Sunday, 9 June 2013

Isaan happy to host Formula One event

A man joins representatives from communities around the Rattanakosin Island old town in their demonstration at Democracy Monument yesterday against a plan to turn the area into a racecourse for Formula One event in 2015.

BANGKOK: -- Community groups rally at Democracy Monument, say it's poor choice for FI race

With many Bangkok residents opposing a plan set up a Formula One racecourse in the Rattanakosin area, businessmen in the Northeast are eager to host the event in the region as a possible boost to tourism.

About 80 representatives from 20 communities in Rattanakosin Island gathered at the Democracy Monument yesterday to object to the old city area being used as a racing track for the planned 2015 F1 Bangkok Tournament.

Residents of Bang Lamphu and nearby communities got together at the monument about 4pm yesterday to object the plan to hold an F1 race in the historically significant area. They stated they were not opposing organisation of the tournament.

"We are not here to oppose the organisation of the race here in Bangkok," Orasri Silpi, president of Bang Lamphu Residential Community, said. "However, we are here to protest the plan to use Rattanakosin Island as the race track."

Praserd Rithtisomrerng, a member of the Conservation of Art and Culture Board, said organisers had picked an inappropriate site.

"It is the matter of how appropriate it is to use this place," Praserd said. "It is rather inappropriate to host the event on this holy and historically significant place in Bangkok. Just imagine the damage that would happen if the worst [accident] should occur.

"If you want to race in Bangkok, that's fine. [But ] you just have to find another place for it."

Sittichai Pholhittanont, who joined the rally, said the demonstrators were also concerned about the cost, as the government would be footing the bill.

"The budget that is used to host this tournament should come from the private sector, or Formula One itself, not from the Government of Thailand," Sittichai said. "It is such a waste of money, which would come from the people's taxes."

People at the rally said they would announce their next move after they learnt the government's reaction to their stance. Kasidis Kruthangka, an undergraduate at Thammasat University, who was at the rally, said they would appeal to other related organisations if there was no response from the government.

Meanwhile, secretary general of the Northeast Chamber of Commerce Thawisan Lonanurak voiced his support yesterday for Nakhon Ratchasima hosting the 2015 F1 event. He said bringing the race to the northeastern province would boost local tourism and help the region's economy.

Chakkrit Siripanit, head of the Khon Kaen Tourism Association, also said holding the event in the Northeast would bring tourists with high purchasing power to the region.