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The Director of the Phuket Land Office, Paitoon Lertkai

Phuket Land Ownership: 'Keep It for Thais' Call

Tuesday, December 28, 2010
FOUR or five land transactions were taking place every working day involving Thai companies that were controlled by expats, the Director of the Phuket Land Office, Paitoon Lertkai, said yesterday.

He urged land owners not to sell to companies that were obviously under the control of expats. ''Please keep Phuket land in the hands of Thais,'' he said.

Khun Paitoon was speaking to journalists outside a Ministry of the Interior seminar at Royal Phuket City Hotel yesterday.

Prices of land on Phuket were rising at an alarming rate - one rai could cost as much as 40 or 50 million baht in Patong, he said. ''I don't know when it will stop,'' he added.

There were about 300,000 rai of land under titles, Khun Paitoon said, a similar number to the number of registered citizens on Phuket.

''I would like to tell Phuket people, don't sell your land to foreigners. Keep it for sale to Phuket people or other Thais,'' he added.

Construction was moving across the plains of Phuket, and into the hills.

He said that there were 1645 potential plots of land registered without chanotes before February 8 this year, and the Land Office was deciding whether chanote titles should be issued at the rate of 70 to 80 plots a month.
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Comments

Comments have been disabled for this article.

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@Paitoon Lertkai, Director of the Phuket Land Office
Before processing to transfer land title, the Phuket Land Office is duty bound to check who are the buyers and in case of foreigners as company shareholders, it is their responsibility to check all official documents.
As the director of the Phuket Land Office, he is the first person on the hot seat because it is him who provide the land titles.

Posted by Whistle-Blower on December 28, 2010 14:42

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So, just who are you going to sell your land to? One more irresponsible article posted by Phuketwan. More racism...
Believe me if a "Martian," came up to a Thai property owner with 40 million baht to buy one rai of land the Thai would sell it in a NY Second. Let's talk reality, please. Money talks and BS walks.

Posted by N2it on December 28, 2010 15:23

Editor Comment:

Ah, so now we're racist simply for reporting the remarks of a senior Phuket official. It's actually called nationalism, and it's his, not ours. You must be from a country where democracy isn't yet fully functional.

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be aware of expat!!! some even have Thai children!!!

Posted by jj on December 28, 2010 16:39

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When will Thailand change this draconian law and allow foreigners to own land legitimately?

There is no sense in the current law - it should be a free market and it should be irrelevant as to one's nationality.

There are plenty of Thais owning property in the UK, Europe, USA and other destinations and I'm sure they don't see this as taking something that doesn't belong to them.

If you pay for it... you should own it.

Posted by Graham on December 28, 2010 16:44

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That guy looks like he needs a laxative.

Posted by joe mama on December 28, 2010 18:59

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Note to the editor: accusing comments for being based on a non functional democracy coming from a THAI living in a TOTALLY non functional democracy is simply hilarious and shows the extent of your nationalistic stupidity and baseless pride

Posted by bob on December 28, 2010 20:05

Editor Comment:

When you encounter a fully functioning democracy, Bob, please let us know. But if you think I'm a Thai, you may have grown up learning to make assumptions in place of having original thoughts.

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Hear hear, Khun Phaitoon, keep up the xenophobia. Please also ensure that various football teams, hotels, vast areas of Mayfair etc are returned to their rightful owners and seized from the nasty ex- Prime Minister and his cronies. But i guess they're not foreigners even when THEY are abroad and on the lam.
I would love to own one rai of land as a swap for someone owing a similar plot in my home country but that's never gonna happen as long as us nasty foreigners are seen by some to be evil land-grabbers. Think I'll stick to renting instead.

Posted by Mister Ree on December 28, 2010 23:56

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This article really does show one of the major issues in Thailand at the moment, that the rich or well positioned Thai really does think they are superior to the rest of the nationalities in the world.

And on the editors point of nationalism not racism, would he have the same view of the Poles who currently only want ethnic Poles to own land and businesses in their country (otherwise known as skinheads) or further back the nationalistic Nazi regime???
The editor's blinding love for Thailand is clear, but now Thailand has some of the most draconian and least foreign friendly policies in all of Asia if not the world.

