Tearing Down New World Department Store

BMA seals off New World Mall 'fishpond' - The Nation, July 1, 2014
[...This move followed pictures circulated on social media showing people feeding fish in a 500-square metre pond created by rainwater pouring in through a gaping hole in the roof after the building's illegally built fifth to 11th floors were torn down. People living nearby then reportedly released fish in 2003 to eradicate mosquito larvae and the "pond" became an attraction of sorts...]
Demolition sign - April 29, 2005
The sign reads: Krungtepmahanakorn [Bangkok - this is blanked out for some reason]. Danger area. Don't come close to this place. Limited partnership [something illegible] will demolish the building of New World Department Store (Kaewpha Plaza 5-11th floor) according to Supreme Court judgment no. 466/2537 which starts on January 26, 2005 and finishes on July 26, 2005. Sorry for the inconvenience.

(Photo: 2Bangkok.com)
Razing of New World to proceed - The Nation, January 13, 2005
Demolition of the closed New World Department Store, where a partial collapse killed a woman last year, will resume by January 26.
The operation has been suspended for several months while the Bangkok Metropolitan Administration (BMA) and building owner Kaewfa Shopping Arcade fought over who would be responsible for the demolition...
Prakob Saisuwan, Kaewfa Shopping Arcade’s attorney, said that after the demolition is completed, the company planned to build a four-storey night bazaar on New World’s lot.
The Bangkok Post adds some detail: Demolition will start by Jan 26 and be finished by July 26. The BMA will supervise the task to ensure public safety. If there is any delay Kaewfa Shopping Arcade agrees to a daily fine of 1,000 baht. (from New World store to come down by July, Bangkok Post, January 13, 2005)

(Photo: 2Bangkok.com)
Court allows city to carry out demolition - Bangkok Post, July 20, 2004
The Civil Court yesterday ruled in favour of the Bangkok Metropolitan Administration (BMA) in its legal battle against the Kaewfa Shopping Arcade, giving it the right to demolish the illegally modified section of New World department store in Bang Lamphu.
Prakob Saisuwan, the lawyer representing the Kaew Fah Shopping Arcade, said the company would accept the court ruling and no appeal was planned...
Yesterday's ruling would end the long-standing legal row between the BMA and the department store owner over the right to demolish the illegally modified part of the building.
In 1994, the city administration won a lawsuit that forced the operator to dismantle the four storeys it had illegally added to the structure.
Kaewfa had delayed the demolition work until early this year, when the city administration moved in to do the job itself, and to have the operator foot the bill, estimated at 36 million baht.
Kaewfa then hired Sunisa Construction to carry out the task, saying it would be cheaper than the sum quoted by the BMA. It also claimed that it had the right to dismantle the problematic part...
The unprofessional demolition work caused the higher floors to collapse.

One victim of New World building collapse dies - TNA, 11:51am, June 7, 2004
...Ms. Sadanan Chanthong, 28, died of liver and blood circulation failure at around 02:30 a.m. at Wachira Payaban Hospital, the hospital's Director M.D. Wiwat Wanaroj said ...relatives of the dead victim have refused to move Ms. Sadanan's body from the hospital for her funeral until parties would come out to take responsible for her death...

Right: New World Department Store. The orange sign from the 'Gay Cuts' saloon that was damaged in the collaspe is visible. There are still vendors operating under the eaves of the building.

Supervisor Nawin has murky past - Bangkok Post, June 5, 2004
...It could not be confirmed whether the man was eventually sent to jail or had escaped before he was hired by Sunisa Construction and Supply Co Ltd, the demolition contractor.
"It is unknown whether Mr Nawin is really an engineer. We have yet to find out how Sunisa hired him as its supervising engineer,'' said Mr Sukhum who gave the evidence to Chana Songkhram police yesterday...
His lawyer said Mr Rungroj took over the job after Mr Nawin's licence "happened to expire without renewal''.
Mr Rungroj claimed he had a licence to demolish New World's floors from the first to the fifth only, while another engineer called "Mongkol'' had a licence to work on the upper floors.
Mr Adisak refused to reveal Mr Mongkol's family name, saying only that the man was travelling...

