A HOTEL owner who has been on the run for years after an arrest warrant was issued for encroaching on public land at Koh Lipe, Satun province, was apprehended on March 28 with there only being one year of the statute of limitations left, TV Channel 7 said today (Apr. 8).
Deputy National Police Chief Pol. Gen. Surachate Hakparn, nicknamed Big Joke, said aside from the arrest of this suspect complaints have been filed and action is being taken against another 108 hotels on this island.
He was speaking after attending a meeting of a committee investigating land disputes related to the community of Chao Lay, also known as “sea gypsies”, living on the island. Officials from Provincial Administration, Treasury, Lands and Fisheries departments as well as investigators also attended it.
He mentioned that the problem of land encroachment on Koh Lipe by hotels and resorts has dragged on for 20 years and affected local fishermen with steps being taken to resolve it together with the Department of National Park, Wildlife and Plant Conservation.
Aside from looking into allegations against 108 hotels and resorts on Koh Lipe, revocation of 11 land title deeds is being carried out with this expected to be completed beginning of next month.
Arrested on March 28 was Ms. Patcharin (surname withheld), the owner of a large hotel worth 128 million baht, with only one year of the statute of limitations left. Pol. Gen. Surachate has instructed police to expand investigation and check the financial routes she used with a part of her assets having already been seized and then send the case to the Anti-Money Laundering Office.
Regarding Koh Lipe’s hoteliers having staged a protest last week, Pol. Gen. Surachate said the law has to be enforced but in doing so if there are people, particularly workers, affected then it would be considered to offer them help and compensation.
Beautiful beaches at Koh Lipe. Top photo: Tourism Authority of Thailand, Front Page photo: Thai Rath