Former police chief stands by accused officer amid fugitive allegations. As Sia Pang Na Node’s escape saga unfolds, the ex-chief warns against destabilising drug suppression efforts, claiming baseless accusations may aid criminal networks. The fight for truth and justice continues.

As the dust settles on the Sia Pang Na Node controversy with the escaped fugitive, who was serving a 20-year sentence in Nakhon Si Thammarat Prison thought to have escaped by sea from Southern Thailand, a senior police officer and former Provincial Police Chief of Phatthalung province, the scene of corruption allegations against the police and prosecutors made by the convicted prisoner has called for caution while rushing to defend a senior officer in the province leading drug suppression operations. He has questioned both the veracity and motive for the fugitive’s claims and warned that it may help to undermine law and order while assisting dangerous drug cartels who are feeling the heat.

Police Major General Tanit Ramdit (centre) questions claims made by escaped convict Sia Pang Na Node or Chaowalit Thongduang (inset) and warns of undermining law enforcement and drug suppression operations in Phatthalung province.

In a turn of events which shows the reverberation caused by the revelations of escaped fugitive Chaowalit Thongduang or Sia Pang Na Node, Police Major General Tanit Ramdit, the former police chief of Phatthalung Province, has leapt to the defence of a police colonel, a top officer with the Provincial Police Crime Suppression Division in the province, who is under scrutiny in the controversial ‘Sia Pang’ case.

Despite allegations of impropriety and involvement with drug trafficking groups, Police Major General Tanit staunchly supports the embattled police lieutenant colonel, viewing the unfolding situation as a karmic reckoning.

Fugitive now believed to have been rescued off the Phatthalung mountaintop and spirited away to the sea and a speedboat to Indonesia’s Aceh province

The saga began with the escape of Mr Chaowalit Thongduang, also known as Pang Nanode, a 38-year-old inmate receiving treatment for an illness at Maharat Nakhon Si Thammarat Hospital on the night of October 22.

Pang managed to evade authorities and sought refuge in the Banthat mountain range and Ban Nai Tra, Tamot District, Phatthalung Province. 

Despite a month-long, large-scale manhunt involving multiple agencies and hundreds of soldiers, Pang continued to elude capture.

In recent days, despite the insistence of senior police officers, his escape to Indonesia by speedboat from nearby Satun province after being picked up by a mysterious black Toyota Vios car when a local with a motorbike transported him off the hill, has all but been confirmed with police arrests of some of those involved.

Sia Node is reported to be now under the protection of an Indonesian crime lord with military connections in the overwhelmingly Muslim province of Aceh in Western Indonesia.

Videos released by the fugitive caused consternation in Bangkok and a series of investigations which have already led to criminal cases being brought

The case took a surprising turn when Pang resurfaced, using social media to release a video clip claiming injustice. 

According to Pang, he was unjustly targeted by the authorities in connection to a robbery involving an individual known as Mr Rocket, a narcotics network member kidnapped by a gang with alleged links to Region 9 police.

It was announced this week that the Director of Public Prosecutions for the Anti-Corruption Case Office of Region 9 covering Phatthalung has summoned 8 suspects to appear before the Region’s Criminal Corruption and Misconduct Court on December 22nd in a development linked with the revelations of Sia Pang Na Node.

Many suspects in the 2019 abduction evaded charges while Sia Pang Na Node was convicted and handed down a sentence of 20 years and 6 months in prison

Pang alleged extortion for ransom and accused the prosecutor in the case and Mr Rocket’s father of manipulating the affair.

The video prompted an examination of the suspects in the 2019 abduction who evaded charges while Sia Pang Na Node was convicted and handed down a sentence of 20 years and 6 months in prison by the Office of the Attorney-General (OAG) and the Royal Thai Police, who were compelled to address the allegations.

Former Phatthalung Provincial Police Chief concerned that the prosecution and probes may undermine drug suppression efforts in the Southern province

However, in response to these developments, Police Major General Tanit Ramdit stepped forward to defend the implicated police lieutenant colonel, emphasising his exemplary record as a dedicated law enforcement officer. 

The police lieutenant colonel in question, a senior officer of the Provincial Police Crime Suppression Division in Phatthalung, has been recognized as the top drug buster in the lower southern region.

Police Major General Tanit argued that the officer’s commitment to drug suppression and extensive knowledge of drug networks in Phatthalung had contributed to his well-deserved reputation.

During the police lieutenant colonel’s tenure as the Police Chief of Phatthalung Province from 2021 to 2023, he led a successful drug suppression operation that earned him the prestigious title of the number one local drug arrester in the southern region. 

Despite Phatthalung’s status as a relatively small province, it outperformed larger provinces, such as Songkhla, in apprehending drug suspects and dismantling trafficking networks.

Allegations against the police officer are ‘baseless’

Police Major General Tanit dismissed the allegations against the police lieutenant colonel as baseless, attributing them to possible slander from rival drug groups.

He asserted that removing the officer from his post would only serve to benefit these criminal organisations at the expense of the people of Phatthalung.

With a sombre tone, Police Major General Tanit warned of the potential consequences, stating that pushing the officer out of the area could lead to an increase in drug proliferation, endangering the community.

Addressing the complaints lodged by Pang and other prisoners, Police Major General Tanit expressed scepticism, suggesting that some complaints might be motivated by hidden agendas. 

Ex-police chief accepts the need to find the truth and justice but warns against rushed actions and destabilising law enforcement and drug suppression

At the same time, he emphasised the need for a thorough investigation into the veracity of these complaints, cautioning against a rush to judgment.

Significantly, he revealed that during his tenure as the Provincial Police Commander in Phatthalung, a committee had already been appointed to investigate the same complaints, and the matter had been resolved.

In his concluding remarks, Police Major General Tanit reiterated his belief in the karmic nature of events, asserting that those who do good will receive good in return, while those who engage in wrongdoing must face the consequences of their actions. 

As the nation watches this unfolding drama, the question of whether justice will prevail or the alleged karmic forces will decide the fate of the accused police lieutenant colonel remains unanswered.

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Further reading:

Sia Pang Na Node, a prisoner’s fight for justice against a corrupt legal system while on the run

Local corruption linked to the police under the spotlight after officer’s murder in Nakhon Pathom

Golden Triangle drugs threat aired in parliament, claims of senior police officers being involved in trafficking

Corruption and border smuggling linked to the Muno blast in Narathiwat. Call for top-level probe

US and Thai agencies forge closer ties as cabinet tackles corruption within the Royal Thai Police national ranks

Explosive report on the Red Bull scandal exposing ‘corruption’ due at the Prime Minister’s office

Police accused of bribery file complaint with the AG’s Office based on new 2022 anti-torture law