IIlegal land deals, title deeds on Samui issued unlawfully

Source: Bangkokpost - 21 July 2006

Firm to be sued for illegal land deals. Title deed on Samui issued unlawfully.


A panel investigating the issuing of land documents on Koh Samui is preparing legal action against a company for alleged illegal acquisition of land on the tourist island. Sunthorn Watcharakuldirok, director of the Forestry Department's forest protection and suppression division, who heads the inquiry, said they had finished compiling documentary evidence relating to the occupation of a 96 rai block of land on Khao Duang Nok mountain.

There was evidence on the ground showing that the issuance of title deeds for the plot was illegal, he said. Plans to take legal action against staff involved in issuing the land documents are also being drawn up.

The panel had handed its investigation report to caretaker Natural Resources and Environment Minister Yongyuth Tiyapairat. A court order would be sought to revoke the land documents so the land could be returned to the state.

The investigation was ordered by Mr Yongyuth following an uproar over an advertisement for the sale of a 514-rai land plot by The Peak property project posted by a foreign firm. The project developer was selling the land for eight million baht a rai, totalling more than 4.1 billion baht.

The probe report handed to Mr Yongyuth found that title had been unlawfully issued for 96 rai of land on Khao Duang Nok mountain because the Sor Khor 1 land rights document held by the firm was for only 26 rai, not 96. The Sor Khor 1 paper was needed to apply for the title deed.

The issuance of a land document for the firm's second plot, of about 500 rai, was being investigated.

Mr Sunthorn said the panel would extend its investigation to look into the issuing of title deeds for ''several hundred rai of land'' on Lamai mountain that had been earmarked for development as a nine-hole golf course. The panel's coordinating centre had been flooded with complaints that several forest and public land areas on the island had been encroached upon, he added.

Surat Thani provincial authorities yesterday met local leaders in Koh Samui and Koh Phangan districts to allay residents' fears that their land documents would be revoked as a result of the inquiry. Provincial governor Vichit Vichaisarn gave an assurance that lawfully issued documents would be left untouched. Only areas suspected of part of public or forest land would be investigated, he said.