The embattled community of Pom Mahakan

After 24 years of battling the Bangkok Metropolitan Administration (BMA), the community behind Pom Mahakan (Mahakan Fortress), located in the inner ring of Bangkok’s historical Rattanakosin Island, is once again facing an eviction order from the authorities. Despite the fact that the community is almost as old as Bangkok itself, the BMA wants to demolish the cluster of wooden houses behind the fortress wall where at least 318 people live, and develop the area into a public park.

Citing a 2002 cabinet resolution and 2004 Administrative Court order, the BMA urged the residents of Pom Mahakan Community to move out before 30 April 2016. Nonetheless, the residents, with the support of a group of historians, architects, and activists, are determined to stay put, saying that the community is a living museum where many of its handicrafts, such as Thai-styled wooden bird cages and wooden masks used in traditional Khon performances, are renowned among Thais and foreigners alike.

In the end, whether the BMA’s version of a tarted-up and empty fortress will prevail or the bustling noises of the children of Pom Mahakan will remain, is yet to be known. However, one thing that is certain is that the fate of the Pom Mahakan Community will set a standard for how cultural heritage sites in the City of Angels are preserved in the future.

The green strip between row buildings and Ratchanatda Temple in which Pom Mahakan Community is located from above

The residents of Pom Mahakan gathered to state their stand against the eviction order from Bangkok Metropolitan Administration (BMA) on 27 March 2016

An elderly resident of Pom Mahakan who is determined not to move out

The main alley inside Pom Mahakan Community

A renowned handicraft of Pom Mahakan Community, Thai-styled wooden bird cages

The life behind the ancient wall