24 May 2019
Thailand’s new parliament formally opens Friday after March’s messy general election but has nowhere permanent to call home.
A dedicated $380 million complex in Bangkok is years behind schedule, forcing politicians to meet in an auditorium rented from state-run firm TOT Pcl. The prime minister may be selected in the temporary hall as early as next week.
“The new parliament will be ready for use probably late next year,” said Pakpoom Srichamni, the president of Sino-Thai Engineering & Construction Pcl, the project’s contractor. He said the handover of necessary land was delayed.
The design of the new riverside building is based on Buddhist cosmology, with a golden spire-like structure as the centerpiece to promote moral character among politicians. Its name, Sappayasapasathan, means the place to carry out good deeds.
Construction began before the most recent military takeover in coup-prone Thailand in 2014. The 424,000-square-meter parliament is expected to be one of the world’s largest administrative buildings.
The old parliament house closed down as the compound reportedly had to be returned to the Royal Household Bureau. King Maha Vajiralongkorn ceremonially opens parliament later Friday at the Foreign Ministry.
The disputed March election followed almost five years of military rule. No single party emerged with a lower house majority and a coalition government has yet to be formed.
Pakpoom said Sino-Thai Engineering & Construction plans to seek as much as $94 million in compensation from the state for delays, once the project is completed.