100 Samae San families apply to rent seized land parcels

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About 100 Samae San families applied with the Royal Thai Navy to rent “Sor Por Kor” property recently repossessed by the military for violating rules of the scandal-plagued land-reform program.

The residents, who comprise more than a third of all the families in the Samae San village of Nongkajong, began on March 2 filling out applications to rent the property from the Real Estate Division of the Sattahip Naval Base, which spearheaded the effort to take back the government land.

The Sor Por Kor land-reform program was begun with the intent of giving poor farmers plots of land they could use rent-free for up to 30 years to grow crops and become self-sufficient in line with HM the King’s “sufficiency economy” philosophy. However, the program quickly was corrupted by wealthy investors and influential local figures, who often conned or extorted farmers to gain control of the real estate for commercial development.

Samae San residents apply to rent “Sor Por Kor” property recently repossessed by the military for violating rules of the scandal-plagued land-reform program.

Such has been the case in Samae San, said Capt. Atikom Laohakul, deputy director of the Real Estate Division, who said local Sor Por Kor 1 land has been illegally used for resorts, restaurants and commercial construction that actually expanded beyond boundaries of the land-reform parcels to encroach on state land in hillsides and beaches.

The navy recently told Samae San residents they would have to register and begin paying rent. The applications must be reviewed by the Treasury Department. In cases where continued possession of the Sor Por Kor land is rejected, the residents past use of the land can be used as collateral for loans to build new properties on private land.