Rattanakosin Island Reclamation

Email petition from those opposed to the Rattanakosin Island plan
Last updated December 13, 2001

More info on the Rattanakosin Island reclamation plan


Subject: to save Bangkok's Ratanokosin Island and Thammasat University


Below is the petition which is now circulating.

Please find below a petition to save Bangkok's Ratanokosin Island and Thammasat University from demolition. Amazing, but true, the Thai government has passed a resolution to demolish all the building in old Bangkok dated after the reign of King Chulalongkorn (1868-1910), to relocate the majority of the areas population, and to demolish much of Thammasat University and turn its remaining buildings into a professional school. The end result of this demolition project is supposed to be a more tourist friendly greenbelt for Thailand's many foreign visitors. A number of graduate students from Cornell University have worked to draft the petition below. After December 20, 2001 it will be submitted to protest leaders at Thammasat University for use in their cause.

If you would like to have your name added to the petition below please e-mail your name and academic affiliation to [email protected] before December 20, 2001.

Petition to Save Ratanokosin Island

As concerned scholars and students of Southeast Asia, we oppose the current government's plan to transform Rattanakosin Island and Thammasat University into a large-scale `historic preservation' park. The street life and lively business district that surround the Grand Palace and Wat Po must not be swept away as this will drain the lifeblood from these two glorious institutions. And Thammasat University, the shining symbol of the Thai nation's struggle for democracy, should not be demolished. As living, breathing, dynamic embodiments of Thai culture and civilization, Thammasat University and Ratanokosin Island must be spared from this ill-thought preservation movement.

Ratanokosin Island is not a village that must be destroyed in order to be saved. The diverse peoples who made their homes outside the walls of the palaces and temples labored to sustain these great places. They provided the food, sewed the clothes, wove the cloth, repaired the walls and building, created the art, and sold the medicines to heal the sick within the walls of the Grand Palace. The merchants, masseuses, amulet vendors, herbalists and food vendors are what keep old Bangkok alive. They constitute the real and living history of the place. Today, the vital community that constitutes Ratanokosin Island is critical to the health of the tourism industry in Bangkok. It must not be displaced.

Thammasat University stands at the center of Thailand's long struggle for democracy, justice, and human rights. Thammasat was born as a people's university, emerging from the ideals of the 1932 revolution to establish a constitutional monarchy in Thailand. These core values have been tested time and again particularly in democratic movement of 1973 and in the tragic events of 1976. If Thammasat's undergraduate population is shifted out of the city to a satellite campus, if its major buildings are torn to the ground, if its vibrant classrooms are transformed into night school seminars for business professionals, Thailand's proud history of democratic struggle will effectively be erased.

As concerned scholars we strongly oppose this project. In short, this project means the literal displacement of thousands of people and the corresponding erasure of living history. This project also entails the dismantling of Thailand's most democratic institutions by embarrassingly undemocratic means. This project is destruction, not development.


If you would like to have your name added to the petition above please e-mail your name and academic affiliation to [email protected] before December 20, 2001.



Two Resolutions and their Possible Consequences in Bangkok-Thailand (And What to be Done?)

Resolution One: In November 1996 the Thammasat University Council headed by Prof. Khunying Nongyao Chaiseri passed a resolution to the effect that from year 2000 onward all first year students entering Thammasat will be relocated at the Rangsit Campus in Pathumthani, 60 kilometers away north of Bangkok. The downtown Tha Phrachan Campus will be used only for graduate students and other training programs. Therefore, student and faculty population will be reduced from 10,000 to 1,000. Consequences are a decline in social science and humanity studies of the University and perhaps a death of one of the most socially and politically committed Campus and its youth; one of the best in Southeast Asia.

Resolution Two: On May 21, 1997, the following year, prior to the baht crash, General Chavalit Yongchaiyuth Cabinet, passed a resolution to the effect that the heart of Old Bangkok (Krung Ratanakosin) will be "preserved and developed" as green area with grass and trees. Most buildings dated after the Reign of King Chulalongkorn (1868-1910) will be demolished and that most of the residents will be relocated outside. The Master Plan (consisted of 20 different projects) will cost taxpayers 1.5 billion baht and will take 25 years between 1998-2022 to complete. Consequences are the decline of a fine old capital, creating what is called a "donut phenomenon". It will become lifeless and Disneyland-like and a good playground for "light and sound" performances.

Democracy March: On June 24, 2001, the date coincides with the 1932 Revolution which transformed Siam/Thailand from an absolute to constitution monarchy, some thousand people marched on the Bangkok Rajadamnoen Avenue from the Royal Plaza to Thammasat University. By the Chao Phraya River and in front of the Dome Building, a Lanna-Chiangmai ceremony for longevity was, then, performed. This was to bestow good fortune on the people and the locations; also it is to demonstrate our dissatisfaction with the two resolutions.

Save Old Bangkok and Thammasat: Help us saved Old Bangkok with life (Krung Ratanakosin) and Thammasat (Bangkok Tha Phrachan Campus) with its youth, students and democratic legacy:

a. Write to the Prime Minister, Government House, Bangkok 10300, Thailand, or send email via www.rakang.thaigov.go.th asking for a review and reconsideration of the 1997 Cabinet Resolution. b. Write to the Chairman of the Thammasat Council and Rector of Thammasat University, Tha Phrachan, Bangkok 10200, Thailand or email: [email protected] and [email protected] asking for a review and reconsideration of the 1996 University Resolution.


If you would like to have your name added to the petition above please e-mail your name and academic affiliation to [email protected] before December 20, 2001.


More info on the Rattanakosin Island reclamation plan

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