New land scam stopped in time
Source: Samui Express February 9 2007
New Landscam stopped in time. Conspirator tells of illegal scheme
A new landscam in the making has been nipped in the bud after the arrest of a man who spilled the beans on a public-land encroachment allegedly with the backing of some public officials.
In his report submitted to Koh Samui Police deputy superintendent Lt. Col. Aphinan Kosalvit on Jan. 30, Somporn Phetthongkliang, chief of the Forest Protection Operation Office (southern region), claimed that a forest area covering 45 rai (7.2 hectares) at Khao Pom Moo 5 Lipa Noi sub district has been encroached on and that a 1300-meter-long road measuring eight meters wide had been built on it. Somporn urged police authorities to take action against those responsible for the encroachment on the public land, which is part of the protected forest cover.The intrusion allegedly had the involvement of some ranking civil servants.
Somporn said the encroachment was unraveled when Boonlue Klabmuen, 38, was caught cutting a tree with a saw within the forest zone. Upon interrogation, Boonlue told Somporn that the area was allegedly encroached upon by a group of people that included government men.
The group, he alleged, planned to encroach on public land totaling 50 rai (eight hectares) and sell the lands to foreign real estate developers. The group reportedly priced each rai (1600 sqm) of land at Bt 3 million since it had superb location – a mountaintop with breathtaking views of the lowlands and the seas.
Somporn recorded Boonlue's confession on the alleged encroachment and took him for further interrogation to the police department of koh Samui, but on the way the suspect escaped by jumping from the pickup and ran back to the forest.
Somporn said that after an inspection, it was found that trees in the encroached land were marked with Thai letters to indicate the zone for inclusion. ‘We also found that a standard-sized road had been constructed in the area. We calculate the damage to be Bt 3.5 million. If this project is completed, those who encroached on the land would get Bt 150 million as they plan to sell each rai at Bt 3 million', Somporn said.
Remark: As the suspect managed to escape and documents relating to title deeds will probably be missing from the land office there will be no evidence against these ranking civil servants and government officials. The foreign investor(s) will simply lose their money.
Source: Samui Community 15 February 2007
Samui Forest Raid
On January 30, Mr. Sompong Phetongklang, the Director of Forest Preservation and the Surattanni Preventative Operation Center , inco-operationwith Mr. Deach Kangsanan, the Chief of Samui District Office, were involved in a sting operation to bring down a network of illegal loggers and wood smugglers.
The investigating team suspects that both government officials and large scale investors are involved in illegal logging on Samui and the operation was aimed at a gang allegedly chopping down trees in a protected area of over 45 rai.
During the investigation leading to the raid, it was found that a group of government officials had hired workers to occupy 20 rai of prime hilltop woodland and clear it of commercial wood stocks. It is alleged that this action was taken prior to the sale of the land to foreign investors at a rate of 3 million baht per rai.
From marks left on the trees, investigators believe the overall profit on the deal would have exceeded 140 million baht and resulted in a cost to the local government of 3.5 million baht. However a complaint was filed that resulted in an investigation based on possible violations to the forestry laws.
During the initial raid, Mr. Boonlue Klabmuang, 38, was caught cutting trees illegally. However, the suspect managed to escape from the vehicle used to transport him to Nathon and therefore still at large.