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'Millionaire's Mile' Faces Title Checks
Saturday, July 26, 2014
PHUKET: Many property titles to luxury developments along Phuket's ''Millionaire's Mile'' are likely to be checked more thoroughly after investigators found that the title of one five-star resort appears to be falsified, officials revealed today.
No computer data was found to support the resort's title document, which has prompted a much wider probe into other developments in the area, together with questions being asked at the Phuket Land Titles Office.
The new Director General of the Royal Forest Department, Theerapat Prayurasiddhi, inspected the area from outside the Kamala property today and said that he was surprised any development on such a steep slope would be allowed.
With Khun Theerapat was the Deputy Chief of Staff, Royal Thai Navy 3 Pornprom Sakultem, and Cheewapab Cheewatam, Chief of Preservation-Protection, Royal Forest Department. A large escort included armed sailors from the Royal Thai Navy 3 base at Cape Panwa, on Phuket's east coast.
Khun Cheewapab was until recently the Director of Sirinath National Park, where a two-year investigation is continuing into whether encroachment of parkland has taken place in construction of two five-star resorts and in proposals for other developments on the park's borders.
Khun Theerapat said the Royal Forest Department was determined to restore public parkland to the people and that the reclamation of beaches for the public on Phuket would be followed by a long and detailed study of whether many property titles were genuine.
Investigations would include whether the construction height limit of 80 metres on Phuket had been exceeded, he said.
''Whether the illegal occupants of land in Thailand are rich or poor, we aim to restore all public space to the people, regardless of the influence of those involved,'' he said.
Officials avoided entering the disputed resort today to avoid startling guests. The resort is about five years old and has attracted rave reviews.
Khun Cheewapab said he believed Phuket and the neighboring provinces of Phang Nga and Krabi had a sound future as ecotourism destinations, provided breaches of laws governing property and parkland could be prevented.
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Bearing in mind a certain member of a very popular family in Thailand has property along there it will be interesting to see what happens.
July 26, 2014 22:14
Land has been a free for all in Thailand for a long time. Poor and rich alike have been paying off the land department for whatever they wanted for longer than anyone can remember. If you have laws that are never applied then there are no laws. To retroactively penalize people for simply following the culture of the land seems patently unfair to me. If this is done then we need to see serious jail terms for land officials all the way up the ladder. Since this will not happen I would suggest that that trying to reverse all bad deeds of the past ought to be done very carefully or foreigners business will just disappear.
July 27, 2014 01:50
So because some people ignore the laws and do as they wish, there's reasonable excuse for fraud and embezzlement on a grand scale because people are ''simply following the culture''? How odd. What you are saying is that cunning thieves deserve their rewards. Nobody who obeys the law would suggest such a perverse excuse.
July 27, 2014 03:34
We think it's unfair to name the resort unless the claims are proven.
In the years I lived on Phuket it appeared to the outsider that the land along millionaires row was subject to squatters rights. I was then told by a developer I knew that ultra-rich Thais and foreigners were considered exempt from the nation's laws, so were able to pick and choose. Let's hope all the wrong things done there are put right.
July 27, 2014 07:28
''One law for all'' seems a novel concept. We hope it happens.
Of the land titles stretching from Kamala to Jomchang the majority are converted (flying) sorporkor.. Some were done slowly (which does seem to have the potential to be 'legal' though requires greasing the wheels in Thailand, others are done fast and backdated, clearly illegal. Any attempt to truly revert land deeds back to 30 years ago along that coast will open a can of worms so large, with innocent final purchasers having every assurance from the highest legal advisors and the same from the land office, that doing so to the letter of the law will be suicide for the perception of investing here.
Oh and the prominent family who own a huge property there, is WAY over 80m, so lets see them bulldoze that one shall we ?? Laws for all no ??
July 27, 2014 08:51
Not doing everything according to the law is what has poisoned Phuket's past. It is already a partial suicide. The only way back is through righting the wrongs of the present. The past is not pleasant. I suspect there will be plenty to keep people occupied with the here and now.
okay, I just don't want to book a hotel for peak season that might be demolished. Probably I'll repost your link to TA and Fordor's, maybe better info. Thanks.
