The advertisement, posted on the “224Land” Facebook page on April 18, went viral and as of last week had already had more than 8,000 shares with nearly 4,000 people specifically posting comments about it.
Regardless, the lead figure tasked with evicting the encroachers since the Supreme Court handed down its decision on Nov 1 last year (see story here) said he was initially unaware of the move to sell the land.
“It is definitely not for sale. It is public land. It is public space for everyone, nobody can own this land,” the official – who expressly for this report asked not to be named, and instead be identified only as “a senior representative of the Phuket Justice Committee” – told The Phuket News this week.
“There are no genuine documents that allow this land to be sold, as already determined by the Supreme Court in its decision, and no people can claim to have any right to conduct business on the land. I have now checked the company which posted the ad online, and the information posted is not reliable,” he added.
The official vowed to hold 224Land responsible for publishing the ad.
“It is not [legally] possible to advertise this land for sale. They will be charged for collusion to commit fraud,” he said.
“The Phuket Governor, Cherng Talay Tambon Administration Organisation (OrBorTor) and Royal Thai Army officials in Phuket have already been informed and requested to investigate this,” he explained.
Identification that the land advertised is among the 178 rai of beachfront land at Layan and Leypang beaches ruled on by the Supreme Court is undeniable. The advertisement even features the same maps used by the Department of Special Investigation in announcing the Supreme Court order last year.
That was before DSI Chief Paisit Wongmuang and DSI Deputy Chief Lt Col Prawut Wongsrinil made the trip to Phuket in person to oversee the posting of public notices physically on the plots to inform the public that the Supreme Court had ruled that the plots were state land and that any persons found encroaching on it faced criminal legal action. (See story here.)
Regardless, a woman who responded to enquiries made by The Phuket News by calling the number posted with the advertisement claimed that she had every right to sell the land.
“This land is available for sale with the correct documents. I have received many calls from people interested in it, but no one has placed a deposit yet,” she said.
“It does not matter what the media or people say about this land. It can be sold because my evidence is strong enough.”
Of note, among the images posted with the ad was a copy of a NorSor land-use document, which confers the right to occupy but not own the land.
Meanwhile, the official spearheading the evictions told The Phuket News on Monday (April 30) (before this issue went to print) that Phuket Governor Norraphat Plodthong himself was to yesterday (May 3) personally oversee the marking out of the plots from which the encroachers are to be evicted.
“He knows well that the legal process is very long. He just needs it to be accurate,” the official said.
The official also defended the very slow process of evicting the encroachers, despite Lt Col Montree Boonyayotin, Director of the DSI’s Natural Resources and Environment Crime Litigation division, on Nov 2 last year vowing to use the full force of the law to have the businesses ejected from their illegal sites.
In order to have the occupants vacate the land, Col Montree said, “We have to cooperate with other government offices to post notices to evict the people from the area.
“If these people refuse to vacate the land, arrest warrants will be requested to take action,’ he warned.
“They will be taken to Bangkok. If there are any arrests, we will petition the court for bail to be denied. Officers can take action against any person who encroaches on this land after this,” Col Montree noted.
Asked if any deadlines – flexible or working – had been set for removing the encroachers, the eviction task force official simply said, “As soon as possible.”
Of note, as with the eviction of and eventually demolition of businesses illegally located along the Surin Beach beachfront in 2016 (see story here), the ongoing delays in removing the encroachers at Layan and Leypang has allowed the illegal business operators one more tourism high season to profit before leaving their sites.
In the Surin Beach case, no effort was ever made to recover any of the illegal profits made from conducting business on state land for more than a decade.
Similarly, so far no mention has been made about recovering any of the profits illegally gleaned from the illegal businesses that have been trading for years on the government-owned beachfront land at Layan and Leypang beaches.
A Phuket News reporter was intimidated by people conducting business on the land in question while the reporter was assisting in compiling this report. The incident has been recorded with the Cherng Talay Police.