The announcement came following the intervention by officials to stop a clash between private workers hired to clear the land for private development and the sea gypsy villagers yesterday (Jan 27) in Rawai.
Whilst the clash was taking place, a second group of over 200 sea gypsies went to Provincial Hall to hand a formal request to Deputy Prime Minister Admiral Narong Pipatanasai, who was making a brief to the island, asking the government assist is resolving the dispute. (see story here)
Following the clash, Gov Chamroen Tipayapongthada held a meeting at Provincial Hall together with Royal Navy Third Deputy Commander Rear Admiral Pisai Sookwan, Provincial Police Chief Col Teeraphol Thipjaroen, local government officials, members of the sea gypsy community and representatives of Baron World Trade Co Ltd to discuss the incident.
Gov Chamroen said, “The confrontation between Baron World Trade Co Ltd and the sea gypsies has resulted in members of both parties being injured. Police are investigating and collecting names of those involved and some of them will face assault charges.
“There are over 2,000 people (333 families) in the sea gypsy community in Rawai and these people need access to a sacred place of worship that they had used for generations.
The sea gypsies are asking for a two metre walkway to be left to allow them gain access to that area but so far there has no word from Baron World Trade Co Ltd,” he explained.
Gov Chamroen continued, “Rawai Mayor, Aroon Solos, has been assigned to bring representatives from the sea gypsy community and Baron World Trade Co Ltd to a meeting at provincial hall on February 2 at 10am so we can help them find the best solution to this problem.
“This land dispute issue is severely damaging the island’s tourism image. I am not sure who or what department is responsible for allowing this to happened, but, from now on, to solve any disputes on the island i must be reported to first. Then we will work together step-by-step to solve the problem.
“Most importantly, every issue must be solved with reason not violence,” Gov Chamroen concluded.
Meanwhile, sea gypsy protesters also arrived en masse at the Bangkok Bank main Phuket branch on Phang Nga Rd in Phuket Town to hand a letter directly to the branch manager to hand to Chali Sophonpanich, who along with other family members, are directors of Baron World Trade Co Ltd.
Chali Sophonpanich is second son of Chatri Sophonpanich, grandson of Chin Sophonpanich. And he serves as the President of Asia Investment. Bangkok Bank is his family business.