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Economy

Hundreds left jobless as Air Force cancels golf club contract

Jack Burton

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Hundreds left jobless as Air Force cancels golf club contract | The Thaiger
PHOTO: Chiang Mai CityLife
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Hundreds of people were left jobless in Chiang Mai yesterday after Wing 41, a property owned by the Royal Thai Air Force and the location of the Star Dome Golf Club, put up a sign cancelling its contracts with all renters. According to Wing 41, all contracts expired yesterday and as of today Star Dome will no longer be open for business. Wing 41 says it is not liable for any loss of employment of Star Dome staff or any privileges of its members.

The management of Star Dome held a press conference to clarify the situation, with management, staff and media invited, but around 20 army officials were present and told the media they were not allowed into the meeting, as the land belongs to the Air Force. They instructed reporters not to release any news about the matter until they received a letter of permission. Star Dome management then led 300 staff to a spirit house to seek blessings before leaving the property grounds to give media interviews.

Star Dome’s general manager said the club had won the rights to manage the golf course for 30 years, from 2007-2037, investing over 200 million baht in the 9 hole course and driving range, along with all the other facilities and landscaping. After signing the contract, the army contacted management saying 30 years was too long, and the contract would be renegotiated every 3 years, when the rent would increase by 5%.

This April, when it was time to renegotiate, the RTAF increased the rent by 500%, and put in place many restrictions, requiring the company to get official permission to make any changes to the property.

The GM says that with the reduced income due to the Covid-19 pandemic, they asked the RTAF many times for leniency, but have now been told that they must reenter the bidding process against other companies, and that their their previous is contract null and void.

“How are our 300 staff supposed to survive? We are a private company and have no interest in getting into a fight with the government, especially the army, but we are being bullied and need help and understanding. We have rights too.”

SOURCES: Chiang Rai Times | Chiang Mai City Life

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Jack Burton is an American writer, broadcaster, linguist and journalist who has lived in Asia since 1987. A native of the state of Georgia, he attended the The University of Georgia's Henry Grady School of Journalism, which hands out journalism's prestigious Peabody Awards. His works have appeared in The China Post, The South China Morning Post, The International Herald Tribune and many magazines throughout Asia and the world. He is fluent in Mandarin and has appeared on television and radio for decades in Taiwan, Mainland China, Hong Kong and Macau.

1 Comment

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    Toby Andrews

    August 3, 2020 at 11:11 am

    We have rights too. The golf company states. Not in Thailand you don’t.
    Seems like shabby treatment from the Army.
    They sign a contract for 30 years.
    Invest 200 million, then the Army/Airforce goes back on the deal.
    They say the contract is now only for 3 years, and the rent will rise 5 percent each time.
    However the first time the contract ends they want 500 percent.
    This is how a Thai takes over a bar from a felang when they see the bar is doing well.
    Truth, honesty and fair dealing is rare in amazing Thailand, even among themselves.

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