'We can explain', says Thai PM as outcry over land for foreigners gets louder
Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha offered to explain his government’s policy to sell land to wealthy foreigners after it sparked a widespread outcry and criticism.
Prayut said on Tuesday that the Interior Ministry’s draft directive allowing foreigners to buy 1 rai of land if they invest 40 million baht is being scrutinised by the Council of State.
The council, which is the government’s legal advisory body, will also take public opinions into account, he said.
When asked for more information on the policy, Prayut only said: “It’s nothing serious. We can explain everything.”
The draft directive, which was approved by the Cabinet on October 25, has provided critics and the opposition enough ammunition to bombard the government with.
Some have labelled the Prayut government as “betrayers” for putting the country up for sale to foreigners.
The directive is supposed to be in effect for five years after being published in the Royal Gazette, though the government has not said when it will be published.
The directive will allow wealthy foreigners, retirees, digital nomads who want to work from Thailand and persons with special expertise to buy houses and up to 1 rai of land provided they spend at least 40 million baht on government or state-enterprise bonds or invest in long-term equity funds.
This investment must be maintained for at least three years. If it is withdrawn before that, the right to buy land will be voided.
Former finance minister Suchart Thadadamrongvej, who was once Pheu Thai Party leader, has slammed the policy, saying it will only make Thais poorer and make land and houses unaffordable even for the middle class.
This policy has also stirred up a sense of nationalism.
One of the loudest voices of dissent came from well-known influencer Boy Setthinakkharaj, who sells land and houses via his YouTube channel.
In a Facebook post, the YouTuber said the policy was a betrayal of his motherland. He added that he had been offered a lot of money to act as a broker and scoop up land for foreign buyers, but he rejected the offer because he could not sell his own country.