Brave women I

17 01 2023

Prachatai reports that activists Tantawan Tuatulanon and Orawan Phuphong went to Ratchadaphisek Criminal Court on 16 January 2023 to file for bail revocation for themselves. Both are facing several charges, including lese majeste. The article states:

Clipped from Prachatai

The two activists stood in front of the Court entrance and poured red paint on themselves, before announcing their demand that every activist and protester detained for their involvement in the pro-democracy protest must be released within 3 days. They will also not be filing for bail again until their demands are met, and if no response is made by 18 January, other activists, including those still detained, will be taking further actions.

They called for a reform of judicial system so that human rights and freedom of expression take priority, and so that courts are independent and protect people’s freedom, as well as for judges to make decisions without intervention from their own executives.

They also called for all charges against those exercising their freedoms of expression and assembly to be dropped, and for every political party to back the repeal of the royal defamation law and sedition law to guarantee people’s right, freedom, and political participation….

The courts accepted these self-revocations.

These are determined and brave women. All power to them. Thailand’s best.

As usual, it is Prachatai reporting this, with not a peep – as far as PPT can see – in any of the English-language local media. That media seems not only frightened but cowed by the regime, the judiciary, and palace. Almost no news regarding the use of lese majeste appears in any of these outlets.





Hear, see no anti-royalist “evil”

14 11 2022

Efforts to silence anti-royal protesters have been expanded. This is not the silencing that comes from the use of Article 112, but the physical efforts by police to prevent royals for hearing or seeing protests that might offend their delicate ears and eyes.

For the latest effort, read Prachatai.

In fact, if anyone wants to know anything at all about such events or Article 112 cases, one must go to Prachatai or social media because the main news outlets simply no longer report on such events. We assume they have been ordered not to report, and suspect that the owners and managers of the major news companies are only too happy to accede to such censorship. It is not so much self-censorship or state censorship, but jumping on the royalist/palace/regime wagon.

Back to Prachatai, which reports on an effort to bring attention to monarchy reform in Nakorn Ratchasima:

On Wednesday (9 November), the activist group Korat Movement went live on their Facebook page while they were holding protest signs saying “Free our friends” and “Person = person. Everyone is equal” while surrounded by a group of plainclothes police. The protest took place while Princess Sirindhorn, King Vajiralongkorn’s younger sister, was traveling to visit nearby Boonwattana School. The 15-minute video clip also showed the police trying to pull signs out of the activists’ hands.

The protesters were mainly very young, One of them stated:

… while Princess Sirindhorn was visiting Nakhon Ratchasima, the activists had been followed by plainclothes officers and that officers were stationed near their homes. She also claimed CCTV cameras were put up near the house ahead of the Princess’ visit.





Updated: Military and monarchy II

14 10 2022

We were interested in some aspects of a royal report at the Bangkok Post. It was one of those formulaic reports on royal doings – yet another monument to a dead king, presided over by his daft son. But a couple of lines caught our collective eye.

One was the “making up” of the apparent snub of the dead English queen.

More eye-catching was that the spokesperson cited by the Post was Col Wanchana Sawasdee, who is a deputy spokesperson for the Ministry of Defence. Does the park come under the Ministry’s purview? We don’t know, but events like this certainly cement the ties between military and monarchy, as the “soldier king” appears to promote and lead the military.

He chortled about King Vajiralongkorn having “turned the Royal Turf Club of Thailand (RTCT) into the Chalerm Phrakiat Park in Dusit district in remembrance of King Rama IX and to bring about a huge new green space in Bangkok…”. The park is an ode to the dead king and covers 279 rai in Dusit district, and when finished will have “thousands of new trees will provide the capital with another much-needed ‘green lung’.” It is also going to be a large car park for a nearby hospital….

Col Wanchana is then credited with an unlikely quote: “Thursday’s historic ceremony reminded him of the ceremony conducted during the unveiling of the equestrian statue of King Chulalongkorn at the Royal Plaza…”. That was in 1908, so we guess the colonel is saying it is the start of a process of further deifying the dead king.

