The State Railway of Thailand has agreed to lease its prime plot in Bangkok’s Makkasan area for a certain period to the Finance Ministry under a debt-to-land swap plan to clear some of its hefty debt of 110 billion baht. PATTARAPONG CHATPATTARASIL
Concrete malls & office buildings or green parks with many trees for Bangkok's largest green space in Makkasan? Let public decide too, say many people.
URBAN GREEN AREAS & CITY PLANNING
Makkasan green areas: Parks or malls?
Over the next two weeks the fate of Bangkok's largest green space in the Makkasan area will become clearer.
Since Bangkok lacks public green space and parks the issue is important for all people living in Bangkok.
The owner of the green space, the State Railway of Thailand (SRT), will survey 497 rai of land in preparation for redevelopment before leasing it (likely for 99 years) to the Finance Ministry's Treasury Department.
The lease is part of a 62-billion-baht debt write-off scheme for SRT.
Initially, the parties agreed that the lush green area, covering 150 rai, plus a 30-rai plot for a museum, will be spared from commercial development.
A total of 317 rai will be redeveloped for commercial purposes.
The massive Makkasan green area in downtown Bangkok looking away from Airport Link Station.
OLD PLAN FOR MAKKASAN: ALL COMMERCIAL DEVELOPMENT
The new plan is far better than the old Makkasan Complex plan that was drawn up in 2005.
That plan, which attracted heavy criticism, would have turned the entire swath of land into a 195-billion-baht commercial area, including twin 99-storey towers, thousands of hotel rooms and condo units, office space and an exhibition centre.
Unlike the 2016 plan, not many trees would have survived.
PLANS MADE WITHOUT CONSIDERING WHAT THE PUBLIC WANTS
The SRT and the Treasury Department are making a redevelopment plan without consideration of public opinion first, which is a cause for worry.
Some buildings have historical value and should be preserved and not torn down.
One of these is an old warehouse, the first building on the property, that was recognised by the Association of Siamese Architects for its architectural value.
The massive Makkasan green area in downtown Bangkok looking in back of Airport Link Station.
MAKING SURE PUBLIC PARKS, MUSEUMS & HISTORICAL BUILDINGS PART OF PLAN
Right now, there is no guarantee the new Makkasan commercial zone would be much different from the 2005 design that would have seen countless trees bulldozed, paving the way for luxury skyscrapers, malls, condos and offices.
Not to mention the air pollution from numerous cars going in and out of the area as a result of poor design, despite the area being connected to urban mass transit via the Airport Link station.
The Makkasan Hope project was a campaign two to three years ago launched to make sure that a park and a museum were part of the Makkasan development plan. The civic groups and network of people and organisations behind these efforts want to be a part of the Makkasan planning process from the very beginning.
The network insists that the project should also be co-managed by the government in addition to private companies and that old structures inside the property should be preserved and turned into useful facilities, in particular the eye-catching warehouses.
With such a prime location, these old warehouses and factory buildings could easily be turned into a museum, art galleries, exhibition centres or concert halls. This would definitely attract not only tourists but also investors.
TO RETURN HAPPINESS TO THE PEOPLE, LISTEN TO THEM
People these days don't just need a public park, with designated opening hours, for jogging or cycling. They also need a public space where they can also enjoy art and culture.
What is needed is a dialogue between the government and civic groups to ensure Makkasan is developed properly in the best interests of all the people of Bangkok.
And that must happen before, not after, the SRT bulldozes any structures.
In short, if the government wants to maximise the potential of the Makkasan green space and return happiness to the people, they should simply start listening to their opinions.
Sirinya Wattanasukchai is an Assistant News Editor, Bangkok Post.
Learn from listening
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architect : a person whose job is to design new buildings and make certain that they are built correctly - สถาปนิก
architectural : involving styles or ways of designing buildings - ในเชิงสถาปัตยกรรม
as a result of : because of -
association : an official group of people who have joined together for a particular purpose - สมาคม
attract : to cause someone to be interested in something - ดึงดูดความสนใจ
authority (noun): a person or government agency who has the power to make decisions or enforce the law - เจ้าหน้าที่ผู้มีอำนาจ
bulldoze : use a bulldozer to destroy something, to tear it down -
campaign : a planned group of especially political, business or military activities which are intended to achieve a particular aim - การรณรงค์
civic (adj): relating to the people who live in a town or city or the duties and responsibilities that they have as citizens - เกี่ยวกับพลเมือง
civic group : a group made of people living within a city, not a governmental group -
co- : done together with another -
commercial : for business purposes - เกี่ยวกับการค้า
complex : an area that has several parts - พื้นที่ประกอบด้วยส่วนต่าง ๆ
connect : to join together two or more things - เชื่อมต่อ
conserve : to keep and protect something from damage, change or waste - สงวน,เก็บรักษา
consideration : giving careful thought to something before making a decision - การคิดพิจารณา
considering : thinking about a particular fact and being influenced by it - พิจารณาถึง
