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Poor turnout for SorPorKor meeting

Legacy Phuket Gazette

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Poor turnout for SorPorKor meeting | Thaiger

PHUKET TOWN: Only 67 people of the 515 people in Phuket holding SorPorKor 4-01 land occupation papers registered at a meeting with Phuket Governor CEO Pongpayome Vasaputi yesterday. With the central government about to send dozens of investigators to Phuket to check all SorPorKor papers, Gov Pongpayome had asked SorPorKor holders to a one-hour meeting at the Phuket Provincial Meeting Hall. The aim of the meeting was to explain the thinking behind the original issue of the papers, and to answer questions on issues raised by the current investigation ordered by Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra. Afterwards, the Governor said, “We invited people with SorPorKor papers to the meeting because we wanted to ensure they understood what was happening. “People should not be surprised if officers go to see them and ask for their help,” the Governor added. They should cooperate fully and openly, he stressed. “This means that if, for example, you are a hotel owner who has 10 rai of SorPorKor land, you should not tell officials that you are farmer. “The government will examine your sources of income. For instance, if you have profits from a hotel of 10 million baht a year and you get 200,000 baht from your farm, does this mean you are a farmer? “When checking, we will still use the same criteria [as were set out when the SorPorKor scheme was launched in 1994]. We’re not changing the rules. “Don’t worry about anyone giving false information against you, because after we have checked, everything will be doublechecked by the new high-level government committee [under Deputy Prime Minister Chavalit Yongchaiyudh],” the Governor added. The Agriculture Land Reform Office in Phuket has reissued the rules governing the original allocation of SorPorKor papers, which demonstrate how things became so messy in the first place. The rules defined two groups of people who qualified for SorPoKor papers: farmers, and those who wanted to become farmers. But there was no definition of the word “farmer”. Those in the second group had to show that they met one of three criteria: that they were poor; that they had studied agriculture; or that, oddly, they wanted to join the SorPorKor system. The second group also had to prove that they had no land, or that they had not enough land to cover the basic costs of living. “Phuket is different from other provinces,” the Governor said. “In those provinces, farmers applied enthusiastically for SorPorKor papers, but in Phuket not many people were keen [to take up papers that did not confer ownership of land].” Some 30 to 40 officers from the Agriculture Land Reform Department in Bangkok were due to arrive in Phuket yesterday to start checking on SorPorKor papers, but Gov Pongpayome announced that their arrival has been postponed to next Monday so that they can receive additional briefing on how to check the titles. The investigation is part of a wider probe into circumstances surrounding the assassination of the Assistant Chief of the Phuket Provincial Land Office, Pongtorn Hiranyaburana, on April 25. In Phuket, there are 515 parcels of land with SorPorKor titles, covering a total of 10,400 rai.

 

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