Things starting to turn nasty
THE case between two Bangkok sisters and the driver of a pickup whose vehicle blocked the gate of their Prawet district home – which has become the talk-of-the town – was the tip of the iceberg in a long-running dispute in the area.
A video clip of the Sunday incident that has gone viral, shows Ratanachat Sangyoktrakan, 61, and Ranee Sangyoktrakan, 57, using an axe and spade to hit a pickup parked in front of their house in Seri Villa housing project.They paused when Rachanikorn Lertwassana, the pickup’s owner, came back to find that her car’s window was smashed and its bonnet and bumper were damaged.
Their accounts of what led to the incident were different. Rachanikorn claimed she parked her car and went away for just 10 minutes. The sisters said that they tried to find the owner of the pickup that blocked their gate by blowing the horn and then tried to move it, only to find that the brake was on. They said this went on for more than half and hour.What may have added to the siblings’ outrage was the fact that Rachanikorn told them she had heard the horn blowing but she chose not to return because she had not yet finished her shopping. Rachanikorn has filed a complaint with police against the two sisters, seeking compensation for damage amounting to Bt50,000. Rachanikorn, of Samut Sakhon province, said she parked the car assuming that the house was abandoned and may be under legal dispute, as there were big boards on the walls showing court orders and legal issues.
The front wall of the house is a familiar sight to people living in the area, as they know about disputes between the owners of the house and Bangkok authorities over noisy, busy weekend markets around the house that have been the source of several complaints.Yesterday, the sisters insisted to reporters that they had done nothing wrong and the incident was the first time they had resorted to attacking a parked vehicle even though they had plenty of opportunities previously. A police source said the family had asked Prawet traffic police to remove parked vehicles blocking the gate four times in the past three years and there had never been any violence before. One of the sisters told reporters: “Our neighbours and we have had this similar problem for 10 years.”
One of their neighbours joined in the briefing, saying that her son once suffered a broken leg but could not go to hospital because a car had blocked their gate. She said she had to wait for about two hours before it was moved. One of the sisters said they often had to wait for people to finish their shopping before they could leave their own house. “Sometimes people even complain to us that they haven’t finished their shopping yet,” she said. Other problems included rats from the markets sneaking into their houses and some vendors illegally using their electricity. They claim their home is in a dedicated housing estate yet “market after market has been erected around their house despite the fact that such businesses are not allowed”.In 2009, the women’s family petitioned for help from the Administrative Court, accusing the Bangkok governor, the director of the Prawet District Office, the Prawet District Office and the Bangkok Metropolitan Administration of failing to enforce laws to properly govern markets.
In 2013, the Administrative Supreme Court overturned the Central Administrative Court’s ruling in favour of the family and ordered it to re-hear the case. Prawet director Thanasit Metpunmuang said the case is pending in the Court. “To solve the ongoing problems of parking, operators of the three markets agreed to to cancel collecting parking fees. The fourth agreed only to reduce the parking fee from Bt50 to Bt20 per hour.” The high parking fees have caused shoppers to park outside the allocated parking areas. He disputed the claim that the area was only for housing, saying the City Planning Act allowed the building of markets. The family would be asked to remove the boards front walls and other items.