Col Wanchana also giggled about “rumours spread by some groups with an intention to provoke dislike against the monarch [who] claimed a new palace would be built on this land. The presence of the new park has proved them wrong, he said.”

There was indeed rumor about a “palace,” but as academic Duncan McCargo observed in 2018, the palace’s opacity led to “talk of a public park, a hospital or even a museum, [but] the Bureau’s plans for the spectacular 79-acre site remains unclear.

In the end, while Col Wanchana said rumors had been scotched, in fact, the expanded palace precinct that several speculated on, is coming to fruition. We can’t help thinking that Buckingham Palace and its precinct is a model, surrounding the palace with parkland as a giant vinaigrette.

Update: Very swiftly, a reader points out that we may be reading too much into the story citing the colonel. After all, that reader writes, the story is by the Post’s military reporter, Wassana Nanuam. True, but why is she reporting this event rather than the usual royal reporters?





Prayuth’s future

10 08 2022

Coup leader Gen Prayuth Chan-ocha has been on the campaign trail. For the military man, this has involved his royal-like “protection” and “progress.”

Recently, the general was in Kanchanaburi. Look at the photos at The Nation, and it looks like a royal visit-meets-politician. Other social media outlets report that schools were closed and streets cleared to allow the royal general’s progress.

But the people seem far from impressed, with a poll showing that about two-thirds of those surveyed wanting Gen Prayuth to leave office this month, when his own engineered constitution requires that he step down after eight years as premier. It is now up to the royalist backers of the military-backed regime that is the Constitutional Court to concoct a ruling that keeps the general in power.

His supporters claim that Gen Prayuth’s 8 years as prime minister must be counted from 9 June 2019, when his premiership received royal endorsement under the 2017 constitution. This means he’d be able to serve until 2027. This is the ruling that they insist the Constitutional Court should issue.

Yet Prayuth is not only unloved by those Thais surveyed. Even within the ruling Palang Pracharath Party his support is lukewarm. For example, the best his elder “brother” Gen Prawit Wongsuwan can only say he wants Prayuth for another two years. Of course, Gen Prawit sees a chance for himself, no matter that he is decrepit.

With more on the current situation, Pithaya Pookaman at Asia Sentinel has an article on Prayuth’s desire to stay:

Prayuth has sent out feelers to the public and also possibly to the palace about his undisguised desire to maintain his stranglehold on power, imploring for an extension to fix all the nation’s problems, as if he was unable to do so during his previous eight years in office. He has often said that the nation cannot do without him, the kind of narcissism that is repugnant to most Thais….

During his eight years in power, the military has moved repeatedly to use the courts to snuff out popular youth movements, and to hold in check the appeal of Thaksin’s Pheu Thai opposition. Despite falling popularity, Prayuth is not expected to relinquish his power any time soon or in the foreseeable future. As he wrote his own constitution, he can also make amendments to it to allow him to extend his tenure or refer the matter to the subservient constitutional court to rule in his favor. If another general election is to be held, he can always rely on the support of his hand-picked 250 senators and manipulate the MPs by giving cash handouts and other incentives to vote him back to power.

He comments further on the king: “the king often plays an important, if not a decisive, role in determining the choice of the prime minister and other high-ranking officials.” Further on Prayuth and the palace:

Prayuth has served the palace well by providing lavish funds and amenities for the king and members of the royal family while safeguarding the monarchy by ruthless application of the country’s anti lese majeste law, considered the world’s most severe. But Prayuth’s eight years as head of government may be viewed by the palace as too long. Notwithstanding the favors he has showered on the king, his statecraft and performance have been an utter failure. Members of his family and his cronies have enriched themselves and occupied important positions in the country.

Based on its history of politicized decisions, we’d expect the Constitutional Court to (again) support Gen Prayuth. But what does the king want?





