The decision follows the owner, Boonlert Tamsua, filing a complaint that his property was being singled out and that the same level of attention should apply to all SorPorKor land in Phuket, confirmed Lt Sompop Kamkana of the Royal Thai Navy’s Third Area Command.
SorPorKor land is state land, usually degraded forest, that is allocated for agricultural use only by poor people under a government programme administrated by the Agricultural Land Reform Office (ALRO). There is about 40 million rai of SorPorKor land across Thailand, 32,372 rai of it in Phuket.
Heaven restaurant and the Bui Bay members Club nearby were inspected by officials and Navy personnel during a raid on June 23, during which it was revealed that neither Kata-Karon Municipality or the Agricultural Reform Office (ALRO) believed they had they authority to demolish the buildings – despite the structures being deemed to have been illegally built on state land. (See story here.)
“Heaven Restaurant is built on SorPorKor land and located higher than 80 meters above the sea level (which is also illegal). However, there are many similar cases. I have asked AMLO for the locations and will start checking with my team next week,” Lt Sompop told The Phuket News.
“We have to do the same thing to all transgressors at the same time. If we kept doing it case by case, the building owners would complain that it is unfair, like Heaven Restaurant did.”
Several calls by The Phuket News to confirm whether or not the Heaven restaurant remains open were unsuccessful. The club’s Facebook page remains online (click here), but the website is no longer available (click here).
Meanwhile, the Nui Bay Member Club on Nui Beach, at the bottom of the hill from where Heaven Restaurant is located will be levelled by July 15 – or the Navy will take direct action, Lt Sompop warned.
“Karon Municipality officials must post the final notice on July 8, giving the owners seven days to vacate the land. They then have seven days before the municipality demolishes the buildings by themselves.” Lt Sompop explained.
“If the municipality does not do its job, the municipal officers will likely face an order issued under Section 44 (of the interm constitution).”