The decision to not press charges was made in light of the fact that the owner had already had the fence removed, as ordered, Mr MaAnn told reporters today (July 31).
However, MaAnn declined to identify exactly which person or company had ordered for the fence to be built.
Mr MaAnn said the decision followed a joint investigation by officers from the Damrongdharma Center (Ombudsman’s office), the Phuket branch of the Internal Security Operations Command (ISOC), Phuket Marine Office, Phuket office of the Department of Treasury, and officers from the Phuket office of the Department of Lands.
He also explained that the incident was brought to the fore by escalating comments and posts on social media over the four-day long holiday last weekend.
“This kind of case happened once two years ago. I ordered officers to tell the fence owner to remove the fence, and the owner followed the order,” Mr MaAnn said.
“But later, local people also tried to take advantage of the land by setting up stalls and beach bed services on the land,” he added.
Mr MaAnn explained that the area where the fence was built was confirmed to be state land registered under land registration document PhorKor No. 263, which covers areas in Moo 2, 3 and 5 of Cherng Talay.
“The land [in question] is part of that state land and is under the care of the Treasury Department and the Marine Department,” he said.
However, he noted, “The beach [area where the fence was built] is part of a state land parcel and is not ‘public beach’ like at Surin beach or Layan beach, even though it looks the same.
“Before this, the area was covered by plants and, as time passed, it became a beach,” he added.
“In terms of law, the area is not a public beach, but local people have assumed that it is,” he said.
“During the investigation, I asked the officers from the Treasury Department whether it was possible to change the status of the land to be the same as public beach areas [as at Surin beach and Layan Beach], and they answered that the land’s status cannot be changed,” Mr MaAnn noted.
“I further asked how about reducing the size of the state land parcel to cover only the area where plants grow and to allow the actual beach there to be deemed a public area, under the control of the OrBorTor and Thalang District Office. That would allow us to prosecute those who will encroach on the beach,” he added.
Asked whether the land where the fence was built was being rented out by the government to a private party, Mr MaAnn said “I don’t know if that land is being rented out.”
“For people to rent government land long term, that is for the Treasury Department to determine whether they can or not,” he added.
Mr MaAnn said the workers at the site had two days to clear the remains of the fence that are still standing.
“For the equipment and sections of the fence that remain in the area, I will give their owner two days to clear it out,” he said.
He also repeated his stance on the attempt to build the fence and claim state land.
“I, too, was also shocked that a fence had been built on the beach again,” he said.