July 27, 2014 11:09
Demolitions are unlikely. The process is intended to not interfere with tourism. Even if the resort was illegal, it would be best to maintain it, keep the jobs and divert the profits to environmental causes
"Demolitions are unlikely. The process is intended to not interfere with tourism. Even if the resort was illegal, it would be best to maintain it, keep the jobs and divert the profits to environmental causes"
Interesting comments - so what are you saying - the Government will take over the hotel? Or the owners will donate their profits to Environmental causes?
July 27, 2014 12:06
I can't read the tea leaves, Ciaran, but a better solution than knocking down any resort deemed to be illegal would be to turn it to profiting parks or beaches or reefs. Owners cease to be owners if their property is deemed illegal.
I agree with your idea of keeping the hotel operating BUT it has one flaw:
The lawbreakers would continue to benefit from illegal business.
I suggest the Government should seize the property, place it under guard to prevent looting or sabotage and auction it off to the highest bidder.
The previous "owners" would be disqualified from bidding.
The proceeds of the auction should go into improving the National Park the property has infringed on.
July 27, 2014 12:39
How would the ''lawbreakers'' continue to profit if all profits go to maintaining environmental causes?
I am of the opinion that since previous operators already demonstrated their disregard to laws and regulations, they would present a high risk and undesirable character to further operate the business.
They would certainly feel being entitled to try to extract any further profits they could, thus requiring constant oversight and checking.
Safer to auction it off, get a one time payment to go towards Park coffers and let the new operators collect their profits fair and square.
July 27, 2014 13:57
I wouldn't expect the previous operators to be involved at all. I'm not sure why people assume they would continue. But there's no reason why the staff couldn't work on.
Assuming any resort was found to be illegal, there could be no auction and no privater profit ever again. That would send the wrong message.
There was recently published an opinion of one law office on the subject, what is a rusk of buying real estate in Kingdom and what will happen if something unlawful will found in the past history of land transactions/zoning etc.
Assuming all the acts in question are administrative orders, an unlawful ones can be cancelled.
Then two issues to be resolved:
1) whether original state to be restored and how (in regard of property title or unlawful construction)
2) whether compensation should be paid and how much.
To apply at least (1) the test should be passed that the person "knew or ought to know" that the administrative order is unlawful.
I think it is easy to establish for properties over 80m, or relatively easy for those in National parks , for the latter at least in part of construction.
I don't know the situation in Kamala, but flying Sor Por Kor 1 itself etc. - if these are facts prior the current owner , hardly can help to pass the test.
Without passing the test, then original state can be only restored coerced sale of land for a needs of state, like for roads etc., and that is unlikely will hen here .
If (1) test passed, then there is a question of compensation - and it depends again to degree of culpability of a present owner . Most provably , no compensation can be paid for demolished construction at over 80m. As for National Parks, then maximum would be as for agrucutural land.
I am not sure how to evaluate the current situation on Kamala - it could well be that the test "knew or ought to know" is not passed, and although there were fundamental irregularities in the past, no original state neither of land nor of property title will be restored.
July 27, 2014 16:35
Certainly, those who have built above 80 metres should be informed and some kind of redress be made. Demolition would be fair because we know of honest resort owners who resisted the temptation to build above 80 metres, preferring to be law-abiding. Why should the law-abiding suffer? In fairness, past misdeeds should be corrected where possible.
If potential investors know all laws are enforced, Thailand will attract more honest money.
I personally completely agree with you on this.
But to my opinion law is not well ready to deal with such situations.
Since laws are in the end reflects (changing) social facts and valuations. One would say that the last "revolution" brought changes in the way people do not accept corruption and lack of rule of law anymore. So it would be good to adjust laws with more expressive norms how to deal with restoration of past injustices here, giving historical context - and this could vary from how it is regulated on other countries, as those countries have different social facts /valuation , incl. on acceptance of corruption.
The level of corruption in the Kingdom in the past can be compared with the one in Ukraine, even PRC, Russia, and big part of Africa are in a lower brackets of the measure - so high level of corruption lead to revolutions, however in different forms.
More detailed and clear rules how to deal with land/construction corruption patterns would allow to avoid lengthy court suits, and would provide results faster - that is quite important to demonstrate to people that corruption and it's fruits are punishable.
And yes, laws can be invoked retrospectively - in civil and administrative law fields - only this should be well founded , and balanced between restriction of some personal freedoms/rights vs. common good.
July 27, 2014 18:24
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