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Prompong suspects “foreigners’ in Phuket illegal land grab

Legacy Phuket Gazette

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Prompong suspects “foreigners’ in Phuket illegal land grab | The Thaiger

PHUKET: Government Spokesman Prompong Nopparit today announced that he believes foreigners were involved in the illegal acquisition of protected forest land on the headland south of Patong Beach, on Phuket’s west coast.

Leading an entourage of about 20 people, Mr Prompong this morning inspected the 20-rai plot of land in question, located near Freedom Beach.

He also led the questioning this afternoon of Phuket Land Office official Somchai Chaisri, who was answering questions on behalf of Phuket Land Office Chief Sithichai Promchart.

Mr Sithichai was unavailable to answer questions today, but has already voiced his support for the series of investigations into illegal Phuket land titles.

During questioning, Mr Somchai explained that ownership of the land had changed hands many times over the years.

In great detail, he read out example after example of applications for transfer of ownership of the land, transfers that were approved and even transfers that were denied due to inadequate documentation.

However, some critical information was not recorded, Mr Prompong discovered.

In response, all Mr Somchai could reply was, “I was not even working in Phuket at the time.”

Noting the complications, Mr Prompong said all the evidence collected during the investigation by the Office of Public Sector Anti-Corruption Commission (PACC) will be taken back to Bangkok for further examination.

Mr Prompong told the press earlier today that the land in question had been transferred into the ownership of a private company that had foreign shareholders.

“We will investigate further into what percentage of the company the foreigners own,” he said.

The visit by Mr Prompong and his team of inspectors today follows PACC Secretary-General Dusadee Arayawuth’s public announcement yesterday that he suspects skulduggery – possibly involving government officers – in issuing land titles for the prime, pristine real estate.

“A Chanote title was issued for the land, but the land was not even covered by a SorKor 1 [land document], and the land is believed to be inside a protected forest area.

“For both reasons, the land cannot be issued a valid land title deed,” Mr Dusadee said.

He explained that his suspicions were aroused when his investigation revealed that the same Chanote title number for the land now had been issued on two other occasions for the same land: Chanote Number: 89530.

“PACC officers discovered that the land survey map sheet number was registered on January 18, 1990, and a Chanote title was issued three times thereafter. This is illegal since a Chanote title can be issued only once,” he said.

Another factor clouding the issue is the matter of the land status: protected or not.

“Documents produced by the Phuket Provincial Land Office [PPLO] surveyor, who previously inspected the land, state that the land is in a protected forest area.

“However, officers from the Phuket Provincial Forestry Office claim to have reported to the PPLO that the area in question is not in a protected forest,” he said.

PACC officers also believe that the area was once a protected cattle field and was first registered in 1938. It was only in 1991 that the Chanote title was canceled since the area was included in the Nakkerd Hills protected forest.

Mr Dusadee noted similarities in how the Chanote title was issued for the 20-rai plot and for the land at Freedom Beach his office is also investigating.

He suspects it will take another two months to inspect the documentary evidence before the PACC can reach a conclusion as to who is involved.

Also, he was uncertain whether the investigation into the 20-rai plot will be conducted by the same team currently investigating the Freedom Beech land.

“From our initial investigation, the officers involved might be in higher positions than the PAAC officers investigating the case.

“If this is true, the PACC will likely report their findings to the Office of the National Anti-Corruption Commission for their action,” he said.

More probes into Phuket land grab scandals are likely in the near future. Before the day’s end, Mr Prompong told the press he would next turn his attention to a 90-rai plot adjacent to the 20 rai already under investigation.

“We will investigate that next,” he said.

Additional reporting by Kritsada Mueanhawong

— Atchaa Khamlo

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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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