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Thai PM wants airport parliament

Thaksin (left) says the move would make it easier for visiting foreign dignataries.
Thaksin (left) says the move would make it easier for visiting foreign dignataries.

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BANGKOK, Thailand (CNN) -- One of the busiest airports in Asia could become a new seat of government if Thai Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra gets his way.

According to local media reports the Thai leader wants to move the national parliament along with Government House and several other ministerial offices out to the overcrowded Don Muang International Airport on the outskirts of Bangkok.

The airport, currently creaking at the seams under the burden of far more passengers than it was designed to accommodate, is due to be replaced by a new international airport to the north of the city in 2005.

The current parliament building in central Bangkok is also facing similar problems, unable to provide sufficient office and meeting room space for Thailand's 500 MPs and 200 Senators.

So, as far as Prime Minister Thaksin is concerned, the solution is obvious.

But the proposal has failed to enthuse officials responsible for government office management, the Bangkok Post says.

Too narrow

The current Thai parliament is running short of space.
The current Thai parliament is running short of space.

According to the English Language daily the National Economic and Social Development Board says that although the airport's 300,000 square meter area is ample for parliament's needs, the buildings designed to load and unload 747s are too narrow and too long to make a suitable working environment for the nation's politicians.

On top of that the Thai Airport's Authority has said that Don Muang should be kept as a functioning aviation gateway because even the new airport may be at capacity within just a few years.

Not averse to getting his own way though, Thaksin is undeterred.

On Thursday he announced that his deputy would be carrying out feasibility studies on the move.

He says the proposal would make use of buildings built at huge expense to the Thai tax payer but which will otherwise lie empty when the airport moves in two years time.

"Don Muang airport and its passenger terminals, built at the cost of tens of billions of baht will have no function after Suvarnabhumi airport opens," the Post quoted him as saying.

Rather than having to negotiate central Bangkok's notorious traffic, he added that the move would bring with it the added bonus that visiting dignitaries would be able to land virtually outside the government offices.

"Whenever foreign leaders come here they can visit either Government House or parliament after inspecting the guard of honor," he said.

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