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The big comeback for Big Joke?

Tanutam Thawan

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Former police poster boy and Thai immigration Chief, Surachat Hakparn, aka. “Big Joke” says he wants to return to police duties and “come back in from the cold”.. He participated in 2 hours of prayers at the Wat Bueng Kradan in Phitsanulok city in Central Thailand, praying for a return to his roles in the Thai police force.

At the height of his fame he was “Maj. Gen. Surachat Hakparn, Immigration Chief”. Having political leaders like Deputy PM Prawit Wongsuwan on his side, he seemed to have his rise to the top of Thailand’s police force assured. He appeared at every major drug bust, anytime errant foreigners were rounded up he’d be there too. He was the hot tip to take over the top job of the Thai police force.

Surachat was in the news just about every other day during 2017 and 2018 and then in April 2019 he was abruptly sidelined from police duties to a desk job at Police HQ in Bangkok. Not long after he took an extended overseas trip.

Then, after he’d quietly returned earlier this year, came the bizarre shooting of his car, a white Lexus, parked out the front of a massage shop in Silom. Surachet was allegedly getting a massage in the spa when the two suspects fired at his car in a drive-by. The two were captured on CCTV but were both wearing full-face helmets making ID impossible.

The former Thai immigration denied that the incident, where gunshots were fired into his car, was a staged stunt. He addressed a media scrum, a situation he’d been in before many times, speculating that the shooting incident was linked to the Immigration Bureau’s controversial procurement procedures for its biometrics and smart car projects.

In a written statement, whilst still heading up the immigration police in 2019, Surachat urged national police chief Chakthip Chaijinda to consider cancelling the projects. The projects, together worth 2 billion baht and which have since gone ahead, involved the purchase of biometric equipment to scan faces and fingerprints of passengers at Thailand’s six major airports. At the time Surachat cited long delays and questioned the equipment’s efficacy as reasons for wanting to cancel the project.

Clearly he’d stepped on some very big toes.

Surachat says the incident neither intimidated him nor dissuaded him from talking to the anti-graft agency about his claims of mis-steps in the procurement processes of the Immigration ID equipment. At the time he warned the national police chief Chakthip to take responsibility if police could not find the men who shot at his car.

And that, was that.

Since then Surachat has laid low and been largely silent after the government publicly warned him not to bring “disgrace” to the bureaucracy (apparently they can achieve that perfectly well without him).

Back at the temple yesterday, Surachate prayed to various Buddha images as well as statues of King Naresuan, King Ekathotsarot, and Lady Suphankanlaya. He also released birds, fish, and turtles at the temple to make merit.

There has been no comment from police officials about any return to the police force of the former pin-up boy and gang-buster.

The big comeback for Big Joke? | News by Thaiger

 

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