Events on the night of September 6th last and developments since have brought home the scale and extent of the corruption problem in Thailand with both the Royal Thai Police and local provincial authorities now being brought under the microscope.

An attempt by a powerful kamnan or local boss in Nakhon Pathom on Wednesday, September 6th to coerce an honest police officer into preferring a relative for promotion within the Royal Thai Police set in motion the murder of 32-year-old Police Lieutenant Colonel Siwakorn Saibua and the wounding of a colleague, Police Lieutenant Colonel Wasin Panpee. The gunman who fired the shots Thananchai Manmak or Non Thapha died two days later in a gunfight with Crime Suppression Division (CSD) officers while, on Monday, the body of the dead policeman’s commanding officer, Police Colonel Vachira Yaothaisong, was found at his home. He was suspected of committing suicide. The case has now given rise to a massive criminal probe directed by Deputy National Police Chief General Surachate Hakparn, the Inspectorate of the Royal Thai Police and inquiries into corruption linked with local officials ordered by the Ministry of the Interior.

Deputy National Police Chief General Surachate Hakparn (centre) briefed Prime Minister Srettha Thavisin on Sunday on the probe into the murder of a senior police officer believed to have been directed by Nakhon Pathom Kamnan Praween Chankhlai (left) on Wednesday, 6th September which was followed the next day by the suspected suicide of his superior, Police Colonel Vachira Yaothaisong on Monday afternoon (right).

An outrageous incident at a celebratory event at the local headquarters of Mr Praween Chankhlai or Kamnan Nok in Ta Kong, Nakhon Pathom on Wednesday last, the 6th of September, during which a senior police officer was murdered and an associate seriously injured, has sparked a firestorm within the ranks of the Royal Thai Police, which has already led to two further deaths as a result.

Amid a widening investigation into mounting circumstances which suggest irregularities or dysfunction within the police force which are now being examined at the highest level, on Wednesday, it was announced that more police officers among 28 out of 55 people who attended the social function last week, will face criminal charges while 6 who are already imprisoned on charges may be facing prosecution on further offences.

Server recovered as evidence reveals not only evidence of the murder last Wednesday but also evidence of corruption linked with Nakhon Pathom police

This comes as police have recovered evidence from a server at the premises which reveals a ring of corruption between serving police in Nakhon Pathom and the influential tambon boss or kamnan at the centre of the spiralling controversy which has already, this week, been reviewed twice by Prime Minister Srettha Thavisin who has ordered a fair but decisive police response.

The incident in question began when the sub-district boss or kamnan held a party at his property in the locality of Ta Kong in the centre of Nakhon Pathom outside a modern office-like building with tables and waiters, which was attended by a large array of senior police officers attached to Provincial Police Region 7 on Wednesday the 6th of September last.

The event was held at the property of Mr Praween Chankhlai, also known as Kamnan Nok.

On Monday, the Nakhon Pathom Provincial Police Chief, Police Major General Jakkrit Kruasunthornwanich and the Station Chief in the Mueang District of the province, Police Colonel Phuphon Thapcharoen were ordered to an inactive post at Provincial Police headquarters pending the result of ongoing enquiries in a move authorised by the Chief of Provincial Police Region 7, Police Lieutenant General Thanayut Wuthicharasdamrong.

Provincial Police Chief and district police boss ordered to an inactive post while enquiries proceed into the force in the Mueang area of Nakhon Pathom

This happened on the same day as six police officers appeared before a special sitting of the Criminal Court for Corruption and Misconduct for Region 7 at Samut Songkhram province.

The six police officers were charged with various offences including failure to carry out their duties under Article 157 of the Criminal Code, concealment of evidence and aiding and abetting the gunman and perpetrators of last Wednesday’s shooting which saw the murder of Police Lieutenant Colonel Siwakorn Saibua while leaving Police Lieutenant Colonel Wasin Panpee seriously injured from gunfire sprayed at the men by an associate of Kamnan Nok, named as Mr Thananchai Manmak or Nong Thapha.

Mr Thananchai was later killed in a gunfight with police as he took refuge at a disused premises near a temple property in Nakhon Pathom.

