Promote police fairly

Promote police fairly

Even though Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha and his government survived the Feb 16-19 no-confidence motion, there are a number of debate issues that pose questions about his leadership and his sincerity towards solving such matters. Among them is a recent case that's come to light -- the promotion of senior police officers through a ticketing system that has been riddled with irregularities and nepotism.

The promotion issue was raised by the Move Forward Party (MFP) MP Rangsiman Rome during the censure debate on Feb 19, the last day of the four-day session. The opposition politician mentioned long-standing issues within the police, including corruption and position buying as well as certain favours through what he called tua chang, or "elephant tickets".

This is a fast-track promotion system where people, including the undeserving, avoid having to meet the criteria needed to earn promotion.

Mr Rangsiman particularly questioned the promotion of Pol Lt Gen Torsak Sukwimol, head of the Central Investigation Bureau (CIB), whom he said had managed to quickly climb up the police ladder with a few exemptions. He said such exemptions paving the way for the CIB boss to reach the top position, disheartens and damages the morale of other officers.

The opposition politician lambasted Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha, who is chairman of the Police Commission, for allowing such irregularities to occur under his watch. Such malpractice had existed when Deputy Prime Minister Prawit Wongsuwon was overseeing police affairs.

During the Feb 19 debate, the opposition politician was interrupted several times and eventually asked by the House Speaker to stop talking as he began making references to the monarchy. He duly complied. The politician later held a press conference where he provided more details to support his allegations.

More than a week after the debate wrapped up, Gen Prayut has failed to give a satisfactory response to the opposition politician's allegations. This is disappointing. On Feb 22, the prime minister admitted that there were problems within the police force and he would tackle it.

Such a statement is too vague and perhaps was made to hide the fact that nothing will actually be done, as has been the case in other scandals.

It should be noted that Gen Prayut could not hide his irritation over the leakage of the documents referring to the elephant tickets which he said "should not have happened". But without such leaks, how can the public be sure the problem will be properly dealt with? How long will such malpractices continue under the prime minister's supervision?

How many promises has the prime minister made when it comes to improving the police service -- promises that have yet to be turned into action? Mr Rangsiman's tua chang allegations have garnered enormous public attention, with over 1.7 million tweets. The controversy comes at a time when the police's reputation is already severely damaged following a series of other scandals that have not been addressed. These mostly have to do with police involvement in the operating of illegal casinos in several provinces that have been blamed for Thailand's second Covid-19 wave.

These allegations also came at the right time, because just a few days after the debate, parliament passed the police reform bill in its second reading. Those now involved in scrutinising the bill before the third reading should be responsive to public input as the government is clearly not up to the task.


Bangkok Post editorial column

These editorials represent Bangkok Post thoughts about current issues and situations.

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