In yet another report of army weapons being “lost,” “stolen” or sold, The Nation says that an”infantry corps headquarters in Prachuab Khiri Khan province on Friday filed a complaint with police that its hundreds of weapons have been stolen from its depot.” The short report says, in its entirety:
Among them were 130 M16 assault rifles, mo[r]tars, 11-mm pistols and Minimi rifles [actually light machine guns].
An officer from Thanarat Infantry Corps headquarters told police on Thursday night that an investigation at the depot found that a total of hundreds of items mainly weapons were gone missing and believed to be allegedly stolen from the headquarters.
The Bangkok Post has a longer report that adds that the “disappearance” was “discovered” by the 1st Infantry Battalion’s commander Lt-Col Manorot Suthisamdaeng, “who reported it Pran Buri police on Thursday night.”
Manorot is reported to be “a former aide of Gen Boonrod Somthat, a former army chief-of-staff and former defence minister in the government of Gen Surayud Chulanont, who is currently a member of the Privy Council.”
PPT is not sure what the significance of any of this is, except that the article implies that the weapons went missing under the previous commander, “Lt-Col Supachai Yokanit, who had been battalion commander since 2009. Lt-Col Supachai is now commander of the 2nd Infantry Battalion.” The latter is said to be “also subject to investigation…”.
The military seems adept at “losing” its weapons. This is one of a long string of alleged losses over the past few years. It seems that hundreds of weapons are unaccounted for, in Prachuab Khiri Khan, Lopburi, in the south and weapons remain missing from the army’s actions against protesters in April and May 2010.
Given that weapons purchases have often been said to include corrupt “commission” payments, it would seem that weapons are a kind of “currency” in the armed forces. Perhaps they should become “unarmed forces.” They’d do less damage and the military would lose its political advantage.
Update 1: The Bangkok Post has an updated story that says “some [of the weapons] were quickly recovered.” The report is hazy but says:
On Friday morning Lt-Col Manorot and military police went to search the house of a sergeant major who was suspected to have stolen the weapons, and found part of the missing arsenal.
However, the sergeant major was not there. He fled before military police arrived.
They seized the weapons and took them back to the arsenal, where they found more of the stolen weapons had since been returned to their places.
The exact number of the weapons recovered and their types were not yet known.
The report adds that the “sergeant major who had fled was known to be involved in illegal arms trading.” Just standard fare for the military? But then there is a really interesting line in the report:
The army command had asked Lt-Col Manorot, the battalion commander, to withdraw the complaint and tell police that it was a misunderstanding, even though not all of the stolen weapons had been retrieved….
A “misunderstanding”? Really? With its invulnerable political role, it seems the army can do whatever it wants and say the most ludicrous things. It seems to PPT that the misunderstanding was in reporting the missing weapons. Any real investigation is likely to show a trail of corruption heading upwards in the ranks. But no real investigation could ever be possible, but the dirty washing has to be brought in from public view.
Update 2: No-one should miss how this story is morphing under the careful watch of the liars-in-chief at the army. The altogether unbelievable Colonel Sansern Kaewkamnerd, darling of the yellow shirts back in April and May for being the mouthpiece of the murderous crackdowns on the red shirts, has to be heard on this story.
MCOT News reports that Sansern agreed that “the army reported the weapons disappearance to the police.” He also agreed that “a number of weapons were unaccounted for during the duty handover of the 1st Infantry Battalion commander in January.” That’s quite a time ago and this only comes to light when it is reported to the police this week! Something is going on behind the scenes and within the army.
Sansern then “explains” that it “is possible that the weapons are missing or were distributed to other units without all items being recorded in the inventory, or it could be both ways…”. In other words, the weapons could really be missing or the army can’t keep records or both! But, they are not stolen! The ranking mouthpiece “ruled out theft, saying there was no sign of any intrusion, assuming that the missing weapons might have been the result of corruption or negligence.”
Right…. It couldn’t be that people in the military are flogging the weapons on the black market and that they are the ones with the keys to the arsenal.
It is amazing that the army can come up with such concoctions time and again, lying, being corrupt, killing its own citizens and all this with total impunity. In fact, it is not “amazing” but a reflection of power in Thai society.