Saturday, August 16, 2008

Samak hails success, local students upset


MoU for new House signed

Samak hails success, local students upset

Prime Minister Samak Sundaravej yesterday signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) for construction of a new parliament complex amid an outcry from students of a major school in the area. Mr Samak said occupants of the 130-rai land plot selected as the location of the parliament complex must vacate in three months, except Yothinburana school.

The school will move out after a new school has been built. Construction is expected to take two years, Mr Samak said.

The eight agencies which signed the MoU yesterday were from parliament, the Office of the Defence Permanent Secretary, the army, the Royal Aide-de-Camp Department, the Office of the Basic Education Commission, the Forest Industry Organisation, and the Treasury Department.

Mr Samak took credit for ending what had seemed a perennial, 16-year search for a suitable site.

''I have to say the deal is successful because of my vision. I want everything I manage to end with success,'' he said before the MoU signing.

He said the Kiakkai land on the Chao Phraya river bank was chosen after the government decided against another plot belonging to the State Railway of Thailand (SRT) due to opposition from the SRT labour union.

The union, which owns a 165-rai land plot in Klong Toey, had asked for 10 billion baht for a 30-year lease, which the government regarded as too much. The land plot is an oil storage farm.

The compound of the Army Transportation Department in Kiakkai was picked instead.

Parts of the land are also occupied by non-military residents and Yothinburana school.

News of the Kiakkai land deal being finalised angered students of the school who led a protest march to parliament yesterday.

More than 500 protesting students said they opposed the selection of the Kiakkai plan. House Speaker Chai Chidchob met the students and said the decision was irreversible.

Prathana Jaiberkbarn, a Mathayom 4 student, said students were attached to the school, which should have told students earlier about the relocation.

''Will this new parliament improve the way our country is managed? The state of our country is determined not by where the parliament is located but who works in it,'' she said.

Manop Noppasirikul, the school director, denied the school was hiding the relocation plan from students.

Yothinburana student president Prachya Manop said most students are military officers' children. Relocation of the school to an area near Wat Soi Thong in Bang Sue district would increase their travel expenses. No public hearing was organised over the relocation.

Khunying Kasama Voravarn na Ayutthaya, secretary-general of the Office of the Basic Education Commission, said the government's offer of one billion baht to pay for land and construction of the new school was reasonable. Students will be invited to take part in designing the school.

The students could not prevent the relocation from going ahead except by petitioning the Central Administrative Court.

Many sites were proposed for a new parliament. They include the Treasury Department's plot in Chachoengsao's Bang Nam Prieo district, Don Muang airport, a 400-rai private plot in Samut Prakan and a tract in Lop Buri near Pasak Chonlasit dam.

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