Handling a police feud

Handling a police feud

Prime Minister Srettha Thavisin deserves praise for promptly transferring two high-ranking police officers -- national police chief Pol Gen Torsak Sukvimol and his deputy Pol Gen Surachate Hakparn -- to inactive posts at Government House.

A war of words between the two had turned ugly and was corroding public trust; that is, if there was any left in the Royal Thai Police (RTP) force to lose.

Amidst it all, Mr Srettha displayed his crisis management skills by appointing Pol Gen Kitrat Panphet, deputy police chief, as acting national police chief.

Last evening, the PM also ordered a committee consisting of experienced experts to look into problems of graft at the RTP and submit a report to him directly every two weeks.

The decisions come a day after Pol Gen Surachate's legal team claimed police investigators had unfairly sought his and his subordinates' arrest over alleged money laundering activities in relation to the BNK Master illegal online gambling network.

The national police chief, who is supposed to stay above the fray, got into a public dispute with Pol Gen Surachate -- aka "Big Joke" -- after the latter failed to receive a summons to speak with police who suspect him of being involved in the money laundering. Three of his subordinates earlier faced court warrants over this case.

Pol Gen Surachate has insisted he is innocent and accused his colleagues of trying to remove him as a contender as the next national police chief when the post becomes available later this year.

Now the onus falls on Mr Srettha and the acting national police chief, Pol Gen Kitrat, to clear up and resolve this issue, which involves a police feud and allegations of corruption.

Needless to say, previous police investigations into Pol Gen Surachate's case and others need to be re-examined to ensure they were fair.

As part of this, investigators must look into accusations made by Pol Gen Surachate's lawyers that earlier probes ignored how 30 other police -- among them high-ranking police officers and their relatives -- received bribes from the BNK Master network.

Pol Gen Kitrat must communicate with the public and media about the probe and make it transparent.

The last thing the public needs is another probe behind closed doors.

Mr Srettha and the new acting police chief must treat Pol Gen Surachate fairly, just like everyone else, despite Pol Gen Surachate's constant boasts that he is a strong candidate to be the next national police chief, as he shredded his and the RTP's image to pieces.

When his colleagues accused him of corruption, Pol Gen Surachate threatened to expose the names of high-ranking police involved in graft.

Since then, he has not reported such details to the RTP or the Office of the National Anti-Corruption Commission despite the supposed urgency or public interest in doing so.

Pol Gen Surachate has also undermined the police judicial investigation process by refusing to accept a police summons on the money laundering accusation. He must enter the justice process like everyone else.

If he finds the police investigation unfair, he can sue police investigators in court, as other officials do.

This all comes after six months in office for Mr Srettha, who has so far shown strong leadership.

Perhaps the prime minister now finds himself in the position where he can begin cleaning up the RTP.


Bangkok Post editorial column

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

Email : anchaleek@bangkokpost.co.th

Do you like the content of this article?