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Who owns all of the land?

What do you think about the law restricting foreign land ownership? As a practical matter, if you’re a foreigner here you probably don’t like it. Nobody likes being told they can’t do something. The rationale for the restriction, which has been on the books since 1971, is to keep Thais from becoming second class citizens in there own country. Well, unfortunately this has pretty much already happened.

My wife’s grandfather homesteaded 1000 rai of land in north east Thailand in his younger years. He lived a long life, just dying a few years back at 98 years of age. He had 10 children, leaving each a little less than 100 rai apiece. The wife’s father had sold some of his land to get a truck which he later lost through a unfortunate set of circumstances, leaving the family with only about 8 rai for subsistence farming.

The thing is, this story if far from unique. Even land rich Thais today are selling off their land holdings. Of course there are exceptions, but for the most part the persons that are hold land from generation to generation and acquire land as they go are the Chinese Thai. This ethnic group basically controls the land and wealth in the country. Not only that, basically all of the politicians are Chinese Thai.

Yes, Chinese Thai are Thai. But just think about the outcry that would happen in the States if all of a sudden all of the politicians were from one ethnic class. It wouldn’t go over very well. Soon it seems very few non Chinese Thais will actually own much land.

So, in a way I can appreciate the intent of the restriction on foreign land ownership, but it doesn’t seem to me like it is accomplishing its desired goal: allowing the common man to own adequate land to make an agrarian living.

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