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Building scam in Bangkok: court orders 25 story hotel to be demolished

Written By: herbrunbridge - Dec• 02•14
Awaiting the wrecking ball?

Awaiting the wrecking ball?

Our favorite building scam story in Bangkok has taken a new twist, as the Supreme Administrative Court has ordered that the 25-story Aetas Hotel on Soi Ruamrudee be either completely demolished or brought down to a legal height of 7 or 8 stories. And it’s all supposed to happen within 60 days.

As first reported by WoWasis in 2012, this major monstrosity was erected illegally on a tiny street with a width of fewer than 10 meters. For reasons of safety and traffic control, an edict (the 1979 Building Control Act) states that any edifice built on such a street must not be higher than 23 meters, approximately 7 stories.

Against the complaints of neighbors, though, it was erected. And they’ve been complaining ever since, vociferously as well as through legal channels. Now the court has ruled in their favor, and the court says the building must come down or have its height reduced within 60 days.

Are there powerful “influential forces,” as they say in Thailand, behind the scene here? Such elements tend to make it a habit of thumbing their noses at laws by buying their own justice. If that’s the case, paying the authorities to look the other way while putting up the Aetas Hotel must have cost a pretty penny. (We’re not formally accusing anyone of accepting bribes, of course, but a Bangkok Post op-ed piece published On December 4, 2014, quoted the Supreme Administrative Court as listing former Bangkok governor Apirak Kosayothin and former Pathumwan district chief Surakiat Limcharoen as being “guilty of negligence of duty” in the affair).

As WoWasis has reported in the past, most construction scams in Thailand typically revolve around substandard building practices, ignoring codes, and paying off inspectors. Take a look at the bowels of any condominium structure where more than one unit is on the sales block, and you’ll see what we mean. Huge cracks in and around the base of a given structure are legendary and pervasive. And that’s just for starters.

If the Aetas was built with similar dodgy construction, it should, in theory, be easier to tear down. We’ll know within 60 days. Or will we? With “influential people” behind the scenes, there may be powerful forces on call, ready to subvert the Supreme Administrative Court’s decision.

If so, we’ll wager that these folks, in these times of major police corruption scandals being unearthed and made public, will hope to find some regulatory person or agency asleep at the switch. If they do, the amazing saga of the Aetas Hotel will continue. In the interim, everyone (lawyers, the hotel operator, the landlord, those who “possibly” have been bribed) gets rich, except for the neighbors.

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