Rethink this London trip

Rethink this London trip

Just when it seemed the story had plumbed the depths, the unsavoury claim of a June 25 drugging and rape on already infamous Koh Tao has turned worse. Pol Maj Gen Surachate "Big Joke" Hakparn has announced an imminent trip to London. There, he claimed late last week, he intends to interrogate the 19-year-old woman who claims to be the victim. Pol Maj Gen Surachate, the high-profile deputy chief of the Tourist Police Bureau, has quite loudly doubted the woman's claim she was a crime victim. He said his London visit could end up proving the rape claim was false.

There are so many things wrong with this development. The overwhelming one is that Pol Maj Gen Surachate seems comfortable with confronting and interrogating "Issy", as the media has identified the woman. This is exactly the opposite of how people reporting crimes should be handled by police, and most especially female victims of possible sexual assaults. Indeed, in one of the many ironies that "Big Joke" has brought to this case, it is why female police officers are supposed to handle testimony from such crimes.

From the moment he entered this case, Pol Maj Gen Surachate's primary purpose has been seen by the public and media to protect the image of Thailand. Another horrific crime on Koh Tao, a quite mistaken theory goes, would harm that image and possibly cause foreign travellers to stay away. This is another of the many errors of Pol Gen Surachate and others. An isolated crime, no matter how terrible, will not deter visitors. But tourists will stop going to a place which projects an image of a biased police force that even is willing to cover up or deal carelessly with crime.

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