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Phuket corruption probe reveals “hundreds’ of suspicious land titles

Legacy Phuket Gazette

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Phuket corruption probe reveals “hundreds’ of suspicious land titles | The Thaiger
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PHUKET: The investigation by the Office of Public Sector Anti-Corruption Commission (PACC) into illegally issued land titles in Phuket has identified 100 plots that will be investigated thoroughly, but the number could easily double if tip-offs from local informants are accurate.

PACC Secretary General Col Dusadee Arayawuth said that “some” of the 100 plots investigated so far had been cleared and deemed legal, while the remainder were still under investigation.

However, he added that since the probe was launched 10 months ago, his office had been informed of at least 100 more plots worthy of being investigated.

“We have a network of informants in Phuket who tell us that there must be at least 200 plots of land that may be illegally owned. When we first received this information from our sources, we were not convinced. But since coming to inspect for ourselves, we’ve found suspicious land deals every single time,” Col Dusadee said.

“We will investigate every single plot, especially any land owned by, or involving any former or current government officials. We will also check to see where they worked before to check for any previous activities that may be suspicious,” he added.

Col Dusadee explained that the PACC intends to target land that “may have the potential or opportunity to be encroached on by government officials.”

He listed five examples where his team had researched the official records and found the documents “suspicious enough” to investigate:

1. Land ownership documents for 20 rai of land at Laem Mai Ngao in Karon. The PACC is now investigating government officials involved with the issue of the land ownership documents.

2. Land ownership documents for two plots of land at Baan Nakalay in Kamala. The plots now have a hotel and a resort on them. The PACC subcommittee is now investigating this case.

3. Using a SorKor 1 land document for land in Patong to issue a higher-grade land ownership document for 21 rai of land in Kamala. That land now has a hotel under construction on it. As the case involves government officials, it has been handed over to the Office of the National Anti-Corruption Commission (NACC) to lead the investigation.

4. A request to survey land in Patong in order to issue a NorSor 3 Gor document was altered in size by including 21 rai of SorPorKor land (land that can be used for only agricultural purposes and remains the property of the government). The case is now being handled by NACC due to government officials’ involvement.

5. Land ownership documents issued for land within the preserved forest area of the Kamala Hills. The case involves an attempt to issue a Chanote land title deed for seven plots of land covering about 300 rai. Col Dusadee inspected the site himself and declared it was within the protected forest area. The case is under investigation.

“There are still more cases in Phuket that we are investigating,” Col Dusadee said.

“We are working contentiously and quickly. We have to show our work to the government so they may see that the budget they have provided us is being used productively. We want to get as much encroached land back as possible.”

“Much of this depends on how much government departments are willing to cooperate. We want their cooperation, especially that of the Land Office, which is under the Ministry of Interior,” he added.

To cut the amount of “red tape” to facilitate a speedy investigation, the PACC on Tuesday signed an agreement to cooperate with the Permanent Secretaries of the Ministry of Interior and the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment.

Also signing the agreement were the Royal Thai Police Department of Special Investigation (DSI), the Agricultural Land Reform Office and the National Anti-Corruption Commission.

“No matter how high ranking they are, if they are found guilty of encroaching on [or assisting others to encroach on] public land they will be prosecuted without exception,” said Col Dusadee.

— Kritsada Mueanhawong

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Coronavirus (Covid-19)

Re-opening Thailand to tourism will be vaccine dependent

Bill Barnett

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Re-opening Thailand to tourism will be vaccine dependent | The Thaiger

Bill Barnett from c9hotelworks.com continues to follow the difficult journey of the Thai hospitality industry. Traditionally, now would be the start of the country’s highly profitable high season for the tourism industry. But not this year. Thai hotels find themselves in the middle of an existential crisis – either still closed, only partly open, or one of the few converted to limited ASQ traffic. The situation is dire, when you consider that between 15-20% of Thailand’s GDP is linked to tourism.

In a speech this week Thailand’s Prime Minster Prayut Chan-o-cha spoke clearly that only when a vaccine is approved, produced, and implemented, would the country open to substantial tourism. Given the current timelines and forecasts, this may not be likely until mid-2021 at the earliest, though subject to advancement if the process could be accelerated, which is unlikely.

For tourism and hotel stakeholders, the writing is on the wall that 2021, for the most part, will see a continued reliance on domestic travellers, and only in 2022 will there be a large-scale return in numbers of overseas visitors.

