Long memories, retribution, and rewards

1 10 2020

Back in late 2015, the military junta promoted events to make then Crown Prince Vajiralongkorn look more normally king-like. These were the “Bike for Mom” in August 2015 and the “Bike for Dad” in December 2015. Not everything went to plan.

Amid rumors of a plot to assassinate someone, Major General Suchart Prommai was charged with lese majeste. He and several others were said to have fled Thailand. The others were: Pol Col Pairoj Rojanakhajorn, a former chief of the Crime Suppression Division’s Sub-Division 2; and his then deputy Pol Lt Col Thammawat Hiranyalekha, as well as Col Khachachart Boondee.

Suchart was a former 11th Infantry Regiment commander, and was stripped of military rank. At the time, a report stated that he and his co-accused had “solicited money which they claimed would be used to fund the production of T-shirts for the ‘Bike for Mom’ cycling event…”.

These charges/accusations also involved fortune-teller and then prince confidante Suriyan Sucharitpolwong, known as Mor Yong, Jirawong Wattanathewasilp, Suriyan’s aide, and Pol Maj Prakrom Warunprapha. They were secretly arrested on or about 16 October 2015, charged with lese majeste. The three were taken to a then secret temporary prison inside the 11th Army Circle base.

A week after they were incarcerated, fears were expressed for their safety. A report stated that “special wardens” were appointed including “military officers and guards from the Corrections Department,” and their task was “to take care of three suspects…”.

Both Suriyan and Prakrom were soon dead. Screaming cover-up and following his earlier assurances that all men were safe and healthy, the Minister for Justice Gen Paiboon Khumchaya declared the cases closed in less than 36 hours.

The military junta quickly washed its hands of Suriyan’s death, just as it had of Prakrom’s, and it was business as usual.

Years later, Khaosod reports that two of the officers accused of lese majeste in 2015-16  were recently stripped of their royal decorations by a palace order:

An announcement published in the Royal Government Gazette said Lt. Col. Thammawat Hiranyalekha and Col. Pairot Rojanakachorn lost both of their police ranks and any decorations they received from … the King. The order cited the court’s arrest warrants on the two men for royal defamation and falsely claiming ties to the monarchy for personal gains.

Another police officer, Lt. Col. Thanabat Prasertwit, former deputy chief of the Anti-Human Trafficking Division, was also said to have conducted similar wrongdoings and subsequently stripped of his royal decorations in the same announcement.

Pairot, who served as a commander of the Crime Suppression Division, and his deputy Thammawat were charged in 2015 after police launched a crackdown on a massive criminal ring in which nearly 30 people were arrested for profiteering from their royal connections.

Pairot, Thammawat, and Thanabat were said to be close aides of Prakrom, whom police said was the mastermind behind the alleged crime ring. They are believed to have fled overseas.

This sorry tale sheds further light on how the king’s palace operates and how slitherers are rewarded. We note that Gen Paiboon Khumchaya was soon appointed to the Privy Council and that former Corrections Department director-general Naras Savestanan was recently made a deputy Lord Chamberlain in the palace.


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