Hopeless, politicized and corrupt

29 09 2018

We don’t know exactly when General Prawit Wongsuwan “instructed all relevant units to expedite the cases” in the GT200 scandal. Deputy Defense Minister Gen Chaichan Changmongkol made the claim only in the past 48 hours.

On cue, all agencies have now reported in the media that all is finished or almost finished. Wow. Imagine what they could do investigating the Deputy Dictator’s luxury watches, now “returned” to a dead man.

The Department of Special Investigation has finally worked out that the lumps of useless plastic were a scam. That’s only 8 years after the UK banned the devices from export.

Ever wonder why the Thai military and other authorities have been so slow? Think commissions, saving face and impunity.

So now the distributors in Thailand are said to have “deceived government agencies into buying GT200 bomb detectors…”. The DSI found “evidence of fraud and deception by the sellers in the cases…”.

One can only be amazed that the agencies – not a single one of them – did anything more than spend lots of loot and some counted the kickbacks.

Under the junta, who have senior members who were involved in the purchases and/or defended the devices, DSI “made no mention whether any government officials were involved as it concluded the investigation into the decade-old scandal on Friday.”

Between 2004 and 2009 the buyers were: “the Central Institute of Forensic Science [obviously science went out the window with theses non-devices], Royal Thai Army Ordnance Department, Customs Department, Provincial Administration Department, Royal Thai Aide-de-Camp Department, Provincial Police of Sing Buri and Chai Nat, Songkhla Provincial Administration, Royal Thai Navy Security Centre and authorities in five provinces: Phitsanulok, Phetchaburi, Phuket Yala, Sukhothai.”

Money, money, money, must be lovely…. But we digress.

Then there’s the National Anti-Corruption Commission. In a false headline, Thai PBS has it that “NACC breaks silence on GT200 investigation.” Of course, it was only a month ago that the NACC’s Surasak Keereevichiena babbled that “[i]t is difficult for the nation’s anti-graft agency to conclude whether there was any wrongdoing in the Bt1.13-billion purchase of fake ‘remote substance detectors’…”.

Now it says “it had recently received a copy of the verdict by the British court against the British fraudsters of the useless but costly devices.” That, we think, is from a case concluded on 20 August 2013. So the NACC has stalled and grovelled for 5 years. Now, NACC secretary-general Worawit Sukboon says the NACC “had ordered probes into the procurement of the devices by five state agencie, namely the Air Force Ordnance Department, the Army Ordnance Department, the Forensic Science Institute, the Chainat provincial police and the Customs Department.He claimed that the probes of these procurement deals were 80 percent completed.”

At that rate, these half-wits at the national cover-up agency will complete their “investigation” in about two years from now, if they get a move along. They have only “reported” now because they look hopeless, cowed, politicized and dumb.





Promoting loyal dullards and political allies

29 09 2018

In a military dictatorship, where The Dictator and sundry minions want to rule for the foreseeable future, it pays to be onside, to posterior polish with vigor, pay for links or to have family connections.

Readers may recall that we mentioned Big Joke some days ago. Best known by this nickname, Deputy tourist police chief Surachate Hakparn has demonstrated that he is a thug and a fool.

In fact, a perfect fit with the military junta.

It is reported that the Big Joke will “become the new Immigration Bureau (IB) commissioner in the upcoming annual police reshuffle.” Why? Well, mainly because he’s a thug closely associated with the Deputy Dictator, Gen Prawit Wongsuwan.

The Police Service Commission recently met “to deliberate the [police] reshuffle list involving officers in positions ranging from commanders to deputy commissioners general.” Gen Prawit chaired the meeting.

National police chief and junta minion Pol Gen Chakthip Chaijinda declared that “all” attending the meeting “had decided on promoting Pol Maj Gen Surachate due to his achievements.” His thuggishness, his demonstrated lack of capacity for thinking and his ability to posterior polish are what matter for the military junta. (Any ability for independent thinking will rule one out.)

Being a senior policeman more or less guarantees huge wealth. Who can forget Pol Gen Somyos Pumpanmuang? When the junta appointed cops to the puppet National Legislative Assembly, the average declared wealth for the police top brass was a whopping 258 million baht. No one investigated this unusual wealth as the junta has power and the National Anti-Corruption Commission is a junta lapdog.

