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 MueanhawongKeep in contact with The Thaiger by following our Facebook page.
Thailand welcomes cruise ship shunned in Vietnam over virus fears
German cruise ship AIDAvita has been welcomed in Thailand, days after it was blocked from docking in Vietnam due to fears of the COVID-19 coronavirus spreading across the region. Authorities in Vietnam’s Quang Ninh province, home to UNESCO world heritage site Ha Long Bay, barred passengers on the AIDAvita from disembarking on Thursday, according to the Vietnam News Agency.
Germany’s AIDA Cruises, the owner of the AIDAvita, did not respond to requests for comment. AIDA Cruises is a subsidiary of Miami-based Carnival Corp. The vessel, with some 1,100 passengers and 400 crew, docked early yesterday at the eastern Laem Chabang port, according to a Thai Maritime Security official who spoke on condition of anonymity.
“This morning Department of Disease Control officials have monitored all the passengers and right now there has been no report of any patients inside. The situation on this ship is normal and officials have not found anyone with fever over 37.5 degrees.”
Stoking fears in countries that usually allow cruise ships to dock is the quarantine in Japan of the Diamond Princess, also managed by a unit of Carnival Corp. Of the 3,700 passengers and crew on that vessel, 335 have now tested positive for the COVID-19 coronavirus. The ship remains quarantined in Japan’s Yokohama port. Phuket recently allowed two cruise ships to dock after turning away the MS Westerdam, which was eventually allowed to dock in Cambodia.
The AIDAvita was scheduled to disembark in Phuket today. However, because of worries about the virus, AIDA says it will now send the Aidavita and another vessel, the AIDAbella, for tours in other parts of the world. Rerouting these ships away from Asia, in effect cancelling them, will affect some 3,300 passengers.Facebook page.
More than 200 couples exchange vows on Valentine’s Day 2020 in Phuket
Knots were tied, brooms were jumped, rings were donned and brides were kissed. All three of Phuket’s district offices, Muang Phuket, Kathu and Thalang, were packed yesterday as couples vied to get married on Valentine’s Day. 109 couples registered their marriage at the Muang District Office alone, with the island’s vice governor present as a witness.
The 109 couples, of various ages and backgrounds, arrived at the Muang District Office on Mae Luan Rd in Phuket Town, where officials presented the newlyweds with special gifts. Two of the couples were a Thai marrying a foreigner.
Muang Phuket Deputy District Chief Wichet Suyanan explained that the project to encourage couples to marry on Valentine’s Day was aimed at promoting the importance of a registered civil marriage and the rights of couples under the law.
The Kathu and Thalang District Offices were crowded yesterday as well, with 50 couples registering their marriages in each.
SOURCE: The Phuket NewsKeep in contact with The Thaiger by following our Facebook page.
‘Leaving Thailand’ – From Phuket with love and heartaches
“In his new memoir “Leaving Thailand,” a former journalist, film tech and Phuket resident looks back on his life and loves in the kingdom that continue to haunt and inspire him.”
By Jim Algie
I’m wary of memoirs set in Thailand in which a sex-starved Western man descends on the country to get caught up in the carnal circus of bars, bargirls, sex tourists, wastrels, pleasure-seekers and those eccentric expats I call “Bangkooks”.
But Steve Rosse quickly differentiates himself from the herd in the first story, “A Woman of Bangkok,” by noting how he stumbled upon the famous novel “about a young Englishman who falls in love with a Thai ‘dancing girl’ in Bangkok circa 1950. She takes all his money, breaks his heart, costs him his job, and finally leaves him to a future of failure and bitterness. But despite its turgid plot, the book is brilliantly written. It is a story full of wit, pathos and plain old human drama, and it’s one of my favorite books in the world.”
I quote this passage at length not only because it sums up the story arc of so many Thailand books, but also because Rosse brings many of the same qualities, like “wit, pathos and plain old human drama,” which are the lynchpins of Jack Reynolds’ book, to these stories. The effect is a fresh take on a hoary genre that quickly morphs into something much more substantial and distinctive.
In the early parts, however, the blow-by-blow descriptions of the harlots-for-hire scene on Phuket around 1990 are tastefully done and largely sympathetic to the women. As a student of both Thai language and culture, Rosse casts himself as both participant and observer. By straddling that divide, he brings plenty of universal observations about life and hedonism to this specific milieu: “Everybody bears some burden of self-loathing, and for some that burden is so heavy they will only allow themselves joy if it’s connected to an act of penance.”
From the nether regions of Phuket the memoir scales the heights of high-society after the narrator, despondent about breaking up with a bargirl, marries a respectable Thai lady he doesn’t love and starts a family.
