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The issue of 'foreign ownership of Phuket' is raised every so often

Phuket Property '90pc Controlled by Expats' Claim Rejected by Expert

Saturday, July 2, 2011
PHUKET: The Director of Phuket's Land Office, Paitoon Lertkai, today rejected an artice that claimed up to 90 percent of prime beachfront land on Phuket was illegally held by foreigners through Thai nominees.

''Last Friday I sent a list of 269 companies to the Business Development Office on Phuket for checking because these companies have land and have foreign involvement,'' he said.

''But the law still says that foreigners cannot own land, except for condominiums.''

The fuss about who owns Phuket's coastal land is a replay of precisely the same suggestion in September 2009, when it was proved to be untrue.

There is no reason why the situation has changed in the past two years, when property purchases on Phuket by foreigners have been lower than they were before 2009.

Khun Paitoon said he suspected the article was the Phuket equivalent of what's known in the west as a ''tabloid beat-up''.

Here's what Phuketwan published back in 2009 to disprove the same claim. There is no evidence that much has changed since then:

WHO owns Phuket's beachfront? That's a topic to capture the imagination as questions are raised about ''control'' of the island's prime holiday seafront.

Phuketwan asked Patong local tessaban council that question and we were provided with this list of resorts and owners along the island's prime holiday strip.

Ownership and so-called ''control'' vary at other popular beaches but in most cases, although Western brands and managers are often involved, the land remains firmly in Thai hands through families, or public companies.

Here are the 29 beachfront (or very close) resorts and their owners as listed by the tessaban, plus the number of rooms.

1. Sea View Patong (Thai owner) 141;
2. Anatika Boutique Hotel (Amarit Committee) 32;
3. Baan Boa Resort (Kerakai Suthsmmetha) 46;
4. QVC Patong Beach (QVC Company) 18;
5. New Swiss Hotel (New Swiss, Thai owner) 44;
6. The Bliss (Phuket Seagull Grand Company) 36;
7. Seagull Home (Seagull Home Company) 32;
8. Sea Pearl Beach (Sea Pearl Condotel) 55;
9. Merlin Hotel (Patong Merlin Company) 385;
10. Holiday Inn (LC Thailand Company) 412;
11. Horizon Beach Resort (Patong Pinongsub) 96;
12. Royal Palm Resort (NS Trading) 66;
13. Baan Laimai Beach Resort (Patong Shopping Company and Phuket Kebsub Business) 76;
14. Banthai Beach Resort (Banthai Hotel and Resort Company) 217;
15. Patong Beach Hotel (Patong Beach Company) 245;
16. Patong Inn (Supachok Lakapan) 38;
17. Tropicana Hotel (The New Paradise Tropicana, foreign rent) 79;
18. Safari Hotel (STP Group) 35;
19. Patong Bay Garden (Pisona Company) 71;
20. La Flora (STP Group) 37;
21. Cabana Resort (Hardsaineng Company) 76;
22. Thara Patong Beach Resort (Thara Patong Company) 196;
23. Phuket Graceland Resort ( Phunamkert Company) 460;
24. B-Lay Tong (soon to open);
25. Patong Paragon (local owner, foreign rent) xx;
26. Novotel Resort (Yee Teng Company) 215;
27. Diamond Cliff Resort (Eakwanit family) 333;
28. Patong Lodge (Surapong Pongnisorn) 144;
29. Blue Marine (Tan Lam Tong Company) xx;
30. Kalim Sunset (Hang Tong Prayoon) xx.

This version of ownership in 2009 was unchalleged then and is likely to remain unchallenged in 2011.


Comments have been disabled for this article.


How does this show the extent or otherwise of foreigner (attempted) control via nominees?

The whole point of using a nominee is to give the appearance of Thai majority ownership.

Posted by petter on July 3, 2011 07:12

Editor Comment:

The list shows the Patong beachfront ownership is firmly in the hands of Thais, most of them well-known long-term land-holders. There is no reason why they would invite foreigners to share their properties. This fallacious bit of nonsense about ''foreign control'' is raised every so often to create mischief. We've never found any evidence of it, nor has anyone else.


When a foreigner buy a land at 5 up to 8 million baht a rai, all lands around will be at that price and today Thai local people are unable to buy home as average salary is between 6 up to 12.000 Baht per month.
It is impossible for Thais to refund a bank loan, pay school for children, bear the cost of daily food and refund a loan to a bank; even with a Bachelor Degree, the salary is between 12 up to 20.000 Baht at best.
Foreigners are setting-up Thai ghost companies with Thai proxy nominees as Thai Directors, Thai shareholders and Thai staff in order to own real estate, to buy land or to control assets of Thai companies such as in the diving and yachting industries.
This is why many Thais are deseperate and will give their votes to any political storyteller who gives them a dream to swallow.

Posted by Whistle-Blower on July 3, 2011 09:11


Just thinking logically it would seem that to deduce a relationship between foreign land ownership and Thai voting patterns is a stretch. Or even the existence of a bogeyman of foreign ownership. For one if they are indeed forming all these fake companies they are paying some taxes, they are paying some salaries and if they are buying land they are paying Thai's 8M baht per rai. Which adds to the economy and maybe is not a totally horrid thing. I am sure it happens but I know what I go through each year to prove my company is real and it's not that simple. Even accepting that fact logic suggests that it is the exception not the rule as 99% of Thailand is not beach front in Phuket, that would not account for many people priced out. The reasons for the disenfranchisement of people here has a historical precedence that goes back far beyond the time that Westerners arrived which can be proven using google or reading any history of Thailand and it's people.

