Royal Thai Police internal conflict prompts public investigation

The Royal Thai Police (RTP) is currently embroiled in an internal conflict that has drawn substantial public interest. A committee headed by the former Deputy Police Chief, Police General Winai Thongsong, has been tasked with investigating the matter and has been given a timeframe of 60 days to unearth the truth.

According to Pol. Gen. Winai, this investigation is not a hollow gesture but a necessary action aimed at transparency. It has been mandated that progress updates are communicated regularly to the public.

The conflict’s escalation led Prime Minister Srettha Thavisin to order the transfer of the national police chief, Torsak Sukvimol, and his deputy, Pol. Gen. Surachate “Big Joke” Hakparn, to the Prime Minister’s Office earlier this week. This action is a result of weeks of building tension, primarily due to money laundering allegations surrounding the BNK Master online gambling website against Big Joke.

Despite attempts, the police investigators were unsuccessful in issuing a summons for Big Joke to acknowledge the charge. However, Pol. Gen. Torsak announced that an arrest warrant and suspension from duty would be implemented if Big Joke failed to answer a second summons.

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The situation took another turn when a team of lawyers representing Big Joke accused 30 officers of receiving bribes from the same gambling network linked to Surachate.

To prevent further damage to the RTP’s reputation, the prime minister initiated the formation of an impartial committee to investigate the conflict. During this 60-day investigation period, Pol. Gen. Kitrat Panphet will assume the role of acting national police chief.

Accepting bribes

The committee will scrutinise allegations of accepting bribes and making false accusations against Big Joke to obstruct his consideration for the police chief post. If the committee fails to complete the investigation within the allocated time, an extension will be sought.

“The investigation will not be a hollow gesture; concrete action will be taken,” assured Pol Gen Winai.

On Thursday, Prime Minister Srettha stated that the transfers of Pol. Gen. Torsak and Big Joke were necessary to ensure justice and public service. After a meeting of the Police Commission, the 62 year old Thai prime minister emphasised the importance of a dignified police force that serves the public interest without any external interference.

Claiming their innocence until the investigation is concluded, the Bangkok-born Srettha explained that the transfers were designed to facilitate due process and prevent any potential interference.

He urged the police to concentrate on addressing key issues such as narcotics, loan sharks, influential people, smuggled goods, and illegal firearms while discouraging any further public discussions about Pol Gen Torsak and Big Joke’s situation.

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Mitch Connor

Mitch is a Bangkok resident, having relocated from Southern California, via Florida in 2022. He studied journalism before dropping out of college to teach English in South America. After returning to the US, he spent 4 years working for various online publishers before moving to Thailand.

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