Natural Resources and Environment Minister Warawut Silpa-archa has ordered an investigation into the reported occupation of more than 102 hectares of state land, in Chom Bung district of Thailand's central province of Ratchaburi, by Palang Pracharat MP Pareena Kraikupt.
Mr. Warawut said today (Monday) that he had received several clips of Ms. Pareena's interview on a TV talk show, during which she reportedly admitted that she has been occupying and utilizing the land for quite a long time and had been paying annual Dok Ya or Por Bor Thor-5 taxes.
The Ratchaburi MP said that she did not have any official documents certifying her right to use the land, but claimed that she had that right provided that she paid the appropriate taxes.
The minister, however, said that there are two aspects about the case which need investigation, namely whether she had declared the land as part of her assets with the National Anti-Corruption Commission (NACC) and the tax issue.
Forest Department director-general Atthapol Charoenchansa, meanwhile, said the land in question was Sor Por Kor land or land for land reform purposes, so Ms. Pareena is not qualified to occupy or utilize the land, even though she has paid taxes as she claims.
Additionally, an informed source in the ministry said that occupying Por Thor Bor-5 land without official certification was illegal according to the Forest Act.
The source pointed out that Ms. Pareena's case is similar to the Khao Yai Thiang land case in Nakhon Ratchasima, in which former prime minister Sorayuth Chulanon was implicated. That land was eventually seized because it was state land and had been occupied illegally.
As a matter of principle, the source said that no one can legally occupy state land unless it is approved by the authorities concerned.
Former Pheu Thai member Ruangkrai Leekitwattana said on Sunday that he will petition the NACC to investigate Ms. Pareena's use of the land in Ratchaburi.
Ms. Pareena earlier led people in Ratchaburi in demanding the return to the state of a 30-hectare Por Bor Thor-5 plot of land, also in Chom Bung district, reportedly being occupied by the mo
Source: Thai Public Broadcasting Service (Thai PBS)