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Phuket Community Rallies to Protect Yamu Beach from Swiss National Urs Fehr’s Alleged Encroachment

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In a spirited demonstration that felt more like a beachside festival of fervor and community spirit, around 500 locals and activists converged on the golden sands of Yamu beach, nestled in the lush Thalang district of Phuket, this past Sunday. Their mission? To voice their collective disapproval and outrage against what many perceived as an indiscretion too far by a Swiss national, a tale that has swiftly become the talk of the town.

The crux of the matter centers around Urs Fehr — who also answers to David — a 45-year-old Swiss man residing in a stunning (yet controversial) villa right by the beach’s embrace, alongside his Thai wife. The bone of contention? An incident that allegedly saw David’s foot meet the back of Thandao Chandam, a respected doctor from Dibuk Hospital, in what was meant to be a tranquil moon-watching moment turned sour. Adding insult to injury, it’s claimed that Khanuengnit, David’s wife, unleashed a verbal tirade upon Dr. Thandao, throwing fuel on the fire.

The alleged assault has not only drawn the ire of the Phuket community but also cast a shadow on the broader issue of public versus private beach access — a simmering topic that David’s villa has unwittingly spotlighted. Erected with audacity, the villa’s beach steps are said to have trespassed onto public land, a revelation that led the Thalang district office to order their removal, marking a victory for public space advocates.

The vibrant gathering at the beach wasn’t just a protest; it was a reclaiming of space, peppered with passionate cries of “Get out David,” the fluttering Thai national flags, and a unifying rendition of the national anthem that seemed to stir the very sands beneath their feet. Somboon Sampaorat, a 58-year-old local, lamented the loss of innocence and accessibility of Yamu beach, once a verdant sanctuary where wild deer roamed and the community thrived on the bounty of the forest.

The day’s events transcended mere local discontent, drawing in activists from the People Movement for a Just Society (P-Move) and concerned citizens from neighboring tambons keen on the preservation of public spaces. Among them was Suchart Jorasakul, a 56-year-old from tambon Koh Kaew, who, alongside his comrades, demanded clear demarcation between the sacrosanct public beaches and private properties that seem to be encroaching upon the collective heritage of Phuket’s residents.

Amidst the sea of placards and heartfelt slogans, there was a shared narrative — a plea for action against the appropriation of their beloved beachfronts by foreign hands, an appeal that resonated deeply with the demonstration’s fervent participants. The authorities, represented by Phuket police chief Pol Maj Gen Sinlert Sukhum, hinted at a no-nonsense stance towards foreigners flouting local laws, with potential visa repercussions brewing on the horizon.

This Sunday gathering may have disbanded with the setting sun, but the echos of their resolve ripple outwards, a testament to a community’s love for their land and a beacon of hope for the restoration of not just Yamu beach, but the very ethos of public spaces everywhere. As the saga of David, the villa, and the beachside protest unfolds, it is a poignant reminder of the delicate dance between development and preservation, between private luxury and public legacy.


  1. SamJ March 3, 2024

    Honestly, this situation is a clear example of privilege and entitlement. Encroaching on public land for personal use is just plain wrong, no matter where you’re from. Good on the locals for standing up!

    • PhuketLocal89 March 3, 2024

      While I agree that encroachment is an issue, isn’t it a bit problematic to generalize all foreigners as entitled? Not everyone behaves like this guy.

      • SamJ March 3, 2024

        Fair point, didn’t mean to generalize. Just frustrated with individuals who think they can do whatever they want because they have money or come from abroad.

    • Beach4All March 3, 2024

      But how did he even think he could get away with this? This entitlement mindset baffles me. It’s public land for everyone’s enjoyment!

  2. Mai Tai March 3, 2024

    Does anybody know what the laws are exactly concerning beach land in Thailand? I thought all beaches were considered public property.

    • LegalEagle2023 March 3, 2024

      In Thailand, the law states that all natural beaches are public domain. You can privatize structures or adjacent areas but not the beach itself. This Swiss guy clearly overstepped.

      • Mai Tai March 3, 2024

        Thank you! That’s very enlightening. So his villa’s beach steps directly onto the beach is a clear violation. Makes sense why the locals are upset.

  3. TravelBug23 March 3, 2024

    I visited Yamu last year, such a peaceful place! Sad to hear about this encroachment. Tourism shouldn’t come at the cost of local rights and natural beauty.

  4. Phuket_Patriot March 3, 2024

    I was there at the protest! The energy and unity among us were amazing. Yamu Beach belongs to everyone. David has no right to claim any part of it.

    • GlobalNomad March 3, 2024

      It’s heartening to see communities stand together. Do you think this will set a precedent for handling similar issues in the future?

      • Phuket_Patriot March 3, 2024

        I hope so! It’s about time we show that we’ll protect our land. Others should think twice before trying to pull off something like this.

  5. NatureLover March 3, 2024

    We need to preserve the beauty of our natural spaces against such commercial encroachments. Bravo to the people of Phuket for taking a stand!

  6. ExpatAl March 3, 2024

    As an expat living in Thailand, I feel it’s crucial we respect local laws and customs. Not all of us are like this Swiss national. Many of us cherish and respect our adopted home.

    • TrueBlueThai March 3, 2024

      Appreciate hearing this from an expat perspective. It’s all about respect and coexistence.

      • ExpatAl March 3, 2024

        Absolutely! It’s a beautiful country, and I feel privileged to live here. We need to ensure it remains beautiful for everyone.

  7. Fred Harris March 15, 2024

    the whole peninsula were yama beach sits looking into.
    historic photos show forested most of it, it’s not possible to sell this kind of land,
    there’s a huge development hotel like thing and hundreds of villas, just by looking from Google earth and going back through image history you can well see that this was a forest, I also hear from locals that there were deer there.
    some people in local government are in deep deep trouble.

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