A whiff of royalism

31 12 2021

Feudal punishment associated with the palace: Pol Gen Jumpol Manmai

Is it just us at PPT or does this somewhat odd Bangkok Post story have a distinct royal whiff to it?

The report is of naval chief Adm Somprasong Nilsamai and Vice Adm Narupol Kerdnak, the commander of the Sattahip Naval Base, decising to undergo “self-punishment to uphold discipline and show responsibility after one of their subordinates committed a serious misconduct.”

That wealthy admirals, with power that cannot be challenged within the navy, should “choose” such a path seems unprecedented, almost unbelievable.

They “decided” to punish themselves after “Lt Alongkorn Ploddee, director of the Real Estate Division of the Sattahip Naval Base, has been involved in quarrels and made false claims on various occasions, ruining the reputation of the navy as a whole…”.

It seems odd that a junior officer some 7-8 ranks below the two admirals should impact them. Equally odd, is that Lt Alongkorn is listed as “director of the Real Estate Division of the Sattahip Naval Base.” We have previously questioned the navy’s commercial activities, noting that the navy has effectively become an investor and player in the Eastern Seaboard activities promoted by the regime, together with Sino-Thai tycoons.

Feudal punishment associated with the palace: Pol Maj Prakrom Warunprapha

Lt Alongkorn was shown “on video verbally abused Sattahip policemen who showed up at a restaurant for a routine inspection, saying they had ruined his happy time.” He demanded “honor”: “You don’t give me due honour…”, throwing “a glass of liquor at them and said he could put them in trouble.” This threat included name-dropping as a threat, saying “he was a friend of ‘Big Joke’, a reference to Pol Lt Gen Surachate Hakparn, the assistant police chief.” Big Joke has a record including odd events, was sacked and reinstated, and no one says why.

Feudal punishment associated with the palace: Suriyan Sujaritpalawong

In other words, Lt Alongkorn was behaving as a dark influence and a gangster. That is not unusual in the armed forces. He made his gangsterism clear when he invoked notions of territory: “Lt Alongkorn said that the police should have known that Sattahip belongs to the navy…”. In other words, they are the bosses and the territory is theirs. Other gangs – the police – trespass on the navy gang’s turf at their own risk.

As usual, Lt Alongkorn a navy disciplinary committee which will “conduct an investigation into his alleged misconduct.” Seldom does anything come of these sham exercises, except where the person involved has distressed very senior people – seems he has – or threatened the monthly take.

So what causes senior navy men to “show responsibility for the misconduct” by an underling? What causes the bosses to undergo “self-punishment for three and seven days, respectively.”

The whiff of royal involvement comes from the punishment: “The self-punishment includes shaving heads, walking long distances with a backpack, running with weights, doing menial labour and three days in confinement.” This is exactly the kind of neo-feudal punishment used by the king inside the palace. We do not know if the king is involved in this case, but it coincided with his return to Thailand from Europe. If he wasn’t involved, it shows how his neo-absolutist influence has percolated through the military wing of the palace.





Updated: Another lese majeste debate

10 11 2021

The king seems to think the threat to his throne has been seen off. According to reports from Andrew MacGregor Marshall at Facebook, the king and his extensive entourage of women, servants, minions, and other hangers-on, he’s back in Germany.

Yet, it is reported that, in under a week, more than 120,000 people have signed a petition to parliament calling for the repeal the infamous and draconian lese majeste law (see also a Prachatai story on this petition).

That will cause consternation among the military leadership and the former military leaders leading the regime but we suspect that they also feel that their lawfare approach has worked, with several leaders of the protests jailed without bail and thousands of others, arrested, harassed and repressed.

But an ongoing debate on lese majeste strikes at the heart of the regime’s political ideology.

