Doi Suthep network boycotts meeting, wants a clearer stance from PM on rehabilitation of forest
By Kriangkrai Rattana
THE NETWORK to Reclaim Doi Suthep Forest yesterday boycotted a meeting, as it pressed the government to make clear its stance on the rehabilitation of the forest that was encroached on by now-abandoned residences for judges and court officials.
“We won’t attend any meeting until there is a clearer policy,” the network’s statement said.
Prominent network members Chatchawan Thongdeelert, Bunnaroth Buaklee and Kamseeda Paenthai read the statement in front of Chiang Mai Provincial Hall. Many supporters of the network also gathered there.
So far, no one from the network has agreed to enter the meeting called by Chiang Mai Governor Supachai Iamsuwan to consider plans to solve problems related to buildings that were initially constructed to serve as the residences of court officials and judges.
The construction was done with funds from the government budget and with government approval.
Activists and environmentalists discovered last year that many of the planned residences appeared to eat into the forest zone at the foot of Chiang Mai’s esteemed Doi Suthep. Due to their protests and growing local sentiment opposing the project, the government finally put the breaks on allowing court officials and judges to move into nearly completed residences.
The government has offered to relocate the residential complex to nearby Chiang Rai province.
But the Network to Reclaim Doi Suthep Forest remains unhappy, as the government has not agreed to quickly dismantle all encroaching structures and allow fast and full rehabilitation of the previous forest area.
“What the government has done is only short-term rehabilitation,” the network said in the statement yesterday.
The network also suggested that the Office of the Judiciary clearly hand back to the Treasury Department the area now containing the encroaching structures.
“All furniture should also be removed from all residences. And the committee on rehabilitation be given a clear scope of duty and power,” it added.
The rehabilitation process, moreover, should include comprehensive public participation, the network insists.
The network also demanded that the Chiang Mai provincial government treat civil society with respect and sincerity.
It complained that on several occasions, relevant officials refused to provide a copy of documents related to the case.
The network’s representatives said Prime Minister General Prayut Chan-o-cha must clearly express his stance on resolutions reached by the committee chaired by PM’s Office Minister Suwaphan Tanyuvardhana.
“We want to see a clear stance,” Bunnaroth said.
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