Big Joke has been Gen Prawit’s personal lapdog assistant spokesman for a month. Conflicts of interest, nepotism, favoritism, and so on mean nothing to the lawless junta.

(Recall the way the Yingluck Shinawatra was pilloried for transferring an officer who was considered a political problem. The junta never faces such opposition or even criticism for all its promotions, transfers and favoritism.)

Meanwhile, The Dictator “has dismissed claims Phalang Chon Party leader Sontaya Kunplome’s appointment as mayor of Pattaya is a political ploy to ensure his return as premier.”

Another lie. Everyone in Thailand knows exactly what Gen Prayuth Chan-ocha is doing, but he denies the obvious. Sontaya is there to make huge wealth – as his family has long done through its mafia-like operations – but mainly to ensure a political loyalist is in place when The Dictator becomes The (selected) Dictator.

Gen Prayuth may “dismiss … accusations that Mr Sontaya was being ‘rewarded’ for supporting Gen Prayut’s return as prime minister after next year’s general election,” but that’s the game. Recall that Sontaya’s dad, a convicted felon and dark influence, got extra special treatment from The Dictator, creating the patronage relationship. A previous relationship is discussed here.

Interestingly, Gen Prayuth affirmed his long-term relationship with Chonburi’s dark influences: “I have known many people in Chon Buri long before [becoming prime minister]…”.

We guess Big Joke has a relationship too, not least because the illicit loot that flows to cops and others from Pattaya means the Tourist Police do very nicely.





Updated: NACC is hopeless, cowed, politicized and dumb

27 09 2018

A reader drew our attention to a report on the GT200.There’s another report here.

Readers will recall that it has taken the National Anti-Corruption (Cover-up) Commission more than a decade to decide to make no decision on whether a lump of plastic with an old-fashioned car aerial stuck in it is really a scam when the military and 12 other agencies bought 1,358 of them (GT200 and Alpha 6 “detectors”) for 1.137 billion baht.

Not that long ago, Surasak Keereevichiena, a member of the NACC, stated that “[i]t is difficult for the nation’s anti-graft agency to conclude whether there was any wrongdoing in the Bt1.13-billion purchase of fake ‘remote substance detectors’…”. He then added that “it was likely that officials had decided to purchase the devices because they believed the devices would work.” Making this dopey statement dopier still, he babbled that “[s]ometimes, it is not about the value of devices. It’s more about belief, just like when you buy Buddha amulets…”.

(Recall that it has taken about 10 months for the same NACC to not decide if the Deputy Dictator has failed to declare luxury watches.)

Yet the linked report above states that a “court on Wednesday sentenced a businessman to nine years in prison for selling phony bomb detectors to a royal guard unit.”

Sutthiwat Wattanaki and his company Ava Satcom Ltd. sold just 8 of the magic wands to “the Royal Thai Aide-De-Camp Department in 2008. He was also fined 18,000 baht for the deal, which cost the state over 9 million baht.” That’s more than 1 million baht each; pretty much at the top of the prices paid for the plastic non-devices.

The reports states that the “royal bodyguards later realized they did not work as advertised and filed charges.” We guessed that many other purchasers are with Surasak at the NACC and still think the plastic non-device works.

But that would be a wrong guess. Apparently this is the “the third legal action judgment Sutthiwat and his firm. In August, a civil court ordered the company to compensate the royal guards for the fraudulent deal. Last week, a court also sentenced him to 10 years in prison for selling GT200 devices to the army at a price of 600 million baht.”

So the NACC is just a waste of space. Hopeless, cowed, politicized and dumb. Why does it behave like this? Our best guess is that the military leaders who pocketed commissions don’t want to be “investigated.”

Update: The Nation reports that “All military units have taken legal action against their suppliers of GT200 bomb/narcotics detectors after they were found not to work.” Defense Ministry spokesman Lt-Gen Kongcheep Tantravanich said the “… Ministry started legal proceedings after their overseas sales representatives were convicted of fraud around 2013…”. Do we believe him? No.

It was in 2013 that soon-to-be The Dictator was quoted:

Thailand’s army chief general Prayuth Chan-ocha has asked the public to stop making comments or criticisms about the controversial bomb detector GT200 procurement.

