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Royal Thai Police accused of “ticket” promotion system to buy senior positions

Caitlin Ashworth



PHOTO: Nation Thailand

The Royal Thai Police are being accused of using so-called “elephant tickets” to buy their way into promotions and pay their way up the police force’s chain of command. The corruption among the police force and the buying of positions without meeting the requirements for a promotion has been a longtime problem, according to the Bangkok Post.

The “elephant ticket” issue was recently brought to light by an opposition MP at a censure debate who said it fast tracked the promotion system and allowed some people who were unqualified and undeserving to raise their rank. Some Thais have protested the “elephant ticket.” Many gathered in front of the Royal Thai Police headquarters in Bangkok last week, including one person who dressed up as an elephant.

At the censure debate on February 19, Move Forward Party MP Rangsiman Rome called out PM Prayut Chan-o-cha, who chairs the Police Commission overseeing the Royal Thai Police, and said the prime minister allowed the “elephant ticket” promotions. Prayut later said there were problems within the police force and that he would handle it.

Police who want a promotion need a ticket, which is basically just a reference or a stamp of approval from a senior officer or even a politician or business person. To get an “elephant ticket,” some can pay for the ticket. A source told the Post that positions for police superintendents cost between 5 to 10 million baht.

Others can get a ticket by doing favours for their superior or even just serving their superior for a long time, sources told the Bangkok Post. The higher the position a senior officer has, the more tickets they have to give out.

To read the full special report by the Bangkok Post, click HERE.


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  1. Avatar


    Sunday, February 28, 2021 at 6:00 pm

    Typical feudal system.Thailand is in medieval age.

  2. Avatar


    Sunday, February 28, 2021 at 6:56 pm

    There are countless different open and transparent police promotion models around the world that Prayut could use to replace the flawed system in place at present, so even someone with his limited abilities should be able to ‘fix’ this one. In fact, this is a gifted ‘win, win’ situation for him. He would get the thanks of the public and rise in their estimation (although he could not sink much lower), and also get a police service that is slightly less corrupt than now, which is a start. Police promotion boards, conducting interviews based on abilities as well as qualification, both with a broad spectrum outside oversight to ensure no interference from above, would be a simple and open way to start. Further developments could then take place. Cue Issan John to disagree, as he knows best 🙂

  3. Avatar


    Sunday, February 28, 2021 at 6:56 pm

    Totally agree….Thailand’s number 1 problem.
    Vile corrupt cesspool.

  4. Avatar

    Issan John

    Sunday, February 28, 2021 at 8:04 pm

    Not ‘disagree’ as such, but you’re in la-la land.

    It isn’t the “system” that’s flawed but the organisation itself.

    Simply changing the “system” for a similar one based on Western buzzwords will achieve more than varnishing a dog turd.

    “Police promotion boards, conducting interviews based on abilities as well as qualification, both with a broad spectrum outside oversight to ensure no interference from above, etc” are already part of the supposed “system” but they’re by-passed, just as they would be if you dress them up as something else in the same organisation.

    You’re changing nothing as the “system” you’re suggesting is the system that’s already in place.

    The only way to address the issue with any possibility of genuine “change” would be complete re-structuring and re-organisation, much as the Australians did a while ago.

    You can put as much varnish as you like on a dog turd, but that doesn’t stop it being a dog turd.

  5. Avatar

    Issan John

    Sunday, February 28, 2021 at 8:42 pm

    Sorry, that should read “Simply changing the “system” for a similar one based on Western buzzwords will achieve NO more than varnishing a dog turd.” 🙁

  6. Avatar

    Toby Andrews

    Sunday, February 28, 2021 at 10:21 pm

    Here we go again. Changing the system to a western one is wrong.
    Forget any comparison.
    The Thai system is a rotten corrupt system, and comparing it to a western system doe not excuse the system!
    You are a dog turd for suggesting this.

  7. Avatar

    Issan John

    Sunday, February 28, 2021 at 11:46 pm

    Toby, calling you a half-wit would be an insult to a half-wit.

    I’m not making any “comparison”.

    I’m not “excusing” anything.

    Pedro said it was a “flawed system”, etc and so the “system” should be changed etc and that would make Prayut more popular, etc

    My point was that his suggestion was moot as they ALREADY supposedly use the “system” he wants them to change to. That already IS the supposed “system”, even if he is unaware of it.

    The “tickets” are NOT part of the system – they by-pass it, just as they’d by-pass it if all you did was adjust the window-dressing.

    It’s the whole organisation that needs changing, not just re-naming bits of the promotion system while changing nothing.

    As English is evidently your second language, maybe you could find some three year old Cambodian kid who could explain it to you.

  8. Avatar

    funny coz its true

    Monday, March 1, 2021 at 6:39 am

    This is why everyone on the tourist islands is shaken down by the police so much, they need to make that money back quickly.

