Clashing on historic grounds
The historical issue is very sensitive and all sides have some historical rationale that allows them to claim the rights to the land. So a third party must step in.
- Published: 18/03/2013 at 12:00 AM
- Newspaper section: topstories
The entrance to the compact campus of the Uthenthawai campus, from a Facebook page.
A committee was set up by the Office of the Attorney-General in 2007 to settle the dispute between both universities. It has the final say in the dispute as it comprises several high-ranking authorities. These include the Justice Minister as chairman, the permanent secretaries for justice and finance and the secretary-general of the Council of State (the government's legal adviser).
The panel considered the dispute carefully and thoroughly for almost two years, scrutinising historical evidence before ruling the land belongs to CU.
Furthermore, the Office of His Majesty's Principal Private Secretary, which was asked by Uthenthawai to help settle the matter, also upheld the committee's resolution that CU owns the land legally.
Pirom Kamolratanakul Rector of Chulalongkorn University
Moreover, CU also had evidence showing it had leased that plot of land to Uthenthawai for 68 years between 1935 and 2003.
CU first asked for the return of the land in 1975. The cabinet agreed at the time to have Uthenthawai relocated to a new site in Samut Prakan's Bang Phli district. It also approved a 200-million-baht budget for relocation and construction costs for Uthenthawai.
In 2004, Uthenthawai agreed to relocate by Sept 30, 2005, extendable by no more than one year. But no progress has been made since.
The committee asked Uthenthawai to pay compensation worth 1.1 billion baht to CU on Oct 1, 2006, but we have not received anything.
We really sympathise with Uthenthawai's situation and do not want to force it to move out. We realise that it is unable to relocate without any help.
I recently asked Education Minister Phongthep Thepkanchana to help mediate and provide a new location and budget for Uthenthawai's relocation. The minister has agreed to mediate talks to find a solution as soon as possible.
Now, another site in Samut Prakan's Bang Phli is being considered. The new site is much wider and close to an industrial sector, which is more suitable for Uthenthawai.
Suebpong Muangchoo Acting rector, Rajamangala University of Technology
We strongly insist the 20-rai plot of land occupied by our Uthenthawai campus did not originally belong to Chulalongkorn University (CU).
Back in 1913, Poh Chang School was established by a royal initiative of King Rama V on land donated by King Rama VI.
It later became Uthenthawai, the country's first vocational training school.
We can say that the land on which CU and Uthenthawai are located was a royal inheritance for the two institutions.
But in 1939, the cabinet adopted a resolution stating that all of the land belonged to CU.
It is unfair to have land ownership change hands due to a legal move from 1939 when we have been here for almost 100 years.
Uthenthawai was unable to take part in any part of the process by which the committee set up by the Office of the Attorney-General settled the longstanding ownership dispute with CU.
We met Education Minister Phongthep Thepkanchana last week to show historical evidence that the donated land formerly belonged to Uthenthawai.
I am ready for trilateral talks with the ministry and CU. We are both state education institutions and we should not quarrel. We should talk to find a win-win solution.
We are willing to pay rent to the Crown Property Bureau, not CU, for the use of the land while we are sorting out this conflict.
CU's motto is that it is an institution that produces ``Knowledge with virtue''.
It will have no virtue if it continues to push for the relocation plan.
We are also producing engineering graduates who serve the country just like CU does. Why do we have to move? The land did not originally belong to CU.
Although Uthenthawai students and alumni have threatened to intensify their protests against the relocation plan, no one should be worried that they will resort to violence.
If there are going to be any problems, they will only be caused by a third party.
About the author
- Writer: Lamphai Intathep
- Position: Reporter