the Region 5 Appeals Court.

John Noppadol said that the housing project, if allowed to carry onot until its completion and open for use, would set a precedent of social inequality.  He warned that there is not a clear and satisfying response from the government to the group’s demand, their colleagues who are now waiting in Lampang would carry on with their protest march to Bangkok to petition the prime minister to invoke his special power under Section 44 of the interim Constitution to scrap the project.

After the meeting, Lt-Gen Vichak said he would file a summary report of the meeting to the army chief, General Chalermchai Sitthisart, for consideration.

Meanwhile today, the executive committee of the judiciary held a separate meeting to discuss similar matter.  The outcome of the meeting is not known for the time being.