Posted by Jimmy on December 29, 2010 07:49

Editor Comment:

This article shows nothing of the kind and what this editor loves, but not blindly, is fairness and the truth. To strike comparisons with the Nazis is appalling and only serves to spotlight the lack of balance in some minds. Your extension of land ownership to foreign policy is just the kind of sleight of hand employed by those who harbor deep, unreasonable resentments and attempt to justify their point any way they can. The blurtings of those who cry ''racism'' every time their own interests are overlooked make me laugh.

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K. Paitoon probably means keep the profit from land sales in the hands of Thais. The problem is that it is those darned foreigners who are coming up with better offers. He should be so delighted if foreigners want to come up with millions per rai to buy plots in places like Patong.

When are the Thais going to get past their restrictive land ownership laws? it's not as if the foreigners are going to fly off with the land? Indeed, foreign ownership might lead to major improvement in such degraded places as Patong.

Posted by Frankdog on December 29, 2010 08:05

Editor Comment:

You must be joking. Precisely what evidence is there that foreign ownership would improve anything? What it would do is push the price of land to astronomical levels overnight, generate more illegal building beyond the 80-metre height limit, and make land for average Thais less affordable. There is not a single positive argument to be put for expat ownership. The Thais have got it right.

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In reply to the editors comment that the Thais have got land ownership right. I have lived here for just three years and to speak truly and with no intended offence, I have rarely found Thais to get anything right. Pretty much all first world countries do not have restrictions on ownership, Malaysia has some but they at least have common sense attached to them. I suspect the editor renter and owns no property anywhere. But i am just making an assumption, I'm sure the editor will be happy to clear up.

Posted by Bob on December 29, 2010 09:03

Editor Comment:

This is a matter of principle and as a journalist I find I can deal with matters of principle in a balanced and fair way, as the ethics of journalism and Phuketwan demand, by putting my personal interests to one side, often at some cost. Most professions do not require practitioners to behave in this fashion. To imply that I am acting out of self-interest is guesswork based on assumptions, and perhaps even falsely ascribing some of your own manner of thinking to me. Why not provide us with your real name, Bob, tell us what you do for a living, and whether you have or would like to have an interest in Thai property? Then you would not be asking me to do something you are not prepared to do yourself. If in three years you have ''rarely found Thais to get anything right'' I would suggest you move to another part of the island or elsewhere in the country. On the other hand, if you hold Malaysians in such high regard by comparison, your choice may be obvious. The concept of first world, second world and third world countries disappeared several decades ago. These days, there are two types of countries: developed and developing. Malaysia's stated aim is to be a developed country before 2020.

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Having regard to the constitutional position that Khun Paitoon covers, he should refrain himself from making claims of this magnitude certainly more suitable for a nationalist party leader that to a government appointed official.

In my opinion his duty should be only to control and verify that the transactions are made legally, the land titles are not altered and the environment respected, the law give to his office plenty of tools in order to prevent such kind of frauds and subterfuges.

Beside this, the main question that always rise in my head is the same: Who is going to take away your land from Thailand? I mean, if a foreigner buy some land or a property in the Kingdom, that piece of estate will still remain in Thailand forever and ever, nobody can take it away and can be taxed or regulated under the Thai's laws.

These made by the Director are just very populist statements that are not make anyone happy and generate only confusion.

Posted by Malpelo on December 29, 2010 09:45

Editor Comment:

I would have thought there would be quite a few people relatively ''happy'' to hear Khun Paiboon restate this position. But not many of them would be expats.

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what is all the fuzz about, Phuketwan reports a statement of a Thai official, who is requesting to follow the law. This kind of comment is made every single day, is part of Thai officialdom's nationalism and will make zero difference to the reality of property developers. Why get excited?

Posted by wm on December 29, 2010 10:11

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editor... "This is a matter of principle and as a journalist". now that is funny. more like a moderator with hypocritical opinions of a gossip online newspaper.

Posted by john s on December 29, 2010 13:28

Editor Comment:

I wouldn't seek to control your opinion, john. On the other hand, I'm delighted that most readers don't share it.

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"You must be joking. Precisely what evidence is there that foreign ownership would improve anything? What it would do is push the price of land to astronomical levels overnight, generate more illegal building beyond the 80-metre height limit, and make land for average Thais less affordable. There is not a single positive argument to be put for expat ownership. The Thais have got it right."

