Land purchase programme under the new long-term visa is now being backpedalled by the government with Deputy Prime Minister Wissanu Krea-ngam, on Tuesday, saying it had yet to go before the Council of State and that it could be made more conditional. He said the government was listening and weighing the concerns being raised very carefully.

The deputy leader of the new Thai Future Party and a former Democrat Party MP from Phatthalung has warned that Thais will soon be excluded from upmarket residential areas dominated by Chinese and foreign homeowners except for small stallholders on the side of the road selling snacks and drug addicts dallying in alleyways. It came in a scathing criticism of the government’s flagship policy targeting one million foreigners to come and live in Thailand while offering them the right to buy land for homes. It comes as, on Monday, the leader of the Thai Civilised Party, Mr Mongkolkit Suksintharanon, led a delegation to the Office of the Ombudsman seeking a constitutional review of the current measure agreed upon last Tuesday. The government’s legal advisor Deputy Prime Minister Wissanu Krea-ngam, this Tuesday, indicated that the government may be bowing to rising public anger and pressure over the controversial proposal.

(Left) Deputy Prime Minister Wissanu Krea-ngam on Thursday indicated that the government may yet make the new plan to allow residential land plots to be owned by foreigners, more conditional. He said the plan had not yet been passed by the Council of State. (Centre) Thai Viviled Pary ladder Mongkolkit Suksintharanon led a delegation on Monday to the Office of the Ombudsman where they met Deputy Director-general Mr Watunyu Thiphayamonta (centre left). The groups filed a petition seeking a Constitutional Court review of the government’s October 25th decision. (Right) Former Phatthalung MP and Deputy Leader of the nee Thai Future Party attacked the government’s position saying if Thais were lucky they would be allowed to sell snacks on the roadside of upmarket neighbourhoods in the future.

There are already strong indicators that the government may be backing down on the decision by the cabinet on October 25th last which agreed to a Ministry of  Interior measure to sell residential land to foreigners in plots of up to 1 rai in connection with inward investment into the country and an ambitious new long term visa programme linked with investment.

The government’s legal eagle Deputy Prime Minister Wissanu Krea-ngam was trotted out on Tuesday to offer assurances that the measure can be further restricted and ring-fenced to allay public concern.

New measures agreed by the cabinet for the long-term visa programme give foreigners an entitlement with up to 1 million wealthy visa holders targeted

Under the provision agreed on Tuesday last, the cabinet adjusted the conditions of an earlier 2002 regulation for those with the special 10-year long-term visa and making an investment of ฿40 million into the kingdom, by reducing the term that the investment had to be held from five years to three years.

The significant difference between the new provision and the 2002 regulation introduced by the Thaksin government, in discussions with the International Monetary Fund, is that this proposal comes as an entitlement attached to new 10-year visas for elite foreigners.

The government is openly targeting 1 million of these investors to come and live in Thailand by 2025.

Pheu Thai opposes land for foreigners as industry leader warns of abuse from Chinese speculators
Cabinet approves land rights for rich foreigners as Thailand ramps up inward investment in 2022

The 2002 regulation required permission directly from the Minister of the Interior and only 8 such dispensations were ever granted.

Negative reaction to the measure has been spiralling with one brewing constitutional challenge already underway and politicians labelling the move as ‘treasonous’ along with other withering rebukes to the government describing the measure as a desperate attempt to shore up an ailing economy.

Deputy Prime Minister Wissanu Krea-ngam did not deny that the government may back down saying only it was still being examined by the Council of State

On Tuesday, Deputy Prime Minister Wissanu was clearly trying to tamp down this sentiment and acknowledged that the sale of land in Thailand to foreigners had always been a controversial and emotive issue.

He suggested further restrictions to the measure such as limiting the resale options of such property, curbing any right to purchase adjacent plots and amending the law so that any potential loopholes for abuse are blocked off.

