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Former chief justice defends Doi Suthep court buildings

Apr 24. 2018
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By The Nation

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A FORMER chief of the Supreme Court judge panel has posted a Facebook response to the recent statement made by a group of academics in Chiang Mai that slammed the courts for allegedly encroaching on a forest reserve.

Chuchart Srisaeng’s post took issue with the academic group’s claim that the Chiang Mai Rajabhat University’s branch of Saluang-Khilek, which takes up 6,235 rai, is transgressing on the forest reserve.

Chuchart said that, on the contrary, the court’s buildings used only 147 rai of the land plot, adding that it was legally acquired and there were land documents to prove its legality.

He said that society would plunge into chaos if people allowed their emotions to guide their actions and judgement, and consider something wrong only when they did not gain any benefits from it.

The academics, signed in under the Chiang Mai Rajabhat University group, recently called for an end to the ongoing controversial court office and residence project at the foot of Doi Suthep. They cited the buildings’ inappropriate location in the forest, possible impacts on natural waterways, and intrusion into a space sacred for Chiang Mai people.

The court of justice office has proceeded with the project, comprising the Court of Appeals Region 5’s new office and residences at a total cost of about Bt1 billion. Court officials claim that the land was acquired legally and deny that the project encroaches upon any protected areas, including the Doi Suthep-Pui National Park.

However, local people, now grouped under the Doi Suthep Reclamation Network, have strongly opposed the project, citing possible environmental impacts of the project, which they say encroaches upon pristine forest and waterways. They also allege that it intrudes on a spiritual space.

The court, however, has not given up. Last weekend, two senior figures, former presidents of the Court of Appeals Region 5, Savat Suravatananda and ChamnanRawiwanpong, suggested that court officials should be allowed to use the condo units and houses at the planned site for about 10 years. After that, all relevant parties could discuss again what to do next.

This suggestion intensified the locals’ opposition.

Prime Minister General Prayut Chan-o-cha said yesterday that he would appoint a joint committee to help resolve the problem.

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