Khaosod’s Pravit Rojanaphruk writes that last week’s “unprecedented flurry of reactions both in support and opposition to amending the controversial lese majeste law” means it is likely to “turn the next general elections into a de facto referendum on the law…”. That’s the last thing the palace wants – as Thaksin Shinawatra quickly determined – and it isn’t what the regime and its shaky party want.

Despite facing multiple lese majeste charges, Thaksin has always sucked up to royals; it seems in the genes of big shots brought up during the last reign. That’s why it was a surprise when, “just hours after the renewed major protest by monarchy-reform groups [to] reiterate their year-long call and started a signature drive for the abolition of the law … the opposition Pheu Thai Party’s chief of strategic committee Chaikasem Nitisiri issued a statement … saying the party supports pushing for the proposal to be debated in parliament.”

Thaksin nixed that. Regime and its associated parties were suitably unimpressed, standing up for the status quo.

The royalist Democrat Party declared Article 112 unproblematic, blaming the students and other protesters for the debate that is not needed. It is what is expected of a party founded by vindictive royalists and populated by royalists today. One of them babbled:

The lese-majeste law is not problematic as distorted and claimed by those calling for the amendment by the parliament… If it’s tabled for the parliament we shall fight. We support strict enforcement of the law….

The opposition parties, like Move Forward talk amendment rather than abolition, but the activist fire under them wants the law gone.

Pravit is enthusiastic about the debate:

To amend or not amend the lese majeste law, or even to abolish it, is a much needed debate and we can start on the right foot by trying to be more honest about where the different groups stand. The perpetuation of a state of self-denial will not do Thailand any good.

Royalists are livid and want no debate, no changes, no nothing (as usual).

The Bangkok Post reported that Suwit Thongprasert, better known as the fascist former monk and political activist Buddha Isara, has “submitted a petition to the parliament president to oppose any moves to amend Section 112 of the Criminal Code, or the lese majeste law.”

He and representatives of the so-called People’s Army Protecting the Monarchy claim 222,928 signatures supporting their ultra-royalism. They also oppose amending Article 116, the sedition law. Articles 112 and 116, along with computer crimes laws are the main lawfare statutes used by the regime to stifle political dissent.

Like all royalists and the regime itself, the fascist former monk “insisted that the monarchy has been one of the main pillars of the country, a source of Thai culture and tradition, and a unifying force for the Thai people.” Blah, blah, blah palace and rightist propaganda.

The royalists face off against the Progressive Movement which is campaigning “for people to sign an online petition seeking to amend Section 112.”

According to Thai PBS, Gen Prayuth Chan-ocha is predictably opposed to any amendment:

Deputy Government Spokesperson Rachada Dhnadirek said today (Thursday) that the prime minister told his cabinet that his government will not amend the law and will run the country by upholding the three main pillars, namely the Nation, the Religion and the Monarchy.

She said that the prime minister would like to assure the Thai people that this is the administration’s position.

He was quoted to have said about this controversial issue yesterday, “Every country has longstanding cultures and traditions. No one thinks all the good in our past should be erased in favour of the new, created without rules. We shouldn’t be destroying what all Thais hold in high regard.”

The regime’s party is uniting against change. The Bangkok Post reports that Thipanan Sirichana, who is attached to the Prime Minister’s Secretariat Office says it is “impossible to repeal Section 112 of the Criminal Code, also known as the lese majeste law, both in technicality and spirit, and doing so runs counter to the constitution…”. Thipanan insists that Section 6, “that the monarch holds a position of reverence which is inviolable” translates to an impossibility of amending or ditching the law.

That’s looney, but in this atmosphere being mad is a credential for ultra-royalism.

Interestingly, though Thipanan sees campaigning against the law as a campaign tool, suggesting that she knows there’s considerable support for change and reform.

Bangkok Post’s Chairith Yonpiam, an assistant news editor, writes that:

Right-wing conservative factions will have to learn, albeit with a sense of disappointment, that demands to change Section 112 will remain a key point in the drive to reform the monarchy, in what appears to be a long-haul political endeavour.

