11 July 2024

Former Kaeng Krachan national park chief Chaiwat Limlikhit-akson has challenged the ruling of the Public Sector Anti-Corruption Commission (PACC), which found him guilty of malfeasance, for the forced eviction of an ethnic Karen community from the park, and recommended that he be dismissed from government service.

In his Line statement, addressed to local media today (Friday), Chaiwat pointed out that, during the investigation of the case, not a single member of the PACC actually set foot in the Karen forest community, Pong Luk Bang Kloy, in Kaeng Krachan national park in Phetchaburi province.

Chaiwat and his six subordinates were accused of burning down 100 make-shift houses and rice barns in the community in May 2011, which were allegedly encroaching on park land.

As good and unbiased investigators, he said that the PACC team would have visited the alleged crime scene and examine all circumstantial evidence, to determine whether the scene matches with the one shown on the map.

Instead, he claimed, the PACC based its judgement on the questioning of witnesses and written information, adding that he has denied all along that he and his men had torched the Karen community as accused.

The Administrative Court has ruled that park officials have the right to evict forest encroachers, in a case filed against the Department of National Park, Wildlife and Plant Conservation and the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment by some of the residents.  The court, however, ordered the two state agencies to pay each of the families 10,000 baht for the damage to their property.

Currently a director at the Department of National Parks, Wildlife and Plant Conservation, Chaiwat was also accused of being responsible for the mysterious disappearance of a Karen activist, Polajee “Billy” Rakchongcharoen, in April 2014.