Move Forward Party MP Rangsiman Rome has demanded an explanation about how a police officer who happens to be a nephew of Thaksin Shinawatra’s ex-wife managed to secure the top job with the immigration police at Phuket airport.
The opposition lawmaker also asked why Pol Col Thanet Sukchai, the former commissioner of the immigration police on the resort island, had to resign shortly before he was transferred to Prachuap Khiri Khan and replaced by a new commissioner in the Nov 29 police reshuffle.
“I personally think the Royal Thai Police need to respond to these and other questions raised over the latest police reshuffle at the Phuket police immigration office and Immigration Division 6,” Mr Rangsiman wrote in a Facebook post this week.
The Phuket immigration police office is under Immigration Division 6, which is headquartered in Hat Yai district of Songkhla.
“What actually made Pol Col Thanet less suitable for the position (of Phuket immigration police chief)? And why is the new commissioner more suitable than him?” Mr Rangsiman asked.
The same question applies to the promotion of Pol Col Padthongtew Damapong as the new chief of the immigration police unit at the Phuket airport in the same reshuffle, said Mr Rangsiman.
Pol Col Padthongtew is the son of an older brother of Khunying Potjaman na Pombejra, the ex-wife of former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra.
Khunying Potjaman’s father, Pol Gen Preawphan Damapong, was a former national police chief. Thaksin began his career with the police before starting the businesses that would make him a billionaire and later entering politics.
Mr Rangsiman noted that the promotion of Pol Col Padthongtew, 41, to the highly coveted position in Phuket came just 10 months after he was appointed as the chief of an administrative unit at the Immigration Bureau headquarters.
Pol Col Padthongtew must be a really outstanding official, have a special “pass” to a fast-track promotion, or receive support from a very important person, said Mr Rangsiman.
“And is Pol Col Thanet one of the police commanders whose wish would not come true, while Pol Col Padthongtew is among the commanders whose wish would become true as mentioned by Prime Minister Srettha Thavisin recently?” wrote Mr Rangsiman.
He was referring to media reports last month about remarks the PM made at a meeting of Pheu Thai Party MPs. Mr Srettha reportedly said some police officials would be happy while others would be disappointed with the results of the coming reshuffle. The prime minister vehemently denied as the reports.
Pol Col Padthongtew was born in Los Angeles and moved to Thailand at age 10. He holds a bachelor’s degree in economics from Thammasat University and a master’s in public administration from the University of Southern California. He is married and has four children.