Investigating the Suvarnabhumi occupation very, very slowly

12 09 2009

There is an interesting story in The Nation (11 September 2009: “Top cop changed head of airport probe before quitting”). As PPT reported earlier, Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva seemed to solve his police problem when the National Anti-Corruption Commission (NACC) investigation into violence during the People’s Alliance for Democracy occupation of parliament on 7 October 2008 found against the police chief, General Patcharawat Wongsuwan.

Police General Patcharawat is not going quietly. This report states that he “signed an order just before he stepped down to change the head of the police probe into the yellow shirts’ seizure of Suvarnabhumi Airport late last year.” It adds that he signed the order just 2 days after the NACC “found grounds for criminal and disciplinary action against Patcharawat over his role in the crackdown on an anti-government mob outside Parliament on October 7.”

Patcharawat replaced Police Lt-General Wut Phuavej with Police Lt-General Somyos Phumphanmuang. The report says that Lt-General Wut “was seen as siding with the People’s Alliance for Democracy (PAD). He took to the PAD stage and defended the yellow shirts in front of the Royal Thai Police Club last July when the PAD voiced upset at being charged with terrorism for their mass protest at the new airport.”

So it is now clear why this investigation has been proceeding at a snail’s pace (remember this?). But will things change?

The report states that Lt-General Somyos is “close to Newin Chidchob, the de facto leader of Bhum Jai Thai Party, and Vichai Raksriaksorn, owner of King Power, which runs the ‘duty free’ outlet at airport.” This might suggest that nothing much will change. However, it also gives Newin a card he can play in inter-party rivalry within the coalition government.

As a footnote, Suvarnabhumi airport’s monopoly duty free operations – granted under Thaksin Shinawatra’s government – have been under scrutiny recently (try Googling “Suvarnabhumi scams”) and King Power’s Vichai Raksriaksorn has been ranked as one of Thailand’s richest by Forbes. Chang Noi mentioned him recently and King Power’s SEC listing is here. Vichai is a keen polo player and has been president of the Thailand Polo Association, and loves teaming up with Britain’s Princes Charles and William and being pictured with them in Hello magazine. PPT is unsure how close he is with Thailand’s royals, where polo is not so pukka.


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28 10 2018
King Power helicopter down | Political Prisoners in Thailand

[…] Investigating the Suvarnabhumi occupation very, very slowly mentions Vichai’s business and connections with Newin Chidchob and the link with notoriously corrupt policeman Somyos Pumpanmuang. […]

28 10 2018
King Power helicopter down | Political Prisoners of Thailand

[…] Investigating the Suvarnabhumi occupation very, very slowly mentions Vichai’s business and connections with Newin Chidchob and the link with notoriously corrupt policeman Somyos Pumpanmuang. […]

28 10 2018
King Power helicopter down I | Political Prisoners in Thailand

[…] Investigating the Suvarnabhumi occupation very, very slowly mentions Vichai’s business and connections with Newin Chidchob and the link with notoriously corrupt policeman Somyos Pumpanmuang. […]




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