The calls to modify Section 112 are nothing new. They surfaced in the latter period of King Rama IX’s reign, and have now become predominant.

Sensibly, Chairith reminds readers of earlier efforts to reform or abolish 112, focusing on Nitirat which also had a lese majeste reform petition to parliament back in 2012. Back then, dark forces were unleashed against the university lawyers. One of the major voices denouncing Nitirat and threatening reformists was, of course, Gen Prayuth, then army commander.

Charith is correct to observe that:

The abuse of democratic rule with the launch of the military-sponsored 2017 charter by Gen Prayut and conservative elites, who branded themselves as staunch royalists, propelled calls for the reform of the monarchy, which have become louder in parliament and on the street.

He notes that “politics as we used to know it has changed, as it is no longer dominated by politicians. This is because people are aware that political conflicts have affected all elements in society and reform is necessary.”

His view is that: “Amending Section 112 is absolutely necessary to prevent the abuse of this draconian law.”

Amending this feudal law is not enough. Too many have suffered. Get rid of it. Vajiralongkorn and his mad monarchists are facing determined and growing opposition. Intimidation will be the royalist response, but that is likely to further expand the opposition to royalism and the regime.

Update: Thaksin has said more on lese majeste, seemingly contradicting his earlier position that 112 was “problem-free.” Now he’s saying “the 15-year maximum jail sentence for violating Section 112 of the Criminal Code is too harsh. The law must be amended to lower the punishment as a matter of urgency.” He stated: “We need to figure out how to keep the punishment from being too heavy,” adding that those detained under the law “must be granted the right to bail.”





Updated: Mafia control of ruling party

19 06 2021

As expected, convicted heroin trafficker and Deputy Agricultural Minister Thammanat Prompao has been “elected,” unopposed to be secretary general of the ruling Palang Pracharath Party (PPRP).

The rise of the criminal to one of the top positions in the party confirms the descent of the country into the hands of a mafia of murderers, drug traffickers, and royalist thugs.

The rise of the criminals pushes aside all pretenses of “normality” in a party concocted to keep the military junta of 2014 and associated royalists in power.

Convicted drug trafficker Thammanat is elevated to this position because he is the son of party don and corrupt Deputy Prime Minister Gen Prawit Wongsuwan.

Corruption lives

Gen Prawit is party boss and Thammanat is his consigliere. Gen Prawit has virtually adopted Thammanat as a son, placing him in line to run the mafia party’s next election campaign. He chose Thammanat because it is not votes that will win the election, but the pilfering of candidates from opposition parties and converting them into seats for the mafia party.

That job requires an enforcer, a moneybags, and a persuader all rolled into one. Or, as the Bangkok Post puts it, “Thamanat … [is] a skilled political fixer…”. It observes:

The Phayao MP’s rise to the new position underlines the increasingly dominant role of the Prawit camp in the party and the diminishing power of the Sam Mitr group. The change was widely anticipated after Thamanat had been assigned to take charge of by-elections contested by party candidates.

The party is now officially the party of Thailand’s mafia, which stretches across military and police and into the palace, all profiting from rents, protection and monopoly.

The extent of Prawit and Thammanat’s control of the party/mob is shown in the fact that the latter “was unopposed in the voting for secretary-general as his was the only one name proposed. He received 556 votes, with 14 voided ballots and 23 abstentions.”

Thammanat has emerged as a key political operative whose skills are valued by Gen Prawit. He is said to control a faction of a dozen or more northern MPs, and he has also made some forays into the South, to the dismay of the Democrat Party,,,”.

Thammanat explained the power structure: “We have Gen Prawit Wongsuwon as the centre of power. We have to consult him on everything that will move us forward…”. The aim will be to snaffle sufficient MPs from other parties that Palang Pracharath will get a majority in the next parliament.

