Police panel to discuss 'Big Joke'
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Police panel to discuss 'Big Joke'

Reinstating Pol Gen Surachate poses 'risk'

Pol Gen Surachate Hakparn
Pol Gen Surachate Hakparn

The Police Commission will on Wednesday meet to consider whether the Royal Thai Police's order to dismiss deputy national police chief Pol Gen Surachate "Big Joke" Hakparn was in breach of the law, according to a source.

Prime Minister Srettha Thavisin, who also serves as chairman of the Police Commission, will preside over the meeting, starting at 3pm.

Pol Gen Ek Angsananont, an honorary member of the commission, indicated that should Pol Gen Surachate be reinstated as deputy police chief, which is anticipated, there is a risk that the disciplinary sub-panel which approved his dismissal would itself be deemed to have carried out misconduct over the decision.

Under an instruction by the commission, the sub-panel, chaired by former deputy police chief Pol Gen Winai Thongson, on June 17 considered the Council of State's legal interpretation of the order to dismiss Pol Gen Surachate. The interpretation was requested by the Prime Minister's Secretariat Office.

The council determined the dismissal order was proper and just. However, the sub-panel went ahead and agreed with the dismissal without factoring in the Supreme Administrative Court's decision that the Council of State's interpretation was a consultation and not a decision that obliges state agencies to act.

Each agency issues its own policy, exercises discretion and does not have to act on the advice of the Council of State.

The findings or decisions by the sub-panel are normally acknowledged by the Police Commission.

Pol Gen Ek said any move to return Pol Gen Surachate to the police force would come with a risk. "It would be safer for all sides to wait for the Police Virtue Protection Commitee to take up the matter for consideration first," he added.

On March 20, Mr Srettha transferred both Pol Gen Surachate and national police chief Pol Gen Torsak Sukvimol to the Prime Minister's Office, in a move to address the mounting rift between them.

Deputy national police chief Kitrat Phanphet was then appointed acting police chief. Meanwhile, there were reports Pol Gen Surachate could be charged with money laundering in connection with online gambling networks.

A probe recently confirmed conflicts and disorder within the Royal Thai Police at all levels, but it was unclear whether they stemmed from a single cause or multiple sources, said Wissanu Krea-ngam, the PM's legal adviser.

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