countless : very many; too many to be counted - มากเหลือคณานับ
criticism : comments that show that you think something is wrong or bad - การวิจารณ์
culture (noun): the customs and beliefs, art, way of life and social organization of a particular country or group - วัฒนธรรม
cycling : the activity of riding a bicycle -
debt (noun): an amount of money that you owe - หนี้, นี้สิน
definitely : certain; having no doubts about something - อย่างแน่นอน
designated : formally chosen - แต่งตั้ง
dialogue : formal discussion between two groups or countries, especially when they are trying to solve a problem, end a disagreement, etc - การสนทนา
drawn up : when a document, plan, statement, etc. is prepared - ร่าง
efforts (noun): attempts to do something - ความพยายาม
entire : including everything, everyone or every part - ทั้งหมด
exhibition : a public show where art or other interesting things are put so that people can go and look at them - นิทรรศการ งานแสดง
eye-catching : very surprising and nice to see -
facility (noun): a building, equipment, etc., used for a particular purpose - โรงงาน, สถานบริการ, สิ่งก่อสร้าง, สิ่งอำนวยความสะดวก
fate : the things that happen or will happen to someone - ชะตากรรม
gallery (noun): a room or building for showing works of art or other items of interest, especially to the public - ห้องแสดงผลงานศิลปะ, ห้องแสดงผลงาน
guarantee : to be certain that something will happen - รับรอง, รับประกัน
historical : about history; about events that really happened in the past - เกี่ยวข้องกับการศึกษาประวัติศาสตร์
in particular : especially or particularly - โดยเฉพาะ, โดยเฉพาะอย่างยิ่ง
insist : to keep saying very firmly that something is true - ยืนกราน ยืนยัน
investor : a person or organization that invests money, i.e., uses money with the aim of making a profit from it, for example by buying property or buying shares in a company - นักลงทุน
launch : starting something - การเริ่มต้น
lease : a legal agreement in which you pay money in order to use a building, piece of land, vehicle, etc. for a period of time - สัญญาเช่า
location : where someone or something is - ที่ตั้ง,ทำเล
luxury : the best and most expensive of something - ที่หรูหรา
make sure : to ensure; to make certain that something happens or is done - ให้การยืนยัน, รับรอง, ให้ความมั่นใจ
mass transit : involving the movement of large numbers of people, using buses, trains, etc. - การขนส่งมวลชน
maximise : to increase something as much as possible - ทำให้มีสูงสุด
museum : a building where objects of historical, scientific or artistic interest are kept - พิพิธภัณฑ์
network : a large system of connected parts, organisations, people, etc. - เครือข่าย
not to mention : in addition; also -
numerous : many - มากมาย
office space (noun): offices that can be rented; square meters of offices in a building that are available for renting -
opinion : your feelings or thoughts about somebody/something, rather than a fact - ความเห็น, ความคิดเห็น, ทัศนคติ
paving the way for : to create a situation in which something can happen - ปูทาง
pollution (noun): contaminated, when something has been made dirty, poisonous, unpleasant to see or smell and possibly dangerous to health - การทำให้เป็นมลพิษ, การทำให้สกปรก, ภาวะมลพิษ, สภาวะมลพิษ, มลภาวะเป็นพิษ, สภาพเป็นพิษ, ความสกปรก
potential : what is possible - ความเป็นไปได้
preserve : to take care of a place or building in order to prevent it from being harmed or destroyed - สงวน, อนุรักษ์
prime : of the best quality - ที่ดีที่สุด
private : involving groups, businesses or industries that are not owned or controlled by the government - เอกชน
process : a series of actions that you take in order to achieve a result - แนวทางปฏิบัติ, กระบวน, วิธีการ
project : a planned piece of work that is designed to find information about something, to produce something new, or to improve something - โครงการ
property : a building or buildings and the surrounding land - อสังหาริมทรัพย์
public : the public; all people; the people in general - มหาชน, ประชาชน
public : open to people in general - สาธารณะ
purpose : the intention to achieve something - ความตั้งใจ, ความประสงค์, ความปรารถนา, ความตั้งใจ
railway : the whole transportation system of trains connecting stations along rail tracks - รางรถไฟ, ระบบทางรถไฟ
recognise : to give praise or approval to someone or something - เป็นที่ชื่นชม ยกย่อง
redevelop : make new construction to make an old area of town new again -
redevelopment : new construction to make an old area of town new again -
scheme : a plan that is developed by a government or large organisation in order to provide a particular service for people - แผนการ โครงการ
skyscraper : a very tall building containing offices or flats - ตึกสูงมาก
space : an area or a place that is empty or that can be moved about freely - ที่ว่าง
state : government - รัฐบาล
structure : something large such as a building or a bridge that is built from different parts - โครงสร้าง
survey : the act of examining and recording the measurements, features, etc. of an area of land - การสำรวจ, การหาข้อมูล
survive : to continue to exist - รอดพ้น
swath (noun): (or swathe) a long strip or area of land or sea - แนวหรือแถบกว้าง
torn down : when a building or other structure is destroyed, because it is not being used or it is not wanted any more - รื้อ
unit : one office or building or group of people - หนึ่งหน่วย
urban : of or in a city or town - ในเมือง
value : how much something is worth in money or other goods for which it can be exchanged - มูลค่า
warehouse : a large building for storing things - โกดังสินค้า, คลังสินค้า, โรงพัสดุ
write-off (verb): a situation in which an asset loses some or all of its value and entries are made in the accounting system and the loss shows in financial reports of the company - การลงบัญชีเป็นหนี้สูญ,การลดมูลค่าในบัญชี,การเสื่อมค่า