(Photo: 2Bangkok.com)

Engineers issue red alert on building 'Clear it now before it caves in again' - Bangkok Post, June 4, 2004
The Engineering Institute of Thailand (EIT) has issued a red alert warning to authorities to clear the New World building or it might collapse again soon...
On Friday, the EIT's expert committee, which prepared a report to police, found the building's collapse resulted from a risky and unprofessional dismantling method, applied by Sunisa Construction and Supply.
"I hardly believed any engineer would use this method [to dismantle the building],'' Mhan Sriruenthong, expert on civil construction said after inspecting the site. Mr Mhan has helped police investigate many public disasters including the collapse of Royal Plaza Hotel in Nakhon Ratchasima that claimed 150 lives more than 10 years ago, and the fire accidents at Kader toy factory and Royal Jomtien hotel.

(Photo: 2Bangkok.com)
Above: New World Department Store demolition (dated March 28, 2004) from the 2Bangkok.com archives

Below are links to additional stories about the collapse along with some commentary by 2Bangkok.com.

Engineer supervising demolition `fictional' - Samak denies city to blame for negligence - Bangkok Post, June 4, 2004
[Ed.: 2Bangkok.com has watched the demolition over the previous months and it did appear to be nothing more than dozens of men and women hammering away with sledgehammers on the structure.]
An engineer cited by a construction firm as the supervisor of demolition work at New World department store was non-existent, a leading engineer said yesterday.
Krai Tungsanga, executive member of the Council of Engineers, said the engineer's name, Nawin Noengtui, did not exist on the list of council members.
Also, his professional licence number--Sor Yor 4387--actually belonged to Mana Peeraprasompong, a member of the council...
Prasong Tarathai, secretary-general of the council, said the names of the council's member engineers had been illegally cited in hundreds of projects and the council would take action against all offenders...

A tale of two newspapers: Violating building code - June 5, 2004
Note that the much more conservative Post, entangled with many powerful business interests around town (including the Central Pattana Group), does not specifically mention the buildings that are violators. The Nation names them.
Also: What is the unsafe theater at Siam Square that the Post alludes to?

Engineers warn 1,000 city buildings unsafe - Many structures close to caving in, they say - Bangkok Post, June 4, 2004
...Such buildings included a department store and a shoe shop in Bang Lamphu, a department store in Lat Phrao, a theatre in Siam Square and a tutorial school in front of Ramkhamhaeng University.
"The New World incident will certainly be repeated,'' he said...

50 dept stores violate city code - The Nation, June 4, 2004
...Besides New World - part of which collapsed on Wednesday - Banglamphu, Kaew Fah Plaza, ATM, Merry King's, Phahurat Plaza, Laksi Plaza, City Pratunam, Future Park and some branches of Tang Hua Seng, Central and The Mall are among the illegally modified stores reported by the Bangkok Metropolitan Administration (BMA).
Most of the offending buildings - including shop houses, residences and skyscrapers - are located in Huai Khwang and Phra Nakhon districts...
Kosin Teswong, director of Phra Nakhon district, blamed the companies for ignoring the district's orders to halt the demolition work and close the building to the public.
Bangkok Governor Samak Sundaravej said a civil lawsuit by the store's management in March asking for a court order to allow them to carry out the demolition, had stalled action by the city authorities.
The Civil Court is scheduled to read its ruling on July 19.

Beautician in hospital on respirator - Controversy rages over who is to blame - Bangkok Post, June 4, 2004
..."We don't understand why New World department store was still open while demolition work continued on the upper floors. We also don't know whether our sister was aware of any risk,'' said Miss Sadanan's elder sisters.