… Commander-in-Chief Gen Prayuth Chan-ocha has requested the public to stop fueling criticisms and leave the case to be investigated by Department of Special Investigation (DSI) and the Thai court. He added that the army has already stopped using the devices for 2-3 years. However, he admitted that some military personnel still use them since there is no other alternative instrument.

When asked whether the procurement possibly involved fraud, the military leader responded that the buying of the equipment was done carefully by the responsible committee, and that any allegation of corruption should be made based on solid evidence.

Earlier, in mid-2012, reporters asked “army chief Prayuth Chan-ocha if the GT200 had actually been taken out of service.” The response was an emphatic no. Then the now premier and more than fours years as The Dictator, stated: “I affirm that the device is still effective. Other armed forces are also using it…”.

And what happened to the “more than 400 people have been locked up – some for up to two years – on the basis of spurious evidence gleaned by the device, which is at the centre of a British fraud probe”?

Indeed they were, including in the south, where people were arrested based on “tests” using the GT200. Prayuth “insisted the GT200 has proven to be effective in the army’s operations in the past. But he would respect any scientific test if it proves otherwise.” Of course, those tests had already been conducted. The (future) Dictator believed the GT200 worked. Full stop.

When asked, Deputy Dictator Gen Prawit Wongsuwan yesterday “maintained that the armed forces did nothing wrong in purchasing the useless devices.” He “explained”: “At that time, our testing teams said the devices worked…”.He might have added, “and the commissions have been spent.”

If the Army really was convinced of the the uselessness of the GT200, how come they didn’t tell the NACC to update its cover-up story?





Prawit and his arrogance

11 09 2018

Gen Prawit Wongsuwan is determined that he’ll never have to suffer the indignity of proper investigation by the hopeless National Anti-Corruption Commission.

But in affirming this, he has come up with one of the dumbest and most ludicrous series of claims we have ever heard.

Khaosod reports that the Deputy Dictator has stated that he has “returned” 25 luxury watches to the “friend” he borrowed them from.

Great story. Except for the fact that Prawit had already said that his friend was dead. By dead, he means deceased, he is no more, deceased, passed on, he has ceased to be. He’s not resting, he’s dead.

But Gen Prawit, the great thinker he is, reckons that by saying he’s returned the watches he’s able to avoid having to give them to the NACC to “investigate.” Not they they are interested. The NACC has been covering up from the beginning, supporting the boss.

This Einstein-like genius states: “The watches are not mine because I borrowed them and wore them for 10 years…. I have now returned them all.”

10 years! What a pal! Even if he is dead. Maybe the “return” of the watches is as real as a ghost friend.

But no problem for the Mensa general. Hey presto! No more watches! Voila! No “investigation.”

And, just for good measure, the dumpy general has been sending thugs after the persons who raised the pesky watch issue in the first place.

What’s really revealing about this pathetic effort by Gen Prawit, concocting a story that can’t possibly fool anyone, suggests he thinks he can get away with it.

He appears to believe that the entire population has a lower IQ than his own. His Arrogance Quotient is stratospheric.





Getting even I

4 09 2018

A report at Khaosod that police are seeking to arrest arrest 12 people for sharing “posts by a Facebook page called CSI LA,” regarding an alleged rape on Koh Tao, which police have “investigated” and dismissed out of hand. The police say they are also “seeking the arrest of CSI LA’s admin, a Thai man living in Los Angeles called Pramook ‘David’ Anantasin, and Samui Times editor Suzanne Buchanan, a Briton, on cybercrime charges” associated with the reporting. Both live outside Thailand.

This reporting reminds us of Gen Prawit Wongsuwan’s luxury watches.

If we recall correctly, it was CSI LA that played a leading role in revealing how many watches of huge value had appeared on the Deputy Dictator’s wrist. While the National Anti-Corruption Commission has been busy covering up and delaying, we can’t help but make a link between the watches and the arrests.





Updated: Saving a tree

31 08 2018

It has taken the National Anti-Corruption (cover-up) Commission more than a decade to make no decision on whether a lump of plastic with an old-fashioned car aerial stuck in it is really a scam when the military and 12 other agencies bought 1,358 of them (GT200 and Alpha 6 “detectors”) for 1.137 billion baht. It has taken about 9 months for the same NACC to not decide if the Deputy Dictator has failed to declare luxury watches.