Who sells the land? Who registers the land? Who collects buyers tax on the land? Who allows people to build over 80 metres high? To blame foreigners solely for the problems with building and purchasing land in Phuket is quite staggering, even for you. You don't even mention in the article the fact that it's illegal for foreigners to own land.

Not a single argument for expat ownership? This is not only offensive to many of the expats that live and work here but it's completely not true.

Please, try to see both sides of the argument before you start battling with your readers.

Posted by Colin on December 29, 2010 14:39

Editor Comment:

Sorry Colin, you must have missed my question: Precisely what evidence is there that foreign ownership would improve anything? I have certainly missed your answer. You have simply dodged the issue. Let me repeat: There is not a single positive argument to be put for expat ownership. Expats have no cause to be afraid of the truth, or offended by it. What does offend, though, is someone claiming I made assertions I did not make. The US has a problem with ''the birthers.'' Phuket's problem is with ''the blamers.''

''To blame foreigners solely for the problems with building and purchasing land in Phuket is quite staggering, even for you.'' Sorry, Colin, I never said that. It's your distortion. Don't blame me.

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There's no evidence that foreign ownership would make things worse, either.

You've stated your view. That's your right, but seems a strange choice considering your readership is mostly foreign people, many of whom work in property.

Stubborn and ardent clinging to one's opinion is the best proof of stupidity.

Posted by Colin on December 29, 2010 16:59

Editor Comment:

I don't cling to opinions when persuaded otherwise by reason, Colin. Those who constantly resort to insults as a form of debate seldom have legitimate arguments. I've already explained what would happen in an environment where foreign ownership was permitted, and just for you, I'll say it again: ''What it would do is push the price of land to astronomical levels overnight, generate more illegal building beyond the 80-metre height limit, and make land for average Thais less affordable.''
The best interests of Phuketwan's audience, both expats and Thais, are served by the truth, not some fanciful concocted version designed to serve or pamper the misguided.

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In all the world is the government that has the power to control the people and the possibility of selling a land or building a land. So if this is the law and soon all Phuket will be a block of cement, the tourism will be down cause pollution, destruction of the nature, etc etc and the next generation will be poor, like I spoke many time: they will get what they deserve...

Posted by Dave on December 29, 2010 17:01

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Since none of the points I made in my first post got published, I'll try to make another one.

A foreigner should be allowed to legally own 1 rai of land on which his house is built on. He should not be allowed to sell it in less than 5 or perhaps even 10 years to rule out speculation.

At no time should a foreigner be allowed to own 2 properties.

The house/land should be strictly limited to residential use only.

You keep asking what good would foreign ownership bring and agreed, some of your concerns are justified.

Being able to legally own the property in which you reside would bring the benefit of SECURITY and remove the need to circumvent the law.

Paying a lot of money for a property that you cannot legally own is of great concern for just about everyone who either has or is planning to buy property here.

Question for you Alan - what negative impacts do you foresee if this suggestion of mine would be implemented and if you do not support it, can you explain why ?

BTW, I'm sure you know that an almost identical law is already in force, with the exception that the property has to cost at least Bt 40m.

Seems that the lawmakers wish to jack up the property prices in Thailand on purpose, huh ?

Posted by Chris on December 29, 2010 20:56

Editor Comment:

The 40 million baht thing is what I'd call a barrier to entry, Chris. ''Seems that the lawmakers wish to jack up the property prices in Thailand on purpose, huh ?'' is entirely your suspicious mind at work. Your one rai idea would still rapidly price Thais out of their own property market in prime destinations. Phuket would be carved up then fall over, like Spain.

There are plenty of condos for sale and time share.

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''I do not mean just people from other countries, I mean anyone not from Phuket,'' was the quote used in another media report. Possibly something has been lost in translation and this may calm down the fuming foreign devils.

Posted by Mister Ree on December 30, 2010 12:20

Editor Comment:

Our interview was on the day of the conference. Perhaps by the time of the second interview, a day or so later, the director had moderated his views. Our report accurately reflects our tape recording of the original interview.

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Someone please tell Paitoon that if he has personal knowledge of any land officials who have illegal transferred property to foreigners he should report them to the police immediately.