‘Whenever the issue comes up, it stirs a debate. When it was raised during the Chatichai administration, it failed. The regulation was successfully pushed during the Thaksin administration, but there were few buyers.’ Mr Wissanu said. ‘So we want to reduce the number of conditions to attract investors. However, it is yet to take effect and is still being examined by the Council of State.’

When the minister asked if there was any prospect of the government caving in on the issue as in the past, Wissanu would say only that the government was listening to the public and would weigh the matter carefully.

Thai Civilised Party leader leads a delegation to the Office of the Ombudsman on Monday seeking a Constitutional Court review of the new regulation

The damage limitation action by the government came after Mongkolkit Suksintharanon, the party list MP of the Thai Civilised Party, led a delegation to file a complaint on Monday with the Office of the Ombudsman in the Lak Si district of Bangkok.

The delegation met Mr Watunyu Thiphayamonta, the Deputy Secretary-general of the agency.

They asked that the cabinet resolution, dated October 25th regarding the sale of land to wealthy foreigners with long-term visas and who invest ฿40 million, be referred to the Constitutional Court for review.

Mr Mongkolkit described himself as a Thai citizen who loved the land and acclaimed Thailand’s independence over centuries. 

He said that the country’s ancestors had sacrificed their blood and lives for it referring to Section One of the 2017 Constitution which described the kingdom as a single and indivisible kingdom.

Scathing criticism from former MP and Thai Future Party deputy leader Niphit Inthasombat, Thais will be limited to selling snacks in exclusive areas

An even more scathing critique came from the deputy leader of the new Thai Future Party, Mr Niphit Inthasombat, a former MP from Phatthalung.

He warned of a Thailand in the future where there will be areas with notices declaring ‘Thai people are not allowed to enter’ in exclusive neighbourhoods in cities and municipalities with luxury mansions, grandeur with foreigners including many Chinese people, driving big luxury cars.’

He warned that Thais would be reduced to selling snacks at the roadside as, nearby, younger people would lurk near alleyways dabbling in drugs in this new Thailand.

He said that was the sort of economic stimulation and consumption that was being promoted by the current government.

Mr Niphit says he has spoken with someone who knows what should be done about the country’s current ailing economy.

He said he understood the economics and politics of what was happening in the country but insisted this proposal was ill-advised.

‘The current situation should not be addressed like this,’ he said.

Join the Thai News forum, follow Thai Examiner on Facebook here
Receive all our stories as they come out on Telegram here
Follow Thai Examiner here

Further reading:

Pheu Thai opposes land for foreigners as industry leader warns of abuse from Chinese speculators

Cabinet approves land rights for rich foreigners as Thailand ramps up inward investment in 2022

Amazon becomes a key investor in Thailand as cloud computer firm AWS sets up shop in Bangkok

10 year visa a magnet for global citizens setting up in Thailand with zero tax on offshore income

Wealthy foreigners to own small landholdings associated with homes here agreed in principle

New plan for the Thai economy could see an elite foreign visa scheme generate up to 6% of GDP

Economic plan to put the smile back in Thailand’s appeal to western foreigners to live and work

Economic fears rising as Thailand faces a bigger crisis than 1997 with rising job losses and debt

Central bank to lower GDP growth forecast as its attention turns to private sector debt management

Loan bill passes but Thai economic prospects are not bright with a 1.8% 2021 GDP gain predicted

Thailand to reopen to ‘big fish’ tourists as a cryptocurrency friendly haven says promotion agency boss

IMF urges government to loosen nation’s purse strings as finances tighten with the tax take down

Government preparing a plan to lure millions more expats to come and live in Thailand spurring the economy

Plan to allow high tech and skilled foreigners to live and work in Thailand for up to four years

Economy to rebound as the year progresses driven by exports and a return of mass foreign tourism

Fact – only 6,556 visitors arrived in Thailand last month compared to 3.95 million in December 2019

Desperate foreign tourism business concerns are clinging to straws as they try to survive the crisis

Finance Minister says economy must pivot away from tourism with a switch to S-Curve industries

Steady as she goes economy driven by exports and public investment with a 3.3% growth rate forecast for 2021