Students in push to save sacred shrine
Students of Chulalongkorn University are rallying to save an old shrine from being razed by their school's property office who want to make way for a profit-generating dormitory.
The students created the #SaveChaoMaeThapThimShrine hashtag in Thai to promote their cause on social media.
About two dozen students formed a human chain at the Chao Mae Thap Thim Shrine and rallied in front of the university's property management office to protest the plan to dismantle the symbolic goddess statue.
"Do not demolish the Chao Mae Thap Thim shrine," read a banner the protestors placed outside of the university office. "Our heritage is united with our spirit."
The property management arm is responsible for generating revenue from the university's 385-rai plot of land, an area in the heart of the capital, stretching from Siam Square to the Suan Luang and Samyan areas.
"Maximise value for society," the office proclaimed on its website, adding its work focuses on "harmonious coexistence" in the development of the local community.
The students have argued that the decision to flatten the shrine, which is located near the Samyan market and build a dormitory for students and university personnel goes against the principles mentioned on the office's official website.
Under the plan, buildings around the shrine would be razed, while the shrine would be relocated to the university's Centennial Park nearby.
The new location for the shrine would "be suitable in all aspects, from safety and cleanliness to parking space and accessibility", the office said.
Opponents of the plan have argued the office has concentrated on making money while ignoring history and the bond between the local community and the goddess of the shrine.
"The new generation of students wants to protect history [and prevent the shrine's demolition] for the construction of a condo," student activist Netiwit Chotiphatphaisal tweeted.
The shrine is cherished by locals of the Saphan Lueang community. The shrine was built in 1970 after the statue was moved from another site.