Big Joke booted out. Police Commission Votes 12-0 to oust Surachate Hakparn from government service. Backdated order to April 18th. Defiant Surachate, aka Big Joke,  previously vowed a legal fight against the PM and reinstated Police Chief Torsak.

On Wednesday, in a unanimous 12-0 vote, the Police Commission chaired by Prime Minister Srettha Thavisin affirmed the removal of Big Joke, or General Surachate Hakparn, from the force. The decision goes against advice from the Council of State, which suggested that the April 18th order to remove the top cop was illegitimate. In effect, today’s decision means General Surachate was removed when Prime Minister Srettha Thavisin endorsed an order then drawn up by Acting Police Chief General Kittirat Phanphet. The decision is a controversial one. It comes after last week’s panel report confirming widespread conflict within the troubled police force.

General Surachate Hakparn, or Big Joke, addressed reporters this week as he threatened to sue the Prime Minister for malfeasance if he failed to order his reinstatement at Wednesday’s Police Commission meeting. Afterwards, the outcome was not good for Big Joke. The PM chaired the meeting, which voted unanimously to ensure his removal from government service on April 18th. (Inset) Prime Minister Srettha Thavisin was welcomed at Royal Thai Police headquarters on Wednesday by Police Chief General Torsak Sukwimol. (Source: Khaosod and ThaiRath)

The Police Commission on Wednesday afternoon, after a marathon session, effectively removed Deputy National Police Chief General Surachate Hakparn from government service.

The decision comes in the wake of last Thursday’s announcement from the government’s legal advisor Wissanu Krea-ngam, reinstating General Torsak Sukwimol as Police Chief.

Vote of the Police Commission meeting Chaired by Prime Minister Srettha Thavisin was unanimous. 12-0 voted to affirm the April 18th order removing Big Joke

The vote at Wednesday’s meeting, chaired by Prime Minister Srettha Thavisin, was unanimous, with 12 voting in favour of affirming the April 18th order removing General Surachate from government service.

It comes despite advice from the Council of State, which suggested that the order lacked legitimacy. In addition, it also flies in the face of previous decisions on the matter.

In the days after the contentious April 18th order endorsed by the Prime Minister, General Surachate threatened to issue legal proceedings against the PM. Subsequently, he withdrew the threat and apologised to Mr Srettha.

Nonetheless, following a report by a three-member panel headed by former Ministry of the Interior official Chatchai Promlert, there was a shift in thinking.

Massive and ongoing conflict within the Royal Thai Police at all levels. Big Joke had to go and the PM’s panel did appear to confirm claims by Big Joke’s lawyers

That report confirmed massive conflict at all levels within the Royal Thai Police.

Certainly, it left more questions than answers in its wake. It identified two groups of feuding officers and grievances going back as far as 10 years ago.

Indeed the report confirmed claims made by General Surachate Hakparn’s lawyers that there was a movement against him. Undoubtedly, the antagonism was there between two distinct groups led by both officers.

The panel was established by Prime Minister Srettha Thavisin on March 19th. It came following claims by Big Joke’s lawyers of rampant police corruption. Those allegations also included systemic corruption.

Consequently, both General Torsak Sukwimol and General Surachate Hakparn were temporarily removed, and the investigative panel was created. However, the report was vague, and its ultimate conclusions have failed to allay public concern.

Subsequently, after March 19th, police at Tao Poon Police Station continued a prosecution process against General Surachate.

Prosecution pursued by Bangkok’s Tao Poon Police Station ran contrary to the spirit of the deal agreed on March 19th when both officers were sidelined

This ran directly counter to assurances given after the Prime Minister’s intervention on March 19th. Previously, lawyers for General Surachate had sought assurances in this regard.

At length, the top cop failed to respond to the summons issued. In turn, this led to an arrest warrant being issued by the Criminal Court at Ratchadapisek Road in Bangkok.

