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9 Sep, 2012

Future Mass Transit Rail Plans May Threaten Bangkok’s Heritage

Bangkok – A group of Thailand’s leading culture and heritage institutions has sent an open letter to the Bangkok Governor urging him to ensure that the Thai capital’s future development plans preserve the city’s historic, archaeological, artistic and architectural monuments, buildings and districts.

The letter says that many of the city’s older areas, especially around the popular Chinatown area and historic Rattanakosin are facing huge projects as a result of proposed mass transit rail and the third revised Bangkok Comprehensive Plan “does not provide for or reflect awareness of the preservation of these historic quarters and communities.”

The letter was signed by Mrs Bilaibhan Sampatisiri, President of The Siam Society, Assistant Professor Dr. Yongtanit Pimonsathean, President of ICOMOS Thailand and representing the Cultural Heritage Conservation Alliance, Mr Chula Sudbanthad, President of Society for the Conservation of National Treasure and Environment and Anti-Corruption Network, Mr Pongkwan (Sukawattana) Lassus, President of Architectural Conservation Committee, and Assistant Prof Dr. Duangkamol Chartprasert, Director of Cultural Management Program, Chulalongkorn University.

In a circular to the Siam Society members, Mr James Stent, Chairman of Siamese Heritage Trust, noted that the proposed new draft of the Bangkok Master Plan has been available for public comment on the internet.

“In a forum at the Society held in May of 2011, several distinguished panelists discussed issues related to the future of the Rattanakosin historical district. The views presented at that forum formed the basis of the Society’s critique of the new draft master plan.”

“The heritage value of the historical areas of Bangkok is not confined to the palaces and temples, but also includes a rich panoply of vernacular architecture and a wealth of intangible culture embedded in the area’s mosaic of diverse ethnic communities that carry on traditional ways of life inherited over a century ago.

“At a time when so much of Bangkok is changing before our eyes, the Society feels that, in accordance with our mission ‘The Society shall be the investigation and encouragement of the arts and sciences in relation to Thailand and the neighboring countries’ it should take a public stance on the inadequate recognition given in the draft master plan to the cultural value of the historical areas of the city.”

Mr Stent said the Society has sent the following letter to the Governor, and will be following developments closely.

Click here to read the full text of the letter to Bangkok Governor in English