Illegal resort owners and supporters from Mon Cham in Mae Raem, Mae Rim protested outside the Mae Rim District office this morning, Feb. 18 after their utilities were cut off.
The protesters claimed that the decision to terminate phone and internet services in the are was “racist” as it directly discriminated against the hilltribe owners of the illegally built resorts. Power is set to follow in the following days according to a report from One31.
All resorts in the area were deemed illegal in January after it was found that they were built on protected forest land without permission. Approximately 116 resorts in total were ordered closed.
Venturing into dangerous territory, Mr. Surin Nathi Praiwan, headman of Ban Nong Hoi Kao and a spokesperson for the illegal resort owners claimed that the resorts “did not break the objectives of The Royal Project for living in the area.” The Royal Project is a foundation founded and supported by the late King Bhumibol Adulyadej (Rama IX) that focuses on improving the quality of life of hilltribes.
Responding to the protest, The Director of the Forest Resources Office 1 (Chiang Mai) said that government agencies are working to solve problems for locals but they must comply with legal regulations. He added that authorities had still not cut off electricity and water to the area but the signal pole was removed as it was built illegally.