Under instruction from Col Akanit Danpitaksan, Chief Inspector of the Phuket Provincial Police, the security personnel have moved the sea gypsies to a site on Ratsadanusorn Rd, about one kilometre to the north from the campus, and ensured they do not block traffic at the busy Wor Kor intersection.
However, motorists have reported to The Phuket News that traffic flow is already being inhibited by officers aiming to keep vehicles only passing through, and declining to allow even u-turns near the junction.
The group, led by spokesmen Sinchai Rueprohchin of the Community Network for Social and Political Reform, are hoping to hand to PM Prayut a letter requesting the Prime Minister to take action to resolve issues of land ownership for poor people, including sea gypsies.
The letter is a joint-request issued by three groups: Community Network for Social and Political Reform; the Chumchonthai Foundation; and the Sea Gypsy Foundation.
However, Col Akanit explained to Mr Sinchai that only five representatives would be allowed into the area to hand the letter to the Prime Minister, while the rest have to stay outside.
The letter sets out three main requests, but buried in the very polite Thai language used is a “request” for the Prime Minister to sack Gen Surin Pikulthong from his position as chairperson of the special committee established under the Prime Minister’s Office specifically to resolve sea gypsy issues. The letter also called for the deputy chairperson of the committee also to be replaced.
The letter was gracious enough to “ask” PM Prayut to allow Gen Surin to continue his work while his replacement is found, which they “asked” to be selected from the 26 Ministers of the Prime Minister’s Office.
In order as presented in the letter, the first request in the formal letter calls for the Interior Ministry to revoke the land deeds issued for the 19 rai claimed by individuals laying claim to the entire Rawai sea gypsy village – but to also compensate those with land documents issued for plots within the village so that the resolution is fair.
However, the letter also asks for the Prime Minister to follow up on the progress made by the Department of Special Investigation (DSI) and the special committee currently headed by Gen Surin.
The DSI has already supported the Rawai sea gypsy claims to live on their ancestral land on the southern Phuket beachfront by providing aerial historical photographs, DNA confirmation that bones buried in graves at the village are directly related to sea gypsies still living in the sea community, and even footage of HM The King Bhumibol Adulyadej at the Rawai village during his visit in 1959.
The second request in the letter calls on the Prime Minister to investigate the land documents presented by developer Baron World Trade Co, which claims more than 30 rai next to the Rawai sea gypsy village. Baron World Trade Co has been at the centre of a dispute with the villagers as sea gypsies’ revered Balai shrine has for generations been located on land that the company now claims.
The third request calls for the Prime Minister’s Office to work towards having “Community Chanote” land titles issued for poor people represented by the three groups, including sea gypsies, and calls for Gen Surin and his committee deputy to be “replaced”.
The letter notes that “450 communities have signed a petition” to support this move “so the committee can perform its duty”.
The fourth request is for the special committee to quickly resolve the issues that communities represented by the three groups are facing to bring “social justice” and to provide monthly updates on its progress.
The fifth request was that the Prime Minister “must” boost the special committee’s effectiveness by involving all ministries involved in the issues, in accordance to the Cabinet resolution in June 2010.