Outrage at escape from murder rap

BANGKOK (AFP): The Thaksin government’s failure to apprehend the son of a widely distrusted politician has exposed glaring flaws in Thai democracy. Murder suspect Doungchalerm Yubamrung, a junior army officer and the son of a prominent member of Thaksin’s coalition government, has been on the run for a week since a police officer was shot dead in cold blood at a Bangkok nightclub. Witnesses say that Doungchalerm, a notorious troublemaker whose late-night antics have frequently made newspaper headlines, fired the fatal shot after a heated argument. But his father, Chalerm Yubamrung, swears his son is innocent, and pins the blame on a mysterious “friend” who was also named as the guilty party in previous violent scuffles involving Doungchalerm and his two older brothers. The extraordinary case has roused a strong reaction from the Thai public and political commentators, who are infuriated at the prospect of the scion of an influential family escaping justice. “The whole world is laughing at us,” The Nation newspaper lamented this morning, noting that the authorities had treated the case with “kid gloves” thanks to Chalerm’s extensive connections among the government and the military. And Chalerm himself confirms that his son will hide out “until the charges are dropped,” admitting that he (Chalerm) would “help him get away if I can.” “To the public, the whole thing smacks of a sham – a broad-based conspiracy and a charade which makes the government look bad due to the failure of the legal apparatus,” The Nation noted. The Bangkok Post said the scandal was “the last straw” for a country long suffering from instances where privilege and position are used to shield the guilty. “This is a dark side to Thai society that cannot be denied,” it noted today. “There is concern that dark political influences will again extend their hands to protect the Yubamrung son.” The Thai-language Matichon newspaper said the case had lifted a thin veneer of democracy to expose the “mafia families” which control Thai society and government. “[Some citizens] wish they had not been born in Thailand, so sick are they of hearing about the evil deeds committed by influential politicians, and their family members, that go unpunished,” it said.

Phuket News

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