Thai navy accuses 55 people of land encroachment

The Royal Thai Navy has accused 55 people of illegally occupying public land in a tourist town in eastern Thailand.  

On 13 September 2016, the Information Office of the Naval Civil Affairs Department reported that the Royal Thai Navy (RTN) has filed a complaint against 55 individuals at Sattahip District Police Station in Chonburi Province.

The RTN accused the 55 of encroaching on public land plots in Samae San sub-district of Sattahip, a popular tourist destination along the eastern coast.

According to the RTN, most of the accused are investors, local influential figures and owners of resorts and restaurants. Most have have been running businesses in the area for decades.

The Thai navy also accused the Sub-district Administrative Organisation (SAO) of Samae San of malfeasance. It alleged that the SAO used public land plots belonging to the RTN to build the SAO office and spent public budget inappropriately.

The RTN added that the SAO has also enacted projects that have been destructive to the environment, such as drilling into mountains to use the pits for filling garbages, and using the rocks obtained from this drilling to extend land into the sea to make parking lots.

The land dispute in Samae San between the Thai navy and people living or running businesses on the land has been ongoing for decades.   

The RTN said that its latest measure is an attempt to reclaim its land plots after the Administrative Court ruled in April 2016 that the disputed land plots are public land reserved for the Thai navy.

Earlier in January, the the junta’s National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO) announced that people occupying the disputed land plots should contact authorities to potentially lease the land plots from the Department of Treasury for residential purposes only.

Up to now, 400 people in Samae San have contacted the authorities, but no further progress on the issue has been made.

After the NCPO issued NCPO Orders 64/2014 and 66/2014 in June 2014 to protect and reclaim Thailand’s protected areas, many poor communities countrywide have been evicted by the authorities.

According to the NGO Coordinating Committee on Development (NGO-COD) of the Northeast, since 2014, 103 small-scale farmers have already been accused of encroaching on protected areas and almost 1,800 in the Northeast have now been prohibited from using their farmland and are about to receive court summons for alleged encroachment.

Samae San Sub-district of Sattahip