Now working in a five-star hotel, Rosse’s depiction of his life as a PR shill is both candid and comedic: “Normally I would greet a VIP in the lobby and walk him to the dining room, doing the warm up jokes on the way. Find out if the VIP has enough English for the intellectual jokes or if I would need to stick to jokes about farts. Settle in over appetizers and aperitifs, laud the hotel, hand out business cards, and then when the food hit the table ask for my photo opportunity.”
In one of the most memorable tales in “Leaving Thailand” (available from Amazon as an ebook or paperback), the author develops an unlikely friendship with their young nanny from Myanmar, both of whom have been tyrannized by Steve’s wife. (“A 38 year old man and a 13 year old girl. We were Vladimir and Estragon waiting for Godot in an empty, sterile, existentialist landscape.”)
But the story’s strong suit is that it plays out against a far bigger backdrop than the Phuket setting across a much wider swathe of personal history. In 2003, now in Iowa with his wife and children, the author took out a classified ad in The Phuket Gazette to try and track Pui down. The search results were zero.
Along the lines of JD Salinger’s classic short story, from which the title “For Pui with Love and Squalor” is taken, the friendship between Steve and Pui breaks free from the constraints of time and geography to float in a timeless realm. Sure, the particulars may have changed a little, but since maids and nannies from Myanmar remain fixtures throughout Southeast Asia, the story’s huge heart still pulsates with vitality.
In both Thailand and the US, the author covers plenty of ground. He takes a long trip up north to go trekking and smoke opium with a hill-tribe, which used to be a rite of passage for many backpackers. Once again, the story is not without its blackly comic interludes. When the author arrives back at JFK in New York an opium pipe he’d bought as a souvenir and forgotten about falls out on the table when the Customs agent searches his bags. After whisking him off to the back room for a personal search, he writes, “I told God, ‘Dear God, if you keep this cop’s finger out of my ass, I promise I’ll go back to Thailand and study Buddhism.”
There’s also a behind-the-scenes look at the making of the Oliver Stone movie, “Heaven and Earth.” Steve was the Head Set Dresser, and the only foreigner working on a team of nine Thai men. It’s another autobiographical piece in the collection with much grander ambitions than mere diarizing. In one passage he skewers the foreign stereotype of lazy and unreliable Thai male workers; these guys are both diligent and resourceful. In another, he conveys the main drawback of being an expat stranger living in very strange lands.
“And after two years of being the farang in Thailand, always being just outside the conversation, always trying to learn the rules and not accidentally insult anybody, always paying more for everything, it felt good to finally be on the team.”
For me, the most captivating story is “Cellies.” It starts in Iowa at a high-school graduation party in a bean field, illuminated by the lights of pickup trucks and energized by kegs of beer. Coming home from such a party, similar to one that Rosse attended, a blonde cheerleader is paralyzed for life when her boyfriend rolled his pickup on the way home.
Dorothy ends up in a nursing home across the street from the house where Steve grew up. After returning from Thailand in 1997 with his wife and two kids he winds up living in the family home again.
The contrast between all the developments in his own life, going to university then working in the film biz in New York, travelling all over Thailand before his bittersweet homecoming, and the details of Dorothy imprisoned in that nursing room, unable to move but still possessing the gifts of speech, sight and hearing, is both a devastating juxtaposition of parallel lives and a considerable feat of empathy for this hapless woman.
Hemingway famously said that the best stories are like icebergs; the biggest parts of them float beneath their surfaces: “The Old Man and the Sea” isn’t just about a fishing trip, right?
“Cellies” put me in mind of that quote, but also my hometown in Canada and all the old friends who never left. Maybe they were paralyzed by a lack of curiosity about the bigger world or all tied up in the straightjacket of a 30-year mortgage. I don’t know. It’s an open-ended kind of story. Do your own reading and choose your own interpretation.
For the most part, the stories unfold in chronological order. Towards the end, however, the author’s reflections span the vast gulf of nowadays and yesteryears after a return trip he made to Thailand in 2019.
Full of articulate and realistic stories written with candour and humour, the collection is a worthy non-fiction successor to “A Woman of Bangkok” told by “A Guy on Phuket,” who, despite the book’s title, never really left the kingdom.
Jim Algie is the author of the nonfiction collection “Bizarre Thailand” and the more recent book of music journalism and literature, “On the Night Joey Ramone Died: Tales of Rock and Punk from Bangkok, New York, Cambodia and Norway.” Both are available from Amazon.
The author, Steve Rosse
Keep in contact with The Thaiger by following our Facebook page.
Thailand is making you fat
Makha Bucha Day – Why does Thailand have a public holiday?
