Big Tor is reinstated but Big Joke’s fate is still uncertain. Massive internal police conflict confirmed by government legal advisor Wissanu Krea-ngam. Report supports claims of unfair targeting and outlines severe internal turmoil within the Royal Thai Police.

At 11 am on Thursday, government legal advisor Wissanu Krea-ngam confirmed the extent of internal conflict within the Royal Thai Police. He told reporters that a committee on inquiry found it had ravaged the force, causing conflict and a lack of clear direction for subordinate officers. The report additionally supports claims by Deputy Police Chief General Surachate, or Big Joke’s lawyer that he was being unfairly targeted for prosecution. However, the upshot of today’s announcement is the reinstatement of Big Tor, or General Torsak Sukwimol, to his role as police chief. The deputy chief’s fate now rests with a committee on morals reviewing his position.

(Left) Government legal advisor Wissanu Krea-ngam held a press conference at 11 am on Thursday. He revealed the contents of a report delivered to the Prime Minister’s Office on Wednesday by former senior servant Mr Chatchai Promlert. The report confirms massive infighting and factionalism within the force. Mr. Wissanu also announced the return of General Torsak Sukwimol (centre) to his duties but said that General Surachate Hakparn (right) must wait until a committee looking at his position reaches a finding. (Source: Government House and Royal Thai Police)

On Thursday, the government’s legal advisor, Wissanu Krea-ngam, announced the return of Police Chief General Torsak Sukwimol to duty.

It came following the presentation of a report on Wednesday by a panel established by Prime Minister Srettha Thavisin in March. 

The chairman of the panel, Chatchai Promlert, a former senior civil servant, presented the report to the government.

Turmoil within the ranks of the Royal Thai Police confirmed with two key factions within the force led by the top officers engaged in an extensive conflict

At length, according to Mr Wissanu on Thursday, it confirmed internal turmoil within the ranks of the Royal Thai Police. Particularly at the top, divided between two factions.

One led by Police General Torsak and the other by Deputy Police Chief General Surachate Hakparn.

Mr Wissanu, who presented the findings, also gave reporters some understanding of the confusion that has ensued in relation to various actions linked with both officers.

For instance, the report by the independent panel identified a breakdown of lines of authority. In effect, this was caused by allegations of corruption on either side. The reports said some aspects of the conflict began as far back as 10 years ago.

Fate of top cops including Big Tor and Big Joke to become clearer after Wissanu’s 11 am statement
Big shock: Arrest warrant issued by a court in Bangkok against Big Joke or General Surachate Hakparn
Big Joke survives an alleged effort to discredit him. PM appoints temporary police chief and enquiry panel

In particular, on Thursday, Mr Wissanu acknowledged some steps taken by the Royal Thai Police in relation to General Surachate which did not follow proper procedure.

Simultaneous April 18th orders against General Surachate questioned and later the Police Commission voted to postpone his removal from government service

This concerns the simultaneous moves by the police force to both remove him from government service and place him under a disciplinary investigation panel. This happened on April 18th.

However, on the same date, General Surachate was also transferred from the Prime Minister’s Office back to his position as a policeman.

In short, these interventions were found to not be in keeping with the 2022 Police Act.

Afterwards, a royal decree was sent to the Police Commission. It subsequently voted 10-0 to postpone General Surachate’s removal from service.

Therefore, the top cop remains a serving policeman. 

Presently before a morality committee probing him after he was charged before the Criminal Court and subject to an arrest warrant sought by Bangkok police

However, he is subject to a committee examining if he is morally fit to serve in the force.

This follows charges being brought against him before the Criminal Court by Tao Poon Police Station. In effect, this led to General Surachate’s arrest by investigating officers on April 2nd.

Nevertheless, that case was later sent to the National Anti-Corruption Commission (NACC).

In addition, on Thursday, Mr Wissanu confirmed there are presently no cases involving the two officers with police investigators.

At the same time, both are being examined by the National Anti-Corruption Commission (NACC).

Notably, on Wednesday, General Surachate was in the House of Representatives. He was pursuing the removal of a member of the commission on the basis of alleged corruption.

Later, the acting police chief, General Kittirat Phanphet, issued a file to the ethics committee investigating the top cop.

Big Joke cannot be counted out yet. Police disciplinary process taking place against a backdrop of confirmed infighting and factionalism within the force

At this time, the fate of General Surachate’s career lies in the hands of the internal police committee.

Its findings will be sent to the Police Commission for a decision. Afterwards, General Surachate may either accept or fight the findings at the Administrative Court.

Certainly, it is not clear what the outcome will be. The country’s most popular policeman stoutly maintains his innocence.

His lawyers had previously claimed in March that he was being targeted for prosecution because of internal machinations.

Indeed, today’s report makes clear that what is happening internally within the Royal Thai Police is unprecedented.

Meanwhile, General Surachate has objected to one particular member of the 14-person committee. It is thought that this person has stood down from the role.

Government may have to act in relation to further reform of the police force after today’s damning conclusions of the fact-finding panel appointed by the PM

Furthermore, reports on Thursday suggested a government warning to the police force relating to the affair.

At this time, General Torsak Sukwimol returns to his active role. He is due to retire from the force in September.

The ongoing review of General Surachate should be completed by then, certainly before the end of August 2024.

After that, the question remains: who will next lead the Royal Thai Police? How will the government go about uniting its ranks and dealing with massive corruption claims?

These claims have been outlined in such detail that it would be naive to deny an underlying problem.

Certainly, until the matter is addressed in a forthright and straightforward way, the public’s confidence in the police force will remain at a low ebb.

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Further reading:

Fate of top cops including Big Tor and Big Joke to become clearer after Wissanu’s 11 am statement

Big Joke marches on with his mission to clean up corruption in Thailand through People Power under the Constitution

Big Joke storms Royal Thai Police headquarters insisting that he is still the right man for the top job

Surachate drops case against the PM as his nameplate and photo have been removed at Royal Thai Police HQ

Big Joke lodges a malfeasance complaint with anti-corruption agency against PM Srettha Thavisin after losing job

Thailand’s oldest association endorses Big Joke after being fired Thursday amid a police corruption crisis

Surachate requests time as Bangkok police station weighs cases against him and the also suspended police chief

Big Joke urged to resign by pundit Jatuporn Prompan after arrest warrant and guilty finding by PM’s panel

Surachate released on bail. Emerged to speak briefly to reporters at 8 pm. Top cop appeared at ease, relaxed

Big shock: Arrest warrant issued by court in Bangkok against Big Joke or General Surachate Hakparn

Unprecedented crisis for the Royal Thai Police as Srettha baulks despite lawyer’s damning claims of corruption

Bangkok police still targeting Big Joke over BNK Master website case. Arrest warrant considered

Big Joke survives an alleged effort to discredit him. PM appoints temporary police chief and enquiry panel

Big Joke’s police career on the brink as police chief threatens to suspend the high profile top cop from job