Eye on police probes
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Eye on police probes

The Criminal Court's move to issue an arrest warrant for Pol Gen Surachate Hakparn, who is accused of laundering money from online gambling, was a much-needed decision amid an ugly row between two high-ranking policemen.

After fighting tooth and nail for over a month, Pol Gen Surachate -- aka Big Joke -- had to report to police on Tuesday night. Despite being seen as a strong contender as the next national police chief, he previously ignored police arrest warrants and insisted the money laundering case must be investigated by the National Anti-Corruption Commission (NACC) only.

Pol Gen Surachate also accused his superior, Pol Gen Torsak Sukvimol, and the officer's relatives of being involved in money laundering for the same online gambling network.

The court made it clear the case must be treated as a criminal charge -- and hopefully Pol Gen Surachate will cooperate. As a senior officer, Pol Gen Surachate must respect the judicial process and his own office by playing ball. This will also show his leadership mettle.

The Royal Thai Police (RTP) must also not ignore the accusation against Pol Gen Torsak, the national police chief. Early this week, lawyer-activist Sittra Biabangkerd filed a charge against him with the RTP.

Mr Sittra is perceived as a friend of Big Joke's. Police investigators nevertheless must show they are professional in dutifully carrying out their probe into Pol Gen Surachate.

Allegations against both policemen have already shamed the RTP. Any double standards in how they are treated would just add insult to injury. This is a reminder to the public that the RTP needs to reform to be more transparent and accountable. For over a decade, the previous governments of Prayut Chan-o-cha had pledged to reform the police. Yet it achieved little.

Many committees were appointed to conduct studies, with 18 on police reform having been conducted in the past few decades.

Many good solutions have been offered by luminaries in the Thai judicial system and esteemed officers such as the late former deputy police chief, Pol Gen Vasit Dejkunjorn.

Their ideas are exciting and progressive -- for example, the creation of a police ministry, creating separate bureaus of investigation, moving some police tasks to provincial investigators, and ensuring promotions are based on merit and verifiable work experience.

Sadly, those studies have been kept in a drawer gathering dust. PM Srettha Thavisin would be doing a great service in revisiting them and trying them out on the RTP.

Mr Srettha, as chair of the National Police Committee, never made police reform one of his flagship policies, and he rarely discusses his views on this topic. But as the person to whom the national police chief reports, he should seize this opportunity to make some changes. And the public is watching.

The media are also waiting to report on the three-person probe team which the PM appointed last month to investigate conflicts and accusations related to Pol Gen Torsak and Pol Gen Surachate.

People expect the probe will have a big impact, akin to Vicha Mahakun's probe that implicated around 20 people, including policemen and public prosecutors who helped the Red Bull scion Vorayuth "Boss" Yoovidhya evade criminal charges in a hit-and-run case over a decade ago. The ball is in Mr Srettha's court. He needs to score.


Bangkok Post editorial column

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

Email : anchaleek@bangkokpost.co.th

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