Posted by laosuwan on January 3, 2011 11:03

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Thai people, don't sell your country to rich foreigners who will inflate land prices and turn Phuket into a western suburban lifestyle - the kind of place we want to get away from. That's why we come to Phuket - from an Australian who has visited Phuket for many years and doesn't like the "new" Phuket and what it is doing to the once very friendly Thai people. Now it's all $$$$$$$$$ only

Posted by Adam on January 4, 2011 06:14

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Aren't most of the biggest landowners on Phuket actually ethnic Chinese?

Posted by Rob on January 4, 2011 08:59

Editor Comment:

The word is Thai, Rob. Their background is of no more significance or relevance than yours.

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No, I am pretty sure that a number of the main families that control huge chunks of land in Phuket are ethnically Chinese (they even still speak Hakka or Hokkien dialects).

Yes, they have Thai nationality but are descended from Chinese immigrants many of whom came to Thailand only in the last century.

A lot of the politicians in Bangkok also fit this ethnic profile yet can be so anti-foreign in their sentiment.

I find it to be hypocritical when they talk about foreigners taking over land when this is exactly what their forefathers have done.

Posted by Rob on January 4, 2011 09:31

Editor Comment:

Isn't it fair to say that in the same way that all of the US and Australia once had original owners, too? Hypocrisy begins at home. Too late to give it all back. You see it as ''anti-foreigner.'' I think that the prime aim is to preserve Thailand for their children and their children's children. Hard to criticise that thinking.

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I come from a country where property and land can be sold to people of any nationality so no hypocrisy on my part.

I don't like the anti-foreigner sentiment in Thailand via government policies regarding work permits, visas and land.

The Thai people are great but some have a strong streak of uber-nationalism that can be hypocritical considering that many of the Chinese Thais are only a few generations new to the country.

Many only became officially "Thai" in the 60s following national policy change and order by the government.

Posted by Rob on January 4, 2011 10:57

Editor Comment:

Nothing particularly ''uber'' about Thai nationalism. Thailand has never been colonised so they've never been forced to do the bidding of nationals from other countries. Chinese traders travelled all around the Pacific rim especially, and their descendants have been absorbed as citizens in scores of countries. It may have taken Thailand longer to acknowledge their rights. Hard to see any particular Thai hypocrisy. The descendants of migrants everywhere are now closing the doors to other migrants.

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I find it hypocritical that ethnic Chinese Prime Ministers, Ministers and Politicians of Thailand promulgate legislation that limit the rights of people to do business and buy land because they are "foreign".

These were the same points used against their Chinese ancestors in Thailand the early 20th century.

Posted by Rob on January 4, 2011 13:53

Editor Comment:

Oh, so you mean politicians are universally hypocritical? That's hardly surprising. I think once people have Thai citizenship, though, they are Thai. To dwell on people's origins as an explanation of behavior, to the exclusion of all other factors, is racist.

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I never said "people's origins" were "an explanation of behavior" and it is not racist to highlight the hypocrisy of the foreigner vs. Thai card that often gets played out by politicians who are only 1 or 2 generations naturalised.

As you say it shouldn't be about ethnicity but rights of a citizen as a human being. Foreigners are also human beings.

Posted by Rob on January 4, 2011 15:33

Editor Comment:

If you still ascribe the actions of people on some issues to their background after one or two generations, when do you think human beings are free to be considered as their own men and women, rather than captives of their forebears' culture and conditioning? It's a race-based proposition for which there is no evidence.

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Thailand's population consists of many different ethnic groups (Laos, Khmer, Chinese, Malay, Burmese, Hill Tribes, Sea Gypsys etc.)

This is why I find it so ironic to hear leaders talking about "foreigners" buying land when many of the politicians and officials are ethnically "foreign" but still playing the race card.

Nothing to do with racism on my side.

Posted by Rob on January 4, 2011 16:03

Editor Comment:

Well it's time you stopped looking at ethnic backgrounds and started dealing with Thais and Thailand. What's on the passport is the only criteria that has currency in most aspects of life, including property ownership. Every country has ethnic ''tribes'' of one kind or another. You only have to know a little of Europe's history to recognise that fact. The categories you mention meld with few problems into a single country. Apart from the unrest in the South, which has multiple causes, Thailand is a modern, cohesive nation. To continue to see it as segmented on ethnic lines is to reject reality.

