“Transfer to an inactive post’ – punishment or paradise?

What is a "transfer to inactive post," and why do the cops love them so much?

Bangkok’s recent spate of police “embarrassments” (cops caught committing crimes) has led to a spate of “transfer to an inactive post” (paid vacation) notices.

If most of us commit a crime, we can expect the cops to show up and – very basically – throw us in jail. But rich people rarely go to jail, and cops, even less so. Why exactly are cops given vacations on full pay while they are investigated by friends and colleagues for bringing the nation, let alone the service, into disrepute?

Post veteran newshound Roger Crutchley takes up arms against the “transfer to an inactive post” system where cops gather to scratch each other’s backs.

It has been quite an entertaining week although admittedly not everyone involved will see the funny side. An air force officer says he is happy he was caught after snatching a necklace at a gold shop because he wanted to get away from his wife and a prison cell would do nicely. A rather bizarre motive, but he got his wish. Apparently, a lengthy spell in the slammer beats a daily nagging.

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It also appears that one of Thailand’s finest traditions, the “transferred to an inactive post” season, is in full swing. Several Bangkok police officers have been transferred to such posts after allegedly extorting Taiwanese actor, Charlene An. For some reason, such stories seem to have added spice if an actress is involved.

One wonders if the police had known that one of Charlene’s most recent films was Ghost Fist 3, they might have had second thoughts about taking her on. Perhaps there could be a sequel, set in Bangkok.

Anyway, it’s a rather confusing case with so many red herrings and contradictions, which is nothing new here. Incidentally, another over-zealous cop has gained inactive post status after a similar offence in Pattaya.

The transfers even prompted a firm “Bad Cops Must Go” headline in the newspaper although that might just have been a case of wishful thinking.

One wonders what the cops who are transferred will do all day considering they are supposed to be inactive. They can hardly arrest one another, although maybe that wouldn’t be such a bad idea. One suspects that the Ministry of Inactive Posts must be suffering serious overcrowding, absolutely awash with all these gendarmes diligently doing nothing.

New readers unfamiliar with inactive posts can be forgiven for wondering what skills are required to hold such a prestigious position. To qualify, you must have the ability to doze off at a moment’s notice. It is also useful to have a good command of yawning and be proficient in snoring loudly.

There was an interesting case back in 1991 when a committee was appointed to investigate an influential official in the Budget Bureau suspected of “inappropriate behaviour,” a nice way of saying he had been siphoning off huge amounts of money.

The diligent committee spent an entire year investigating this gentleman, involving considerable grilling, probing and mulling.

When they came to their final decision they announced that they could not find anything inappropriate in the suspect’s actions. That was not the verdict the powers that be had wanted so they promptly transferred the entire committee to inactive posts – more than a dozen of them.

The influential suspect did not escape scot-free, however. He also received his transfer to an inactive post, incidentally for the second time in 10 years. He was clearly making a career of it.

One of my favourite inactive post stories concerns a senior official at the Public Warehouse Organisation who some years ago was transferred to such a post after being accused of “a lack of productivity.”

Asked why he had appeared to have done nothing at all during his lengthy tenure he explained it was very simple – nobody had asked him to do anything.

Sounds like he was an ideal choice for an inactive post.

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Jon Whitman

Jon Whitman is a seasoned journalist and author who has been living and working in Asia for more than two decades. Born and raised in Glasgow, Scotland, Jon has been at the forefront of some of the most important stories coming out of China in the past decade. After a long and successful career in East sia, Jon is now semi-retired and living in the Outer Hebrides. He continues to write and is an avid traveller and photographer, documenting his experiences across the world.

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