This occurred on Friday, September 8th when officers working with the Crime Suppression Division which had been called in to deal with the investigation as well as Police Region 7 officers outside Nakhon Pathom to deal with the manhunt, tracked down their man.

Kamnan Nok surrendered and is being questioned

On the previous day, Thursday 7th September, Mr Praween Chankhlai or Kamnan Nok, surrendered to police with a letter from his lawyer stating that he was not responsible for Wednesday night’s shooting. 

Mr Praween is being held in custody after being refused bail and was reportedly heavily interrogated by police working on the case which is now being directly supervised by the Crime Suppression Division and Deputy Police Chief General Surachate Hakparn.

In recent days, firms linked with the local boss have been raided by Central Investigation Bureau (CIB) and Crime Suppression Division (CSD) police who in one instance were refused admission to a construction business yard before issuing a warning to staff employed there who eventually relented.

General Surachate Hakparn briefed Prime Minister Srettha Thavisin at the Phitsanulok Mansion in Bangkok last weekend on this explosive case

Over the weekend, General Surachate briefed the Prime Minister at the Phitsanulok Mansion, the official Prime Ministerial residence which Mr Srettha has chosen to use, unlike his predecessor General Prayut.

In a briefing for the media after the meeting, General Surachate or ‘Big Joke’ said that there were three types of officers who attended the fateful dinner on Wednesday night the 6th of September. 

Those who had fled immediately after the shooting, those who had assisted the injured officer Police Lieutenant Colonel Wasin and those who had provided support and assistance to Kamnan Nok or his associate, Mr Thananchai Manmak, the gunman.

Big Joke said some officers had been interrogated following the incident who were lying but that the investigation would eventually succeed in getting at the truth of the matter as the evidence was available. 

Big Joke gets to the nub of the disturbing story

General Surachate was not shy in addressing the core reason for last Wednesday night’s shooting, which was a request by Mr Praween Chankhlai to the murdered officer, that his relation, reported to be a nephew of his wife, be promoted to sergeant, or preferred within the Highway Police Division, according to his wishes. 

It is reported that the murdered officer, Police Lieutenant Colonel Siwakorn, declined to do so and told the local influential figure that he was an officer who straightforwardly conducted his business.

32-year-old Police Lieutenant Colonel Siwakorn, also known as Inspector Bank, reportedly caused the local government official to become incensed. He stormed away from the outdoor table where he had been engaged in a discussion with the officer in a drunken state.

It is thought that Kamnan Nok subsequently gave the order to his henchman Mr Thananchai to carry out the shooting.

Big joke or Police General Surachate, on Sunday, said: ‘There was a request for a police transfer, when it was rejected he ordered the shooting. He was so close to local police for so long that he was excessively confident. Today this must be eliminated.’ 

All those involved or culpable will be charged vows Thailand’s top policeman as public anxiety grows

The top cop vowed that all police involved in this incident who were culpable would be held responsible and face either disciplinary action or criminal charges. 

Public anxiety over the case is growing.

On Monday afternoon, at the same time as the cremation service for the murdered officer was taking place at Wat Phra Sae Mahatat in the Bang Khen district of Bangkok, the expanding controversy claimed another life

Police Colonel Vachira Yaothaisong, the slain officer’s immediate superior and commander of Highway Police Subdivision 2, is understood to have shot himself dead at his home in the Lam Luk Ka district of Pathum Thani province.

The death of the senior officer drew a shocked response and saw three of Thailand’s leading officers converge on the upmarket housing estate where the young high-flying officer lived.

Top policemen in the kingdom all converge on the home of another officer who died on Monday afternoon as the first policeman to die was cremated

Deputy Police Chief Torsak Sukwimol, Deputy Police Chief General Surachate Hakparn and General Jiraphat Phuridet, the Commander of the Central Investigation Bureau all arrived to help progress the investigation.

General Torsak had earlier attended and played a key role in the cremation ceremony for Police Lieutenant Colonel Siwakorn where the senior officer’s absence had caused consternation as he was the murdered officer’s direct superior

The death of the senior police officer drew reports that he had earlier sought treatment at Phramongkutklao Hospital in Bangkok for depression. He reportedly felt guilt and personal responsibility for the death of Police Lieutenant Colonel Siwakorn. 

