After years of fighting with the occupiers to vacate the land, which covers 178 rai along three kilometres of unspoilt beachfront, altogether estimated to be worth more than B10 billion ‒ the latest twist came as two occupiers filed a formal objection to the warrant of execution issued after the Supreme Court had ruled that the occupiers claims to the land were not valid.
The objections came after the illegal occupiers were given seven days final notice on June 21.
Mr MaAnn even gave them a final grace period until Monday (July 19).
“The Supreme Court gave a verdict that defendants won the case. The defendants include the Phuket Governor, Thalang District Chief, Cherng Talay OrBorTor Chief, Department of Lands Phuket Office Chief, and Department of Lands Thalang Office Chief,” Mr MaAnn explained to The Phuket News earlier this week.
“When the defendants won, we became the legal authority for the land. We informed the Phuket office of the Legal Execution Department (LED) to issue a warrant of execution, but when the warrant of execution was delivered, there was an objection and a request to present a lawsuit to the court as a special case,” he continued.
“Five people presented their special case in the Court of First Instance, five people in the Court of Appeal, and three people in the Supreme Court.
“All the three courts dismissed the lawsuits. When that was over, we asked the LED to go and check the area so that we could execute our legal authority over the land.
“The LED was host of the execution. When we went to inform the plot owners about the demolition of structures under the warrant of execution. Two men formally objected to the demolition, and we made a report of the men’s objections during the field examination.
“The men who presented themselves as owners of a restaurant explained that they already had filed a lawsuit in court against three officials: the Phuket Governor, the Thalang District Chief and the Department of Lands Phuket Office Chief,” Mr MaAnn said.
The move forced Mr MaAnn to have his office apply for warrants of arrest for the two men for refusing an official order and ignoring a Supreme Court order.
“Right now, it is in the process of the arrest warrant being issued. If the warrant is issued, then we will go to arrest them and then start demolishing the buildings,” he said.
“However, right now, the warrant has not been issued yet,” he added.
Mr MaAnn said that his hands are tied, as it is not clear whether of not he has the legal authority to demolish the buildings at this point in time.
“Six of nine operators [illegal occupiers] agreed to move out and have vacated the plots they were occupying. However, one of the three other operators wanted to play a game by vacating about 70% of his plot, the other 30% remains occupied. I already told him that after July 23, I will demolish everything still standing on the plot,” he said.
“As for the two operators who resisted the demolition, we have filed a request to issue arrest warrants for three persons. The two operators were Mr Akkarachai and Mr Leechua. I have to wait until July 23, as the court will hand down its judgement on July 22 and 23.
“After July 23, we will have a meeting with the LED about the demolition. Meanwhile, we will do two actions: organising the machinery for the demolition and installing the fences around the 178 rai of land,” he added.
“If you ask me why I have not demolished the buildings still on the land, I would have to say that there is a small loophole in the warrant of execution which the operators can sue us for damaging their property or trespass,” Mr MaAnn explained.
“If they sue us and the court accepts to consider the lawsuit, we will have to pay for bail. I have been sued before when I went to demolish illegal structures on government land, just as reporters and local residents wanted me to. I also wanted to, but I was called by the court and had to pay for bail myself,” he continued.
“So, to do anything under Thai law, we need to be careful. For example, in the demolition, the roof tiles must be removed and remain in good condition and placed nicely, waiting for their owner to collect them. We cannot destroy all things on the plot,” he added.
“We have to wait until July 23, so that everything is good, and we will not face any problems. We gave them a chance to fight back as they claim their right to do so. That’s no problem. I can wait, as we have had this fight since 2003, about 18 years. Why can I not wait for another week?
“I want to raze the structures on the plot to the ground as other people want. My desire to do this is even much more than other people. I was born in Cherng Talay and I have lived here my whole life,” Mr MaAnn said.
“I want to make the land an activity area for our children. I want to build a skating rink and barbecue areas for local people,” he added.