'We're on the triads' trail'
text size

'We're on the triads' trail'

Interview: MPB chief rejects criticism of police in Chinese syndicate case

CCTV footage from inside the Jinling pub in Bangkok's Yannawa district shortly before police raided it just after midnight on Oct 26. (Police photo)
CCTV footage from inside the Jinling pub in Bangkok's Yannawa district shortly before police raided it just after midnight on Oct 26. (Police photo)

Metropolitan Police Bureau (MPB) commissioner, Pol Lt Gen Thiti Saengsawang, has insisted police are handling a case related to a Chinese criminal syndicate transparently and in line with the law.

His remarks were in response to criticism from former massage parlour tycoon and politician Chuvit Kamolvisit who accused the MPB chief of failing to carry out an investigation and examine evidence properly.

At the centre of this is Chinese businessman and suspected crime boss Chaiyanat "Tuhao" Kornchayanant, who is allegedly a key figure in the Chinese gang in Thailand.

Mr Chuvit, who has exposed shady businesses and underground activities operated by Chinese triads in Thailand and supplied police with the information, said he did not trust an investigation team led by Pol Lt Gen Thiti, following a delay in the issuance of a money-laundering warrant against Mr Chaiyanat.

However, Mr Chaiyanat was later charged with money laundering, and for his alleged involvement with a Chinese transnational criminal gang, said national police chief Pol Gen Damrongsak Kittiprapas.

Mr Chaiyanat became a prime suspect after police on Oct 26 last year raided the Jinling pub on Charoen Rat Road in Yannawa district. Drug tests came back positive for 104 patrons, 99 of whom were Chinese nationals.

The alleged triad boss turned himself in on Nov 23 after the Bangkok South Criminal Court issued a warrant for his arrest for collusion in the drug trade and possession of narcotics with intent to sell.

He is now in Bangkok Remand Prison after police objected to his bail application, arguing they needed more time to investigate the case.

In an interview with the Bangkok Post, Pol Lt Gen Thiti brushed aside Mr Chuvit's criticism, saying that there was no need to respond to people who are prejudiced against him.

"It is futile to communicate with people who have prejudice. Speaking [to Mr Chuvit] will end up like musical dissonance," he said.

"However, we are ready to listen to and act on constructive suggestions, not baseless accusations.

"We have to do the right things and follow the right course of action, and the people and the media will support us," Pol Lt Gen Thiti said.

He also dismissed an accusation that he has caused a number of conflicts within the MPB since he took the helm at the agency about three months ago.

"That is a baseless accusation, probably from officers who don't like me.

"They can meet me and air their grievances. I am ready to listen and solve their problems," he said.

Pol Lt Gen Thiti said the crackdown on Chinese triads in Thailand started after the death of a Chinese woman who visited a pub on Ratchadaphisek Road and died of a drug overdose afterwards.

The pub is in an area within the jurisdiction of Sutthisan police station.

Her body was then sent to a hospital in an area under the jurisdiction of Makkasan police station, but evidence had been tampered with to falsely show that her death took place in an area under the jurisdiction of Lumpini police station, he said.

"Those police stations zipped their lips. So, we had to expand our investigation leading to the raid on the Jinling pub," he said.

"Police are rattling his [Tuhao's] nerves. We are stripping him of his social status and financial standing. His assets have been seized," Pol Lt Gen Thiti said.

According to police, assets worth about 3 billion baht that were believed to belong to Mr Chaiyanat were seized for inspection.

Previously, Mr Chuvit spoke in detail about the Chinese triad mafia in Thailand, their connections and corruption among the powers that be.

It began when Beijing launched a crackdown on criminal activities such as the narcotics trade and online gambling. Many of these criminals looked to operate in countries with a weak bureaucratic system, and Thailand was on their radar.

They built connections with senior police and influential figures, which enabled them to venture into grey businesses or outright illegal activities centred on entertainment venues and gambling dens, he claimed.

The raid on Jinling pub on Oct 26 lifted the lid on Chinese gangsters, he said.

"After three weeks in office, the new commissioner of the Metropolitan Police Bureau wanted to take down illegal night venues. What he found was drugs, a very special kind of drug. Jinling pub was one of many joints catering to Chinese people only, with cubicles reserved for drug-taking," Mr Chuvit said.

Unaware that Jinling pub was part of a "grey business", the MPB made a number of blunders, including releasing those who tested negative but were part of the syndicate, he said.

Bangkok police chief Pol Lt Gen Thiti Saengsawang

Do you like the content of this article?