St. Andrews must return public land, district official says

St. Andrews International School Bangkok. Photo: Nicky Tanskul / Coconuts
St. Andrews International School Bangkok. Photo: Nicky Tanskul / Coconuts

The deputy director of Bangkok’s Wattana district reiterated this morning that his office has ordered an international school to demolish structures built illegally on public land.

Deputy district director Chaiwat Rungsipanodorn told Coconuts that the demolition order issued late last year remained in force against St. Andrews International School, but he did not address questions about what if any work had been done to satisfy it, nor what steps his office was taking to enforce it.

“We already ordered the school to demolish part of its facilities,” Chaiwat said of a strip of public flood control land upon which city officials have said the school built structures illegally. He didn’t say more but rather indicated he was in a meeting and ended the call.

Out of bounds: City Hall says Bangkok int’l school squatting on public land

Repeated calls and messages to St. Andrews and its UK-based owner Nord Anglia Education since last week have not been returned. On Monday, a representative said the school would send a statement. At around noon today, another rep said it was still coming.

Sansith Naothavorn, the area’s newly elected representative who visited the campus on his first day in office last week, said yesterday that he was still awaiting plans detailing the land encroachment issue before taking further action.

Mayta Lerttamrab, who has fought the school for years over the land which runs behind his home just off Pridi Banomyong Road, said no action has been taken by either side since Coconuts first reported on the matter.

“The Wattana district hasn’t come to inspect anything new, and the school continues to occupy the public space as if nothing happens,” he said today in a message. “Instead of fixing anything, one member of the school’s staff has begun harassing/stalking me, and now I am concerned for my safety.” 

In November, the district office ordered the school to demolish facilities it said were built illegally on the land. A subsequent February letter from district office said it had filed a legal complaint against the school for not complying.

After this story was published, a school representative contacted Coconuts late Wednesday afternoon to acknowledge the school had built on public land and would relocate the buildings. But she disputed that it had been in public use for over five decades.

“The space hasn’t been a waterway since 1967,” said Sa, who refused to give her full name. 

She said the school was granted permits 21 years ago for land it did not believe were encroachments. She said the school had received approval from the Central Public Works Department after it filed military-made maps indicating the land was not public space.

Still, she said St. Andrews would “do everything that is right” to relocate the facilities.

“Yes it’s a public space, true, and we’ve received a letter from the Wattana District Office to relocate our buildings, and the school will correct its mistakes 100%, something that we have been doing all this time,” she added.

She could not say when or how that would be done.

“The school is not required to report what it has done or what it will do, but the district office knows,” Sa said.

Correction: An earlier version of this story misattributed statements about 2001 land use permits to Watthana District Director Suchira when in fact they were made by the school.

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