HOPEWELL Holdings managing director Gordon Wu Ying-sheung says he will demand damages if the US$3.2 billion deal to build a mass transit system in Bangkok collapses. ''It's not collapsing right now. But if they insist on things and they want to make it collapse we will make it collapse and we will ask them to pay all the damages,'' Mr Wu said. ''We have a strong case.'' Mr Wu - fresh from being showered with praise by Philippine officials for successfully completing the first of six fast-track power projects commissioned by the Ramos government - said of the Thai project: ''We want co-operation. This is a very crucialproject for Bangkok.'' The first pile of the above-ground project was driven in August, but there has been little activity since then. Under a hastily-negotiated contract, Hopewell agreed to construct the 60-kilometre network in eight years. The Hongkong firm was given a 30-year operating concession and two 10-year options for extension. Mr Wu attributes many of the problems to a post-coup change in the Thai negotiating team. ''The team before was very co-operative. Now the new boss is totally unco-operative.'' He said in some cases the State Railway of Thailand (SRT) had not met contractual obligations, such as the undertaking to hand over land needed. Mr Wu said the SRT had agreed to provide Hopewell with pre-casting yards at reasonable rents. ''Then we found they started to put in unreasonable demands.'' According to published reports, the SRT is seeking an extra 560 million baht (about HK$182.11 million) for two plots of land eyed by Hopewell. Mr Wu refused to categorise the project as near collapse as there had been support for Hopewell from the deputy prime minister, who is in charge of major infrastructure projects. Mr Wu said Hopewell had already sunk about HK$200 million into the project. Work undertaken so far includes test drilling, site surveys, design and organising. Despite Hopewell's difficulties in Bangkok, Mr Wu said nothing compared with the treatment he had received in Hongkong over the airport project. ''In Hongkong they were quick and decisive: they said we don't want you.'' Asked whether he believed the Chek Lap Kok airport would be ready by 1997, Mr Wu said: ''You must be joking. It won't be open in 1997 or before then.'' With Hopewell having spread its tentacles around the region - its portfolio includes several power projects in China and the Philippines, superhighways in Guangdong, and hotels - Mr Wu said the group was largely unaffected by political uncertainty in the territory. He said that because of the ambitious scope of its projects, the group was frequently the target of unfair criticism. For instance, critics had accused the 120-kilometre, US$1.2 billion Guangzhou-Shenzhen superhighway of falling hopelessly behind schedule. ''We still have 15 months to run on the contract and people are saying we are going to be late.'' The first phase is not supposed to be finished until June 1994, but Hopewell promised to beat the deadline by one year, qualifying it for an early-completion bonus of up to HK$900 million.