Thai Island News 2002-2006

The rape of Samui - Bangkok Post, August 11, 2006
...Gone are its serenity and lush green surroundings, the credentials that made the island much sought-after by holiday makers, both local and foreign.
Buildings like hotels, resorts and real estate projects, have been mushrooming too quickly over the last decade. The coconut trees that once lined the island beaches have all vanished.
Now that the beach-front areas are fully occupied and land developers are eyeing mountain land, concern is growing over the environmental impact...

Samui 'doesn't belong to us anymore'
- Bangkok Post, August 11, 2006
...''Samui has changed a lot. In the past, we could go everywhere, walk on any beach. But nowadays we can't do that. The beaches are still there but access is limited, what with hotels and resorts all around. The place doesn't belong to us anymore,'' he said.

The Post's Koh Chang series - June 6, 2005
[Every decade in Thailand witnesses an pristine beach vacation spot ravished by inappropriate development while government officials fly in on helicopters boasting the area will be an international-grade destination. This decade's victim is Koh Chang...]

INVASION: KOH CHANG - Bangkok Post, June 3, 2005
...Drastic changes have taken place since 2003 when the first Thaksin Shinawatra government formed a special public organisation to develop Koh Chang into a world-class destination for nature lovers, Koh Mak for diving and other water sports, and Koh Kut for exclusive tourism...
Vast tracts of land have been acquired by many national-level politicians and associates. A number of beachside plots have changed ownership several times before falling into the hands of major investors, both Thai and foreign...

Villagers pushed out, developers move in - Bangkok Post, June 3, 2005
[A virtual primer on how to encroach on land...]
Land encroachment on the eastern resort island of Koh Chang has intensified since the government announced it would make the island a major tourist attraction under its policy of turning assets into capital...
"Three years ago, there was no encroachment. This excludes land title deed conflicts, as that is beyond our legal power,'' said Pratya Thangchan, head of the suppresion unit of Mu Koh Chang National Park.
Technically, land not in use must be classified as forest land under the Forest Act of 1941 and any forest land encroachment must be investigated. But in most cases officers failed to capture the real culprits, he said.
As soon as the government launched the asset capitalisation policy, under which land title deeds are issued more rapidly, several developers approached police with title deeds in their hands.
" Once they have land documents, we can't take any legal action and the case must be closed,'' the official said...
Encroachment tactics vary depending on the type of land. People wanting to occupy forest or public land prepare documents that indicate land use while hiring workers to clear the land.
If police cannot arrest land encroachers in 30 days, they have to close the case. The encroachers later seek to upgrade the land documents to title deeds.
People wanting to own mangrove forest land have clay dykes built in target areas to keep seawater away for about four months, causing plants to wither and die.
Once the dead trees are cleared, they then make false claims that the land was once a rice field with Sor Kor 1 land ownership papers. After a while, they apply for title deeds.
Encroachers on coastal land usually occupy land near beaches. They fill in land next to the beaches, which is public land, and claim it as their own even though the law requires all structures to be built no less than 20m away.
Public access to beaches is now hard to find. Only two public routes lead to Hat Sai Khao beach where many resorts are located. Some businessmen who block the public route even charge 50 baht for people to pass through...
The average price of land on the beach is now 15 million baht per rai, up from 300,000-400,000 baht 10 years ago, and 1.5-3 million baht along the only main road...

Owner clears site set aside for monument - Bangkok Post, June 4, 2005
Trees growing on an 8-rai plot set aside for a memorial to navy war heroes on Koh Chang have been felled, apparently at the order of an unidentified person who claimed to be its rightful owner...
Sixty Thai sailors were killed in combat on Jan 17, 1941, when three Thai warships engaged a fleet of seven French vessels led by the cruiser Lamotte-Picquet.
The naval engagement site has since been held sacred by villagers and naval officers. A small shrine in honour of the war heroes is located at the cape and a wreath-laying ceremony is held on Jan 17 every year...

