Prawit mulls probe into police post-buying

Prawit mulls probe into police post-buying

Pressure on Witthaya to prove allegations

The name of Pol Maj Gen Surachet Hakpal has surfaced in reports about alleged buying of promotions within the Royal Thai Police. (File photos)
The name of Pol Maj Gen Surachet Hakpal has surfaced in reports about alleged buying of promotions within the Royal Thai Police. (File photos)

The Royal Thai Police (RTP) may set up a panel to look into position-buying allegations in the national police organisation, Deputy Prime Minister and Defence Minister Prawit Wongsuwon said Thursday.

Gen Prawit was responding to allegations that Patrol and Special Operation Division chief Pol Maj Gen Surachet Hakpal may have had a hand in deciding some key changes in the last senior police reshuffle, although he is not in a position to do so. But national police chief Chakthip Chaijinda denied the claims on Wednesday.

The speculation arose after Democrat Party member Witthaya Kaewparadai claimed that a certain police major-general had wielded power over the police chief while formulating the reshuffle list.

Mr Witthaya also claimed some police positions, including those at the Metropolitan Police Bureau (MPB), were being bought by officers.

Gen Prawit said Thursday he is in close contact with Pol Maj Gen Surachet on work matters although they have never discussed the police reshuffle, which he reiterated is up to the police chief to decide.

The national police chief might have assigned someone else to look through the reshuffle and that has nothing to do with him, the minister said.

But Gen Prawit said if it helps clear up doubts regarding the position-buying allegations, a panel may be set up to probe the matter.

"They [the MPB] also set up their own panel to prove who is right and who is wrong. Witnesses and evidence will prove it," he said.

Pol Maj Gen Surachet, meanwhile, said on Tuesday there was no lobbying for positions in his unit.

Police Watch, a group campaigning for police reform, called for a formal investigation into position-buying allegations within the police force.

As Pol Gen Chakthip has threatened to sue Mr Witthaya for defamation, the Police Watch group called on Justice Minister Suwaphan Tanyuvardhana to invite Mr Witthaya to provide more information about his claims and produce evidence to back them up.

The group also demanded reform of the RTP's organisational structure, with power being redistributed to the provinces.

Specifically, the group has proposed that provincial governors be given the authority to handle the transfers of police superintendents and lower-ranking officers within their own provinces.

New criteria for police reshuffles at all levels should be drafted to improve fairness and transparency in the shake-up, which will eventually lead to improvements in morale in the police force, said the group.

To reform the police investigation system, Police Watch said state prosecutors should be allowed to step in to help handle cases in which suspects or affected parties have complained of unfair treatment by the police.

The group said the police force must embrace power decentralisation to function effectively.

Deputy Prime Minister Wissanu Krea-ngam, meanwhile, said the government has yet to begin forming a committee to steer police reform.

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