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Phuket Land Office voices support for corruption probe

Legacy Phuket Gazette

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Phuket Land Office voices support for corruption probe | The Thaiger

PHUKET: The chief of the Phuket Land Department has voiced support for the ongoing investigation into allegations that corrupt government officials colluded with private investors to have land title deeds issued on state land.

“The investigation by the Public Sector Anti-Corruption Commission [PACC] into illegally-issued land documents in Phuket will serve as a deterrent to other people who might be thinking of doing the same,” Sithichai Promchart told the Phuket Gazette.

The announcement by Mr Sithichai follows the discovery by PACC Secretary-general Dusadee Arayawuth and his team that many plots of protected forest land in the Kamala Hills were issued Chanote land title deeds illegally.

The PACC [Secretary-general] has now forwarded his office a list of many more suspect title deeds for closer inspection, including many in the Kamala area, said Mr Sithichai.

“Our office has also sent staff to investigate certain land plots that have ‘problems’. We are now waiting for the results of those investigations,” he added.

Mr Sithichai explained that from 2009 to the present, applicants had presented SorKor 1 papers requesting various title deeds for 4,337 individual plots. Of this total, 1,007 were requests for full Chanote land title deeds. Of these, 526 have already been issued.

All of the remaining applications have been lodged with district land offices in Kathu and Thalang, which are responsible for checking whether or not all the documents provided to support the applications were accurate and legally issued, Mr Sithichai said.

Those deemed valid will be processed, while those that are not will be revoked, he said.

Most of the problem cases are coming from the Kamala area, so applications for plots in that area will be subject to increased scrutiny, he said.

In a related development, the Royal Forestry Department (RFD) has announced it will launch an investigation into the illegal acquisition of land in Phuket, Phang Nga and Krabi after it discovered that more than 2,800 rai of forest reserve areas had been encroached upon over the past two years.

The move comes after the department recently discovered that about 65 rai of forest reserve at Freedom Beach in Patong, with an estimated value of 4 billion baht, had been taken over by “wealthy people”.

Samak Donnapee, chief of the department’s Forest Land Management Bureau, said encroachment into forest reserves had been rising drastically over the past two years, due mainly to the booming tourism industry and the rising price of agricultural products in Phuket, Phang Nga and Krabi.

Since 2010, about 2,848 rai of forest reserve land in Krabi, Phuket and Phang Nga have been invaded.

“A lot of resorts and rubber plantations were found in these areas,” Mr Samak said.

The department will also investigate land title deeds and other ownership documents issued in the past three years to see what entitles them to occupy forest reserves.

The RFD will also study satellite images to determine how the encroached land is being used. It will also check the age of the trees in the area to determine how much of the forest land in these reserves had been destroyed or degraded.

“If we find that the so-called ownership is illegal, we will immediately arrest the people and demolish all structures built in the forest reserves,” he said.

According to the RFD report, the three provinces have a total of more than 4,800 square kilometers of land marked out as forest reserves:

Krabi: 2,408.68 sq km

Phang Nga: 2,408.68 sq km

Phuket: 169.30 sq km

Recently, the department found that “wealthy people” were encroaching onto about 547 rai in the Ao Nang-Hang Nak forest reserve in Krabi.

“We found that one man was behind all this. He usually asks local officials to issue title deeds for his land, before he sells the land off to other wealthy people,” Mr Samak said.

Several of the new landowners had visited his office to seek interpretation of the aerial images, many asking officials to issue documents confirming that their land was not located in a forest reserve.

The department also found abnormalities in the interpretation of the aerial images.

Some of the interpretations of the images of encroached-upon land were conducted by a single individual.

Aerial images need to be interpreted by a group of experts from the committee set up to solve problems with encroachment, he said.

Examples of this occurred with land at Freedom Beach in Phuket, Koh Yao in Phang Nga and Mae Ram Phung Beach in Prachuap Khiri Khan, he said.

“Distorted interpretations might benefit rich people who want to own land in forest reserves,” Mr Samak said.

— Warisa Temram

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

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Hua Hin

Southern Thailand braces for rough weather and rain

May Taylor

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Southern Thailand braces for rough weather and rain | The Thaiger

The Thailand Meteorological Department issued a weather warning for southern Thailand with torrential rain forecast to hit the region throughout the weekend. The heavy monsoon over the Gulf of Thailand and south of the country is being blamed for the rough weather, with the TMD predicting flash flooding in many areas.

(Phuket, Hat Yai and Hua Hin’s forecast below)

“Waves are expected to reach 2 metres in height in the lower Gulf of Thailand and possibly higher at the height of the storm. Ships are advised to proceed with caution.”

For the north and northeast of Thailand, the TMD forecasts strong winds and cooler mornings as the arrival of the “winter” season, coupled with a moderate high-pressure system, causes temperatures to dip.

Hua Hin’s five day forecast

Southern Thailand braces for rough weather and rain | News by The Thaiger

Phuket’s five day forecast

Southern Thailand braces for rough weather and rain | News by The Thaiger

Hat Yai’s five day forecast

Southern Thailand braces for rough weather and rain | News by The Thaiger

SOURCE: The Nation | weather.com

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Crime

Now you see him, now you don’t… Patong Police hunt foreigner over $30k theft

Greeley Pulitzer

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Now you see him, now you don’t… Patong Police hunt foreigner over $30k theft | The Thaiger

PHOTO: Patong Police

Patong Police have yet to develop any tangible leads tracking down a foreigner who made off with US$30,000 in cash from a currency exchange booth in Kalim, north of Patong in Phuket, last Tuesday.

The man is about 168 centimetres tall with grey hair and around 60 years old, Patong police told The Phuket News.

“We have no clue what nationality he is.”

He was last seen at the currency exchange booth wearing a purple polo shirt, blue jeans and black cap. Police have checked hotels in the area, police stations across the island and Phuket Immigration, but have yet to join the dots and come up with firm leads.

“Investigators have checked CCTV in the area and collected what evidence we have but we still do not know the man’s name or where he was staying.”

The man had visited the booth several times before Tuesday, when he disappeared with the $30,000 in US banknotes, according to police.

“It was always small amounts”, he added, noting that the amounts didn’t warrant staff at the exchange booth to check the man’s passport before making the exchange.

The man arrived at the booth again at about 1pm on Tuesday, saying that he had 900,000 baht cash to exchange.

SOURCE: The Phuket News

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Crime

Mystery surrounds security guard found dead in his Phuket room

The Thaiger

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Mystery surrounds security guard found dead in his Phuket room | The Thaiger

PHOTOS: Phuket Hot News

The security guard of a hotel in Nai Yang, northern Phuket, 52 year old Yingyot Butsabong, from Maha Sarakham province, was found dead yesterday (October 16) in his room. Police remain mystified how the man came to grief.

A woman named Supattra received a call from the hotel he worked at and was informed that he didn’t show up at work yesterday, so she went to his apartment to check on him.

She saw that his room was locked from the inside, so used the key she had in her possession to open the room and found Yingyot laying on the floor, face down. She thought he was just sleeping so she tried to wake him up but once she flipped him, she found that he already passed away.

She immediately called Saku police, and once on the scene, police found that there was some blood on the floor. The man had a 2 centimetre wound on his left eyebrow which was deep into his skull. There was also a wound on his chin about 1 centimetre long and about a centimetre deep. His left eye had a bruise which looked like he was attacked by a hard object.

Police report that he had been dead for around four hours in the room.

The room was not ransacked and there was no sign of fighting or theft. His body has been sent to Thalang Hospital for a detailed autopsy and to look into the cause of death.

SOURCE: Phuket Hot News

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