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'Get moving or be punished' order galvanizes Phuket park encroachment probe

'Get moving or be punished' order galvanizes Phuket park encroachment probe

PHUKET: A toughly worded command from the Army’s National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO), issued on Saturday, has galvanised the massive investigation into encroachment in Phuket’s Sirinart Marine National Park, now entering its third year – and apparently bogged down.

By Tanyaluk Sakoot

Monday 16 June 2014, 07:47PM

In the hot seat: Sirinart Park chief Kitipat Tharapiban.

In the hot seat: Sirinart Park chief Kitipat Tharapiban.

In Command No 64, the NCPO warns that any official who shirks in his duty to restore park land “must be punished”. The same goes for any official found to have aided influential people in getting titles for land inside the park boundaries.

At a meeting today (June 16) Governor Maitri Intusut told officials from 19 government organisations that they must follow through fearlessly.

Do not help influential people. Be honest in your job. Every detail and every action you take must be reported to the district officer, whole will lead all investigations.

Investigate influential people who intimidate others. Do not be a tool for influential people.” He warned them, “It’s not just Phuket Province that is being checked. The NCPO is checking other provinces too. And we have to be ready to explain our actions to the NCPO.”

Gov Maitri told the meeting in his most serious voice, “I want you to put all the documentation together and be prepared to explain it all, because I have to report to the NCPO twice a day [at 11 am and 5 pm]. Plus, there are already representatives of the NCPO in Phuket.”

He explained that all reports relating to encroachment on the park must be submitted to the Office of Natural Resources and Environment in Phuket with a copy to the Phuket office of the National Security Council.

“All reports will also be sent to the NCPO every day. So prepare yourselves and report everything to me.”

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After the meeting he met the new Chief of Sirinart Park, Kitipat Tharapiban, and other officials in private session.

Yesterday (June 15) Mr Kitipat, along with his boss, Samak Donnapee, and his predecessor, Cheewapap Cheewatham, who is now the Chief of The Royal Forestry Crime Suppression Division, met with a senior official of the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment [NRE].

In the meeting they presented all the evidence they have gathered so far about the Sirinart encroachments to Chote Trachu, Deputy Permanent Secretary of the ministry, who is in charge of the investigations into encroachment countrywide.

Mr Cheewapap announced that he will push for action on all cases to take place now. He added that the case of the land bordering Freedom Beach, south of Karon, is also on the job list.

He said that action must be taken soon because 360 illegitimate land titles have already been issued for plots in the park. All these titles will be rescinded, he said.

Additional reporting by Eakkapop Tongtub

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