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Police reforms cause a stir

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Police reforms cause a stir
The Nation / Phuket Gazette

PHUKET: National police reforms introduced by the National Council for Peace and Order have already started creating ripples spreading far and wide, and also in the political arena.

Though several senior police officers and academics have welcomed the NCPO’s latest announcement on changes to the police force, politicians have been expressing concern. The changes, after all, look set to diminish political office holders’ role and influence in the police.

Under the reforms, it will be the national police chief, not the prime minister, who names the man for the top police job.

Also, a fairer seniority system will come into play during the nomination process.

“I think this is a good start to overhaul the Royal Thai Police. It’s the first step of the change that will ensure the Royal Thai Police really belongs to the people,” Deputy National Police Commissioner General Aek Angsananont said yesterday, referring to the announcements made on Monday night.

He said he certainly agreed with the new rule that allows the national police chief to nominate his successor.

“The Royal Thai Police must be free from political interference,” he said.

Over the past many years, angry protesters have often complained that police served certain political office holders as even the man at the top of the Royal Thai Police could lose his post at the whim of the prime minister.

Political office holders like the justice and interior ministers had long sat on the National Police Policy Commission, which oversees reshuffling and promotions in the police ranks.

The NCPO has already addressed these issues. Under the new set-up, the prime minister will no longer be allowed to nominate a new police chief, while the justice and interior ministers will no longer be part of the National Police Policy Commission.

Commenting on the ongoing police reform, acting national police chief General Watcharapol Prasarnrajkit yesterday said he wanted to thank NCPO chief General Prayuth Chan-ocha.

“Thank you for giving police chiefs the mandate to punish and reward their subordinates” based on their merit, Watcharapol said.

Assistant Professor Panadda Chumnansook, a Kasetsart University lecturer who has been conducting studies on the police force, said the NCPO’s announcement was good because it would eradicate political meddling.

While no politician has openly lamented about politicians’ diminishing influence over the police force, some have already complained about the NCPO’s latest moves.

Pheu Thai member and former MP Somkid Chua-kong said yesterday that he disagreed with the ruling junta’s intervention in police affairs.

“Please respect the police force,” he said.

He even encouraged police officers to speak up against the NCPO if they did not agree with its latest moves.

“Don’t stay silent. You have already lost some of your rights.

“You must do something now or else the military will overstep in other areas too,” Somkid said.

Atthawit Suwannapakdee, a former Democrat MP, said he believed the NCPO had staged a politicians’ reform – not police reforms.

“Police will become more powerful, while politicians go the other way,” he said.

Atthawit said this meant that even if the NCPO’s latest moves were successful in curbing the central government’s influence over the police force, there was a risk of a police state materialising.

Some middle-ranking police officers also voiced concern about the new promotion criteria.

“What if the more senior guys aren’t as dedicated as the junior ones? Some policemen may simply take their jobs for granted because as they grow old, they will |be automatically promoted,” a police colonel at the Special Branch Police Division said.

But Panadda said the NCPO’s moves also facilitated decentralisation and thus should improve human-resource management within the Royal Thai Police. He expects civilians to benefit in the end too. “When police have good morale, their performance should improve as well,” he said.

The only question he has about the NCPO’s latest move is making the permanent secretary for Defence an ex-officio member of the National Police Policy Commission.

“I’m surprised about this. On the bright side, the permanent secretary for Defence is there to promote coordination between the police and military forces. But on the other hand, the move could be seen as a [military] intervention,” he said.

Those next in line

FIVE police generals qualify as candidates to succeed Pol Gen Adul Saengsingkaew in October.

Ranked according to seniority, they are deputy police chiefs Aek Angsananont, Pongsapat Pongcharoen; Somyot Poompanmoung and Worapong Chewprecha. The other candidate is Royal Thai Police InspectorGeneral Chalermkiat Srivorakan.

Deputy police chiefs Watcharapol Prasarnrajkit who is the caretaker police chief and Rachata Yensuang are due to retire in September, while Chatchawal Suksomjit has been appointed directorgeneral of the Department of Special Investigation.

— Phuket Gazette Editors

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Thailand

Alcohol ban likely as end of Buddhist Lent falls this Friday

Maya Taylor

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Alcohol ban likely as end of Buddhist Lent falls this Friday | The Thaiger
PHOTO: Coconuts

An alcohol ban may be looming for this coming Friday, as Buddhists mark the end of the Lent period. While officials have so far remained silent on the possibility of a booze ban, previous years have seen one implemented at the end of Buddhist Lent.

