Forest Department chief to testify to House anti-graft committee on Pareena’s land controversy
The House Anti-Corruption Committee has summoned Royal Forest Department director-general Atthapol Charoenchansa to testify on December 18th about its handling of the forest reserves encroachment case involving Palang Pracharat MP Pareena Kraikupt.
The committee’s spokesman, Mr. Thiratchai Panthumat, said today that the committee has also asked for information on Ms. Pareena’s assets declaration, made to the National Anti-Corruption Commission.
He explained that the committee wants to know whether the Royal Forest Department (RFD) has taken action against the Ratchaburi MP over her alleged encroachment onto 7.3 hectares of forest reserves, adding that the public is interested in the case and the House Anti-Corruption Committee wants to make sure that the law on land encroachment is applied to all, without exception.
Ms. Pareena has already agreed to surrender all the land to the state, including the 7.3 hectares of forest reserves and 109 hectares of Sor Por Kor land, on which she built a chicken farm.
The RFD has pressed charges against Ms. Pareena over the alleged occupation forest reserves, while the Agricultural Land Reform Office is at loggerheads with the RFD about which of them should take action against the MP over the Sor Por Kor land.
Deputy Prime Minister Wissanu Krea-ngarm, the Government’s chief legal expert, said that, since Ms. Pareena has returned the land in question to the state, she is now immune from legal action, citing the case of former prime minister Sorayuth Chulanont and his occupation of Sor Por Kor land at Khao Yai Thiang in Nakhon Ratchasima province.
Royal Forest inspector-general Thawatchai Ladkrood, in his capacity as head of the panel inspecting Ms. Pareena’s land issue, said that each Sor Por Kor land encroachment case is different and cannot be used as an example, while maintain that the RFD has applied a single standard in its treatment of all alleged encroachment cases.