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Mafia crackdown: Koh Samet gearing up for trouble as soldiers descend on holiday island today

Samui Times Editor



Mafia crackdown: Koh Samet gearing up for trouble as soldiers descend on holiday island today | Samui Times
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Koh Samet has been warned there could be trouble as plans for a big military swoop on illegal operators begin in earnest today.

army-takes-koh-sametAuthorities are attempting to return the island to its rightful status as a national park after decades of exploitation and corruption.

But local park chief Prayoon Pongphan has been warned to expect trouble as many established resorts, jetskis/speedboat and song thaew operators and motorbike rental companies are being told they have to clear out, reports Naewna.

At least two dozen resorts have just three months before they are set to be torn down.

The warning came from Thanya Netithammakun the director general of the national office of the Thai National Parks. He said there may be trouble and warned Prayoon to be on alert as the operators “won’t like the orders and will claim they are suffering”.

The move on the island aims to restore the Khao Laem Ya – Koh Samet National Park and root out corruption caused by involvement of mafia figures and corrupt local officials. Already some eighty bent officials have been replaced with new staff. The former park chief was removed in September.

Naew Na reported yesterday that 100 park officials, soldiers and police had set up roadblocks all over the island and were checking work permits, forbidding tents on the beaches, closing down jetski operations and trying to stop speedboats – though they failed to have much impact in the last of these.

Today, Monday, soldiers from the Mahasurasinghanat camp will be descending on the island with top brass park officials to back up eviction orders.

Some 24 resorts illegally encroaching on beaches are expected to be given their marching orders and will be told their properties will be torn down within 90 days.

Naew Na reported that tourists, both Thai and foreign, continued to flock to the island as local tourism chief Pitsanu Khemaphan mulled over the fallout of the crackdown and its effect on the livelihood’s of many tourism operators and their staff.

Thai Visa / Naewna

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