Asoke  Plaza  Crushed
Local Newspaper Coverage
-Article appearing in Khom-Chat-Luc
16 December 2004 (on the streets 15 December 2004)
BAR BEERS UNHAPPY
Employees of Bar Beers at Asoke Intersection gather their belongings from the destruction after an Officer of the Legal Enforcement Office brought a warrant to enter and to tear down the structures and remove them from the property.   Prior to this there was legal action between the owner of the land and the lessee - in which the Director of Wattana District saw that they opened businesses not in accordance with the law(s) - Additionally they were causing problems for the local people.   At this time, there were still Bar Beers at the back (Asoke Corner -ed
) that were still open for business on the night of 14 Dec.
Bar Beers complain of invasion
According to Kh. Surakiat Limcharoen, Wattana District Chief, the order came down to demolish the entertainment area at the Asoke intersection because the building of those entertainment structures was not in accordance with the law.   The people (living) in the area, and passers-by were harrassed because the girls working in the area were dressed inappropriately, and blocked the sidewalk (while) calling customers to come inside.   Additionally, the ownership of the land had changed, and this made them expedite the destruction - as he (the new owner) wants to build a new commercial structure instead.
/ destruction without warning
District Chief points out that the Asoke Area is an eyesore and is breaking the law.
Wattana District Chief orders destructin of Asoke Intersection Bar Beers - refers to (the area as )breaking of the law, untidy, and an eyesore.    On the other hand, the shop owners complain of having their shops torn down without notification.    In the meantime, the Thonglor Police Superintendent explained that the land owner wanted to get the land returned after expiration of the lease contract; (He) points out that if they (the shop owners) want notification, they must on the case with the person leasing the land and renting them the shops.
Kh Surakiat said in Wattana District there were entertainment areas nearby the educational facilities, which are: Soi Cowboy and in the area of Asoke intersection.   While there is no law which binds the Districts, this causes the Districts to work under great difficulty.   However, if they are to solve the problem of Entertainment Areas and Pubs being near educational facilities, he sees that the law should be ammended.   "Don't forget that 'correctly by the law' and 'correctly by morals' are two different things.   If the District is to take action, they must look into the matter carefully, otherwise they will have reason to make trouble at the District."
"On this issue, if the (Prime Minister) comes down to look into it, and sees it to be of importance, and (then) establishes a policy, it will be easier to take care of in the future.   Given that the (District's) main Entertainment Area is Soi Cowboy, the District is able to maintain it in an orderly manner, and not let shameful things go on - that's all." the District Chief said.
At 20:00 hours December 14 a reporter from Khom Chat Luc viewed the Asoke Plaza area.   He saw that the 8-rai area had already been torn down, and that they had used corrugated metal sheets to close off the area..   But the back of the area the bar beer owners and employees had congregated, and were playing music and dancing (ram).   In some corners, some customers could still be seen drinking beer.
Ms Jeerapha Siputsomboon, the lessee of the (entire) property revealed, "I rented the land from J & P Ltd.   (I) brought the bar beer owners in to rent from me for the last 5 years, but last year (2003) Mr Preecha Wasusophon, the person managing the lease (for the company) would not extend my lease.   But he didn't let us know in advance, so we formed a group to sue them.   But, then, for the area in the back, she got a notification from the court instructing them to tear down (the buildings).   (Note: this area in the back is "Asoke Corner" half of Cowboy Annex on our maps - the area facing Soi 23. -ed), said notice arriving prior to destruction, so the bar beer owners were able to remove their things first.   The area in the front - we never got a paper from the court, but it was torn down anyway.   After (the buildings) were torn down, we notified Col Kongdej Sayanglor, Officer in Charge at the Thong Lor Police Station that they had been torn down, and we brought evidence so that we might sue for damages from those that tore the buildings down."
Mr Tonphat Satjonjana, young brother of Ms Jirapha revealed that on 13 December 2004, the owner of the land came to the bar beer area with the Officer of the Court bearing the warrant, some police, and several able-bodied men for tearing down the buildings - using the old document.   But, then Khun Jeerapha made an appeal to the court, and an appointment was made (by the court) to investigate on 18 December 2004 - so she didn't know how this (destruction on the 14th Dec) could have happened.
Mr Tonphat also said that, "On 2 December the owner of the land had brought 100 able-bodied men to make a new fence around the bar beers.   I (likewise) went to the court to appeal, but today they again came in force with an official to destroy the buildings, and I do not understand how they can do this while (this case) is still under the consideration of the court."
"We are people working for a living, we don't have any power to fight them.   They brought one hundred people each time.   We were already afraid - we didn't dare to do anything," Tonphat said.