No alcohol sales today – Makha Bucha Day
Suspected British Coronavirus patient, confirmed NOT to have the virus – UPDATE
Coronavirus v SARS, a quick comparison
40-love. Police track down porn producers at a Bangkok university tennis court
Coronavirus UPDATE: 2,700+ infected, 80 dead, 8 cases in Thailand
The rise of the e-bicycle in Thailand, a bit of motorised assistance
Coronavirus UPDATE: 107 dead, more cases in Singapore and 1 in Cambodia
Doctors advise good hygiene as the best protection against coronavirus
Top 10 islands to visit in Thailand (2020)
Coronavirus UPDATE: More Chinese cities restrict travel, Thailand checking land borders
Coronavirus UPDATE: 15 Chinese cities are now in lockdown
Coronavirus – six new cases confirmed in Thailand
Thailand’s PM2.5 micron elephant in the room – OPINION
Gunman allegedly shoots and kills ex-wife at mall in Bangkok, another injured
1 dead, 1 injured in Bangkok mall shooting, gunman escapes
Air purifiers to be added to the top of Bangkok buses. Really…
Thailand’s General Motors plant sold to China’s Great Wall Motors
Chon Buri police say illegal beauty clinics dumped dozens of syringes in canal
Cambodia’s carelessness over coronavirus could bring disaster
National park staff scramble to prevent more wildfires as dry season approaches
Chiang Mai blanketed in smoke as fires burn around the province
Public Health Ministry urges Thais to delay visits to Japan, Singapore
Pollution Control Department issues “red alert” for the North
World travel suffers as coronavirus outbreak drags on
The Great Hong Kong Toilet Roll Heist of 2020
Thai government ponders nine day Songkran holiday
Four people arrested after posting fake news about coronavirus
German man dead after jumping from Pattaya condo, refusing medical assistance
ถ่ายทอดสดวอลเลย์บอลไทยแลนด์ลีก 2020 15 ก.พ.
ผลการแข่งขันวอลเลย์บอลไทยแลนด์ลีก 2020 สัปดาห์ที่ 4 -ตารางคะแนน
อัปเดตข่าวกราดยิงโคราช ทหารคลั่ง ฆ่าแล้ว 17 ศพ
Bibi does Bangla – What is the Thai girl experience with foreign boyfriends?
Do Thai women prefer ‘farang’ or Thai men? And why?
ขออีก 10 นัดพังสถิติ ! ไฮไลท์ วูล์ฟ 1-2 ลิเวอร์พูล, ฟิโน่กดชัย-มาเน่เจ็บหนัก
เมย์ผ่านสบาย-ชายไทยตัดกันเอง ! 23 ม.ค. ผลแบดมินตัน รอบสอง (R16) – Thailand Masters 2020 มีคลิป
ถ่ายทอดสด แบดมินตัน: วิว กุลวุฒิ VS SOONG Joo Ven – 23 ม.ค. รอบสอง (R16) Thailand Masters 2020
ชมวินาทีพบทอง ซ่อนใต้หลังคาบ้านพ่อแม่ ผอ.กอล์ฟ โกหกทิ้งน้ำ
กุนยิงเซฟสามแต้ม ! ไฮไลท์ เชฟยู 0-1 แมนซิตี้, เชซุส บอกโทษอีกแล้ว
ไม่ถึง 15 นาทีมีสกอร์ ! คลิป: ฟาน ไดจค์ โขกเต็มหัวให้ ลิเวอร์พูล ออกนำ แมนยู 1-0
แฟนหงส์ยิ้มกริ่ม ! ไฮไลท์ แมนซิตี้ 2-2 คริสตัล พาเลซ, ซาฮา ตัวแสบยิงเจ๊า
เฮย์เด้น เป็นฮีโร่ซัดชัย ! ไฮไลท์ นิวคาสเซิล 1-0 เชลซี, สิงห์หงอย โดนทดเจ็บ
สบาย สบาย ! คลิปไฮไลท์: เมย์ รัชนก ชนะ Michelle LI 2-0 เกม Indonesia Masters 2020 (QF)
- Thailand2 days ago
“Tourist arrivals to plunge 50% in first half of 2020” – Thai Tourism Minister
- Property2 days ago
Tips when buying a vacation home in Thailand
- Thai Life1 day ago
Toilet paper vs bum gun – which one is better?
- Chiang Rai2 days ago
Heroin smuggler busted in Chiang Rai
- Entertainment3 days ago
‘Leaving Thailand’ – From Phuket with love and heartaches
- Chiang Mai2 days ago
Man claims he was attacked and robbed by “foreigners”
- Pattaya3 days ago
German man falls to his death from Pattaya condo
- Coronavirus2 days ago
Thailand welcomes cruise ship shunned in Vietnam over virus fears