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Students call for governor's dismis
Subject: Students call for governor's dismissal (GAS PIPELINE CASE)
(From Bangkok Post - Jyly 3rd, 1997.)
Students call for governor's dismissal
Student activists yesterday urged Interior Minister Sanoh Thienthong to
remove Kanchanaburi Governor Kwanchai Wasawong for allegedly mistreating
villagers opposed to the Burma-Thai gas pipeline.
The Student Federation of Thailand and a coalition of green clubs from
16 universities held a press conference at Thammasat University to
condemn Mr Kwanchai. They also criticised tambon and village chiefs for
intimidating villagers in Tambon Dan Makham Tia through which the
pipeline will pass.
Although the villagers initially agreed to let the Petroleum Authority
of Thailand lay the pipeline across their land they changed their minds
and returned compensation money to the PTT due to safety fears over the
Villagers staged a peaceful protest at the construction site early in
the week but were allegedly later rudely treated by local officials who
accused them of pressing for more compensation rather than being
genuinely fearful of any danger.
Federation deputy secretary-general Chonlakan Phandermwong said: "The
kamnans and village chiefs are arrogant because they have the support of
Governor Kwanchai who is also chairman of the provincial committee
monitoring the project."
The committee is supposed to mediate between the PTT and protesting
villagers and conservationists.
"We urge Mr Kwanchai to stop taking the PTT's side because he was
supposed to be neutral and solve the conflict peacefully," she said.
She called on the interior minister to consider removing Mr Kwanchai if
he did not stop promoting the project.
Both students and villagers demanded that the government halt
construction until the dispute is settled.
The PTT is pressing on with laying the 260-kilometre pipeline in an
attempt to meet next year's June deadline.
Once completed, gas from the Yadana and Yetagun fields in Burma will be
delivered to the PTT at a tied-in point at the border village of I-
The gas will serve a gas-fired power station in Ratchaburi.
The PTT says that if the pipeline is not finished on time, it will be
subject to a daily fine by the Burmese government equal to the price of
gas to be delivered. This is estimated to be approximately 40 million
baht per day.
The prime minister instructed the PTT last week to make the contract
public. But after receiving a copy from the PTT, Mr Kwanchai refused to
do so, claiming that conservation groups and Kanchanaburi residents
would misinterpret it because of their poor English.
"THERE WILL BE NO REAL DEMOCRACY IF WE CAN'T GURANTEE THE RIGHTS OF THE
MINORITY ETHNIC PEOPLE. ONLY UNDERSTANDING THEIR SUFFERING AND HELPING
THEM TO EXERCISE THEIR RIGHTS WILL ASSIST PREVENTING FROM THE
DISINTEGRATION AND THE SESESSION." "WITHOUT UNDERSTANDING THEIR
STRENGTH, WE CAN'T TOPPLE THE SLORC AND BURMA WILL NEVER BE IN PEACE."
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