Thai landlord in green uniform

Despite talk from the junta about land reform in the form of a progressive land tax to tackle disparity and increase public revenue, research ironically shows that the Thai military is one of the country’s biggest landowners.

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Pattamawadee Pochanukul, a lecturer from the Faculty of Economics at Thammasat University, pointed out that about 59 per cent of arable land in the country currently belongs to the state. According to the website of the Treasury Department the department owns 176, 467 plots of land, which is about 9.856 million rai or 15,769.6 square kilometers (sq. km.), as of 30 September 2015.

At the bottom the Department of Treasury’s online page declaring the total land it owns, there is a notice reading, “the amount of land belonging to the Treasury Department does not include the public land used by the Ministry of Defence for national security secrets which is about 2.644 million rai or 4,230 sq. km.”

Adding the amount of land used by the Defence Ministry to the land owned by the Department of Treasury, the two state agencies own about 12.5 million rai or about 20,000 sq. km. of land. In total, the amount of public land used by the Defence Ministry for national security secrets accounts for about 21.152 per cent of the total public land.

According to a research done by Duangmanee Laowakul, an economist from Thammasat University, information from the Office of the National Anti-Corruption Commission (NACC) shows that members in the House of Representatives in 2013 owned a total of 35,786 rai of land or about 57.25 sq. km. The total land under the possession of the Thai military far exceeds that of the politicians.  

If one compares the scale of the 2.644 million rai belonging to the Ministry of Defence for the construction of buildings for public use alongside well known public facilities of the country, we will get:

1,503 campuses

Thammasat University (Rangsit Campus 1,759 rai)  

24,036 facilities

Siriraj Hospital (110 rai)

7,050 public parks

Wachirabenchathat Park (375 rai)

45,982,609 buildings

Subsidised public housing (about 92 square meter per building)