  9. Avatar


    Monday, March 1, 2021 at 9:06 am

    Who mentioned implementing a ‘western system’. I didn’t, and the only ‘system I was talking about was the one for promotions, not the service as a whole. I also did not know that you were such an expert on dog turds, but I suppose it takes all sorts. I just said that there were plenty of promotion systems out there, and suggested one, which you say is already in place. If the one I suggested is already in place in Thailand then how can it be a ‘western system’? I was suggesting that having external cross party oversight would be a start to make inroads into the endemic corruption that taints the good police officers who are in there. Of course the organisation as a whole is flawed, the question is how could it be changed, and there is nothing La La Land about seeking or suggesting change? Nothing should be off the table.

    It is not the case of a rotten apple in the barrel, but instead it is the barrel that is rotting the apples, so we need a new barrel. Two ways to change something. Slowly, step by step from the inside, removing the bad apples with checks and balances along the way, with identified ‘stepping stones’ or ‘markers’, indicating with evidence when a change has been implemented. Better external oversight on promotion boards is a good way to start. Or crash, bang, wallop, take all the good apples out of the old barrel and stuff them into the new one all at once, leaving the rotten ones behind, but difficult to know if you got them all. It would probably need an in depth independent study to recommend which route to take. Perhaps as you know everything IJ, you should be the Chair of such a study. I obviously did not know that the Thai police were supposed to have external oversight of their promotion system, otherwise I would not have suggested it. Perhaps IJ will share how this works with us seeing as he knows what is what on police promotions as well as everything else under the sun.

  10. Avatar

    Toby Andrews

    Monday, March 1, 2021 at 10:41 am

    IJohn to the keyboard. DENY you are an expert on dog turds as Pedro suggests!
    Oh, I forgot. You are an expert on everything.

  11. Avatar

    Issan John

    Monday, March 1, 2021 at 10:53 am

    As you say, Pedro, you “obviously didn’t know”.

    “If the one I suggested is already in place in Thailand then how can it be a ‘western system’?”

    Because when it was introduced it was based on “Western systems”, just as those introduced more recently in, say, Iraq and Afghanistan are – they’re now Iraqi and Afghan systems, just as that in Thailand is now a Thai system, but that doesn’t change their origin (or, necessarily, make them work).

    Without having any idea of the system already in place you’ve banged on that they should change it – for the same system, unknown to you, they already have. 😮

    Beyond asinine, except you’ve even taken that one stage further by suggesting they also need “external cross party oversight” when, AGAIN, that is ALREADY part of the present system.

    All the supposed RTP “police promotion systems” are well documented and readily available – as are the ways to by-pass them by the parallel “ticket” system, reported here, which has been widely known before but never before naming names.

    THAT’s the big difference this time – although it’s still unlikely to make any difference unless action is taken against those named and there’s little or no likelihood of that happening.

    As long as the parallel, illegal, corrupt system exists and works it doesn’t make any difference at all what’s MEANT to happen or what systems are SUPPOSED to be in place – all you’re doing is changing the display in the window / putting another coat of varnish on the dog turd.

  12. Avatar

    Andy W

    Monday, March 1, 2021 at 11:27 am

    Unfortunately “western systems” don’t work in a country where loss of face is number 1. If they where to copy elsewhere then they would have to look at other Asian countries where loss of face strangles logic. I don’t know if Japan police force still suffers in this way, but if not then they may be the model.
    But it’s unlikely the police will change notable whilst so many of the politicians themselves are know to be corrupt.

  13. Avatar

    Issan John

    Monday, March 1, 2021 at 12:06 pm

    It’s not just about “loss of face”, Andy W, or about a few “rotten apples” or even some “rotten apples” in a “rotten barrel” and changing the “apples” or the “barrel”.

    The “change” required is far more fundamental.

    The “ticket” system in the police, and elsewhere, has never exactly been a secret but names have never been named before and now they have – whether that will lead to a “change” or not, only time will tell.

  14. Avatar


    Monday, March 1, 2021 at 9:12 pm

    When you see and hear about all this shyte going on in Thailand, its no small wonder the young people are simply not buying in to any of this…politics, the Monarchy, the corruption, the lack-lusture legal system, the stupid ‘Thai-face’ concept, the road deaths, the appalling devaluing of ‘life’, the corrupt monks….I COULD GO ON AND ON HERE!
    In some ways, its a great shame Covid 19 hasn’t been more rife in Thailand like it has here in Indonesia. It hasn’t been the ‘wake-up’ call most countries around the world have had.. almost like re-booting a laptop! Maybe Covid deaths in the 1,000’s would have been a good thing?

  15. Avatar

    Mr cynic

    Tuesday, March 2, 2021 at 5:45 am

    Any service with the word royal in it has always been based on this type of system and always has been.just a bit more transparent here than some other places,that’s all.

  16. Avatar


    Tuesday, March 2, 2021 at 6:07 pm

    Hi, could you please send me the key for the time being!!!?

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Caitlin Ashworth is a writer from the United States who has lived in Thailand since 2018. She graduated from the University of South Florida St. Petersburg with a bachelor’s degree in journalism and media studies in 2016. She was a reporter for the Daily Hampshire Gazette In Massachusetts. She also interned at the Richmond Times-Dispatch in Virginia and Sarasota Herald-Tribune in Florida.

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