Given the winter spike in Asia, Europe, and North America of Covid-19, Thailand is not alone in relying on the vaccine to return tourism but the process will not be instant and the re-openings of borders will most certainly be staged.

HERE’s a list of 113 Alternative State Quarantine hotels.

The business reality for Phuket and across Thailand is to plan for the worst in the coming six months and only expect 2022 to see a notable uptick.

Currently, the hotel sector continues to advocate to the Thai government and Central Bank for debt and financing relief measures and assistance in a social security supplement to retain staff.

While it’s negative news, it at least allows for hotels to understand the challenges ahead, plan and adjust their operating models going forward. ‘Survive the downturn’ is the new mantra.

No vaccine, no entry. Read more HERE.

No vaccine, no flight. Read more HERE.

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Phuket

Phuket workshop helps residents cope with high stress brought on by the economic crisis

Caitlin Ashworth

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Phuket workshop helps residents cope with high stress brought on by the economic crisis | The Thaiger
PHOTO: Facebook: ประชาสัมพันธ์ เทศบาลตำบลวิชิต

Hundreds of residents in Phuket’s Wichit subdistrict attended a workshop focused on reducing stress from to the pandemic-induced economic crisis. A psychologist was even on site to help those who had extreme mental stress and a Buddhist monk taught meditation techniques to reduce physiological effects of stress.

The event was planned in response to an online survey conducted by the municipality asking residents about how much stress they were experiencing from the economic climate. They found that some residents had serious stress issues brought on by the pandemic and financial problems, according to Wichit Mayor Kreetha Chotiwichphiphat.

“The loss of income due to the economic crisis brought on by the Covid-19 situation has resulted in some people in the area suffering serious stress, which can lead to serious mental health issues.”

Around 350 people attended the event. The mayor says it was the first step in caring for the residents’ mental health. Local officials plan to hold similar workshops in the future.

“It was a good opportunity for people to realise the importance of mental health and to learn techniques of how to deal with stress, which will help people to maintain their physical health and avoid developing mental health problems.”

SOURCE: Phuket News

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Phuket

Phuket’s Soi Dog Foundation opens Humane Education Centre at Mai Khao shelter

The Thaiger

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Phuket’s Soi Dog Foundation opens Humane Education Centre at Mai Khao shelter | The Thaiger

The Soi Dog Foundation has officially opened its Humane Education Centre, the first of its kind in Thailand dedicated to the welfare of stray animals. The centre, located at the Soi Dog shelter in northern Phuket, forms part of the foundation’s Humane Education program. Rolled out in 2017, the program sees a team visit Thai schools to teach the next generation the basic principles of animal welfare and promote empathetic attitudes towards both owned pets and free-roaming strays.

The program has reached a total of 15,058 students and 861 teachers to date. With a dedicated classroom as well as educational tools and resources now on site at the shelter, Soi Dog will be able to expand the programme and reach an even greater number of young minds.

Co-founder and president of Soi Dog Foundation International John Dalley said, “The cornerstones of what we do – what I believe very firmly are the answers to the stray dog problem throughout Asia – are large-scale sterilisation of stray dogs and cats and education of, particularly, the next generation.

“We see all the time the problems that are being caused through us not respecting the environment and not respecting the other animals with whom we share this planet. That’s why education is so important.”

John also thanked the supporters and donors who made the construction of the centre possible. After cutting the ribbon, the students filed into the brand-new facility for the very first on-site class – a fun and interactive hour of roleplaying, brainstorming and problem solving.

Humane Education Manager Nuttawut “Film” Kumngern. said… “We want to encourage kindness toward animals, especially free-roaming dogs and cats, and teach youngsters to be responsible pet owners. This will sustainably reduce animal cruelty and pet abandonment.”

“We hope to one day see animal welfare incorporated into the curriculum in Thai schools, and our education centre is a great start.”

Soi Dog is ready to welcome school groups from Phuket and other provinces to the centre which can accommodate up to 40 students at any one time. Schools interested in participating are encouraged to email film@soidog.org

Phuket's Soi Dog Foundation opens Humane Education Centre at Mai Khao shelter | News by The ThaigerPhuket's Soi Dog Foundation opens Humane Education Centre at Mai Khao shelter | News by The Thaiger

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