Ms Sujet Somniem, 33, at 101/156 Moo Ban Sirinthet 9, Saphan Sung, BKK, owner of a bar beer, said that she has rented an area for her bar beer from Ms Jeerapha for more than 2 years - lease cost of one million baht, and a monthly rental of 40,000 baht.   As for the current destruction, she said, "I was not notified until 13:00 hrs, 13 December, when someone called and said that at 10:00 hrs men and women came to take things from the bar. (Note: this is probably a misprint - it almost certainly would have been "14 December'. -ed) and that after that, they broke the bar beer down , and they asked me to quickly come to see.   But when I got there, the bar beer was destroyed already.   Then I went to file a report at the Thong Lor Police Station to punish those who destroyed the bar, but the police refused to accept the complaint.   I then asked them for justification.
Another lessee, Ms Payon Yonthung, 35, from Lampang said that she rented the land for her shop for more than two years - initial lease cost of 300,000 baht, and a monthly rental of 17,000 baht.   "Before the event, we didn't know the bar beers would be destroyed.   The people who came to tear down the bars were more than 40 in number.   They came in 3 trucks.   They made a tent in the middle of the (back) area and the bar owners brought their (moveable) things back to store under the tent before they destroyed the shops.   They made extensive damage to the (fixed) property items.   I didn't know what I was to do - after this, all the shop (bar beer) owners will talk together once again, to proceed with their claim to pay for damages caused by the wrecking crews."
Col Thongchai Wongsiwattanakul, Police Superintendent of Thonglor Police Station revealed that on 13 December, 10:00 hrs, the owner of the land and an Officer of the Legal Enforcement Department asked the police to lend their force to the execution of the warrant by going to maintain the peace during the destruction of the shops.   (He said) they presented a legal document.   He then sent police supervision per their request.
As for the case between Ms Jeerapha, the lessee of (all) the land, and the owner of the land, Col Thongchai said later that the owner could ask to take the land back, and cancel the contract with Ms Jeerapha, but (that) Jeerapha still possessed the area to rent out again.   The owner already had active litigation to get back the land for several years before the court gave the warrant to chase the lessee and the group out.   And, earlier, on 13 December, the Officer from the Legal Enforcement Office took the document from the court to the area in question and destroyed the structures.      Therefore, on this issue, if the (bar beer) lessees want to make a report to the police, they can seek to punish Ms Jeerapha by accusing her of fraud.
-Article appearing in The Nation, 15 December 2004
More beer bars torn down
Operators at Asoke Plaza upset at sudden demolition; 150 lose jobs
More than 150 people lost their jobs following the sudden demolition of about two dozen beer bars on Sukhuvit Road in the heart of Bangkok on Monday morning.
Managers of bars at Asoke Plaza, on the corner of Soi Asoke and Sukhumvit Road, voiced anger yesterday at the lack of warning that their premises would be knocked down.
They likened the demolition - carried out by officials from the Legal Execution Department and overseen by local police - to the Sukhumvit 10 (Sukhumvit Square) raid adjacent to the Nana Skytrain station in January 2003, allegedly ordered by tycoon Chuwit Kamolvisit.
The bar owners said that while the threat of demolition had been mooted for months, they were recently led to believe the bars could operate for all of the coming year.
Unlike the Soi 10 episode, however, operators or employes of most bars appear to have been allowed to remove their belongings before the structures were torn down.
Several bar owners vowed yesterday to fight the landlord for damages, saying the demolition occured despite a court appeal to stop them being evicted.
Thonglor police station commander Colonel Thongchai Wongsriwattanakul said the demolition was an old case and that a court had ruled the bars were illegal and should be removed.
Thongchai said the demolition was carried out by officials from the Legal Execution Department under protection from local police.
Wattana district director Surakiat Limcharoen said he needed to take action because the bar owners were operating illegally.
"I demanded these bar owners demolish their bars two months ago and 60 percent of them complied, but 40 percent remained stubborn so we filed complaints with the police to take action against them," Surakiat said.
He said that Surinakharinwirot University was not happy to have "illegal" bars open near its campus.
However Thanaphat Saijornjana, the brother of a bar owner, said he did not understand how police and court officials could demolish the bars when the bar owners were appealing against the courts ruling.
He said about 50 officials came to demolish the bars at 10:00 am on Monday.
The operator of the Sawasdee Bar said about 200 people had lost their jobs.
"Everybody's very sad now - a number of us worked there for many years," said the woman who preferred to be known only as "Da".
"I believe there was a problem between the land owner and the manager leasing the bars.   It had been to court but was not resolved."
One foreign bar boss, who asked not to be named, said the raid came out of the blue.
"There had been new contracts for every bar for next year," he said.
"It was another Soi 10 job - and (the Prime Minister) had said that would never be allowed to happen again."
(Excerpted from The Nation, 15 Dec 04)
All translations - Zootramp Publications
William R Morledge
© 2004, Bangkok Eyes / bangkokeyes.com