This is when monks finish their 3 month retreat and leave the temples to travel and resume normal life. It also marks the end (in theory) of the rainy season. This year, the end of Buddhist Lent falls on Friday, October 2, and is almost certain to bring a ban on alcohol sales, as in previous years.

This will mean bars, clubs, and other nightlife venues will need to close from midnight the night before, and cannot re-open until midnight Friday night/Saturday morning. The ban on alcohol sales will also apply to supermarkets, hotels, and restaurants.

SOURCE: The Pattaya News

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Thailand

All 42 Sarasas private schools to be investigated after teacher allegedly beat students

Caitlin Ashworth

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All 42 Sarasas private schools to be investigated after teacher allegedly beat students | The Thaiger
PHOTO: Kapook

All of the 42 Sarasas private schools throughout Thailand will be investigated by the Office of the Private Education Commission, or Opec, after a teacher was caught on camera allegedly hitting kindergarten students. The teacher, Ornuma “Khru Jum” Plodprong,” allegedly beat young students at the Sarasas Witaed Ratchaphruek School in Nonthaburi. Khru Jum, along with other teachers that allegedly witnessed the abuse, were fired and may face criminal charges pressed by parents.

Surveillance camera footage of the classroom at the Nonthaburi school shows a teacher, identified as Khru Jum, hitting kindergarten students. In one clip, the teacher pushes a 3 year old student down to the ground and pulls a student’s hair. Another clip shows the teacher dragging the student across the classroom. Other teachers who were in the classroom did not intervene, the footage shows. Opec secretary general Attapon Truektrong says staff members who witnessed the alleged abuse were fired.

The commission is teaming up with Department of Mental Health to send psychiatrists to the school to evaluate children who may have faced some abuse from their teacher, Attapon says. He adds that Opec is working with the parents to press charges on staff members.

There have been complaints about bullying and inappropriate punishment at 34 other Sarasas schools, according to Opec. The commission has set up a special committee to investigate all of the 42 Sarasas private schools. All of the Sarasas schools will need to allow parents to access classroom surveillance camera footage.

The Sarasas schools do not have a discipline policy, according to Sarasas Affiliated Schools chairman Pibul Yongkamol, the board that oversees the 42 schools. He says teachers are told to teach with “love and care,” but there are no set guidelines or rules regarding punishment.

Khru Jum also did not have a teaching license. Opec is now asking all the Sarasas schools to make sure all teachers have the proper teaching license issued by the Teachers’ Council of Thailand. Attapon says the Nonthaburi school broke other rules, like the maximum class size.

“We have found that Sarasas Witaed Ratchaphruek School also ignored admittance quotas for its English programme. Under the rules, private schools are only allowed to admit 25 students per class for English lessons, but Sarasas Witaed Ratchaphruek School allegedly admitted 34 students per class.”

SOURCE: Bangkok Post

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Kanchanaburi

Luxury resort built on national park land given demolition order

Maya Taylor

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Luxury resort built on national park land given demolition order | The Thaiger
PHOTO: www.thailandadventureguide.com

“Tear it down, or we will.”

That’s the ultimatum officials have given the owner of a luxury resort built on national park land in Kanchanaburi, western Thailand. The Phatsapada Resort, which consists of 17 chalets, has been built on land belonging to Khao Laem National Park. A demolition order, posted outside the property yesterday, gives the owner 7 days in which to pull it down.

“Failure to do so will see officials take charge of the demolition, at a cost of 200,000 baht, which the owner will be obliged to pay.”

The Bangkok Post reports that the resort was recently inherited by the heirs of its former owner, Ms Jarupha Detchinda, after she died. It’s understood Jarupha represented an alleged “high-ranking member of the military” who built the resort, according to Niphon Chamnongsirisak, from the Protected Areas Regional Office 3.

Jarupha had previously been fined 30,000 baht and sentenced to 6 months’ imprisonment in January 2018. She was also required to pay 103,379 baht to the Department of National Parks, Wildlife and Plant Conservation. A subsequent appeal upheld the prison term, but suspended it for 2 years, and her fine was reduced to 10,000 baht.

SOURCE: Bangkok Post

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