Thai PBS says that the “ruling party’s latest internal reshuffle indicates it desperately wants to win the next election, amid speculation that the national poll will be called early.” To do this it needs “Thammanat, who is ‘decisive, fearless and reliable’, to inject confidence and trust [and fear] into its own MPs, politicians from other parties and voters.” He’s and “influential” figure, a dark influence: “an influential charismatic person in charge of election campaigns in constituencies…”.

As reported by the Bangkok Post, the third leader of the mafia is Gen Prayuth Chan-ocha, and the mafia party unsurprisingly announced it will support him for another term. If this comes to pass, Gen Prayuth will be prime minister for at least 14 years. 

The choice of Thammanat reflects the arrogance of the former military bosses Prawit and Prayuth and the desperation of the royalist bloc to maintain control. As it did in the 1980s, this requires an alliance of palace, military, and dark influences. However, the alliance developed by Palang Pracharath, bringing two of the three into the party as leaders, arguably strengthens the party. At the same time, it makes Thailand a mafia state, in the hands of thugs and criminals.

Update: To see how some others feel about the gangster and the gangster party, try Cod Satrusayang’s op-ed on the arrogance of the mafia regime as it rigs the system for yet another rigged election.





Updated: Wanchalerm “missing” for 12 months

4 06 2021

Thai PBS reported on one year “anniversary” of the apparent forced disappearance of regime critic Wanchalearm Satsaksit who was kidnapped in broad daylight on a Phnom Penh street on 4 June 2020.

It is widely assumed that it was some kind of military or paramilitary unit sent to do the work of Gen Prayuth Chan-ocha’s regime, with many feeling that the orders probably came from the palace. Many believe he is dead.

Wanchalerm

Where is Wanchalearm? Clipped from Prachatai

He has not located and neither the Thai nor Cambodian governments have said much at all and have sat on their hands. This suggests state complicity and collusion between states.

According to the report, despite Wanchalerm having been “kidnapped by a group of armed men outside his apartment building in Phnom Penh” and that the “incident was witnessed by passers-by and recorded on CCTV cameras,” the  “Cambodian authorities refused to treat it as a case of abduction.”

Of course, he is not the only Thai political activist to have been disappeared since the 2014 military coup.

He is among nine critics of the Thai government and military thought to have fallen victim to enforced disappearance over the past few years. His case has become a focus of anti-establishment protests seeking to oust the Thai government and change the junta-sponsored Constitution.

Not mentioned is the fact that most of these disappeared activists, a couple of whom turned up murdered and floating in the Mekong River, is that most of them were critics of the monarchy.

The Thai regime has “made no progress in the investigation of Wanchalearm’s disappearance since his family submitted their information to the Department of Special Investigation (DSI) a year ago…”.

Wanchalerm’s sister Sitanan “is dismayed by how Cambodian authorities have dealt with the case”:

The Cambodian police did not conduct a proper investigation…. I felt that officials in Cambodia did not care about the evidence we presented. They said if we could not provide stronger evidence, they would not investigate the case at all.

Sitanan also “says Thai authorities have shown an equal lack of enthusiasm, declining to give her any information or to conduct a formal inquiry into her brother’s disappearance.”

For many observers, there is a pattern of official lack of interest and inaction that usually accompanies official complicity. Indeed, Sitanan now “suspects Thai authorities were involved in what she describes as her brother’s ‘forced disappearance’ in Cambodia.”

Prachatai reports on further efforts to have the Thai regime to do something about Wanchalerm’s case and the similar “disappearance” of  Siam Theerawut, who disappeared after fleeing to Vietnam.

Update: Prachatai has a series of related stories, here, here, and here.





The Prasit affair

23 05 2021

Readers may recall our recent post about the fraudsters who bore remarkable similarities to the massive Mae Chamoy scam of the 1970s and 1980s. The similarities were royal and military.

