The final warning for the evictions was handed down in an order made public at a meeting at Phuket Provincial Hall yesterday (Feb 13), when occupiers of the beachfront plots – mostly restaurants and other businesses that cater to tourists – were given until March 5 to vacate their plots or face having their businesses demolished. (See story here.)
Testing Mr MaAnn on his conviction to carry out the evictions was Wanchat Choonhathanorm, a senior prosecutor at the Phuket’s Public Prosecutor’s office, which operates under the Office of the Attorney General.
Mr Wanchat has been tasked with overseeing and ensuring the Supreme Court evictions are carried out.
“There have been reports in the media accusing me of taking bribes to not take any action on this issue. That is a [****] lie. I have not taken any bribes. My house does not need the money,” Mr Wanchat said angrily.
“Mr MaAnn, you have to follow up with this case. I don’t want new people to claim this land. We are still watching this case very closely. We want to see it done.
“It is your responsibility, Mr MaAnn, Can you handle it?” Mr Wanchat asked in full view of the press present at the meeting.
Mr MaAnn admitted, “It is uncomfortable to deal with, but I must do it.”
However, he assured, “If they don’t move, I will knock them (their businesses) down on March 5. Nothing will stop me from doing my job. If officials make no mistakes in their jobs, this enforcement will work.”
Mr MaAnn explained that he had issued an order for the occupiers to vacate the beachfront plots within 15 days from Feb 13.
“They know about this notice and they must move out from the 178 rai,” he said.
Asked why officials are waiting until March 5 while the beachfront business operators continue to trade in open defiance of a Supreme Court order, Mr MaAnn responded, “So that they have the chance to move out within 15 days, plus an extra five days. Then I will go to demolish and get rid of all structures with the DSI.”
MaAnn refused to answer further questions about how the demolitions will be carried out and which businesses will be felled first.
Asked by The Phuket News which areas in particular along the beachfront were problematic, the DSI’s Col Montree declined to comment.
“I can't say anything about that. My job is to bring this issue to a conclusion for Mr MaAnn,” Col Montree said.
“The DSI is just a tool to make sure that the Cherng Talay OrBorTor can get this done. That’s all,” he added.