A visionary American and his Thai wife celebrate a new departure, the beginnings, they believe, of a new community and mode of living off the Thai coast near Phuket outside the control of Thai authorities in international waters. However, Thai authorities have categorically insisted that the couple are not outside Thailand’s international jurisdiction and must leave the structure which they consider a danger to shipping. A formal complaint has been made to Thai police in Phuket by naval officials which could see the couple prosecuted under Section 119 of the Thai criminal code. If so, the couple could face life imprisonment or even the death penalty. Police have also begun a financial probe into the activities of the Phuket based company, controlled by the American Thai couple, which built the structure and which plans to develop more and even bigger structures for a new, self governing offshore community.
Anxious Thai authorities are seeking to investigate a wealthy American man and his Thai wife for infringing Article 119 of Thailand’s criminal code. Officials increasingly are forming the view that the couple are seeking to create a sovereign entity or community off the coast of Thailand. Thai naval authorities have urged the couple to respond to their attempts at communication on the sea so that they can be encouraged to withdraw and desist from their path. It comes as there appears to be a misunderstanding and perhaps a miscalculation by the couple who consider themselves, wrongly in the view of Thai officials, to be in international waters and outside of the jurisdiction of the Thai state. If so, it could be a serious and very consequential blunder by the visionary couple who are facing life imprisonment or even the death penalty if a successful raid is mounted and a subsequent prosecution is launched against them.
The Thai Navy has taken action against an American man and his Thai wife who have set up what they allude to as an independent state off the coast of Phuket. The couple have been named as Chad Andrew Elwartowski and Supranee Thepdet.
American and his Thai wife call on ‘freedom loving’ people to join them on the sea, 15 miles off Phuket
The wealthy American and his Thai wife have made a video in which they call on ‘freedom loving’ people to come and buy their custom made ‘sea stead’ homes with an ocean view and help build a new community out of the reach of existing national governments. In an exuberant and well produced video, Chad Elwartowski explains: ‘Ocean Builders is selling this ocean front property at a fraction of the cost of any other place you would get an ocean front property. It’s the fact that we’re beginning something completely brand new. It’s going to grow bigger and bigger.’
‘Sea steading concept will be better governance’
The American, in the course of his presentation, in which he shares presentation roles with his Thai wife, explains that it is lamentable that it takes 5 years for the American FDA to approve new drugs which can save millions of lives. ‘We don’t need that and we should be out here on the sea stead to allow freedom loving people to voluntarily choose their medical treatment,’ he says. He explains the concept for the would be purchasers of sea stead pods. ‘The whole sea steading concept will be better governance. Your business will grow, because you’re actually in a system where there’s smart systems as opposed to all the gridlock and horrible systems that current governments have. They have a monopoly on land but they don’t have a monopoly on sea.’
American made money from bitcoin trading
The young and entrepreneurial American is reported to have made a lot of money in the emerging bitcoin currency trading business. In his video, he breaks open a bottle of champagne to celebrate the opening of their first sea stead with his Thai wife, Supranet Thepdet who is also known as Nadia Summergirl.
Sea stead home is 15 miles off the coast of Phuket
However, this is not the way the activities of the American and his Thai partner are being seen by anxious Thai authorities. Officials are reported to have grown alarmed at what is going on 15 nautical miles off the coast of Phuket. It has been confirmed that on Saturday, representatives of the Thai navy’s third area command lodged a formal complaint with the Royal Thai Police at Wichit Police station in Phuket province. Reports suggest that naval officials have asked that an investigation and police action against the couple take place for breaching Section 119 of Thailand’s criminal code.
Similar escapades in the UK tacitly accepted by government but Thailand is very different
If the reports are true, the American and his wife have cause for serious concern. In the past, there have been escapades like this notably in the United Kingdom where micro states or sovereign areas have been declared and even tacitly accepted by UK and indeed European law. The interpretation of the couple’s actions by Thai authorities may be far less sensitive. In any event, sources within the Thai Navy are suggesting that the couple’s sea steading structure is not outside the jurisdiction of Thailand. There is reason to believe that this is true based on the Thai state’s ‘contiguous’ zone recognised by international law which extends up to 24 miles from the coast. The consequences of a successful prosecution against the couple under Section 119 would be very severe.
Section 119 of the Thai Criminal Code is a daunting provision and should not be lightly contravened
Section 119 prohibits any acts that allow Thailand’s sovereignty to fall within the control of foreign interests or foreign states or which might lessen or diminish the full sovereignty of the Kingdom of Thailand. In Thailand, which is a very strong nation state, such matters bear a lot of weight with both authorities and concerned citizens alike. Conviction under the act could result in either a sentence of life imprisonment or in fact, the death penalty.
Thai officials reportedly believe American Thai couple are setting up an independent state
It is reported that Thai naval officials are taking the matter very seriously at this point. Reports from the investigation into the activities off the coast suggest that officials have formed the view that the couple are indeed set on a course towards attempting to establish an independent state off the coast of Phuket in Thailand. Thai authorities have also formed the view that this would be a very serious, unwelcome and damaging development.
Thai authorities categorically do not accept that the sea stead is in international waters
Sources also categorically reject the claims by the couple that the structure they have established is outside Thailand’s jurisdiction and maritime waters. In fact, officials have expressed concern that the structure may be an impediment to maritime activities on the sea. ‘If it is left untouched, it will hinder ship navigation since the route is used for the transport of oil to Phuket,’ one official said in a report.
