Government u-turns on plan to allow foreigners to buy land

Government officials have u-turned on plans to allow foreigners to buy land amid outcry from Thais who accused them of selling off the country.

The proposal came with a number of restrictions requiring only those with long-term resident visas to invest 40 million Baht – around $1.1million – in bonds, stocks, or property before they were eligible to purchase a modest patch of land up to one rai in size.

Those willing to hurdle the amount of paperwork to buy a small piece of land, probably for their own home, would have been incredibly small in number.

But alas, they won’t even get the chance to try.

The proposals did not even make it to the government house for discussion before Thais had reacted angrily to the idea.

Former red-shirt leader Jatuporn Prompan and lawyer Nitithorn Lamlua even protested outside Government House’s Complaint Centre.

The government – weary of an upcoming election next year – quickly dropped the idea.

Amusingly, in somewhat typical Thai fashion, other pen-pushers said the investment required should be increased five-fold to $5 million.

Tanit Sorat, vice-chairman of the Employers’ Confederation of Thai Trade and Industry (EconThai), said the condition requiring foreigners to invest at least 40 million baht is ‘seen as too small a sum for wealthy people’. 

Interestingly, Mr Sorat raised valid concerns that the law would be exploited by Chinese businessmen to run ‘bars, massage parlours and gambling dens’ and ‘buy up large plots of land’.

Readers may wonder if this was the government’s plan all along.

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