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Former immigration chief, “Big Joke” suing Thai PM over transfer

Maya Taylor

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Former immigration chief, “Big Joke” suing Thai PM over transfer | The Thaiger
PHOTO: www.thailandtip.info
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The former head of Thai Immigration, Surachet Hakparn, is taking legal action against Thai PM Prayut Chan-o-cha, after the PM had him unceremoniously transferred to an inactive post last year. Surachet, commonly known by the nickname “Big Joke”, (a nickname given to him by Thai media) accuses the PM of transferring him without just cause and has been petitioning for a review of the decision, to no avail.

At the time there was no reason given for the high-profile head of Thailand’s Immigration to be ‘side-lined’ to desk duties at the PM’s office.

Following a complaint lodged with the Central Administrative Court, Surachet’s lawyer, Sitthi Ngarmlamyuang, says that in the 1 year and 5 months since his client’s transfer, there has been “no investigation launched against him”. Surachet accuses the PM of an abuse of power in ordering the transfer, pointing to a lack of investigations from either the National Anti-Corruption Commission, the Public Sector Anti-Corruption Commission, or the Office of the Auditor-General.

Since his fall from official grace Surachet has largely remained silent over the matter.

At the height of his fame, in 2017 and 2018, Surachet’s face was everywhere in daily media reports, often seen with hordes of foreigners his team had ’rounded up’ in immigration crackdowns around the country. If you’d overstayed your visa, or were an international criminal running dodgy dating services, gambling sites or drugs, you knew about Surachet Hakparn and knew it would be no “joke” if he arrived at your door.

But at some point, he appears to have stepped on the wrong toes, calling into question procurement practices at the Immigration Bureau, amid plans to spend billions on smart cars and the much-lauded airports biometrics system (which was since installed at the country’s airports). The upshot was his removal from office, while the purchases went ahead.

Since then, little was heard from the former immigration chief, until his parked car was shot at in January of this year. Although caught on CCTV, the 2 perpetrators, who were riding a motorbike and wearing full-face helmets, could not be identified. In July, Surachet was seen making merit at a temple, where he said he was praying to be allowed return to his former duties. He also took an extended overseas holiday.

At the height of his fame, in 2017 and 2019, he was widely tipped to take up a prominent position at the top of the country’s Royal Thai Police force.

Sitthi points out that most officials who were previously transferred to the PM’s Office have now been re-instated, after investigations cleared them of any offences. He insists that with no grounds to justify his transfer, Surachet must also be re-instated, adding that with the PM unwilling to act, his client will seek justice in the courts.

SOURCE: Thai PBS World

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3 Comments

3 Comments

  1. Avatar

    Toby Andrews

    September 23, 2020 at 4:14 pm

    Did not Surachet know that dictators do these sort of things. Surachet was probably becoming too popular, so the dictator in chief clipped his wing. Has Surachet no sense of humour?

    lol

    • Avatar

      Whiro

      September 23, 2020 at 7:36 pm

      He obviously has sense of humor.
      Didn’t you read his nickname is “Big Joke”.

      Toby you are not as funny as you think :)))

  2. Avatar

    No jokes please

    September 23, 2020 at 10:47 pm

    The pot calling the kettle black.

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Bangkok

Parliament to discuss political protests in 2 day special session

Caitlin Ashworth

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Parliament to discuss political protests in 2 day special session | The Thaiger
PHOTO: Esan Unity

The Thai Parliament is now holding a 2 day ’emergency’ parliamentary session to discuss the ongoing pro-democracy protests. House Speaker Chuan Leekpai says he wants MPs and senators to work together to find a solution, but some commentators say it will just cause more conflict between parties. Even amongst the government coalition there are some 20 different political parties that have differing attitudes towards the current demands of the protesters.

The joint House-Senate session will be a general debate and discussion which started at 9.30am and is scheduled to go up to 10pm. No votes on motions will take place during the meetings, today or tomorrow. The special session was scheduled in response to the political protests that have been taken place almost daily since October 14. The current batch of protests kicked off back in July, but have been growing in participants and frequency ever since.

Protesters have calling on government reform, a rewrite of the 2017 Constitution, and pushing for PM Prayut Chan-o-cha to resign.

The protesters have also addressed sensitive topics during their demonstrations regarding the Thai Monarchy, with some statements that could lead to arrest. Under Thailand’s strict lèse majesté law, insults and criticism about the Monarchy are prohibited. The politicians will not touch on the sensitive issues, according to chief government whip Wirat Ratanset. He added that MPs are mature enough to do their job constructively without breaking the law.

“However, if any of them are careless when they speak about those sensitive issues during the session, they will be doing so at their own risk and must take responsibility as they will not be afforded the protection of parliamentary immunity”, (without explaining why). Pheu Thai secretary-general Prasert Jantararuangtong said party MPs will watch what they say, careful not to bring up issues about the Monarchy during the debate.