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what is this [man] talking about, yes we
know that falangs are involved in buying
land. if we where not here, who would buy it? can we buy it and take it home with us, no, the rich thais make sure that nothing must leave thailand because
they want the lot themselves.as for the
land office, most of us know about the
tea money that changes hands in them places.

Posted by Anonymous on January 6, 2011 21:16

Editor Comment:

Anonymous, your comment would not encourage any change in the current law. And if there's any chance you might own land in Thailand, that's a good thing.

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I am late here, but as the editor wanted to hear, why not-Thai land owner ship may be a good thing for Phuket, here some ideas.

The land ownership thing in Thailand is a mess. A corrupt haven, where the powerful enrich themselves without scruples. It is a mess and they like it to be, maybe not all, but the ones, who could change it, as they profit from it. Even me, I know a lot of "private" farms, housings on estates without documents or with fake documents or where the former owner "signed" for little money or a bogus claim ruined him/her... so do not get me started. It is a tool to keep the poor a little happy but at bay. And everything bad comes because of this farang people, who cannot even speak Thai...

If Thailand would have a clear privates land ownership idea, like Australia eg, first and foremost the normal Thai would profit. Really nobody wonder why the police stations, schools, provincial halls, really every burocrazy hall have rai over rai for just grass, crazy big gardens? That is only the visible part of land, that is occupied by the "government". And the people live in little shoe cartons packed at the streets? In Thailand the government is rich. Rich on land, rich on rules, rich on direct power into the life of people.

Farangs, let's face it, most of the tourist/expats money is stupid money. Why on earth own a place in Thailand? They will f you over as they please, as they do with the poor Thais for centuries. But even so, Thailand attracts in some places a lot of foreign money.

Farang land ownership is not a problem for normal Thai, as they cannot buy land in this hot places anyway. They profit indirectly but enormous by the inflow of money, through taxes, spendings (in luxuries and normal stuff) and jobs. They will make more money themselves, get better education, will be lifted out of poverty.

AS IT HAPPENS IN PHUKET THANKS TO THE INFLOW OF FOREIGN MONEY INTO THE PROPERTY MARKETS RIGHT NOW AND SINCE 25 YEARS! Farang commit to Thailand much more, then by renting. Property owners are taxable cash cows for the government.

Land is not scarce in Thailand, the government should take it away from the burocrazies and distribute it to the people. Anyone private who owns land, cares for it. (International) competition about prices and easy and transparent rules let the most efficient use prevail and brings the highest value to Thailand as a whole. If there are artificial low prices for land, then only the wicked/ruthless will profit and not the decent/good ideas, as the decent will not circumvent the law and take in the windfall profit by too low prices. Corruption will flourish, bad business and scams also. Oh, and now it sounds like I talk about Phuket...

Posted by Lena on January 7, 2011 03:16

Editor Comment:

Lena, Was there a reason why expat property ownership would be good for Thailand in there somewhere?

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The difficulty of owning something in Thailand for expats, falang is what keeps a lot of investors away from Thailand. It would be better if it would be more simple, better for Thais. More investment means more business and more income for the Thai people.

Posted by Marc on January 9, 2011 14:16

Editor Comment:

It's hard to see, though, how selling land to expats increases the likelihood of future generations of Thais owning land in their own country.

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the only real solution is zones for foreigners, they are not under any circumstances allowed to buy out of the zones, thereby the land for locals will not increase in price but the zoned land only foreigners care about the price, strictly observed and policed, it would work.

Posted by talang ted on January 10, 2011 18:37

Editor Comment:

Does that sound like a ghetto?

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"It's hard to see, though, how selling land to expats increases the likelihood of future generations of Thais owning land in their own country."
If I as a falang would buy land, even farmland, I would like to get some income from that land. So I would have to put it up for rent, which would have to be at compatible prices or no one would rent it. Or I would have to cultivate it, I would need to hire help. If it where building ground I would have to hire help (Thai architect,Thai builders) to build on it. Later I could put it up for rent, again at compatible prices.
In all cases I would need to employ Thai people giving them an income and a job.
I would have to pay taxes.

