Hotel plan approved by 'forum'

Amphawa residents and conservationists have slammed the latest forum on the luxury Chuchai Buri Sri Amphawa Hotel, calling it a ruse to win public acceptance for the controversial project.

The forum, referred to as a "public hearing", was held on Tuesday by the jewellery-trader-turned-hotelier Chuchai Chairittilert. About 100 people participated. Most of the attendees who supported the project wore purple-coloured polo shirts with the words "Amphawa Natives" emblazoned on the back. A few people who spoke up against the hotel were booed and jeered.

The forum was the second meeting about the colossal hotel project. Critics say the European architectural style will rob the small community of its traditional beauty and way of life.

Siriwat Kantaros from the Khon Rak Mae Klong (people who love Mae Klong) community group said the forum lacked participation from local people. Members of the club were not invited.

Mr Siriwat said hearings should have been held before construction of the hotel began, not as it nears completion.

At the forum, Mr Chuchai presented six revised versions of the hotel blueprint. Each version featured changes, for instance, a change in the exterior paint; a new design that is more in line with Thai traditional architecture, and a new design with a lower height. Forum participants eventually approved the version with an amended roof design.

Assoc Prof Siriwan Silapacharanan from Chulalongkorn University's faculty of architecture _ who is acting as a mediator between the project's supporters and opponents _ urged academics who disagreed with the project to "listen to the voice of local people on what they really want".

She said the hotel was well liked by the forum participants and could become a new landmark for the neighbourhood.

However, Senator Trungjai Buranasomphob, chair of the Senate committee on religions, moral, ethics, arts and culture, expressed doubts that people had enough information about environmental and conservation concerns before voting for the revised plan.

About the author

Writer: Sirinya Wattanasukchai
Position: Reporter