Locals suspect their identities were stolen to back factory land lease
LOCAL PEOPLE lodged a complaint with police yesterday, voicing suspicion that their identities were stolen to support the lease of a public-land plot in Khon Kaen to a Red Bull subsidiary.
Interior Minister General Anupong Paochinda has ordered a probe into the lease following an outcry of complaints from local people.
The tenant is KTD Property Development, a subsidiary of Red Bull Group and owned by Saravoot Yoovidhya, Red Bull’s chief executive officer.
KTD Property Development, which is now building a factory in Khon Kaen for manufacturing alcohol-free beverages, sought and won the lease of a nearby public land plot for water storage.
On July 11 last year, then-Khon Kaen Governor Kamthorn Thavornsathit – now dead – approved the five-year lease based on results from public forums held in two neighbouring villages to discuss the proposal.
Paiboon Boonla, who chairs the Tambon Ban Dong Community Organisations, yesterday said the public forums were staged in 2015 and records of the forums listed many locals as participants, despite the fact that they had never attended the events.
“We believe their identities might have been stolen. If you look into the records of the forum participants, you will find that it’s the same handwriting for many,” he said. “Some participants also suspiciously failed to write down their addresses correctly”.
Lands Department deputy director-general Songwut Saikaew was dispatched to Khon Kaen to look into the controversial lease this week.
“We are verifying facts,” Songwut said yesterday, after emerging from a one-hour meeting with Paiboon and the Ubol Rattana district chief Nattapat Ploysupa.
Chuchart Phiewsawang, the deputy chair of Tambon Ban Dong Community Organisations, said locals had opposed the lease of the public land plot in writing since early last year.
Locals argue that the public land plot was full of trees and could qualify as a forest, said Chuchart. They worry that if the private firm makes use of the plot, the local environment will worsen.
There are also growing concerns about shortage of water in the area, particularly during the dry season, he said.