Anger over destruction of tsunami relics
TWO BOATS-CUM-MUSEUMS that commemorated the deadly tsunami of 2004 have been torn down in Phang Nga, provoking a furious backlash on social media.
Maitree Jongkraijug, a co-ordinator of the Andaman Network, took to Facebook on Tuesday to condemn the boats’ destruction and pointed the finger of blame squarely at Phang Nga’s Chief Culture Officer, Piyanuch Srisuk.
“Phang Nga residents and relatives of the tsunami victims are wondering why the province’s Chief Culture Officer ordered two months ago that two memorial tsunami boats-cum-museums in Phang Nga’s Baan Namkem district be torn down,” he wrote.
“We don’t believe that the government will reconstruct them again as they have claimed. We are very sad, as we’re planning to commemorate the 14th anniversary of the tragedy this December.
“Tearing down the museums aims to wash out our history. The Chief Culture Officer doesn’t understand the value of culture in our community and is destroying our beliefs, instead of preserving our local treasure.
“The relatives of the tsunami victims and the community can’t bear this and request the Culture Minister to remove her from the province and the Andaman Island.”
The tsunami that hit southern Thailand on December 26, 2004 was caused by an earthquake in the Indian Ocean, resulting in 4,812 confirmed deaths, 8,457 injuries and 4,499 missing people in Thailand alone.
Phang Nga’s Baan Namkem district was among the worst hit by the deadly waves.
The Culture Ministry paid Bt11 million to buy the two tsunami-hit boats and convert them into museums but local residents often complained that the government did not manage them properly, even before ordering their destruction.
Meanwhile Piyanuch insists the Ministry is planning to renovate and rebuild the boats.
“We are now building the new museum on the same location with a Bt60 million budget,” she told The Nation.
The project budget includes another Bt30 million to reconstruct and renovate these two new boats that were dismantled.
“It will comprise a new building plus these boats. During the construction of the new building, we have had to remove the two boats for security reasons. However, we will preserve them and then we will surely reconstruct them and convert them back into the museums again.”
Piyanuch also pointed out that Manus Tharatjai, the-then Deputy General Director of the Culture Ministry, had last year met local residents to explain the government’s intention to remove the boats and before starting work on the project and building the new museum.
“We confirmed that we would rebuild the boats. We already recorded every detail of the boats and their structure is still strong. We also contacted the boatmakers who first built them so we could rebuild them just like the original ones.”