Police Colonel Vachira was also a member of an online Chat Group for the Police Cadet Class of 2012. There are reports from members of the social media group that in recent days he had spoken of committing suicide due to the stress and trauma caused by the events of last Wednesday night.

Superior officer to murdered policeman is thought to have felt guilt for what happened in Nakhon Pathom after bringing the junior officer to the party

Police Colonel Vachira, from a respected military family, had a distinguished career within the Royal Thai Police and had previously among other things, served in counter-terrorism before being moved to the Highway Police Division.

He had been the officer who brought the murdered officer to the event but also was among the officers who attended to the injured Police Lieutenant Colonel Wasin when he was rushed to hospital from his injuries.

In recent days, it has been reported that Police Lieutenant Colonel Wasin has been taken off a ventilator although he is still in a serious condition in hospital.

After being briefed by the Deputy Police Chief Surachate Hakparn on Sunday, Prime Minister Srettha Thavisin issued a statement saying it was clear that reform needed to take place within the ranks of the Royal Thai Police whose mission was to serve the public rather than serving those with influence in society.

Prime Minister briefed again by the National Police Commissioner on Monday after the death of 2nd police officer in Pathum Thani, murder not ruled out

On Monday afternoon, in the aftermath of giving his policy statement to Parliament, the Prime Minister had a meeting in the Parliament building with the current National Police Commissioner General Damrongsak Kittiprapas, who briefed him on the death of the senior police officer at his home in Pathum Thani at 1.50 pm.

After his meeting with the Prime Minister concluded on Monday afternoon at approximately 3.20 pm, General Damrongsak would not confirm whether the senior officer, Police Colonel Vachira had taken his own life or whether it could have been a case of murder.

The police chief said it was too early to form a conclusion on whether the death of the senior police officer was a case of suicide or something else.

He also assured the media that the police were taking steps linked to the security of all officers and those implicated in the widening investigation.

General Damrongsak said the goal must, of course, be to ensure that a case like this never happens again.

Ministry of the Interior begins its own review

On Monday, it was also revealed that the Minister of the Interior and Deputy Prime Minister, Anutin Charnvirakul, had appointed Deputy Interior Minister, Chada Thaiset, to carry out a root and branch investigation of all local authority officials in the Kingdom.

This would be aimed at detecting and eliminating corruption and circles of influence which may exist. 

At the same time, the court in Samut Songkhram province refused bail to the six police officers before it, identified as Police Major Kiattisak Somsuk, Police Lieutenant Prasarn Rodphon, Police Lieutenant Nimit Salidkul, Police Lieutenant Sansern Srisawat, Police Lieutenant Narongsak Tangampai and Police Captain Nattha Phon Nakorn.

Bail was refused on the basis that the charges against the officers were of a highly serious nature which would entail a prison term of well over three years if found guilty. 

Bail is refused to six officers facing criminal charges before the Criminal Court for Corruption and Misconduct on Monday as fallout continues to grow

The court heard an objection from investigating police to granting the accused bail on the basis that they would interfere with the case and witnesses. 

All six were ordered to be detained for twelve days while the investigation against them proceeded, by the Criminal Court for Corruption and Misconduct in Police Region 7.

It is also understood that a separate internal investigation within the Royal Thai Police being conducted by the Chief Inspector of Police is underway into events surrounding the murder of Police Lieutenant Colonel Siwakorn Saibua on Wednesday, September 6th. 

The nature of the relationship between the local government official and up to 28 police officers who attended the dinner will be looked at. 

Police General Surachate, on Sunday, confirmed that the CCTV server covering the premises had been recovered by police officers after an officer with the Corrections Department, working under the direction of Kamnan Nok, had tried to destroy it to conceal evidence concerning events on the night in question by throwing it into nearby water.

General Surachate was confident that all the footage would be retrieved from the server and that his investigation would get to the bottom of not only the murder of the senior policeman but also the circumstances which brought the collection of top police officers in Nakhon Pathom to be attending such an event and the apparent confidence of the tambon boss in his ability to order the promotion or preferment of officers within the force.

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