Wednesday, July 17, 2019

‘Furious aunties’ lose challenge over city law

Dec 04. 2018
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File photo
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By THE NATION

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THE CENTRAL Administrative Court on Tuesday dismissed a lawsuit against the Bangkok Metropolitan Administration (BMA) and Bangkok governor by a family whose members became known as “the furious aunties” after they bashed a pickup truck that blocked the driveway to their home.

The family claimed an amendment to the city law had been illegally implemented in favour of nearby street vendors but the court ruled that the city had applied legal and appropriate discretion and followed due process.

The amendment, which was published in the Royal Gazette on July 29, 2016, was introduced following public requests to bring the law more into line with prevailing social and economic condition, urban development and population expansion, the court said.

After hearing the verdict, Rattanachat Saengyoktrakarn declared that she and sisters had done all they could to protect their rights as dutiful citizens.

She also pointed out that, although the city had won on this occasion, the court ruling still protected people’s rights and opened the way for them to sue if their rights were violated in the Seri Villa housing estate in Bangkok’s Prawet district.

Rattanachat and her sisters filed the lawsuit to try to persuade the court to revoke the city’s amendment relating to new developments. The family claimed the amendment had been issued illegitimately and was being used to back the “illegal” markets’ in their neighbourhood, causing trouble to residents near the Suan Luang Rama IX Park.

The family claimed that the maximum height for commercial buildings had been increased to 45 metres to make life easier for commercial buildings, shophouses and markets.

However, the court said the amendment had not altered the maximum height allowed for commercial buildings in Zone 1, where the sisters live, and it remained at 15m there.

The court said the amendment was to resize the construction control zone to cover a 300-metre radius from the park territory within Zone 1 - originally reserved for single houses - to cover more housing types, including apartment buildings. 

The ruling also said that the structures and land use there must still adhere to related laws as well as the information on the land title deeds, the land allocation’s attached contract and the housing estate plan.

Rattanachat said the city shouldn’t have used this amended law to back the markets’ existence and Zone 1, which had been a restricted development area for more than 30 years, should not be changed on the grounds of urban development. 

She said the ruling still provided some protection to the residents as it said the space use must adhere to related laws. 

“But people still cannot drop their guards because issues at Seri Villa stemmed from people breaking the law or using loopholes in the law so residents around the park must be vigilant to check on the BMA actions in case they are not within the law or violate people’s rights,” she said.

“Don’t ignore it, we have to step forward to protect our rights or we all will suffer forever.”

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