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NEWS UPDATES Asean Affairs           9   August  2011

“New city,” plan shot down by BK governor

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The Bangkok Governor Sukhumbhand Paribatra plans to veto the controversial land reclamation in the Gulf of Thailand if the Pheu Thai government moves forward with the megaproject.

MR Sukhumbhand said he would use his authority as head of the city administration to put a halt to the land reclamation project in the sea off Bangkok's Bang Khun Thian district if Pheu Thai decided to proceed with it.

During the general election campaign, the Pheu Thai Party announced a policy to reclaim 300,000 rai of land in the Gulf of Thailand. The project is aimed at protecting Bangkok from severe flooding caused by rising sea levels.

The Bangkok governor, in an interview yesterday, said he would oppose the project, which would cost more than 100 billion baht (US$3.4 billion), as there were other ways to tackle flooding or land erosion in Bangkok without the need for such a huge budget.

He also disagreed with Pheu Thai's policies to raise the minimum wage to 300 baht a day and enforce a starting salary of 15,000 baht a month for new bachelor's degree holders, saying those populist policies would badly affect City Hall's budget management.

The Bangkok Metropolitan Administration (BMA) hires about 90,000 personnel - 30,000 civil servants and 60,000 temporary employees. Under the BMA's budget management ordinance, the budget for salaries of BMA personnel must not exceed 40 percent of its annual budget of 60 billion baht.

Currently, salary spending for its staff makes up 39 percent of the annual budget, said the governor, adding that wage expenses have almost hit the ceiling.

If Pheu Thai's salary policy was implemented, City Hall would have a big problem with its budget management.

As the Pheu Thai government planned to invest in 10 new mass-transit routes in Bangkok with a flat-rate ticket price of 20 baht, the BMA would have to focus on other transport projects such as the monorail project from Siam Square to Rama IV Road route covering 1.5km and the Light Rail project from Bang Na to Suvarnabhumi airport, MR Sukhumbhand said.

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This year in Thailand-what next?

AseanAffairs   04 January 2011
By David Swartzentruber      

It is commonplace in journalism to write two types of articles at the transition point between the year that has passed and the New Year. As this writer qualifies as an “old hand” in observing Thailand with a track record dating back 14 years, it is time take a shot at what may unfold in Thailand in 2011.

The first issue that can’t be answered is the health of Thailand’s beloved King Bhumibol, who is now 83 years old. He is the world's longest reigning monarch, but elaborate birthday celebrations in December failed to mask concern over his health. More


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