The House speaker says that some MPs have disagreed with holding a special session, saying it could cause an argument between the politicians that would do more harm than good.

“I told the MPs they must try to prevent that by cooperating and presenting useful ideas. This is not a censure debate.”

The deputy leader of the main opposition Pheu Thai Party, Cholnan Srikaew also said he does not think the debate will not help move things forward.

“The motion is like an attempt to whitewash (the government’s actions). Of the total 23 hours of debate, the opposition parties get only 8 hours while cabinet ministers are given 5 hours, the Senate gets 5 hours, and parties of the coalition camp get 5 hours. This means 15 hours versus 8 hours.”

SOURCE: Bangkok Post

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Protests

Protest locations announced for today and tomorrow, PM says he “won’t quit”

The Thaiger

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Protest locations announced for today and tomorrow, PM says he “won’t quit” | The Thaiger

10pm came and went. Last night’s deadline had been set for the Thai PM to resign. It was never likely to happen, and it didn’t. Protesters yesterday promised that, if the prime minister didn’t stand down, the protests would resume again. 2 protests have now been announced in central Bangkok for today and tomorrow.

PM Prayut was attending Buddhist prayers at Wat Chetuphon Wimon Mangkhalaram in Phra Nakhon, Bangkok. When asked about his response, the 66 year old merely responded “won’t quit”.

“I urge everyone to conciliate and help solve problems together.”

Now protesters say that rallies will resume today and tomorrow.

The Dao Din group, one of many smaller factions that are all operating under the broader Khana Ratsadon 2563 student-led protest movement, including the Free Youth movement, has announced that a rally will be held at Ratchaprasong intersection at 4pm today.

There has also been a gathering announced for a rally at the Sam Yan intersection at 5pm on Monday where protesters will then march to the German Embassy, about 1.5 kilometres away on Sathorn Road, a clear reference to HM the King’s favoured overseas domicile.

Jatupat “Pai Dao Din” Boonpattararaksa, who was released from the Bangkok Remand Prison on Friday. called on protesters to assemble at Ratchaprasong today.

The telegraphing of the 2 events will likely spur police to secure the busy intersections. But, in the past, the protesters have been able to switch venues at the last minute using social media and encrypted message apps to stay one step ahead of the security and police forces.

Tomorrow the 2 houses of the Thai Parliament will meet for 2 day emergency session called on by the speaker of the lower house Chuan Leekpai. Lower house elected MPs will be in session with the hand-picked NCPO-appointed senate. Opposition MPs have voiced concern that there will be no votes following the 2 days of debate and have accused the government of using the emergency session to stall true reform. Votes from the government’s fragile lower house coalition plus the votes from the senate will be able to put down any motions during the session.

Protest locations announced for today and tomorrow, PM says he

SOURCE: Bangkok Post

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Protests

3 protesters denied bail as 10pm deadline for the PM’s resignation looms

The Thaiger

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3 protesters denied bail as 10pm deadline for the PM’s resignation looms | The Thaiger
PHOTO: The arrest of protester Panupong Jardnok, aka. Mike Rayong - Thai PBS World

Whilst 1 protester was freed from the Bangkok Remand Prison last night, 3 of his peers remain in custody after being denied bail this afternoon. Supporters of the group protested last night outside the Bangkok Special Remand Centre, demanding their release and dropping of all charges against them. They disbanded around 5am this morning but have been re-assembling as Saturday goes by.

Chatupat Boonpatthararaksa, aka. Pai Daodin, was released from the Bangkok Remand Prison last evening after a hearing by the Appeals Court. Protesters were waiting outside demanding the release of 3 other key protest leaders, still being held at the prison – Parit Chivarak, Panasaya Sitthijirawattanakul and Panupong Jardnok, aka. Mike Rayong. Panasaya was the university student who first read out the now-infamous 10 point manifesto listing the protesters persistent list of demands.

The group of protesters continues to call on the Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha, to resign by 10pm this evening. They have not clarified what may be the consequences if their demands are not met.

The 3 protest leaders were deemed by the Court of Appeals as “potential flight risks” as well as likely to break conditions of their bail, eg. participating in, and organising, more anti-government rallies. Charges for the 3 include using a sound amplifier without a permit, assembly of more than 5 people (during the State of Emergency), posting social media deemed to be a threat to national security, and sedition.

As the 10pm deadline passes this evening, earlier being set as Sunday night at 10pm, the situation will be ripe for more protests as we head into the new week. Parliament has been called to a joint emergency parliamentary session on Monday and Tuesday where the protesters demands will be discussed and debated.

Opposition MPs are demanding that motions can be put to a vote whilst the ruling coalition has stated that it does want any votes on debate matters. The opposition is also calling on debate of the most contentious issue, the future role of the Thai monarchy, whilst the government has ruled that out in this emergency session.

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