'Big Joke' transferred to police HQ

'Big Joke' transferred to police HQ

Pol Lt Gen Surachate Hakparn is rarely out of the headlines. (File photo)
Pol Lt Gen Surachate Hakparn is rarely out of the headlines. (File photo)

Surachate “Big Joke” Hakparn, the country’s highest-profile policeman, has been transferred to the Royal Thai Police Operations Centre under an order signed by national police chief Chakthip Chaijinda. No reasons were given.

Pol Gen Chakthip, who signed the order on Friday night, police spokesmen and Pol Lt Gen Surachate could not be contacted by reporters on Saturday.

Pol Lt Gen Surachate’s Facebook page “Surachate Hakparn”, his Twitter account and the Immigration Bureau Facebook page were offline on Saturday.

Pol Lt Gen Surachate, who is known to be close to Deputy Prime Minister Prawit Wongsuwon, has been a rising star on the force in recent years. He has rarely been out of the headlines, placing himself front and centre at the scene of high-profile cases involving everything from immigration violators to illegal motorcycle racers, as well as computer crime cases involving another unit that he heads.

The son of a policeman, Surachate was born in 1970 in Songkhla. After joining the force, he quickly rose through the ranks to command a local station and later moved to Bangkok to head the 191 task force. From there he moved to the tourist police before landing the top job at the Immigration Bureau last year.

Under his command, the bureau has been aggressively pursuing foreigners who are in the country illegally, visa overstayers and criminals alike, under the slogan “Good Guys In, Bad Guys Out”.

Arrests have been accompanied by elaborate media presentations, featuring large posters bearing details and images of the accused offenders as well as giant pictures of the officers handling the case.

Pol Lt Gen Surachate entered the international spotlight in January, when he reversed a deportation order against Rahaf al-Qunun, a young Saudi woman who arived in Thailand fleeing what she said was abuse by her family. The immigration chief said he would not “send someone to their death”, and she has now been resettled in Canada.


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