Former Thai Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra took to social media late on Tuesday to talk about government policies related to old buildings and decry rapid urbanization at the cost of culture.
Among the sites that needed to be preserved was Hua Lamphong station, which should become a hub of soft power.
“I would definitely keep Hua Lamphong,” he said. “It is irreplaceable and invaluable…and it can be made to be even more valuable,” he said.
Thaksin said it could be transformed into an exhibition hall for people from around the country to come and show their local wisdom, talents and products.
“It can be transformed into a soft power hub,” he said.
The train station, which was built in 1910, closed on Wednesday and all rail services moved to the new Bang Sue Grand Station.
Transport Minister Saksayam Chidchob said the ministry and the State Railway of Thailand (SRT) have plans to redevelop the 121-rai station for commercial purposes by clearing it to make way for condominiums, hotels and malls. However, the main station’s architecture will be kept as a museum.
The Fine Arts Department said last week that they will register the railway station as a official national heritage site to protect it from development plans. They have yet to say how much of the land should be conserved.
Thaksin said the loss-making SRT should not only be thinking of selling the land to pay back their debts. The state-owned enterprise’s debt was over 100 billion baht in 2020.
“Hua Lamphong should be given back as public property for people so that it can be used to promote knowledge, as a meeting center for the new generation and many other purposes…instead of just cutting it up and selling it as pieces.”