A legal dispute is underway between a foundation that supports Mae Tao clinic in Thailand’s Tak, founded and run by Magsaysay laureate Dr Cynthia Maung, and a monk who sold the land plot, which is now home to a field hospital and a school.
Well-known Thai social critic Sulak Sivaraksa, founder of the Metta Thammarak Foundation, has called on foundation members to file a lawsuit against Phra Kittisak Kittisophano, who allegedly sold the three-quarter-rai plot of land for Bt2.5 million to Pol Lt-Col Cholthep Maichai, a senior policeman based in Fang. The sale, he said, was in violation of the foundation’s objectives.
A Thai activist, Pipob Udomittipong, said fraud was being considered against Phra Kittisak, because he sold the land plots without authorisation; and a civil lawsuit to invalidate the sale of the land plots, which were sold to the policeman, despite him being the innocent party.
Chalwal Punyapan, a former foundation member, said the land plots housed a hospital and a school, and the sale of the land would affect operations of both services -provided largely to Myanmar refugees and children born to immigrants based or working in Tak province.
Sulak said earlier that Cynthia would not be qualified to lodge a lawsuit herself, as she was not a Thai national, and Mae Tao clinic was not registered as a legal entity. He criticised the monk, now chair of the foundation, saying that he placed more importance over money than on friendship, and seemed to have forgotten the assistance he had received in the past.
Cholthep claimed that he actually bought the plots for Bt2.7 million, from Phra Kittisak, and quoted him as claiming that Mae Tao clinic would be relocated away. A condition in the purchase of the land says Cholthep could not enter the plots or make profits off them before five years, after the sale was made mid last year.
The Thai policeman said Phra Kittisak told him the money would be spent on the charity’s affairs and building more facilities for the Mae Tao clinic when they are built at a new site. Cholthep said he had called the monk but could not reach him.
The policeman said he did not have any business plan to make use of the land plots, and said he, as an innocent buyer, was ready to clarify if queried. He said the seller of the lands must be held responsible, as the land plots were sold in violation of the Metta Thammarak Foundation, thus rendering the sale invalid under the Civil Code.
Chalwal said he had not learned of any illegal activities, including smuggling of illegal immigrants into Thailand, as alleged by Phra Kittisak, throughout more than a decade of the foundation’s or the clinic’s operation. He said Mae Tao clinic officials had tried to convince the monk to hand over ownership to Suwannimit Foundation, which is allied to the Metta Thammarak Foundation and now oversees the Mae Tao clinic, but the monk kept turning them down.