April 21, 2007

A Cry from the Upstream

Fantastic story about Sam Ngao/Ban Na district and the unfair treatment of locals when the Yanhee dam construction happennned in the 60ies
Check the link for more pictures of days gone by in Thailand
A Cry from the Upstream Suddan Wisudthiluck Despite being a small community, Ban Na has its long history back to at least the 18th century. Located on the west bank of Ping River, Ban Na once served as a popular place for stopover and was usually mentioned in the old records of both western and native travelers. Between the 19th to the 20th centuries, westerners travelling along the Ping River always put the location of Ban Na in their maps or reports, some of which discussed the contact between Ban Na and Moulmein in Myanmar. In Thai records, the procession of H.R.H. Princess Dara Rasmi of Chiang Mai, a consort of King Rama V, once made a stop at Ban Na in 1908. Thirteen years later, H.R.H. Prince Damrong on his back trip from Chiang Mai also took a rest there. However, in the 1960s, the long existence of Ban Na had come to an end as a result of the government's decision to build the Yanhee Dam across the Ping River in Sam Ngao District, Tak Province. With the Dam gradually taking shape, vast areas from Sam Ngao District in Tak up to Hod District in Chiang Mai were being submerged under water. And even though official documents have recorded fair compensation given to land owners in Ban Na, personal memoirs of Pramoj Malathong (1918-1980) speak otherwise. In his writings, Pramoj recounts in great details about a solitary struggle the villagers had made as well as a number of pains and miseries they had suffered from self-help evacuation, theft and robbery, unfair compensation, officials' ignorance and cheating, etc. Despite his death in 1980, Pramoj's memoirs have only recently been revealed. Once it is out on the market, more and more people have begun to realize the alarming fact that it takes over 20 years before a cry of this ordinary soul could be heard in public!

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