All land titles on Phuket are to be reviewed in a major investigation to clarify property rights in advance of the Asean Economic Community in 2016, a leading official announced yesterday.
Beachfront titles along Phuket’s entire west coast are to be reexamined in every detail to save Phuket’s popular destinations from illegal encroachers.
Far from abandoning initial investigations into misappropriated national parkland and coastal reserves, the Thai Government is going to make its investigations complete and review all land titles.
One dramatic revelation followed another as the Permanent Secretary of the Interior Ministry, Pracha Rasopdee, led Phuket’s Governor and other officials to suspicious sites on Phuket’s west coast yesterday.
They then gathered for a meeting at which the future of Phuket’s tourism and property titles outlook was redrawn.
In one case, Khun Pracha told the gathering of top administrators at Phuket Provincial Hall in Phuket City, a ”flying” title for agricultural use of one rai of public land had been stretched by a rich investor to cover three-and-a-half kilometres of prime Phuket coast.
”The evidence is clear,” Khun Pracha said. ”We have to act to prevent these land abuses and save Phuket’s public space.”
The Phuket Land Titles office, which has previously declined to release information about properties under suspicion on Phuket, has been ordered to cooperate in a major review.
Investigations begin next week into all property titles, including the 174 condominium developments on Phuket.
”Our team will begin working on Phuket immediately and create a ‘Phuket model’ that can be applied across all of Thailand,” he said.
Thailand’s complicated system of land titles includes temporary rights for public land use for agricultural purposes that have been widely abused to exploit Phuket and other major tourist destinations.
”We do not aim to beat the administrators here, but to show the right way,” he said. ”If there are breaches of the law, the administrators, the land officials and the surveyors will go to jail along with the perpetrators.”
At the conclusion of the meeting, an accurate record of all that had been said was sought. Phuketwan was the only organisation to have recorded the entire meeting.
Phuketwan’s record of the items considered was taken for transcription and distribution as officials all over Phuket put the new plan into action.
”Phuket is growing day by day but we cannot let tourism and the people who make money from tourism destroy the environment and Phuket’s natural beauty,” Khun Pracha said.
He mentioned the three-and-a-half kilometre stretch of prime Phuket coast – at a yet undisclosed site that will certainly be high on the list for investigation.
”Another example is in Vichit where a title exists for 15 rai of rubber trees and palm trees that has grown into 73 rai,” he said. ”Late last year, the same title was being used for another 19 rai.”
He asked the local mayors, the land titles officers, Phuket’s governor and others at the meeting: ”What does this mean?”
He said people in powerful positions had misused their money and influence and those in the role of administering the best needs of Phuket had failed in their public duty.
”Everybody must be aware of the need for honesty and accuracy in their roles,” he said. ”The responsibility will come back to you. There is no need to fear these people, no matter how big they seem.”
The governor is to be the consultant to the investigating team that arrives on Phuket next week.
The group visited properties along Phuket’s coast road north of Patong yesterday, clearly looking at some of the eyesores that have recently sprung up to block everyone’s view of the Andaman Sea.
They travelled on to study the coast around Kamala and Laem Son. Further dramatic developments are expected from next week.