EMPLOYEES OF the folded Royal Turf Club at Bangkok’s Nang Loeng horse-racing track booed executives on Thursday, when the site was officially returned to the Crown Property Bureau, and called for the payment of the remaining compensation.
Employees gathering outside the building shouted, “Don’t run away. Pay us the remaining compensation worth three-months’ salary. Be responsible and sympathise with us. We’re severely affected.”
They booed and shouted accusation against the executives’ alleged cheating and internal conflicts that led to troubles for low-ranked employees.
Swimming coach Saneh Rakkaew, who worked at the club’s pool for 24 years, said executives had promised to pay job termination compensation worth six months’ salary, but BJC joint venture had only paid the club’s 32 employees Bt33,000 each (based on the Bt11,000 salary). The workers were still waiting for the club to pay them the rest, he said.
“We aren’t likely to sue for this because we are just small fish, but please help us, many of our children are still studying,” he said.
The small protest took place as General Wattanachai Chaimuanwong, chairman of the club and a member of the newly-appointed five-strong interim administrative board, led the executives to sign the site hand-over to the Crown Property Bureau.
The site is to be used for the construction of a monument for King Rama IX and a museum to honour Her Majesty Queen Sirikit of King Rama IX.
The club, which first opened on December 18, 1916, was closed to public in the middle of last month because the club’s lease contracts with the Crown Property Bureau had expired amid a report of it having a Bt1.3 billion debt.
The Royal Bangkok Sports Club is the only one left able to organise horse races twice monthly in the city currently.
A proposal by the Royal Turf Club to the Interior Ministry to amend regulations to allow the other venue – the Royal Bangkok Sports Club - to increase race frequency to four times monthly so as to aid those affected by the Royal Turf Club’s closure remained pending as of press time, Wattanachai said.
The club still retains a permit to run horse races in Bangkok. Wattanachai said the club’s reported plan to build a new horse-racing track in Nong Chok district, had not yet been implemented and the club would first seek private investors to co-invest in the new track.
As for the Bt1.3 billion debt, the club was negotiating with creditors for a debt moratorium until races could be held again, he said.
Details, particularly those regarding financial issues, would soon be discussed between the old and new boards, he said.
After the executives left, former board member Pol Lt-Colonel Santhana Prayoonrat showed up to tell the workers he would help them get their remaining compensation. He admitted to concern that King Rama V-era valuable assets of the club might be sold in order to pay compensation without the board’s approval or lacking a proper inventory listing.