BANGKOK — Despite an outcry from the public over the destruction of a teak forest in the north of Thailand, the head of the junta-appointed legislature said Monday it will go ahead despite a claim the junta leader had ordered the trees protected.
Though the junta last week denied ordering 2,000 Chiang Mai teak trees cut, saying they would instead be conferred protected status, National Legislative Assembly Chairman Phonphet Wichitchonlachai said the 12 billion baht complex will need 5,018 teak trees for their wood because it represents the “DNA” of Thailand.
The announcement came after the assembly conferred with the temple-like parliament building’s design team and developer. Phonphet said they would not cut any wild trees but only use those grown on land managed as a plantation by the Forest Industry Organization – like that in Chiang Mai the public rallied to preserve.
Once plentiful in Southeast Asia, teak stands have been devastated, and wild teak logging is illegal in many places, Thailand included.
The new riverside parliament building, called Sappaya Sapasathan, was designed by the Arsom Silp Institute of the Art to look like a temple in order to remind politicians about “Thainess” and morality.
It is being built along the Chao Phraya River near Bangkok’s Kiak Kai intersection by Sino-Thai Engineering & Construction PCL.
The completion of the building is now expected in 2019 due to a land dispute.