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Senator sets sights on Army to resolve Phuket land encroachment



PHUKET: A member of the Thai Senate is looking to call in the armed forces to wage war against the “big guys” behind land encroachment in Phuket.

Pol Col (Rtd) Sontaya Sangphow was in Phuket on Friday to arm himself with information in order to pitch his suggestion to fellow senators in Bangkok.

“We are concerned that District Officers are ‘unable’ to arrest the big guys behind land encroachment. We are also concerned about the safety of the officers carrying out the investigations,” Col Sontaya said.

“Phuket officers are working hard to arrest those encroaching on protected public land, but so far only small businessmen have been arrested. The big ones have yet to be caught.

“Therefore other departments must be called in to assist. I would suggest the Internal Security Operations Command [ISOC] be involved,” he said.

ISOC, which reports directly to the Prime Minister’s Office, is renowned as the Thai military’s agency for national security issues. Where state emergencies have been decreed, such as in the Deep South and Bangkok during civil unrest, ISOC acts as the central command for coordinating Thai military actions.

Col Sontaya currently serves on three senate committees, including the Senate Committee on Justice and Police Affairs.

He announced his suggestion to call in ISOC at a meeting with officials from the Kathu District Office, led by District Chief Veera Kerdsirimongkol, at Patong Municipal Office on Friday.

“We are following up the Kathu District Chief’s investigations and seeing what arrests have been made so far,” Col Sontaya said.

“We will report information gathered from this meeting to the Senate to help push for the necessary budget to resolve this problem,” he said.

— Kritsada Mueanhawong


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