Also not sure where you are looking but in the time I have been on the island I have seen countless new lower to middle housing developments built, many new apartments go up, many more and better cars on the road - Thai's are buying all this and I don't see the banks repo-ing houses so someone is affording it. The evidence shows it is Thai people. Like all economies not all sectors see the same gains but there are those benefiting.

Sorry I just don't see anything real that a majority of foreigners are making fake proxy companies, buying up all the land and taking food out of the mouths of Thai people. I also don't see real evidence that Thai people are unable to prosper and pay their bills. In fact all the evidence that I see here and around my offices in Sakorn Nakorn and Bangkok is a burgeoning Thai Middle Class and a prospering national economy and an economy that is not totally dependent on tourism or foreigners for survival.

Posted by Martin on July 3, 2011 10:20


@ Martin
Sakorn Nakorn and Bangkok is not Phuket where most of prime lands, and I do not speak frontbeach lands, are bought by foreigners either for speculating, for setting-up a resort or houses for rent or for retiring.
There are laws in Thailand but Thais and foreigners alike love to flout the laws at the expenses of poor Thai people and genuime investors.
Unfortuntly thoses who should protect Thailand and prosecute those lawbreakers are also making tea-money by helping wrongdoers to cheat on legal documents.
Corruption is widespread in all strates of the Thai society and kill the weakers as cancer.

Posted by Whistle-Blower on July 3, 2011 10:52

Editor Comment:

Most non-beachfront properties on Phuket ''are bought by foreigners either for speculating, for setting-up a resort or houses for rent or for retiring''? That's a wild exaggeration, Whistleblower. It's just not true.


@ Editor Comment
I write black on white in my comment "and I do not speak frontbeach lands" so; I was not speaking about prime lands on beaches.
Tambon Rawai and Tambon Chalong may be a good example.
In 2000 land was at less than 700.000 Baht per Rai and today landowner ask at least 5 up to 10 million Baht per Rai.

Posted by Whistle-Blower on July 3, 2011 11:07

Editor Comment:

I am confused about precisely what you are saying, whistleblower, and others might be as well. I don't see vast tracts of land in the hands of expats anywhere on Phuket. There are a few expat gated communities, but the claim that expats ''control 90 percent of prime Phuket beachfront land'' is not true. Nor is it true of the land directly behind the shorefront. Nor is it true of property in Phuket's hinterland. Quoting prices doesn't have any bearing on the contention.


Understand where you are coming from Whistleblower and agree that corruption is an issue as the editor has pointed out frequently, but this is a glass half full/half empty debate. I see changes that indicate (perhaps slowly) an end to some of it. I see people doing far better here than ever before and some officials who get it. A maturing election process with less abuse and a major shift away from a dominion. History tells me that where you have a strong middle class and these developments the abuses are less tolerated. I really do believe that when you have an inchoate democracy and economy you have to have some patience. I stand by my above comment that while I think the abuses you suggest go on they are not rife.

Posted by Martin on July 3, 2011 11:12


I agree the extent of foreign efforts to circumvent the general prohibition on (attempting) to control land is often overstated with hyperbole.

However publishing a list of Thai owners doesn't prove anything. The whole point of nominees is appearance. Trojan horses are meant to look like horses.

If Thai officials were genuinely interested and sufficiently motivated to investigate many of the weaker structures would be seen for what they are. However that's unlikely to happen.

Posted by petter on July 3, 2011 15:23

Editor Comment:

There is no evidence that expats have bought into the large, long-standing Thai landholdings along Phuket's coast, and there is no reason why those Thai landholders would sell to expats. Most of the land has not been for sale, so it's hard to see how so-called ''Trojan horses'' could have been created.


you can add katathani resort in katanoi. the owner is a 100% thai family and they own all the beach front land at kata noi

Posted by j on July 4, 2011 08:49

Editor Comment:

Somebody should tell the people who spread this mischievous stuff.


"The people who spread this stuff" is a state-run media outlet, a fact you failed to mention in your article. The English-language story that appeared locally was a concise translation from their story, with the headline: Land Office CLAIMS ....

Is it not informative to let foreigners know what these officials are spewing to the vernacular press?

Phuket Sub

Posted by Phuket Sub on July 4, 2011 09:55

Editor Comment:

Journalists are supposed to provide fair and balanced accounts. This applies whether they work for state-run media operations or private enterprise. Adding 'CLAIMS' changes squat. If the information is propaganda, best not to disseminate it without rebuttal.


'no evidence' is different from 'i've seen no evidence'

would be interesting to know how many ownership paper trails Ed and others have seen

Posted by petter on July 4, 2011 19:56

Editor Comment:

Petter, All you comments are on property-related articles. Perhaps you know more than you reveal. Why your deep interest in ''ownership paper trails''?


Ed - better than revealing more than you know ;)

Posted by petter on July 5, 2011 13:42

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