Campus sought for innovation centre: Chula president
Uthenthawai students vow to fight evictionChulalongkorn University yesterday denied that it wants land back from Rajamangala University of Technology Tawan-ok's Uthenthawai Campus on Phya Thai Road to develop a commercial centre.
"The land that the Uthenthawai Campus occupies will be used for educational purposes," Pirom Kamol-Ratanakul, president of Chulalongkorn, a major landowner, said yesterday.
Last Friday, alumni and students of the Uthenthawai Campus staged a protest against Chulalongkorn's attempt to evict them. One of their banners asked if it was "for educational or commercial purposes".
The campus with a little over 20 rai of land is used just by the Faculty of Engineering and Architecture, which enrols only about 200 students each year.
Despite Pirom's explanation, the Uthenthawai graduates still vowed to fight expulsion to the very end, but deputy rector Suebpong Muangchoo advised his students to stay calm and avoid doing anything that would spoil the reputation of their university.
The university had agreed to return the site to Chulalongkorn but still has to find a new home.
"We've been discussing this with the Treasury Department," he said.
The Uthenthawai Campus' lease started in 1935 and ran for 68 years until 2003.
Chulalongkorn, which started negotiations to reclaim the campus in 1975, plans to establish the Innovation Centre for Sustainable Community there. "The centre will enhance Thailand's competitiveness," Pirom said.
In 2002, the Treasury Department offered Uthenthawai a new location in Samut Prakan and the Cabinet approved a Bt200-million budget for building construction and moving costs, he said.
"The Uthenthawai Campus signed an agreement that it will relocate by November 1, 2005, but till now, it hasn't happened yet," he said.
The Uthenthawai Students Club had petitioned the Attorney-General's Office and also the Office of the His Majesty's Principal Private Secretary to stop Chulalongkorn but their request was turned down, he said.
The government, Education Ministry and government agencies should help provide an appropriate place for Uthenthawai's new campus, he said, adding that the plot in Samut Prakan was given to another institution because Uthenthawai failed to act within its timeframe.
Education Minister Pongthep Thepkanchana said he would consult with Chulalongkorn on how his ministry could help in settling the Uthenthawai issue.