But others in the Thai government can leap into action on other stuff. Prachuab Khiri Khan governor Pallop Singhaseni has “sent a letter of clarification to the interior minister and asked for a pardon from HM King Maha Vajiralongkorn” because a senior monk decided to get rid of what he thought was a dead tree. He’s also ordered an official probe into this heinous act.

Heinous? Yep, wrong tree! It is a tree claimed to have been “planted by the late King Bhumibol about 60 years ago.” Horror of horrors! Forget the floods and have endless meetings to save what’s left of the almost dead tree.

Nothing changes much in ridiculous royalist Thailand.

Update: So ridiculous is royalist Thailand that this one tree is being “rescued,” DNA tested, regenerated, fertilized, fungicized, and absurdly venerated. In royal shirts of the new uniform, dozens of officials are involved in the rescue mission for the “royal tree.” And, “a fact-finding panel had been set up into the cutting down…”.  So fearful are provincial officials that they are doing an inventory in “all districts to locate and list trees planted by the late king. There were about 300 trees, but the survey has not yet been completed.” Never have so few trees been so important for so many officials in Thailand.





Fearful, covering up or just thick?

30 08 2018

The military junta has emphasized Thailand’s “uniqueness.” Thailand is probably the world’s only military dictatorship, it “protects” the monarchy more intensely than almost any other constitutional monarchy, its lese majeste law carries higher sentences than anywhere else and more.

It is probably not unique that it has officials and appointed members of assemblies who say some of the dumbest things that could possibly be imagined. They do this with straight faces, without a smile and appear to believe the daft things that flow from their mouths, seemingly disconnected from anything resembling a brain.

Likewise, we don’t think it is unique when the main “anti-corruption” bodies prefer to obfuscate, lie and cover-up for their bosses/friends/dictators.

But combining those “anti-corruption” bodies with officials saying the dumbest things may be unique.

As a case in point is Surasak Keereevichiena, a member of the National Anti-Corruption Commission reportedly stated that “[i]t is difficult for the nation’s anti-graft agency to conclude whether there was any wrongdoing in the Bt1.13-billion purchase of fake ‘remote substance detectors’…”.

That’s bad enough, but what was the reason for this outrageous claim? Get this: Surasak “said it was likely that officials had decided to purchase the devices because they believed the devices would work.” Making this dopey statement dopier still, he babbled that “[s]ometimes, it is not about the value of devices. It’s more about belief, just like when you buy Buddha amulets…”.

Now what is Surasak prattling about? None other than the plastic handled scam wand, the GT200.

Wikipedia’s page says this:

The GT200 is a fraudulent “remote substance detector” that was claimed by its manufacturer, UK-based Global Technical Ltd, to be able to detect, from a distance, various substances including explosives and drugs. The GT200 was sold to a number of countries for a cost of up to £22,000 per unit, but the device has been described as little more than “divining rods” which lack any scientific explanation for why they should work. After the similar ADE 651 was exposed as a fraud, the UK Government banned the export of such devices to Iraq and Afghanistan in January 2010 and warned foreign governments that the GT200 and ADE 651 are “wholly ineffective” at detecting bombs and explosives. The owner of Global Technical, Gary Bolton, was convicted on 26 July 2013 on two charges of fraud relating to the sale and manufacture of the GT200 and sentenced to seven years in prison.

For Thailand, where the prices paid reached the maximum, this story goes back beyond the early days of this blog. Our first post was in early January 2010, when General Pathomphong Kasornsuk reportedly wrote a letter to then Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva to urge that a committee investigate the army’s procurement scheme for GT200 “bomb detectors.”

But the news reports of early 2010 point to an earlier purchase of the GT200, by the air force in 2004 or 2005.  Wassana Nanuam, writing in the Bangkok Post (18 February 2010) says future 2006 coup leader ACM Chalit Phukpasuk was commander at the time. 2006 junta boss Gen Sonthi Boonyaratkalin, then army commander and chairman of the Council for National Security (CNS), was impressed with the device and it was used at that time by a unit which provided security for then prime minister Surayud Chulanont.

