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Best not to forget that parks are for the people, not for property

Phuket Property: Time to Learn the Difference Between Right and Wrong

Saturday, October 6, 2012
News Analysis

PHUKET: A lot of energy and effort goes into branding Phuket. Here's Phuketwan's solution: Brand Phuket as an honest place for investment, particularly in land, and a safe place for visitors and residents.

Suddenly there's a predictable rush of anguish among the boosters of the Phuket property industry because, at long last, overdue action is being taken to prevent the appropriation of public parkland and punish the miscreants.

To argue that the pursuit of justice is wrong because it also damages investment in tourism and property on Phuket is, as arguments go, about as lame as an argument gets.

While you're at it, you might as well suggest that war criminals should go free if they haven't been caught and prosecuted within X number of years.

For decades, as everyone on Phuket knows, corrupt people on Phuket have done just about anything for money, especially when it comes to property.

In so doing, it's the people who have followed the laws of the land who have been the real victims.

We won't know whether the brands and the people currently involved in investigations of prime real estate bordering Phuket's Sirinath National Park are also victims until the process is complete.

It's obvious, though, that skulduggery has taken place around the national park down the decades since the 1950s.

The investigators now aim to trace who knew, and when, and how the process of deceit was turned to profit for the criminals.

The upholders of the laws of Thailand should have done years ago what one brave man has now begun to do. We hope the process that he has begun is completed, without further ado.

The property industry boosters should also hope justice comes fast, too - because if it does not come, the stench of corruption will keep potential Phuket investors at bay for decades.

It's obvious that Thailand and Thailand's citizens have been robbed blind of their parkland heritage.

We can only suggest that anyone who bought land bordering the national park on Phuket on the basis of a single title document should have gone back to look at previous land transfers in just the same way that investigators are now doing.

Anything less would not have been due diligence, knowing that Phuket is a corrupt place and that the area around the national park is the most obvious target for corrupt people.

Perhaps it's time to remind Phuket's property industry boosters that for years, honest people have been trying to persuade the law enforcers to sort right from wrong.

In 2003, one honest man, Pongtorn Hiranyaburana, was shot dead by an assassin as he drove home from Phuket to Surat Thani.

Khun Pungtorn was the Deputy Chief of the Phuket Provincial Land Titles Office. He had been investigating the issuing of illegal land titles, and he was clearly onto something.

His murderers were never found.

Phuketwan believes that the (now retired) Director General of the Department of National Parks, Wildlife and Plant Conservation, Damrong ''The Demolisher'' Pidech, has acted with great bravery in raising the issue of parkland theft and land titles corruption.

We hope that the investigation is brought to a conclusion as fast as possible. We hope that justice is done.

And we hope that then, more people on Phuket and throughout Thailand, particularly in the property industry, will be able to clearly distinguish right from wrong.

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Monday July 23, 2018
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