The government has agreed to help mediate a land dispute between Chulalongkorn University and its tenant, Rajamangala University of Technology Tawan-ok's Uthenthawai campus.
Phongthep: Chula must make peace
Education Minister Phongthep Thepkanchana has agreed to step into the row but insists Chulalongkorn must try to make peace with its tenant.
Chulalongkorn University has sought help from the minister in reclaiming 20 rai of land situated in the heart of Bangkok from its tenant, which has occupied the land since 1935.
The university president Pirom Kamolratanakul met Mr Phongthep yesterday in yet another attempt to resolve the row.
Mr Pirom asked Mr Phongthep to help persuade Uthenthawai campus to move, as Chulalongkorn needs the land back to build an innovation centre for a sustainable community.
"The centre will help enhance Thailand's competitiveness [in fostering innovation in sustainable community development]," Mr Pirom said.
Mr Phongthep said he will talk to the head of the Uthenthawai campus regarding its long-overdue relocation plan but insisted it's the duty of Chulalongkorn to reach a better understanding with Uthenthawai's students and alumni.
Uthenthawai students and alumni last week protested against the relocation plan and placed a wreath at Chulalongkorn's entrance.
The Uthenthawai campus' lease started in 1935 and ran for 68 years until 2003. Chulalongkorn started negotiations to reclaim the campus in 1975 but has failed to convince Uthenthawai to move.
In 2002, the Treasury Department offered Uthenthawai a new location in Samut Prakan's Bang Phli district and the cabinet approved a 200-million-baht budget for construction and moving costs. The Office of the Attorney-General also set up a committee to settle the dispute and concluded that it belonged to Chulalongkorn University.
Utenthawai campus deputy rector Suebpong Muangchoo said he is ready to discuss relocation with the minister.
He 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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- Writer: Lamphai Intathep