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SorPorKor probe is unjust – farmers

Legacy Phuket Gazette

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PHUKET TOWN: Irritated and scared by the ongoing land title investigation, some 200 farmers holding SorPorKor 4-01 land papers assembled at the Phuket Provincial Hall this morning after hearing a rumor that Deputy Minister of Agriculture Newin Chidchob would be there. Prayad Poombua, 59, who farms eight rai of SorPorKor land in Chalong, told the Gazette that he and the others wanted to return their land papers to the government in disgust at the way they had been treated during the land probe. “The investigators have been checking both houses and farms. Sometimes dozens of them came and blockaded people’s homes. At other times, they summoned us late in the evening for questioning at the Police Station. “Some of them spoke in a threatening way. We are Thais and the government is supposed to help poor people, so why have they been behaving like this?” K. Prayad asked. “We heard that Deputy Minister Newin would be in Phuket today. We wanted to hear what he said and what his plans were for real farmers like us. We came here together to discuss what we should do and to ask why they have to treat us this way.” Uthai Suksirisamphan, who formerly chaired a committee looking into farmers’ complaints, told the Gazette that the protestors had gathered in order to discuss the treatment of genuine farmers by investigators – not to support others who were in trouble because they had no right to hold SorPorKor land. “They are here to ask for fair treatment because the former Democrat government invited them to sign up for SorPorKor land as part of a national system. But today’s government seems to think that no one should have SorPorKor land. “I agree with many of the current government’s projects, but I think maybe K. Newin was not the right choice for solving this problem,” K. Uthai added. He added that he believed the motivation behind the land investigation in Phuket was “a million percent” political and had nothing to do with the government wanting to preserve nature and the environment, as it has repeatedly claimed. When they discovered that K. Newin was not in Phuket, the farmers headed home, still holding their land papers.

 

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