By PRATCH RUJIVANAROM,
THE GOVERNMENT has ordered a land-deed examination on the dispute at Phuket’s Rawai Beach and said the parties must talk in order to avoid any more violent clashes, while the Department of Special Investigation (DSI) stated the land had been used by abori
Concerned with the prolonged land conflict between the local aboriginal Malay Urak Lawoi and Moken people with Baron Worldtrade Company, the landowner, which escalated into a brawl on Wednesday, Deputy Prime Minister General Prawit Wongsuwon yesterday ordered the inspection of the deed of the disputed land and said he wanted to bring both sides to the negotiating table.
“The government is currently trying to solve this problem and the country mapping problem as a whole.
“The conflict [at Rawai Beach] is a problem between the local aboriginal people and the landowner but the locals have lived there for long time, so there must be talk and they must not fight each other or the one who |hits first will be punished,” Prawit |said.
He said he believed that this problem could be solved, especially on the land-ownership issue, by negotiation based on the law.
Pol Lt-Colonel Prawut Wongseenin, director of the DSI’s Bureau of Consumer Protection and Environment Crime, said the DSI had previously inspected a land plot near the contested land and found that both plots had been occupied by the Urak Lawoi people for more than 100 years.
Prawut said he had sent this information to the Phuket mayor.
The lawyer for the locals, Jamnong Jitnirath, said the landowner had reached an agreement with locals that it would temporarily open a passageway to the beach and sacred land until the next discussion between the two sides on Tuesday.
No legal knowledge
“This conflict has originated since the first landowner, who was from Nakhon Si Thammarat, registered the land deed on the Urak Lawoi people’s land. They are sea people who did not have legal knowledge, so they were always taken advantage of and sued several times by the landowners,” Jamnong said.
He said that yesterday the local people submitted a plea to the National Human Rights Commission. He also said the locals would go to Bangkok to submit a statement to the prime minister before next Tuesday.
Urak Lawoi community leader Ngim Damrongkaset disclosed that the Wednesday incident was the third conflict since Baron Worldtrade Company bought this land in early 2015.
Ngim said more than 20 people were injured in a clash when armed men from the company tried to block the community’s passage to the beach and sacred place, which is situated inside the company-owned land. One elder was beaten badly and was hospitalised in serious condition.
The Interior Ministry also reacted quickly to the Wednesday clash. Permanent secretary Grisada Boonrach said the ministry ordered every province to prepare procedures to cope with similar conflicts in their provinces.
Grisada said that if there is a land-ownership dispute, the mayor could use his power to solve it and the stop the conflict in order to avoid violence.
“The land conflict is a major burden for the people, so if there is such a |conflict, I would like each party to solve the problem peacefully according to |the law and bring justice to everyone,” he said.