Prasit 1

Prasit displaying loyalty

Following the negotiated surrender and arrest of fraudster-in-chief Prasit Jeawkok, the Bangkok Post had a recent editorial calling for the military to reveal its links with Prasit. As ever, self-censorship, fear and misplaced loyalty prevents the Post asking about palace links.

A couple of days ago, Thai PBS provided some background on Prasit. For those who can read Thai, we suggest going to the source of much in this report – the grifter’s own website. All of our photos are clipped from that website, where there are plenty more.

The report observes that the “wealthy businessman” was once considered “a saint and a model of success” by the yellow-shirted brigade. He is now outed as a fraudster who may have nicked more than a billion baht. As seen in the Mae Chamoy scam, such fraudsters usually share with influential people in military, police, and even palace.

As can be seen at his website, Prasit made much of his links to the palace and its activities and displayed the loyalty expected of  “good people.”

Prasit 10

Prasit claims he is a “reformed gangster” who abandoned his criminal past to establish a “billion-baht business empire” from which he now “gives back” to society. He claims a rags to riches story.

Like so many of his ilk, he’s made many influential connections.

Prasit 8

Prasit has also “given back” as a royalist and as a supporter of the military and its ruling regime.

He’s “been linked to the Thai military’s so-called ‘information operations’ (IO), which critics say target the government’s opponents and propagandize for the powers-that-be.” Opposition politician Pannika Wanich of the Progressive Movement accuses “Prasit of being instrumental in the Army’s IO by allowing free use of computer servers under his control.”

Prasit admits “”to owning phone applications and servers used by the military but said his goal was to combat fake news by spreading facts about His Majesty the King’s kindness.”

Like many rogues, Prasit promotes “his royalist credentials. Appearing on a talk show in early December, he unbuttoned his shirt to reveal the words “Long Live the King” tattooed on his chest.”

Prasit also makes much of his relationship with the late Privy Council president Gen Prem Tinsulanonda, Prime Minister Gen Prayuth Chan-ocha, former Cabinet members and, of course, senior military leaders.





This week’s Joke

13 03 2021

It was only a couple of days ago when Gen Prayuth Chan-ocha declared that “Pol Lt Gen Surachate Hakparn, who was removed as Immigration Bureau commissioner in 2019, is being reinstated to an active post at the Royal Thai Police…”. But, he’s back.

The reason for Big Joke – his nickname – suddenly going from hero to villain “was never explained and remains a mystery.” Some time ago, The Nation had a summary of some of the events.

In 2020 Surachate “filed a lawsuit against Gen Prayut last year claiming he had been transferred illegally.” He was said to be “under investigation.” On Tuesday, Gen Prayuth said “the investigation … remained inconclusive,” but was continuing.

Within a few days, the Bangkok Post reported that the “Police Commission on Friday approved a new position at headquarters, amid speculation that it will be filled by Surachate Hakparn, who is poised to return after two years of mysterious exile from law enforcement.” The Post has some reminders of the murkiness:

Equally murky were the circumstances surrounding an incident in which shots were fired at the high-profile lawman’s Lexus SUV in January last year. He claimed the attack was related to the Immigration Bureau’s controversial procurement of an expensive biometric ID system, a decision he had opposed.

Another casualty of that incident was deputy national police chief Wirachai Songmetta. He was sacked after the release of an audio recording in which a senior officer, later identified as then-national chief Chakthip Chaijinda, was heard warning him to stay out of the Big Joke case.

Gen Prayut signed a transfer order on March 5 for the return of Pol Lt Gen Surachate to the police agency but the process has not been completed.

Now Big Joke “has been officially reappointed to the Royal Thai Police…”, with the transfer signed by Prayuth and he “is now regarded as being back in the police force, although his precise post has not been been decided.” It is stated that “… Surachate was entitled to retain his present rank and be reinstated to the last position he held before the transfer…. He is also qualified for promotion to assistant national police chief.”

We have to say that such secrecy and backroom wheeling and dealing usually reeks of palace. The return to position as “unblemished” reminded us of another event.








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