Court Defends 900 Million Baht Development on Suthep-Pui Foothills

 | Thu 9 Jun 2016 09:33 ICT

CityNews – A press conference was held today, 9th June, at the Chiang Mai Juvenile and Family Court presided by Udom Sittiwirattham, President of the Court of Appeal, Region 5, to explain the reasoning and offer up facts behind the newly controversial development at the foothills of Doi Suthep-Pui mountain range that has been causing a storm on social media.

“The last two days has seen social media explode in outrage about this project, and there have been many strongly worded and accusatory, often inaccurate, comments affecting not just our development, but those of our neighbours,” he stated. “For the past many years the 5th Region Appeals Court has had no home. We have been sharing space with the juvenile court and space is just not enough. In 2005 the 5th Region Court moved to Chiang Mai from Bangkok and without a home, we made do with sharing space. In 2006 we therefore made an official request to the Military Circle 33 asking for land to build our new court, administrative buildings as well as residences for our staff. Just over 147 rai of land, belonging to the military, and in no way encroaching onto National Park land, was granted to us. The budget only came through in 2013 and we began construction in 2014.”


Pictures plastered in the lift of the juvenile court showing new development designs.

The project is divided into three zones. The first zone, closest to the Irrigation Canal Road, is the administrative site and will see the new court and other administrative buildings erected. It will be completed and open for operations by the end of September. The second zone will include 13 buildings, which will house most of the 300-500 employees of the court who will be moving in by the end of 2017. The last zone, the visible cleared land which initially drew the public’s attention, and ire, to this project, will comprise of 47 residents for the court’s highest officers, senior judges and those at the top of the superior court and hopefully will also be completed by the end of next year. There is a further 50 rai of land which will remain unused at the top of the project.


Media turned out in full force today (all wearing yellow in honour of HM the King’s 70th year on the throne today).

The development will cost 900 million baht.

“We promise we won’t develop the top 50 rai, we have no plans there at all,” insisted Udom. “This project has been very carefully thought out and we are aware and have put in measures to care for the environment, there will be firewalls, weirs built, trees planted and we will make sure that we respect nature and prevent erosion. There were hardly any big trees on the property though, and all hard wood trees have been kept, the rest were just smaller brush trees. The reason we had to build so high up, and we really didn’t want to as the terrain is so steep it is hard to navigate and is expensive to develop, is because the land we received from the army was very narrow; like a noodle.”


Images first posted on Raks Mae Ping by Dr. Rungsrit Kanjanavanit MD, of the Department of Internal Medicine, CMU (an amateur pilot). Photo credit by Raks Mae Ping.


The ‘noodle’ slither of land which leads up to the ‘VIP residence’ at the top. Photo credit by Raks Mae Ping.

“This will also save the courts a lot of money in housing allowances for our staff. It is a one-time layout which will save costs in the long run,” he added. “I really don’t want people to call us hypocrites as they are now. I see on social media people are saying that we, as the court, jail people for violating national parks and forests and they accuse us of doing the same. It is very important to make this very clear.”

“We haven’t been hiding this, this project is no secret. We have a billboard on the road announcing it and at the time the land was granted to us there were, I believe, reports about it.”


Google Earth satellite image. Photo credit by Raks Mae Ping.