Connect with us


OPINION: Is xenophobia damaging Phuket’s prosperity?



A recent front page story in the Bangkok Post claiming foreigners control 90 percent of Phuket’s beach land through Thai nominees stopped many expats in their tracks.

The truth of the claim – by the authors of a new study into foreign land ownership in Thailand – is difficult to verify.

The authors of the research, a team from Sukhothai Thammathirat Open University, gathered their evidence from the private sector, local government, the Board of Investment, the Land Office, the Chamber of Commerce, the Industrial Council and Immigration among others.

This is not the kind of research that can be readily repeated by a newspaper interested in getting to the truth of the matter.

But many of those who read the Post‘s story will have perceived – rightly or wrongly – a tone of xenophobia.

A nuanced 43-page report on foreign ownership of land in Thailand was boiled down to an explosive headline that was bound to put expat residents here on the defensive.

In fact, similar claims are made in the Thai press regularly.

The debate over foreign ownership of land in Thailand is one that has raged for years, and now more so than ever.

Recently, rumors that foreign businessmen from the Middle East were buying up Thai rice paddies received widespread coverage.

The Foreign Business Act forbids foreigners from owning farming businesses, making such purchases, if real, illegal.

The Department of Special Investigations is reported to be investigating the claims, while the Agriculture and Co-operatives Ministry is said to be drafting a bill to prevent such land grabs.

Of course, this is not to say Thailand does not have the right to protect its most vital resources from foreign control.

Food security is likely to become an increasingly pressing issue in a world most experts agree is getting warmer, and everyone agrees is getting crowded.

But so far, rumors of these illegal buyouts have remained just that.

Meanwhile, the authors of the Thailand Research Fund study admitted foreign investment capital was essential for developing Phuket and other tourist resorts in Thailand.

This investment has turned Phuket into the most affluent province in the Kingdom.

Despite reports that Thailand is no longer in recession, the island’s property market – responsible for so much of that affluence – is still suffering.

Thailand is now more divided than at any time since the seventies.

The country needs unity, but stoking xenophobia is not the right way to bring Thais together.

It’s the right way to drive away the investment that Thailand, and Phuket in particular, needs.

— The Editor


Get more from The Thaiger

Join the conversation and have your say on Thailand news published on The Thaiger.

Thaiger Talk is our new Thaiger Community where you can join the discussion on everything happening in Thailand right now.

Please note that articles are not posted to the forum instantly and can take up to 20 min before being visible. Click for more information and the Thaiger Talk Guidelines.

Click to comment

You must be logged in to post a comment Login

Leave a Reply

Archiving articles from the Phuket Gazette circa 1998 - 2017. View the Phuket Gazette online archive and Digital Gazette PDF Prints.

Follow Thaiger by email:

Thailand11 hours ago

Unhinged gunman fires 18 shots into school because kids were too noisy

Thailand11 hours ago

Thailand News Today | Raid finds all monks on drugs in Phetchabun temple

World11 hours ago

Iran threatens footballers’ families with prison and torture, security source says

Sponsored19 hours ago

Challenges of starting a business in Thailand as a foreigner

Thailand12 hours ago

Angry Thai man condemns foreigner for not wearing a mask on BTS

Thailand12 hours ago

Thai man commits suicide due to mass govt corruption

Crime13 hours ago

Pattaya loan sharks allegedly abduct and assault young woman

Join the conversation on the Thaiger Talk forums today!
Property News14 hours ago

Nana Overview Guide in 2023

Tourism14 hours ago

Phuket sees over 50,000 Russian tourists in past month

Thailand14 hours ago

Hapless Bangkok gold thief gets caught at a bus stop

Lifestyle15 hours ago

Stop and smell the tulips at Floral Fair 2022 in Bangkok

Thailand16 hours ago

Police seize board game after claims it could cause insurrection in Thailand

World16 hours ago

Mauna Loa, world’s largest volcano, erupts for the first time in 40 years

Tourism17 hours ago

Thailand tourism may see a decline next year

Thailand17 hours ago

Thai govt to crackdown on cybercrime & handout free laptops to poor kids

Drugs17 hours ago

Hundreds of thousands of meth pills seized in Songkhla

Thailand1 year ago

Morning Top Stories Thailand | Police to end protests, Human Trafficking | September 14

Thailand2 years ago

Thailand News Today | Thai Airways in rehab, All go for Songkran | March 4

Tourism2 years ago

Phuket’s nightlife. Yes, bars and clubs are still open | VIDEO

Phuket2 years ago

Thailand News Today | Covid passport talks, Thai Airways heads to court | March 2

Tourism2 years ago

Phuket Thai food treats you need to try | VIDEO

Thailand2 years ago

Thailand News Today | Bars, pubs and restaurants ‘sort of’ back to normal | Feb 23

Tourism2 years ago

In search of Cat & Dog Cafés in Phuket Town | VIDEO

Thailand2 years ago

Thailand News Today | Gambling crackdown, Seafood market to reopen, Vlogger challenge | Jan 21

Thailand2 years ago

Thailand News Today | Covid testing for visas, Business impact, Vaccine approval | January 19

Thailand2 years ago

Thailand News Today | Weekend Bangkok bombs, Thailand fires, Covid update | January 18

Thailand2 years ago

Thailand News Today | Stray car on runway, Indonesian quake, 300 baht tourist fee | January 15

Thailand2 years ago

Thailand News Today | Governor off respirator, sex-trafficking arrest, condo prices falling | January 14

Thailand2 years ago

Thailand News Today | Chinese vaccine, Thailand ‘drug hub’, Covid update | January 13

Thailand2 years ago

Thailand News Today | Bangkok may ease restrictions, Phuket bar curfew, Vaccine roll out | January 12

Thailand2 years ago

Thailand News Today | Covid latest, Cockfights closed down, Bryde’s Whale beached | January 11