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Phuket Opinion: Staking claims in paradise

PHUKET: If Phuket’s long and documented history of land “development” (read “stake claim, evict and build”) is any kind of precedence, then one can induce that it is only inevitable influential land “owners” will ultimately prevail in upholding claims to 19 rai of private land in Rawai occupied and contested by sea gypsies.

land, property, culture, construction, corruption, economics, military, police, politics, tourism, opinion,

Sunday 1 May 2016, 07:16AM

A sea gypsy struggles with military personnel at the Rawai sea gypsy village earlier this year, as construction of a property development rises in the background.
A sea gypsy struggles with military personnel at the Rawai sea gypsy village earlier this year, as construction of a property development rises in the background.

The sea gypsies, who have built a strong case to remain on the land they have called home for decades, if not centuries – thanks in great part to a revealing investigation by the Department of Special Investigations (DSI) (which included DNA, half-century-old school record and aerial photo evidence) – have so far failed to convince courts, who have continued to rule in favour of investors’ claims that existing land titles were legitimately issued.

It appears the local government, and now military, fully intend to uphold and enforce the courts’ judgement – which have yet to put much, if any, weight on DSI revelations – the writing on the wall is getting clearer by the week for the Rawai sea gypsy community, who may just have to throw in the towel. (See story here).

Many readers of The Phuket News following this story have continued to express outrage, not only over the fact that an ethnic community may be coerced to concede and relocate, ultimately to make way for yet more private real estate offerings (in what is arguably already an oversaturated market), but also over the fact that scrutiny in issuing land documents of the Rawai land in question has not been as meticulous as that in cases where titles were allegedly issued on public land – in the case of Sirinath National Park, for example, where aerial photography was deemed sufficient to arbitrate the legality of deeds.


While the fate of Rawai sea gypsy villages, and anticipated developments, now lies with the Supreme Court, considering the recent tone of the Governor and military, The Phuket News would be surprised if the sea gypsies’ claims were to be recognised.

’Tis the nature of our paradise: every road, house, condo, estate, shop, golf course, showroom, mall – each of these “private” places used and occupied for personal benefit, has its own unique-but-similar story, usually involving questionable stakeholders and vague paper trails, ultimately legitimised through diligence, money, influence – or all of the above. Welcome to Phuket, please stake with care.



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Kurt | 18 September 2016 - 14:29:39

This ethnic community in Rawai with their very well described long history of existence in Rawai should not any longer denied their place in thai society.

Give them with full respect their place and life in Thailand society.

The sea gypsies not go away, accept that fact, and solve this problem just now at once and forever, decent and with a good heart.
It are thai human beings! They deserve humanity in treatment.
Give them thai citizenship a ID card, water- and electricity connections, good school education and they will become loyal citizens of the Kingdom of Thailand.

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