Fine Arts Dept endorsed demolition in 2011: court
The Fine Arts Department signed a document on May 10, 2011 endorsing the planned demolition of buildings in the Supreme Court compound on Rajdamnoen Avenue, Courts of Justice spokesman Sittisak Wanachakit said.He made the revelation at a press conference yesterday as he sought to end public uproar over the ongoing demolition of several court buildings, including the one that the department later identified as having "historical value".
However, Sittisak said that according to this official agreement, only the building behind the statue of late Prince Rabi Badhanasakdi would be conserved.
"We have a written agreement to prove this fact," he added.
He also pointed out that ancient buildings in the court's compound were mere memorials to the return of an independent judiciary, which was threatened after the signing of the Bowring Treaty. The 1855 treaty signed by the United Kingdom and Thailand was meant to liberalise trade with foreigners.
"These buildings are not the birthplace of judicial independence," he said. "Representatives of relevant agencies, including the Fine Arts Department, did not say anything about a historic building when all relevant authorities voiced their opinions about constructing a new office for the court in 2007."
He said the construction plan was revived in 2006 to honour His Majesty on the occasion of his 80th birthday. According to Sittisak, HRH Crown Prince Maha Vajiralongkorn placed the foundation stone for the court's new offices on behalf of His Majesty in 1992. Construction was later suspended because of the huge budget, and only revived once the country's finances became strong.
Sittisak said some former chiefs of the Fine Arts Department had used the budget to take overseas trips to examine court buildings in foreign countries and gather information for the design of the court's new offices.
"The Fine Arts Department should know about this," he said in response to threats from the department.
Sittisak added that the government had approved Bt3.7 billion for the construction of the new offices, and thanks to a transparent bidding process, the winning bidder agreed to complete the project for Bt2.52 billion only.
"This means we have saved about Bt1.2 billion," he pointed out.