Despite dispute, 10 Mahakan houses face demolition
TEN MORE HOUSES in Mahakan Fort Community will be demolished today by Bangkok Metropolitan Administration (BMA), despite six of the homes still being under dispute.
Two are regarded as valuable antique wooden houses, which many residents insist must remain in the community.
Before the latest crucial stage in the relocation operation, community leader Tawatchai Woramahakhun said yesterday that the community could coexist with a planned public space and archaeological site, and urged authorities to change their thinking and find a better solution to the 25-year conflict.
The atmosphere at Mahakan Fort yesterday was tense, as community members guarded the area to prevent a surprise raid by the BMA. One resident who looked most anxious was Yothin Sermsukprasert, whose home at house number 127/1 is on the demolition list.
“I feel very insecure about my future. I have lived in this community since I was born. I really have no place to go, because this is my only house.
“I do not want to move out and I don’t want my house to be demolished,” Yothin said.
His house is among the six still under dispute that the BMA plans to demolish starting today. The other five are at house numbers 187, 189, 191, 193 and 127. The other four undisputed houses on BMA list are numbers 61, 95, 107/1-3 and 203.
According to the deputy community leader Pornthep Buranaburidet, all of the houses excluding number 127 still have occupants who do not want to leave their homes. Both 127 and 127/1 are on the preservation list of the Association of Siamese Architects (ASA).
Both are two-storey wooden houses, listed among 24 valuable antique houses that should be preserved according to the ASA. The houses are categorised as traditional Thai style with Western influence, built during the reigns of King Rama V to King Rama VII (1910 to 1935).
Sakchai Boonma, BMA Land Acquisition Division director, said earlier that houses 127 and 127/1 would not be demolished today, pending BMA negotiations with the community, but he insisted that the real owners of all 10 houses on the BMA list had already agreed to clear out their houses.
Yothin admitted that his family did not legally own the house, but had rented it for Bt1,500 per month from the owner for more than 20 years.
“This house used to belong to three old maidens who were close to our family. When the two older sisters died, the youngest then leased the house to us and moved away. However, last year I heard that she made an agreement with BMA to demolish her house, so she can sell old wooden planks from the house for money,” he said.
“We are trying to convince the house owner to let our family live in this house, but she only said that we would have to ask the BMA.”
He said he did not know what to expect from today’s negotiations, adding that that the house was very valuable for his family. If his family is allowed to live there, he said, he intended to repair it and make it beautiful again.
Meanwhile, community leader Tawatchai urged authorities to solve the conflict with a “win-win solution” by working with people to create a living historical park that everyone could enjoy.
“The ASA has suggested the preservation of 24 antique houses in the community and the Rattanakosin preservation and development committee has already approved this plan. However, they still have not issued the order to let the people live in the historic site.
“The community is ready to help authorities preserve the historic site and traditional Bangkok culture. Please consider it and we can end this long-running dispute.”