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Phuket park chief resigns over encroachment pressure

Legacy Phuket Gazette

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Phuket park chief resigns over encroachment pressure | The Thaiger

PHUKET: Park Chief Cheewapap Cheewatham has surrendered his fight to save Sirinath National Park from land encroachment and resigned from his position amid allegations of a 30-million-baht bribe to sign over protected land.

After almost two years of service, Mr Cheewapap could no longer handle the pressure of the job and the powerful businessmen he pursued on land encroachment charges, he told the Phuket Gazette.

“I could not take it anymore. The longer I had the job, the more dangerous it became,” he said.

“I felt pressure from every direction. I was even offered 30 million baht to sign over three plots, more than 300 rai, of park land to one businessman. Of course, I didn’t take it.”

Mr Cheewapap also said rumors were spread that his crackdown on land encroachment was just a ploy to collect bribe money from wealthy businessmen.

“The rumors are not true, and I am not afraid. I just think someone else will be able to better handle the pressure,” he explained.

“However, before I resigned, I filed another land encroachment complaint and ordered buildings to be removed that were built on six plots of protected land.”

Samak Donnapee, director of the Department of National Parks, Wildlife and Plant Conservation (DNP), expressed sadness in losing Mr Cheewapap.

“Mr Cheewapap is a very good and serious officer. We are so sorry to lose him,” said Mr Samak.

DNP Acting Director-General Niphon Chotiban approved Mr Cheewapap’s request to transfer to the Royal Forest Department in Bangkok and announced the officer that would be taking up the land encroachment battle in his stead.

“The new Sirinath park chief is Kitiphat Tharapiban, from Mae Ping National Park in Chiang Mai,” said Mr Niphon.

“Mr Kitiphat is an expert in land documents and border disputes. I believe he is the right man to lead the fight against land encroachment in Phuket.”

Although the park has lost one of its most fervent land protection advocates in Mr Cheewapap, Mr Samak reiterated the need to expedite the long list of land encroachment cases.

“There are more than 100 cases of land encroachment in Sirinath National Park and hardly any of them have been taken to court,” Mr Samak said.

Mr Samak affirmed that the DNP would be hiring its own lawyers to expedite legal action in these cases, much like Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment Permanent Secretary Chote Trachu announced his department would do in March (story here).

“We will hire lawyers to help us file our cases directly with the court, as this will make for a much faster and more efficient process,” said Mr Samak.

The DNP has also set up a special investigation team to crack down on land encroachment not only in Phuket, but also in Krabi and Phang Nga.

“I am heading up this team. We will start our investigation in Hat Noppharat Thara – Mu Koh Phi Phi National Park mid-month.”

— Kritsada Mueanhawong

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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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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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People

‘Always Smile Journey’ raises fund to provide free English classes for underprivileged people

Nattha Thepbamrung

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‘Always Smile Journey’ raises fund to provide free English classes for underprivileged people | The Thaiger

On October 18, the ‘Always Smile Journey’ group and its partners will host an exhibition with plenty of fun activities at the Yak Yai Market, near Chalong Circle, in Phuket. This event was designed to raise funds to provide free English classes for underprivileged people on the island of Phuket on Saturdays and Sundays. The group does not accept donations but aims to raise money through the sales of the products available at the event.

‘Always Smile Journey’ raises fund to provide free English classes for underprivileged people | News by The Thaiger

From 2 pm to 8 pm, there will be a number of artists, musicians and performers who will keep the attendees entertained along the way. There will be a short film about His Majesty King Rama 9 as well as fun activities and games for kids and families, which are all free of charge.

The big bike crew is also a part of this event. They will ride a parade from Rawai Beach heading to the market and showcase their gorgeous two-wheel buddies.

One of the highlights of the Always Smile Journey exhibition is the ‘Happening’ artists group, who will draw and paint a picture of the His Majesty King Rama 9 under the name ‘Street Art King Bhumibol’ on a 4×10 meter sign live at the event so the guests will experience this large-scale art in action. The Happening will also offer portrait sketching for the participants.

‘Always Smile Journey’ raises fund to provide free English classes for underprivileged people | News by The Thaiger

One of the works created by the Happening team; a painting of HM the King Rama 9 on a huge wall (Photo credit: Chawat Chumpasan)

There will also be some western menus available at the event which will be donated to underprivileged children.

This free English class project has over seven years of experience through its cooperation working with individuals and other charity organizations. Throughout the years, the group visited several areas such as Ban Laem Hoy School, Ban Bopud School and Ban Angthong School in Samui, Surat Thani province, Ban Bueng Ao Oun School and Ban Kakoh Rayong, in Surin province, Jalae Village of Lahu (Muser) in Chiang Rai province, as well as community education centers in Siem Reap, Cambodia and in Luang Prabang, in Laos.

This event is a cooperation between several groups, including Happening, Yak Yai Market and Arrow Media, Tattoo artist group, Thonburi Art School Alumni, International School of Tourism, Suratthani Rajabhat University, big bike group from Phuket, artists/performers/musicians from many provinces as well as several businesses across Phuket.

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