Welcome to Phi Phi Island
You've seen the tourist photos on all the other websites, now visit Phi Phi Island the 2Bangkok way...
Developing beachfront property - The Nation, November 24, 2002
The article is mainly a listing of the 10+ mega resorts and golf courses that are to be constructed around Samui on unused beachfront land. The article also has this interesting tidbit: The floodgates for the construction frenzy opened after the Treasury Department allowed beachfront properties on Thai islands to be developed by private companies. Investors were invited to develop state properties on Mak Noi island in Phang Nga province, Lanta island in Krabi, Samui in Surat Thani, Ardang and Pooloan in Satun, Krut in Ranong, Samed and Man Nok in Rayong, and Chang and Kud in Trad among others. Each seaside plot covers at least 50 rai. The project to open up the islands is in line with the government’s policy to make better use of and create greater value for state assets.

Development on Phi Phi - The Bangkok Post, November 18, 2002
Phi Phi and five surrounding islands were declared part of the national park in 1983. The problem of over-exploitation for tourism resulted in them being declared a pollution control zone in 1993. The government invested 14 million baht four years ago to build a water treatment plant and another 18 million baht on a garbage incinerator, both still unused

All hail Tesco Lotus on Ko Samui! - The Bangkok Post, November 17, 2002
This time the Post article is better. The Nation article on the same day just printed public relations statements from the Tesco CEO.

Frenzy at Koh Chang - CNN, September 24, 2002
You've read about it in the local press, now here's the international take on it: tropical island after another in Thai waters has been overrun in the onslaught of the tourism industry. Phuket, Samui, Phi Phi, Samet -- all these once idyllic islands have suffered through unbridled, profit-first development. Now, Thailand's cash-starved government has its eye on the last large piece of paradise, aiming to transform the island of Koh Chang into a theme park for rich foreigners. "The island would generate huge revenue for the country if it were fully developed," says Plodprasop Suraswadi, who heads a special body to oversee this development....
A feeding frenzy erupted as soon as Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra announced his vision for Koh Chang last October. As prices soared, speculators and developers scooped up land held by villagers for generations. Racing to beat new regulations going into effect in coming months, developers are now engaged in soon-to-be forbidden, already illegal or simply inappropriate activities. A lagoon is being dredged, mangrove swamps cut down, national park land violated. One upmarket resort dumps untreated sewage into the sea. Cookie-cutter bungalows are being hastily marshaled on beaches and once forested slopes.
See it before it's too late. As low as $11.58 a night.

Development on Koh Pha-ngan - The Nation, August 21, 2002
Each tree planted along a seashore avenue was said to have cost Bt40,000.
BTW: We've got cheap hotel rates at Pha-ngan here.

Secluded Khao Lak - The Bangkok Post, August 9, 2002
Interesting beach destination... You can stay there for US$30.66 a night.

Koh Tao - July 30, 2002
The Nation has an interesting article (the link's already broken!) on the island diving paradise Koh Tao. There's a couple funny lines: “You know, after a five-hour boat journey, I expected to find somewhere more secluded and peaceful,” remarks one girl to her friend. “It’s changed so fast. I don’t remember a 7-Eleven store here before,” adds another. It's still cheap - US$11.83 a night.

Phi Phi Island splendors - New York Times, 16:16, April 28, 2002
The New York Times (registration required) has an article on one of the most amazing places on earth...
The Beach - the ultimate resource for the film
Thailand Life - one of the most linked-to websites about Thailand "with Pictures and Words by a Thai Student." Comprehensive does not begin to describe it--although some of the photos and text seem a bit too polished and to be from one student (some photos look staged to us). Nevertheless, it is an extraordinary site.
Nattawud Daoruang, legendary webmaster of responds: I work on Thailand Life alone. At school there are about 300 students working on English homepages like me but I have been doing it the longest. Nearly four years now. I take all the photos. The pictures of me are taken by my parents or my computer teacher. The school is making a press room for me because they get lots of letters from reporters about me. Some of the answers to your questions will be there.
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