The Wikipedia page says this about Thailand:

The GT200 was used extensively in Thailand. Reportedly, some 818 GT200 units were procured by Thai public bodies since 2004. These include 535 bought by the Royal Thai Army for use combating the South Thailand insurgency and another 222 for use in other areas, 50 purchased by the Royal Thai Police for use in Police Region 4 (Khon Kaen), six bought by the Central Institute of Forensic Science, six by the Customs Department, four by the Royal Thai Air Force, and one by Chai Nat police. Other agencies such as the Border Patrol Police Bureau and the Office of the Narcotics Control Board use a similar device to detect drugs, the Alpha 6, procured from another company, Comstrac. According to the Bangkok Post, the Royal Thai Air Force first procured the GT200 to detect explosives and drugs at airports, followed by the army in 2006.[30] According to Lt Gen Daopong Rattansuwan, the Deputy Chief of Staff of the Royal Thai Army, each GT200 bought by the army cost 900,000 baht (£17,000/US$27,000), rising to 1.2 million baht (£22,000/US$36,000) if 21 “sensor cards” were included with it. In total, Thailand’s government and security forces have spent between 800–900 million baht (US$21 million) on the devices. Figures updated in 2016 claim that the Thai government spent 1.4 billion baht on the purchase of 1,358 devices between 2006 and 2010. Even after the efficacy of the device was debunked by Thai and foreign scientists, Prime Minister Chan-o-cha, then army chief, declared, “I affirm that the device is still effective.” The Bangkok Post commented that, “The GT200 case was a unique scandal because the devices…seemed to fool only the people closely connected to their sale and purchase.”

Tests and experiments conducted in Thailand and in the UK showed that the GT200 and similar wands were an undisguised scam.

Wassana Nanuam, writing in the Bangkok Post (18 February 2010) pointed out that it was Army commander Anupong Paojinda “who approved the purchase of more than 200 of these so-called bomb detectors at the price of 1.4 million baht each in 2009.” As we know, he is now Minister of Interior and part of the junta.

She says that the GT200 was first purchased by the air force in 2005, when future coup leader Air Chief Marshal Chalit Phukpasuk was commander. “After that, [2006 coup leader] Gen Sonthi Boonyaratkalin, then army commander and chairman of the Council for National Security (CNS), became impressed with the device. He asked that two of them be sent for trial. They were used at that time by a unit which provided security coverage for then prime minister Surayud Chulanont.”

Despite the legal cases elsewhere and the tests, Anupong, Prayuth and others refused to acknowledge that the GT200 didn’t work. They mumbled about soldiers finding them useful. Questions were raised about the commissions paid.

In mid-2012, reporters asked “army chief Prayuth Chan-ocha if the GT200 had actually been taken out of service.” The response was an emphatic no. Then the now premier and more than fours years as The Dictator, stated: “I affirm that the device is still effective. Other armed forces are also using it…”.

Indeed they were, including in the south, where people were arrested based on “tests” using the GT200. Prayuth “insisted the GT200 has proven to be effective in the army’s operations in the past. But he would respect any scientific test if it proves otherwise.” Of course, those tests had already been conducted. The (future) Dictator believed the GT200 worked. Full stop.

He was supported by then Defence Minister ACM Sukumpol Suwanatat under the Puea Thai government. Dense and commenting on a report that the Department of Special Investigation was investigating whether the devices were purchased at exorbitant prices, he “said: “The GT200 detectors can do the job and they have already been tested…”. He also babbled that the DSI “should also ask those who are using the detectors because if they don’t work I want to know who would buy them.”

By April 2013, the Bangkok Post reported that investigations in Thailand have shown that “13 agencies to buy 1,358 GT200 and Alpha 6 detectors worth 1.137 billion baht.” It added that fraud charges are being considered by the NACC.

More than 5 years later, Surasak has come up with his ludicrous claims that mimic his bosses in the junta. He added that the junta-shy NACC would “come up with a clear-cut conclusion on the matter ‘at an appropriate time’.”

He said: “if soldiers in the field … have faith in the bomb-detectors and believe they work, then they would consider the equipment worth the money spent. But he admitted that there are people who question their worthiness considering the prices paid.”

We are tempted to conclude that Surasak is dumber than a sack of hammers, but that would do damage to hammers. We should consider that he may be fearful of The Dictator and his team of military thugs. He might love them and feels the need to cover up to protect them. Or some combination of these.