A woman’s attempt to sell a vast piece of island parkland, that she didn’t own, for 350 million baht has been caught out.
The Department of National Parks, Wildlife and Plant Conservation (DNP) is investigating a Facebook post in which the woman tried to sell the 298-rai (47-hectare) piece of land on Koh Wai island in Trat’s Mu Koh Chang Marine National Park.
“The department has checked the total amount of land on Koh Wai island and we found it is impossible for anyone to own 298 rai plots in the national park,” said Damras Phoprasit, the department’s director-general.
“We now know the identity of the person who posted this and we will launch an investigation.”
Koh Wai island, which is 932 rai in size and part of a small archipelago off the Trat coast, was declared part of the Mu Koh Chang Marine National Park in 1982.
A few small blocks of land were awarded to three local fishermen who had lived on the island decades before.
Mr Phoprasit insisted the vast majority of the land – 922 rai – still belonged to the state. “We will investigate this and take legal action against anyone who is found to have encroached on park land,” he warned.
The department began making inquiries after hearing of the widely-shared Facebook post by a woman calling herself Minky Arisara.
Describing the island as “The Maldives of the East,” she claimed her family owns 298 rai on the island, only to later update her Facebook page apologising and saying the original information had not been accurate.
“We only have a small piece of land on this island which we use to make a living,” she said.
“I am so sorry I did not check the information. I did not think anyone would be interested.”
A source familiar with real estate on Koh Wai said two separate resorts on the island were trying to sell their land but they were not breaking the law because they could prove they held the title deeds.
They were not local villagers, said the source, but investors who are believed to have bought their land from the original villagers three decades ago when the state announced the island would become a national park.
“However, it is still impossible for anyone to own 298 rai of land on Koh Wai island,” he said.