Bomb probe cannot stop

Bomb probe cannot stop

Police, and presumably other authorities including the government and the military, have made a poor decision to create an exit strategy for the Erawan shrine bombing investigation. It must be hoped this decision does not come back to haunt them in the form of more violence.

National police chief Chakthip Chaijinda said last week detectives will concentrate on wrapping up the case against the two arrested Uighur men. Once those cases are sent to the prosecutor, the bombing investigation can be considered successful.

Pol Gen Chakthip should reconsider this decision. Certainly, he is correct that the confessions and circumstantial evidence known to the public provide a strong legal case against the two suspects. But that same evidence, plus police statements, show there are enormous gaps and unknowns in the overall investigation.

There are several important, even basic, problems with putting the brakes on the investigation for now. One is that the motive for the bombing remains unknown. Gen Chakthip and his predecessor, Pol Gen Somyot Poompunmuang, have provided plenty of details about the suspects. Pol Gen Somyot has said the bombers were angry about the crackdown on human traffickers last April and May. But neither has quoted from the confessions of the two suspects.

Almost any imaginable motive for two Uighur men to travel to Thailand to build and detonate such a deadly bomb will be connected to terrorism. Of the 20 victims, 17 were ethnic Chinese, as were many of the injured. Within China, the violence associated with the growing Uighur problem has caused the world (and China) to acknowledge it is terrorism. Last week, this newspaper revealed that virtually the entire diplomatic community disagree with the claim by the police, government and army that the Ratchaprasong bombing had nothing to do with terrorism.

It is so unlikely that authorities will only be able to revive their credibility with a thorough investigation that addresses this controversial question.

That in turn, though, leads to another shortcoming: the abysmal failure to apprehend named and known suspects in the murderous attack. They include a Thai citizen, Wanna Suansan, also known as Maisaroh, who went to Turkey with her baby and husband -- also a suspect -- and have clearly been ignored instead of pursued.

Instead of detailing past and future steps to apprehend and interview Ms Wanna, her husband and 13 other known and named suspects, Pol Gen Chakthip has done the opposite. He says police will resume their inquiries if, by chance, they find any of the suspects or discover new evidence. This seems to contradict police obligations: the search for justice for the 160 dead and wounded victims and their many family members and friends.

Authorities frequently cite tourism as being of higher importance to the nation and "encourage" reporters covering important issues to acquiesce to their wishes. This can contradict the facts, oppose evidence and, unfortunately, pit the short-term interest against future dangers. There is no evidence to suggest that a terrorist attack will discourage tourism any more than a lack of terrorism will foster tourist arrivals.

The proof is everywhere: the United States, Great Britain, France and Spain are among western countries to witness both catastrophic terrorist attacks and increased tourism. Closer to home are Indonesia and Myanmar, India and the Philippines.

By not continuing this investigation, the police can only increase the likelihood of the perpetrators or other terrorists becoming emboldened and committing more atrocities such as the one that took such a heavy toll at the Erawan shrine.


Bangkok Post editorial column

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

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