Losing hope in dysfunctional, broken society
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Losing hope in dysfunctional, broken society

There are seven suspects in the 'love triangle' murder of Suphaksorn Ponthaisong - of whom four are current or former officers of the military or police. (Bangkok Post file photo)
There are seven suspects in the 'love triangle' murder of Suphaksorn Ponthaisong - of whom four are current or former officers of the military or police. (Bangkok Post file photo)

As the military regime dreams about a 20-year strategic plan for Thailand, people on the street seem to be composing an unofficial guideline on how to stay alive and out of jail in this increasingly dysfunctional country.

Don't resist a robbery. Don't get on public commuter vans. Don't share news reports online even if they are produced by internationally renowned news organisations.

Maybe we shouldn't own a car either as we could end up like former teacher Jomsap Saenmuangkhote who claimed to have been wrongfully imprisoned over a fatal car accident. The list is long and growing as each day brings more cases that seem to shake the people's trust in the country's law enforcement and justice system.

Those who still believe that everything is fine in La La Thailand, that we are heading to a better tomorrow, toward reform and long-term development as advertised by the government, consider this. Among eight suspects wanted in the alleged abduction and murder of a woman involved in the high-profile love triangle case, four are either active or former police and military officers.

The alleged mastermind, Pol Col Amnuay Phongsawad, is superintendent of Ban Pong police station in Ratchaburi. That is no doubt a high-ranking position. It's one whose occupant is expected to have a proven track record and a high degree of integrity.

The murder of Suphakson Ponthaisong, 28, seems to have destroyed the trust. Even though Pol Col Amnuay, who turned himself in to police, denied the murder charge, he reportedly admitted having a dispute with Suphakson and ordered some men to give her "a lesson".

For some reason, the "lesson" turned out to be a shallow grave for Suphakson. What people can't help but wonder, however, is whether Pol Col Amnuay's attitude that police officers can give people "a lesson" whenever they want to is an acceptable practice within the force.

If so, this case may reveal a systemic fault with the police department, credited as the start of the justice system, that runs much deeper than the authorities may be willing to admit.

That is not all. The eighth, and latest, suspect detained in the case is a kamnan in Ratchaburi. During a press conference last Saturday, the village headman claimed Pol Col Amnuay phoned him in November last year to assemble a team to abduct Suphakson and kill her.

The headman's confession made it appear like putting together a death squad was simple, everyday business. The only awkward part, however, is these people are public officials and law enforcement officers. If they double as murderers, what hope do we have?

It's true we, ordinary people, have no choice but to keep our hopes up as we struggle to stay alive and fight another day. Still, it's discouraging to consider how broken the entire system has been. Think about the iPhone robbery earlier this month in which a young man was stabbed to death. One of the suspects in that case was found to have been in and out of jail eight times. That should not be treated as a normal thing.

The crime was shocking when it occurred but do we know what turned a youngster into a repeat offender like that? Do we care?

As time passes by and the shock factor has faded, maybe we become less willing to face up to the fact that society is simply failing.

The same is true with substandard public commuter vans or inter-provincial tour buses that are prone to serious accidents. The government may replace public vans with minibuses on inter-provincial routes but the enforcement problem and human error including a tendency for drivers to drive fast and recklessly to make more trips will remain.

This is not to mention the fact that Thailand is ranked among the top in the world for road accidents because of our multiple systemic failures both on the part of law enforcement agencies and road users.

As we try to cope with developments in society, with news that hundreds of applicants to the police force allegedly cheated in the entrance examination, and with repeated floods and the same old ineffective methods to cope with them, isn't it about time to accept that something is completely wrong in this society which won't be easily fixed?

Atiya Achakulwisut

Columnist for the Bangkok Post

Atiya Achakulwisut is a columnist for the Bangkok Post.

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