Grave New World disaster - Bangkok Post, June 4, 2004
...I remember walking by New World Department Store in Bang Lamphu a few years ago and wondering why people are so foolish. They continued to go inside to work and shop despite a large sign at the entrance installed by the city administration warning people to stay out because the store had been ordered to tear down the top seven floors that had been added illegally to the original four-storey structure...
It was not until Bhichit Rattakul became Bangkok governor that the Supreme Court order was enforced. But even then, all he did was chip away part of the structure of the top seven floors to ensure the space could not be used for commercial purposes, hoping to force the store to demolish the rest. But the store didn't, and the wrangle continued.
Both the store and the city administration must share responsibility for this accident, and any damage to life and property. The store should have respected the Supreme Court decision and carried out the demolition in speedy fashion. The city administration should have exercised its emergency authority to shut down the store altogether as soon as it was clear the owner had no intention of abiding by the court decision, declaring the building a hazard to public safety.
The stage was set for this accident to happen when the store owner acquired a new partner and started to knock down the illegal floors so that the building could be developed to suit their business plan. But the work went ahead without city authorisation. The district authority apparently was aware of this illegal act but failed to stop it.
Now at least one person may die and some of the others who are in hospital could be disabled for life. Someone should go to jail for this.

Demolition work 'substandard' : Waste dumped onto single floor : Workers recount their fears - Bangkok Post, June 3, 2004
"The collapse was caused by substandard demolition," assistant director of Phra Nakhon district office Suwaporn Chirmsan said.

City in legal struggle with errant stores for 2 decades - Bangkok Post, June 3, 2004
[Ed.: The height restrictions were so that no buildings would be taller than the structures in the nearby Grand Palace compound. Years ago, in the New World food court on the upper floors had a great view towering over Sanam Luang and the Grand Palace. For a time, the windows were covered and the management was very sensitive to people taking photos from them. Also: This article is apparently reprinted from 1999 since it refers to the ATM department store "last year."]
Under the Building Control Act, violators can prolong compliance almost indefinitely by proposing to demolish illegal modifications themselves, even if they apparently have no intention of complying...

Four-year demolition plan - The Nation, June 4, 2004
...Twenty per cent of the 3,313 faulty structures would be dealt with in 2005, followed by another 30 per cent in 2006 and the remaining 40 per cent in 2007, Krisda said.
City inspectors had found that about 50 of the city's department stores were among the structures with building code violations and 15 residential buildings were found in precarious states...

[Ed.: The nature of local reforms is that after a short time, the new measures are forgotten and things get back to normal. After the ATM Department Store fire in 1998, BMA officials went around to every construction site in the area and ordered a halt to work. I was working at a five-storey double shophouse that was being remodeled in the Sao-Ching Cha area. We protested because we had all the proper paperwork for the work to be done. BMA told us to just wait a couple months until things died down and we could start up again. After a month we did restart.]

(Photo: 2Bangkok.com)
Above: Top floors of the New World Department Store being demolished (dated April 25, 2004) from the 2Bangkok.com archives

Part of New World Department Store collapses - 1:15pm, June 2, 2004
News being reported on the Thai traffic radio stations today--New World Department store, which was being dismantled by the owners, has collapsed and there are injuries.

Coming over the AP wire:
Part of shopping mall in Thai capital collapses, 10 injured - AP, June 2, 2004
Parts of a shopping mall where workers were demolishing the upper floors collapsed Wednesday on shops operating on lower levels, injuring at least 10 people--two of them seriously, police and rescue workers said.
Part of Shopping Mall in Bangkok Collapses - AP, June 2, 2004
Part of a shopping mall under demolition collapsed Wednesday in the Thai capital, injuring at least seven people, two of them seriously, police and rescue workers said.
Part of shopping mall in Thai capital collapses, seven injured - AP, June 2, 2004
Parts of a shopping mall where workers were demolishing the upper floors collapsed Wednesday on shops still operating on the lower levels, injuring at least seven people--two of them seriously, police and rescue workers said.

"Injuries from New World building collapse remain at seven, no people die", says BMA - TNA, June 2, 2004
The old building of the New World Department Store, located in Banglumphu area here, collapsed this morning, causing seven injuries, but no people have been found to have died from the incident so far.
The incident took place at 10:30 a.m. when dozens of people were reportedly inside the building, which was being demolished from its 11th-5th floor...
The injured victims, including a 4-year-old boy, who were rushed to a nearby hospital, were inside a beauty salon opened at the first floor of the old building when the building collapsed.
One of the injured victims who work at the beauty salon, named 'Gay Cut', later told reporters that stores insided the building were informed by a caretaker of the building that the building could still be used despited the demolition at its upper part.
The victim said that many people managed to flee from the building; while others are supposed to be still missing...