Thai Navy held a press conference on Saturday
Concern about the couple’s activities has escalated so much that the Thai Navy held a press conference on Saturday where the Maritime Enforcement Coordination Centre briefed the media. It also comes as there are reports that Thai authorities are probing a Thai registered company in Phuket linked to the American and his Thai wife. It is reported that the company has been involved in building the sea structure which it intends to market as a prototype to other people interested in joining its sea based community. It is thought that investigators are looking at the financial affairs of the company for evidence of financial malfeasance. It is believed that the source of Mr Elwartowski’s wealth is the bitcoin trading industry.
Couple may have miscalculated as Thailand has effective jurisdiction extending to 24 miles
The American man and is Thai wife are, however, quite gung ho about the prospects for their venture and what they refer to as a new community. It is thought that this refers to international law and key United Nations provisions regarding the sea which allows for the concept of international waters. However, while Thailand maintains its sovereignty over an area of 12 nautical miles from its shores, sovereign states are understood to have jurisdictional capability over what is know as a contiguous zone which extends for up to 24 nautical miles from the coast. Within this area, Thai authorities have the power to act against individuals or entities who are engaged in acts which contravene or encroach upon the the laws of Thailand or its customs. It is reported that the structure, established by the American man and his Thai wife, is 15 miles off the coast of Phuket, southeast from Racha Yai island.
Navy attempting to make radio contact and are within line of sight of the sea pod tower
The Thai navy’s Vice Admiral Sittiporn Maskasem, who commands the Third area command responsible for the seas in the vicinity, has ordered his officers to make contact with the couple. It is reported that attempts to contact them through radio have failed although Thai navy boats and officials have been within clear sight of the couple’s white, pod like structure in the sea. It is understood that officials are trying to induce the two individuals to leave the structure and also brief them on their legal position.
American and Thai wife exuberantly make the case for a new community in the sea
In the meantime, the American and his wife are busy extolling the benefits and values of their community and are inviting others to join them. Popping champagne with dynamic aerial shots of the couple on the platform area of their new, futuristic home, the American expresses his ambition: ‘May the sea stead be a beacon to freedom lovers everywhere.’
‘Ocean Builders’ ready in short order to create 20 ‘higher, taller and better’ sea steads for ‘freedom loving’ customers and target 100
Their company is called ‘Ocean Builders’ and Chad Elwartowski is already predicting that there could up up to 20 sea steading pods built by the company in the immediate area in short order. ‘Ocean builders will be building 20 more for our first 20 customers. They’ll be higher, taller and better. We’re looking forward to freedom loving people coming to join us out on the open ocean,’ he said. Meanwhile, his Thai wife Supranee Thepdet or Nadi Summergirl has been equally articulate and enthusiastic about the couple’s bright new vision. ‘We have to count from zero to the one to the hundreds. You can’t jump from zero to the hundred to be a big sea stead. Start with us now to get a bigger,’ she said before concluding: ‘Yes, what we do, we not just create a story, right, we create a history.’
International waters – the birthplace of UK pirate radio in the 1950s and 1960s
This is the not the first time that such claims and initiatives have been taken. The birth of pirate radio in the United Kingdom in the last late 1950 and 1960s came about as the result of business opportunists and radio enthusiasts taking advantage of an opportunity to work outside the laws of national governments. It was highly successful and ushered in a new age of dynamic independent radio in the United Kingdom and all over Europe.
Already a sea tower mini state off the coast of the UK called the principality of Zealand
There is already a long, established sea state off the coast of the United Kingdom although not officially recognised by the UN or any UN state. It is, however, taken seriously by academics. The state of Zealand lies 12 km off the coast of Suffolk and comprises of a defensive tower built and operated in the past by the Royal Navy. It can accommodate up to 300 people. The state of Zealand declared itself a principality in the 1960s and regards itself as an independent country. The owners of Zealand are the Bates family its head of state is Prince Michael of Zealand. The structure is known as Fort Roughs. The claim has been assiduously pursued by the family who have even established a flag, postage stamps, national anthem and all the paraphernalia of an independent state. In the late 1960s the family even resorted to arms and warfare in order to defend the ‘state’ from an attempt by German and Dutch invaders seize it which saw violence used and prisoners taken when Prince Michael deployed a helicopter to launch a counter attack to drive out the invading party and held them as prisoners of the state.
Sea state for sale for $65 million according to newspaper reports of an advertisement for sale
The sea state even claims to have been officially recognised by Germany at one point during negotiations with German government officials. The Crown Prince of the structure or tower state is Prince Roy who is the son of Michael Bates. Prince Roy is also the Prime Minister of Zealand which claims to be a constitutional monarchy. The coat of arms of the sea state bears the motto ‘E Mare Libertas’ which means ‘From the sea, Freedom.’ There are unconfirmed reports that the family is interested in selling their kingdom with a newspaper advertisement at one time, suggesting a price tag of $65 million.
Aspirational American and Thai woman should heed warnings of Thai officials
Back in Thailand, off the coast of Phuket, the vision of Chad Elwartowski and his Thai wife Nadia Summergirl is more benign and practical. However, the couple may have miscalculated both in relation to the location of their sea stead and the serious and consequential nature of their actions however noble and aspirational they may think them to be. Section 119 of Thailand’s Criminal Code is a very serious matter and they would be well advised to answer the phone or radio communications from Thai authorities. Then also to depart from the structure before matters get out of hand and the stakes are raised any further.
American man and his Thai wife confound Thai authorities with plans for a self governing community off the coast of Phuket in Thailand. May yet face serious charges.
Posted by ThaiExaminer.com on Sunday, April 14, 2019