DEMOLITION of the ancient Mahakan Fort Community is set to start in February, despite repeated pleas from residents who have offered to contribute to a living museum in exchange for the right to occupy a corner of the area.
The residents, now desperate, have pledged to stay and resist any attempt to bulldoze their community.
Deputy Bangkok Governor Jakkapan Phiewngarm and Vallop Suwandee, chief adviser to Governor Pol General Aswin Kwanmuang, led a team yesterday that erected a board at the fort announcing plans to demolish 37 old structures and five new buildings in the community.
“The demolition will take place under the law,” Jakkapan said, adding that the plot occupied by the fort community belonged to the Bangkok Metropolitan Administration (BMA).
Jakkapan said the panel on the conservation of Mahakan Fort and other old communities had already considered a proposal by local residents but resolved that demolition must go forward. Public participation would be allowed in other forums, he added.
“We are going to develop the area as a public park and a historical museum,” Jakkapan said. “The BMA is willing to hire the current residents of the Mahakan Fort as gardeners.”
Tawatchai Woramahakhun, a leader of the Mahakan Fort Community, expressed anger over the committee’s decision.
“All the more than 200 people in the community will definitely not move out. We will fight,” Tawatchai said. “We are not afraid anymore. Fear consumed us for so long that we no longer feel the fear.”
He said while the committee invited representatives of the community to a meeting on November 2, they did not get an opportunity to present their plan.
“The meeting, chaired by Deputy Prime Minister General Prawit Wongsuwan, listened to just the BMA plan and then concluded that the area belongs to the BMA,” Tawatchai said.
He said there was no point moving out local residents who had lived in the area for so long if authorities wished to preserve the history of the area.
“Please let people or communities co-exist with historical heritage. This concept should apply to not just the Mahakan Fort Community but also other ancient communities,” he said.