The building, which was found to have added more stories illegally, from 5th-11th floor, was forced to be demolished after a fire in the late 1990s... [Ed.: Are they mistaking New World Department Store with the nearby ATM Department Store that was razed in a fire?]

Seven injured in building collapse in Bang Lumphu - The Nation, June 2, 2004
Senior city officials blamed a demolition contractor and lengthy court proceedings for yesterday’s collapse of the New World building in Bang Lumphu, which left seven people injured – two seriously.
The building housed the New World Department Store, shut down since 1985 due to buildingcode violations.
[Ed.: They mean 1995 not 1985.]
... Susisa Construction and Supplies Co was contracted for the demolition.
In March, the building’s owner filed a civil suit to take over the demolition work, Nathanon said.
As the court has scheduled its first hearing in July, the contractor is obliged to suspend its work pending the court decision, she said...

(Photo: 2Bangkok.com)

Left: New World Department Store demolition with Khao Sarn Road buildings in the foreground (dated April 25, 2004) from the 2Bangkok.com archives.

Store insists on handling demolition -City budget a `waste of taxpayer money' - Bangkok Post, February 20, 2004
The managers of New World Department Store say they will continue to demolish the illegally-modified building, rather than let city administration do the job.
The demolition would go on even without a permit, said the store managers, Kaew Fah Shopping Arcade. They claimed the 36-million baht budget for demolition work which the administration had just approved was too much and would waste taxpayer money.
It was the responsibility of the company to tear down the illegal part, seven out of 11 floors, the firm said through lawyers.
The firm had attempted to dismantle that part of the building, but City Hall had stopped it. City Hall obstructed the process probably because it wanted to use the money for something else, the lawyers said. The city denies the claim.
A court told the company in 1994 to remove the illegal section, but work did not begin until last December after the city decided to do the job.

DEADLY BUILDINGS: Residents risk getting crushed - The Nation, October 11, 2003
... Jim Bhandhukomol, director-general of Bangkok Metropolitan Administration's Public Works Department, said complaints of fractured and collapsing buildings come to his attention almost every day.
"Some cases result from negligence and many others from selfishness. Some people have constructed their buildings without a building permit," Jim said. He cited as an example the New World Department Store, which is currently defying a demolition order.
"We need a conscience and scruples to maintain a safe society," he said.

BMA to raze extension
- The Nation, Nov 7, 2001
[Ed.: There was also a story sometime in 2003 (we are trying to find the link now) about how the New World Department Store owners insisted that they demolish the building themselves.]
The Bangkok Metropolitan Administration (BMA) will demolish the seven-storey extension of the New World Department Store itself, after waiting for the building owner to do so for seven years...
According to Kriangsak, the New World Department Store in Bang Lamphu had originally asked for permission from the BMA to construct a four-storey building. However, the store later unlawfully constructed an extension, turning the building into an 11-storey high-rise. The court ordered the demolition in 1994, but the owner has failed to comply.

(Photo: 2Bangkok.com)

New World Department Store coming down - April 27, 2004
Latest shot of the Banglamphu highrise being demolished.

BMA compromises on New World demolition order - The Nation, October 22, 2003
[Even after the decades of stalling and the death of a tenant, the city still could not make the New World Department store comply with demolition orders.]
The demolition of the New World building, which partially collapsed in June, has been delayed due to a dispute between the Bangkok Metropolitan Administration and Kaewfa Shopping Arcade Co Ltd over who should do the work, a Civil Court source said yesterday.
But, the BMA in court compromised by asking the company to demolish the building in Bang Lumphu themselves with the agency in a supervisory role to ensure safety, the source said...

(Photo: 2Bangkok.com)
Banglampoo Department Store (left) and New World Department Store (right) being demolished.

Illegal monstrosities finally coming down - March 14, 2003
Since the 1980s, those visiting the heart of Banglampoo were greeted by this sight--two ugly highrise shopping centers constructed in blatant violation of limits on building height. After over a decade of wrangling and being defended by influential people, New World Department Store and Banglampoo Department Store are finally being cut down to size. Banglampoo Department Store (left) was notable for an exterior that looked like an Orwellian prision.
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