Chula prepares for Uthenthawai rally
Chulalongkorn University on Thursday said it will operate normally on Friday when students and alumni of Rajamangala University of Technology Tawan-ok's Uthenthawai campus hold a large rally to protest Chulalongkorn’s move to reclaim a 21-rai site where the campus is located.
- Published: 14/03/2013 at 05:32 PM
- Newspaper section: topstories
In a message posted on its website and Facebook homepage, the university said all of its activities will function normally Friday during the Uthenthawai campus protest rally.
However, it advised students, lecturers and staff to avoid commuting around Phaya Thai Road from 9am until the end of the protest and divert instead to Bantadthong and Henry-Dunant roads.
It also suggested they maintain their work and regular routines in their offices or faculties during the protest, and follow developments at http://www.cicc.chula.ac.th, or www.facebook.com/ChulalongkornUniversity, or contact the university’s security and traffic management centre at 02-218-0000.
Security concerns have been raised as students of the Uthenthawai campus have a long history of being a part of Bangkok’s inter-school brawls, especially with its long-time tertiary rival, Pathumwan Institute of Technology.
Uthenthawai deputy rector Suebpong Muangchoo said he believed the rally would be peaceful and there would be no violence because those expected to take part had only "good intentions".
Mr Suebpong said he had instructed students not to bring any weapons while taking part in the gathering.
“I’m not worried that Uthenthawai students will create trouble because their intention is to seek justice, not to stage a war. What I’m concerned about is a third party intervening and stirring up the situation,” he said.
The gathering will start at 11am and participants will demonstrate at Chulalongkorn University where they plan to lay a wreath in protest at the land reclamation.
The Metropolitan Police Bureau will deploy 400 officers to maintain order and prevent trouble-makers from inciting violence during the demonstration, he said.
He called on all parties to wait for a royal decision from the Royal Household Bureau which had been petitioned by the university to seek recommendations from His majesty the King on resolving the 28-year eviction saga.
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Leaflets have been posted in areas around Chulalongkorn University, including Siam Square, Bangkok's most modern and trendy shopping magnet, advising those connected to one of the country's top academic institutes to continue their normal routines but avoid Siam Square, MBK shopping centre and Chamchuri Square.
It urged them to avoid commuting on certain routes likely to be used by the rally-goers and to use the campus gate on Henri Dunant Rd as the only entry and exit point.
It anticipated that 4,000 people would turn up at Friday's rally and warned Chulalongkorn students not to dress or carry items that signalled they were members of the university.
Photographs of the leaflet have been circulated widely on social networking sites, especially Facebook.
Chulalongkorn wants to take back the Uthenthawai campus site to build a creative community-based innovation centre as part of a 4.6 billion baht property development scheme.
On March 4, Uthenthawai's board met with Education Ministry officials to ask for a budget to relocate the campus to a 36-rai plot in Bang Ping in Muang district in Samut Prakan owned by the Treasury Department.
Without the budget and the relocation, they indicated Uthenthawai was unlikely to return the campus site to Chulalongkorn.
The lease contract between the university and Uthenthawai began in 1935 and ended in 2003. The university has been asking for the return of the land since 1975.
In 2004, Uthenthawai signed an agreement to relocate and to give the plot back to the university by 2005, with an extension of not more than one year. The university sent three letters to ask for the plot back in December 2006, February 2007 and July 2007.
Earlier, Mr Suebpong said the Uthenthawai students and alumni protested against the move because they claim to have evidence indicating the land on which the campus sits -- donated by King Rama V to build an educational institute -- in fact belongs to Uthenthawai. He said students and alumni decided to assert their right to ownership of the campus.
Nonetheless, the Office of His Majesty's Principal Private Secretary decided several years ago that Chulalongkorn University legally owned the plot of land and Uthenthawai campus must move.
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