Connect with us


Land officers target network of corrupt Phuket officials

Legacy Phuket Gazette



PHUKET: The Royal Forest Department (RFD) this week ramped up its campaign to break open a network of corrupt officials who allegedly issued illegal land titles over the past three decades, covering at least 8 billion baht of protected land in Phuket.

Working in collusion since 1987, the officials continued to issue SorKor 1 land-use documents for plots in Sirinath National Park, RFD Director-General Theerapat Prayurasiddhi told the Phuket Gazette.

“Our current investigations have uncovered illegal land documents covering 300 rai in the park alone,” he said. “Those documents could be used to apply for full Chanote title deeds, worth in total an estimated 6bn baht.”

At least 16 officials are being targeted in the campaign, Mr Theerapat said.

“Our investigation is far from over, and we expect more officers to be involved,” he added.

Former Phuket Governor Wichai Phraisa-ngop, a Land Office chief and several other officials were named in a police complaint filed on Thursday over illegal land titles issued for 80 rai in Sirinath National Park.

Kitiphat Taraphiban filed the complaint at Thalang Police Station as one of his last acts as park chief – he submitted his resignation on Thursday after only three months as park chief amid death threats and intimidation by influential people (story here).

That complaint, naming a network of 13 people, centered on two Chanote titles issued in 2009, Mr Kitiphat explained (story here).

Another eight officials are in the line of fire, facing charges for their involvement in producing illegal land titles for plots within a protected forest area on the headland south of Patong Bay near Freedom Beach.

“That land alone has an estimated value of 2bn baht,” said RFD Director-General Theerapat. “But we’ll never figure out the cost of the natural resources lost.”

The Karon Police have been tasked with bringing the charges against the officials, Cheewapap Cheewatham, the former Sirinath National Park chief who now serves as director of the RFD’s Forest Protection and Fire Control Division, confirmed.

“They are facing charges under Sections 157 and 162 of the Thai Criminal Code,” he said.

If found guilty of both charges, the officials each face up to 17 years in prison, or a meager fine of up to 34,000 baht, or both.

However, Mr Cheewapap declined to name the suspects, noting, “We need to withhold their names for now as it might affect the investigation.”

To cement its case against the “Freedom Beach Eight”, the RFD has enlisted three “big guns” to ensure the suspects do not escape justice.

The Natural Resource and Environment Crime Suppression Division (NREC), a division of the Royal Thai Police headed by Gen Chaloemkiat Sriworakan, is assisting the Karon Police in their investigation, Mr Theerapat confirmed.

The NREC is acting under a direct order from the National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO) to reclaim all public land in the country, and is tasked with updating the nation’s leaders on the unit’s progress each and every month.

“The NREC officers are experts in land cases,” Mr Theerapat explained. “They have better equipment and more in-depth knowledge. This can also lighten the load on the local police officers and help the investigation to proceed more quickly.”

Joining the fray is the Public Sector Anti-Corruption Commission (PACC), which can invoke further penalties against the suspects for engaging in corruption.

Key to the campaign is the support the NCPO has granted to investigators, Mr Theerapat explained.

“The investigators will report their findings to their superior officers, who in turn will report their progress to the NCPO,” he said.

“The NCPO has our backs and we have their protection. We are under armed military escort while conducting investigations on the island.”

— Chutharat Plerin


Want more Thailand news from the Thaiger family?

📱 Download our app on Android or iOS for instant updates on your mobile
📝️ Join the conversation on Thaiger Talk - discuss news & life in our Thailand forums
📧 Subscribe to our daily email newsletter
👍 Like/Follow us on Facebook
🔔 Subscribe to or Join our YouTube channel for daily video updates


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.

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

Follow Thaiger by email:

Thailand9 hours ago

Tourism officials eye August reopening under “Pattaya Move On” travel scheme

Thailand9 hours ago

Thailand News Today | Covid vaccine for foreigners, PM “not going anywhere”, Boss update | June 15

Best of10 hours ago

Top 8 Affordable Hotels to stay in Bangkok

Phuket Sandbox July 1st


Thaiger is getting behind local businesses for the restart of tourism in July - up to 50% discounts across all advertising packages in June!

Sponsored by image

Thailand10 hours ago

Central Bankruptcy Court approves Thai Airways debt restructuring plan

Best of10 hours ago

Top 5 secret islands and beaches in Thailand

Best of10 hours ago

5 best national parks in Phuket

Thailand11 hours ago

Australian man arrested for alleged child sex abuse in Thai border town

Best of11 hours ago

10 best fruits and vegetables in Thailand

Thailand11 hours ago

3 dead in 3 truck crash in Surat Thani

Thailand11 hours ago

Bangkok Post and Fazwaz join together to galvanise property listings platform

Bangkok12 hours ago

CCSA has yet to begin talks on lifting alcohol ban at Bangkok restaurants

Coronavirus (Covid-19)12 hours ago

Yala enters lockdown today

Thailand12 hours ago

Thai police say they’ve gathered “strong evidence” on transnational drug trade

Phuket13 hours ago

Indonesian fisherman rescued after 9 days adrift at sea

Thailand13 hours ago

More than 100 cats rescued from owner

Thailand3 months ago

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

Tourism3 months ago

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

Phuket4 months ago

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

Tourism4 months ago

Phuket Thai food treats you need to try | VIDEO

Thailand4 months ago

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

Tourism4 months ago

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

Thailand5 months ago

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

Thailand5 months ago

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

Thailand5 months ago

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

Thailand5 months ago

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

Thailand5 months ago

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

Thailand5 months ago

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

Thailand5 months ago

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

Thailand5 months ago

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

Thailand5 months ago

Thailand News Today | Southern floods, Face mask fines, Thai Air Asia woes | January 8