The owner, Phithirath Pithipat, was ordered to remove the structures already built, for which planning permits had never been issued.
“The inspection followed a complaint of illegal construction on public land. We found three cottages already completed and one under construction,” said Panya Sampaorat of Pa Khlok Municipality.
Ms Phithirath argued that she had done nothing wrong. “In 2008, we bought the right to occupy the eight rai of land for thousands of baht from Uncle Rat, who is an Ubon Rachathani native and who lived on this land for more than 30 years,” she explained.
“We bought this land just to make a living for our [three] families from agriculture. We have no plan to sell it,” she added. “And we thought that by using bamboo the structures could not be regarded as permanent.”
Cdr Pornprom Sakultem of the Third Naval Area Command said “As I keep saying, only government documents can prove a person's right to occupy land. This land has no documents. The occupiers should follow the legal process.
“If you believe this land has been occupied for a long time, you should contact the Thalang District Office. Officials can locate [aerial] photos and check how long the land has been occupied by checking the ages of trees planted on it,” he explained.
Mayor Panya agreed, but added that the Land Department "can record the right to occupy the site, but no document can be issued.”
“But this is just the right to farm the land, not build on it or develop it. By law, in order to apply for a building permit you must submit a land paper. If you do not, we will not issue the permit,” he explained.
“At this stage, I am ordering you to stop all construction, move off the land and remove all structures in 37 days, as required by the law."
Notices to quit were pasted on the buildings on buildings and Ms Phithirath signed documents agreeing to comply with the demands.
“Although my family will not have a place to stay, I have to obey the law," she told The Phuket News afterwards.
There was irony in the whole episode. Less than 100 metres away, separated from the site by a wall, enormous partly-completed buildings, originally part of the failed Barama Bay hyper-luxury villa project looked down at the goings-on.