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  • Buying Land: The Nominees Witch Hunt (3): The Scapegoat

    April 15 2014

    If you are a regular reader of my posts you already know that I believe that the “foreign investors that have purchased land through a company with Thai Shareholders that may be deemed nominees” is a big messy situation that at one point will need to be resolved.

    The Foreign Scapegoat

    If you are a regular reader you also know that I believe that foreign investors are not solely responsible for this big mess and that I’m at odd with the current attitude of Thai authorities and that i believe that going after the foreign “Scapegoat” is not a satisfying answer at all. Note that my belief does not result from the fact that I’m  a foreigner but based on the fact that if you look at the whole picture creating a Scapegoat in fine the “foreign goat” (and/or his Thai goat wife) is not a satisfying answer to the big mess that was collectively created.

    It is not a satisfactory answer because it means that Thai Authorities are about “to turn a blind eye to that same [collective]responsibility to shift it to the shoulders of another. We pass the buck and blame the goat.”

    Collective Failure Vs Individual Failure

    While the foreign investors that have “purchased land through a company with Thai Shareholders that may be deemed nominees” are a part and contributed to the problem at hand they should not be made solely responsible for it because the whole collectivity failed the law and the finger should also be collectively pointed to:

    –       The successive governments and administrations that for 30 years have completely ignored the problem and by doing so have created the impression that it was ok to circumvent the law.

    –       The whole legal profession (Thai and foreigners in the same bag) whose basic advice to foreign investors was “look it is technically illegal to do so” but no one has ever been punished during the past XX years to do so”

    –       The whole brokering profession (Thai and foreigners in the same bag) who were all very happy to see land transactions executed because it was generating commissions.

    –       Thai land owners who were not in most of the cases “uneducated farmers who did not know what they were doing” but educated and well off people that knew very well what they were doing.  

    Modern Vs Biblical Scapegoat Theory

    In this context the current attitude of Thai authorities is not satisfying because it ignore the collective responsibility  and failure of the whole community.

    Interestingly while the modern scapegoating ritual means “passing the buck” this modern ritual is the contrary of the biblical scapegoating ritual which original intent was to be “a public acknowledgement of collective responsibility for a community’s mistakes and transgressions. In the words of Rabbi Peter S. Knobel, “the goal is not to evade responsibility but to dramatize it.”  For those interested to read more about the Scapegoating ritual please read Jessie Gerson-Nieder post on http://www.mvhc.us/torah.htm.

    What I’m trying to say is that while I’m fully agree that this problem need to be solved I don’t believe that Thailand will be better off if foreign investors are burnt to the stakes. It will definitively bring any governments that chose to do it a lot of votes but it will also damage Thailand reputation as a safe investment haven.  

    Tomorrow we will discuss about the options that may be used to solve this problem in an acceptable way.

    Note: This post is an excerpt of Rene Philippe Dubout next book: “How to Invest Safely Into Thailand” to be published in January 2010

    About the Author:

    The author Rene-Philippe DUBOUT is a lawyer since 1990 when he was admitted to Geneva bar (Switzerland). He practiced as a litigator there for 10 years until he moved to Thailand in 1999. In 2002 he founded with a group of Thai lawyers Rene Philippe & Partners Ltd a local law firm that specialized in Cross Borders Investments and Real Estate. He has been lecturing in several Thai Universities and a speaker to numerous conferences and seminars. He is the author of a must read book:”How to Purchase Real Estate Offshore Safely: The Case of Thailand”.


    © Copyrights 2009 – Rene Philippe Dubout – This article may be reprinted if information about the author, the websites, and the URLs remain intact.


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