|The $4bn Suvarnabhumi airport was supposed
to be a showcase project for Thailand [EPA]
The discovery of hundreds of cracks has forced the closure of the western runway at Bangkok’s new, multi-billion-dollar Suvarnabhumi airport.
Repair work is on hold while investigators drill into soil 30 metres below the runway to determine the cause of the problem.
The showcase project has been dogged by problems since the first plans were drawn up some 40 years ago.
Allegations of corruption and a series of accidents plagued construction, and when the airport finally opened last year amid great fanfare, cracks began to appear in the airport runway and taxiways.
In the latest setback, officials have been forced to announce that some flights will be transferred back to the mothballed Don Muang airport while repairs are made.
Sermsuk Kasitipradit was a reporter for the Bangkok Post and first exposed the cracks in the airport runway two years ago. As a result he was sacked from his job.
As Thai authorities struggle to patch up the runway and the airport’s reputation, he told Al Jazeera his story:
“Sawadee Krap. My name is Sermsuk Kasitipradit.
I was once the chief reporter of Bangkok Post, who exposed the story of Suvarnabhumi airport runway.
I reported the story two years ago in the Bangkok Post, saying that we found a crack on the runway.
After the story came out, the Bangkok Post faced a lot of negative criticism from our former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra, who demanded a retraction of the story, otherwise the government would sue Bangkok Post.
After that the Bangkok Post set up a panel to investigate me.
The list of conclusions said I should face disciplinary action, cutting my salary and stripping me of responsibility.
But the editor-in-chief during that time felt that I should face dismissal from the paper.
That was a very strong punishment, I felt, because I don’t think that I should face such kind of punishment from the management of the paper.
Now I feel vindicated since the story came out and proved that my story two years ago was correct.
I was quite happy with this.
Even my colleagues at the Bangkok Post said that I proved that my source was reliable.
As a journalist what else can we expect, that we have a nice source, and then you confirm that you have reported on that.”