Posted by Marc on January 11, 2011 07:13

Editor Comment:

Let's see: You buy the land, the Thais farm it as serfs, or rent it from you? Marc, that makes no sense.

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Actually talang ted has raised a very successful concept that is in use in other countries.

Island zoning or tiering is a very effective way of maintaining property prices for local people against an influx of wealthier foreigners.

The Channel Islands of Guernsey and Jersey have had such tiers of property prices for decades and their economies have thrived to the benefit of the local residents with tremendous boom in financial and tourism industries that provide jobs for the islanders.

Posted by Rob on January 12, 2011 16:11

Editor Comment:

The Channel islands are tax havens that otherwise had little future beyond fishing. It's an exception that does not provide suitable comparisons, except with other tax havens.

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Fishing, tourism, wealthy foreigners and limited land/property.

It sounds very similar to the situation in Phuket.

Money is money - it doesn't matter if you are a millionaire in Phuket or a millionaire in Guernsey because tiered pricing can regulate the property market fairly for locals.

It shouldn't be dismissed out of hand and could be something that is looked into for fair comparison.

Posted by Rob on January 12, 2011 16:31

Editor Comment:

If this was all about allowing the richest people to own the best land, or to be based somewhere where they could avoid paying taxes, you might have a point. A comparison between the Channel Islands and Thailand is not valid. In any case, on Phuket, foreign millionaires have already claimed the best properties.

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I find it absolutely appalling to be reading an unbiased article here on Phuket Wan only to read on to the Forum below and see the "Editor" personally attacking those that care to pass their own personal comments.
Surely it is this exact reason that this forum is here and not for the personal pleasure of an editor with an over exaggerated self opinion. For an open forum this certainly seems like more of a place for the editor to pass his/her time slagging off others.
I'm disgusted to read these ramblings and hope that those of you who are personally attacked here by name will take your reading elsewhere where we don't have to listen to such trash! I've never before seen a respected new service degrade their employer in such a way. Mr Editor, you should be ashamed of yourself!

Posted by Passionate About Phuket on January 13, 2011 00:00

Editor Comment:

Regular readers will know that we've been through this several times, Passionate About Phuket. Journalists are as entitled to opinions as any other segment of the population. What we resist at Phuketwan is any attempt at spreading rumor, myth, or exaggeration, especially those designed to promote self-interest or bigotry. We don't have a problem with being professional and covering the news in an unbiased fashion, while at the same time having an opinion and expressing it. Nor should you. Not all opinions are valid or worthy additions to informed debate. As you are well aware, the commenters here and in many other places are mostly anonymous. I don't make personal attacks. However, you just made one. Use your real name, and we will welcome your right to a real opinion.

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Property Tiering is not meant to allow the richest people to own the best land but rather to make sure that the local residents are not priced out of the market by creating clear and transparent allocations to foreigners.

A valid comparison between any two systems can be made because the idea is to compare between the differences and to find out ways of improvement.

Leaders from Phuket and Thailand have often visited other countries to examine and compare between government policies, systems and the different benefits and outcomes.

In terms of Phuket there are plenty of Thai millionaires with magnificent properties (Sri Panwa, Kata Group, Centara Villas etc.) so its not correct to generalise and say foreigners have claimed all the best property.

Posted by Rob on January 13, 2011 10:35

Editor Comment:

I was talking about private homes, rather than resorts, however I suspect you will find that many of the villas within coastal resorts have been bought by expats. To take the ''us versus them'' out of it, let me generalise by saying that rich people own all the prime coastal property on Phuket that was once considered to be next to worthless. The bar on expat ownership is more about the need to give the average non-wealthy Thai the opportunity to own land. Thailand's other problem is the lack of clarity on land titles. To apply a tiered system on top of a confused one would, I suspect, only create more loopholes for exploitation.

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I love how Thai People keep Thailand for Thais. I really wish Australia did the same.
The Aus Govt just sold Energy Australia (Power Provider) for 5.2billion (about 5X less then its worth). This would never have happened if we had Thailand's Laws.
This is one of the many reasons I am working to leave Australia for Thailand. It may not be my country, but at least I can accept the laws and rules. When I cannot accept them, I will leave. Who knows, 20 years down the track I may be living in a box next to the ocean because no 1 will have me 5555

Posted by Joel M on January 15, 2011 22:32


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