BANGKOK — A transparency activist on Thursday threatened to sue land officials for declining to pursue charges against a coalition politician accused of land encroachment.
Srisuwan Janya said the Agricultural Land Reform Office has a legal obligation to bring criminal complaints against Phalang Phracharath MP Parina Kraikupt, whose poultry farm stands accused of intruding on government land reserved for impoverished farmers in Ratchaburi province.
“The law states clearly that agricultural land reform officers have the power to pursue criminal cases,” he said. “Since the agency has found that the owner cannot own that plot of land reserved for farmers, it could be considered that she has broken the law.”
Officials testified to the House Committee on anti-corruption measures yesterday that the Agricultural Land Reform Office cannot take legal actions against Parina since there are no penalties under the agricultural land reform law since she already handed back the disputed lands to the authorities.
“The intent of the law is fulfilled when the land is returned to us,” Noppadol Tantimekin of the agency’s law office said. “I confirm that we are employing the same standard with every case.”
Complaints have been filed by different government agencies and opposition politicians against Parina, whose chicken farm has been accused of intruding into plots of land owned by both the Agricultural Land Reform Office and the Royal Forest Department.
Srisuwan suggested that land officials can also take legal actions on behalf of the forest department. The two agencies have appeared reluctant to go after Parina, saying that they have to wait for legal interpretations to see which agency has the power to do so.
“Land officials are competent officials under the Penal Code,” he said. “They have to implicate her. If they’re still trying to help her, it can be considered as a dereliction of duties and I will file a complaint against them.”
It has been nearly two months since the scandal broke out in November. The opposition says the lack of any legal action against Parina is yet another example of an uneven enforcement of the laws when it concerned the influential or those close to the government.