A lot of "inactive" posts get into corruption, land-grabbing, etc., etc. -
to become active again.
In fact one major reason why they became corrupt in the first place - while in their supposedly "active" posts was that there was enough money to be made on their low salaries. This especially so with Thai police.
The only way to really sort out this mess is more free-market reforms : let foreigners buy much more - but tax them. And above all else - pay the police a decent salary !! Thailand could do that through increased foreign buying, and increased taxes there-from.
Foreigners arrested in Samui raids
Thai also nabbed in bogus land titles case
Three foreigners and a Thai former land official were arrested yesterday in police raids to shut down a syndicate allegedly issuing illegal land rights documents on Koh Samui. Peter Watkin Jones, 40, of Britain, Kim Lindegaard Neilsen, 36, of Denmark, and Pramual Somwong, a former Samui land official, were arrested in raids on the island.
A second Briton, Crispin John Grandvil Paton-Smith, 43, was arrested in Pattaya.
The three foreigners are charged with illegal assembly and extortion, while Mr Pramual was charged with malfeasance.
They are among seven suspects wanted by authorities for alleged involvement in the illegal issuance of land documents on the island in Surat Thani province.
Three others _ Peter Buch Rosenberg, 35, of Denmark; Pratheep Muangkaew, who runs an accounting firm on Koh Samui as well as being a prosecutor attached to the Labour Court in Bangkok; and Samroeng Buanak, a local influential figure _ remained at large.
The Koh Samui raids were conducted by teams of police and officials from the Department of Special Investigation (DSI), the Office of the Narcotics Control Board and the Anti-Money Laundering Office (AMLO).
The raids targeted luxury hilltop villas and business venues in four villages on the island.
DSI chief Pol Gen Sombat Amornvivat, assistant national police chief Pol Lt-Gen Chalor Chuwong and Police Region 8 chief Pol Lt-Gen Kamol Huayhongthong yesterday flew to Koh Samui to interrogate the suspects.
Pol Gen Sombat said the raids came after receiving information from the British, Danish and Swedish embassies that members of the Bandidos motorcycle gang in Thailand had colluded with a British mafia group to buy up extensive commercial interests on Koh Samui.
They allegedly ran many businesses on the island, including property developers, restaurants, entertainment and tourist enterprises, as fronts for unlawful activities.
The foreign suspects are believed to be members of the criminal organisation. It is not known if Mr Pramual is also a member.
Some Bandidos chapters have been accused of operating a trans-national crime network involved in drugs, extortion, human trafficking, weapons smuggling and money laundering.
Pol Gen Sombat said the motorcycle gang extorts money from local businesses on Koh Samui or uses drug revenues to take them over. They have also bribed local officials to issue illegal land ownership documents on public land.
Amlo will be asked to take legal measures against those involved in money laundering, said the DSI chief, adding seven cases of land encroachment on Koh Samui were being investigated by his department.
Two bikiesdenied bail
The Criminal Court has ordered that two foreigners, members of the Bandidos motorcycle club, arrested in connection with an alleged land grab on Koh Samui be held in custody for 12 days pending further investigation.
The Department of Special Investigation opposed bail, saying it feared witnesses may be intimidated. Checks would also be made to see if the suspects had criminal records overseas.
Kim Lindegaard Neilsen, 36, of Denmark, and Crispin John Granville Paton-Smith, 43, of Britain, have denied charges of illegal assembly and extortion.
Tuesday's raid followed a complaint to the DSI by British businessman Neil Patrick Williams, who had a bungy jumping business with the two suspects and another suspect, Peter Watkin Jones, 40, also British. When Mr Williams learned of their alleged illegal activities and tried to withdraw, they allegedly threatened to silence him.
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.
Land scandalon Samui needs study
Prachachart Turakij editorial _ Over two decades ago, Samui was known as a paradise island with beautiful beaches and verdant forests. As tourism grew, property developers descended on the island. New hotels and luxury housing projects sprouted up. Land prices skyrocketed.
Samui is back in the news, but for a different reason. Two weeks ago, Surat Thani provincial authorities began looking into possible encroachment onto forest reserve land and other illegal ownership.
Caretaker Natural Resources and Environment Minister Yongyuth Tiyapairat flew to the island with investigators. He said there was evidence that several plots of land around Khao Dang and Khao Duangnok might have been obtained illegally for sale to foreigners.
Meanwhile, another investigation was launched by Pien Yongnu, head of the Bangkok Metropolitan Waterworks Labour Union, who claimed that leading members of the ruling Thai Rak Thai party had bought large parcels of land from local villagers and later obtained title deeds.
Sand was dumped onto rocky beaches while local authorities were ordered to cut a new road into the area, Mr Pien claimed.
Our own investigations reveal that foreign companies are involved in the current land development boom on Samui. Big advertisements for property projects have appeared in Thai and foreign media to draw foreign buyers.
Some of these projects are operated by foreigners who use Thai proxies to set up companies here. With a lot of money at their disposal, these foreign property developers buy land along the beaches and on the hills.
We urge caretaker Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra to look into this matter and take action against anyone found to have violated the law.
Ex-prosecutor surrenders to face land title bribe charges
A former prosecutor wanted in connection with land encroachment on Koh Samui yesterday surrendered to the Department of Special Investigation (DSI). Pratheep Muangkaew, a former prosecutor turned land developer, was charged by the DSI for bribing land officials into issuing land documents for his property.
However, he insisted yesterday that he had acquired the land legally and without the use of bribery.
Mr Pratheep bailed himself out of the Criminal Court with a 350,000 baht title deed after the charges were laid.
''I have sold several plots on Koh Samui over the years but had no clue that the foreigners who bought them from me had a bad history. As a developer, I admit that there are problems with title deeds on Koh Samui but I did not know which process was problematic,'' he said.
He bought land through lawyers and never knew any members of the Bandidos motorcycle gang.
''It was not possible to know all your clients and who they really were,'' he said. The DSI in a raid last Tuesday arrested three foreigners and a Thai, who was a former land official on Koh Samui, and charged them with extortion and malfeasance.
Mr Pratheep was one of the seven suspects implicated in the illegal issuance of land documents on the resort island.
The DSI yesterday also brought Kim Lindergaard Neilsen, a 36-year-old Dane charged in the case, to the Criminal Court.
Meanwhile, the Land Department has transferred three land officials for their alleged involvement in the illegal issuance of land documents to developers of the Peak property project, a reliable source said yesterday.
The three were ordered transferred by Land Department chief Pirapol Tritotsavit. The suspects, who were not named, were moved to inactive posts to facilitate the inquiry.
One was transferred on July 18 and the other two, who were C-5 and C-6 level officials, on July 21.
State action on The Peak project on Koh Samui, which had allegedly acquired land illegally on Khao Dang and Khao Duang Nok mountain, followed after advertisements for the sale of 514 rai of land on a website and in a property trading guide were placed by Samui Property Solutions, a foreign firm.
The land, being sold for up to eight million baht a rai, for a total of 4.1 billion baht, set alarm bells ringing and a crackdown was ordered to put an end to land encroachment by tourist resorts.
Surat Thani Ssenator Pravit Nilwatcharamanee said the government should take the land scandal seriously and bring those behind the encroachments and money-laundering to justice.
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