Afterwards, this triggered a disciplinary process within the Royal Thai Police, effected by Acting Police Chief General Kittirat Phanphet.

In effect, this has led to today’s decision, and what looks like General Surachate’s, or ‘Big Joke’s,’ downfall.

Certainly, had General Surachate not been subject to this prosecution, he is likely to have succeeded this year as police chief.

Certainly, in addition, problems have crept into the unfolding saga. The depth and level of corruption within the Royal Thai Police appear so byzantine that reporting on it, or even trying to come to conclusions, at this point, represents an insurmountable challenge.

Report to the government was disturbing. In short, it appears to link a number of high-profile cases in which General Surachate was pursuing corruption

The report presented to the government last week blithely links the Kamnan Nok scandal with the huge investigations linked with massive online gambling corruption.

In two key cases, General Surachate Hakparn was seen to be investigating and prosecuting senior policemen. He was also delving into deeper levels and systems of corruption. In short, this extended into the civil service and local networks.

Kamnan murder case sees probe into possible corruption in Ministry of Interior contract bids

Unquestionably, a concerted campaign was launched and unfolded to remove General Surachate Hakparn from the police force.

In the meantime, questions have certainly arisen about the officer himself.

Notwithstanding this, the government appears to have focused its attention on the potential damage caused by internal conflict within the force.

Big Tor was reinstated but Big Joke’s fate is not yet decided. Massive internal police conflict confirmed
Big shock: Arrest warrant issued by a court in Bangkok against Big Joke or General Surachate Hakparn
Big Joke’s career suffers another setback as Torsak gets top job after Police Commission meeting

Undoubtedly, the government has been told that the conflict in the ranks must be a key consideration. In short, internal opposition to General Surachate has become an issue in itself.

Big Joke has defended himself virulently this week. He claims to be innocent until proven guilty. Certainly, he demanded that the Prime Minister reinstate him

Nonetheless, the senior officer, in his defence in recent days, pointed out that he remains innocent of any wrongdoing. At the same time, he has issued defamation proceedings against key individuals, with more to follow.

The former high-profile candidate, considered a shoo-in last year for the job as police chief and even this year, now has only one legal recourse.

That is to take his case to the Administrative Court. In addition, a committee within the Royal Thai Police is also reviewing General Surachate’s case.

This was pointed out on Tuesday by government aide Wissanu Krea-ngam, who at the time strongly advised General Surachate not to sue the Prime Minister.

This week, Big Joke accused the Prime Minister of a lack of leadership.

He said he had failed to tackle rampant corruption now identified within the force. In addition, he accused the PM of malfeasance in the handling of his case.

This week, he affirmed that Mr Srettha Thavisin was duty-bound to reinstate him. In short, the PM later declined.

Reaction from General Surachate is now widely anticipated to see if this fight will move forward to the courts. For now, Big Joke is no longer a policeman

The now former top cop has threatened to launch complaints for malfeasance against both Prime Minister Srettha Thavisin and reinstated police chief General Torsak.

Today’s decision must still be endorsed by His Majesty the King. The decision has the legal effect of making the April 18th order legitimate.

On Thursday, the reinstated police chief General Torsak Sukwimol and General Kittirat Phanphet were on hand to welcome the PM when he arrived at Police Headquarters. The meeting took place on the first floor as normal.

New role may be opening for the former top cop

The meeting commenced at 3 pm, with Prime Minister Srettha Thavisin leaving at 5:30 pm, escorted out by General Torsak. The PM informed reporters that the fateful meeting was not yet completed.

Undoubtedly, we can expect further developments and legal fallout from this story, in particular, the reaction of General Surachate Hakparn.

Later, we also expect further clarification from government officials.

Presently, by law, Big Joke is no longer a policeman.

In the meantime, General Surachate has opened up an activist website to hear public complaints. 

At the same time, one of his known allies and well-known lawyer, Lawyer Sittra Biebangkerd is vying for a new role.

The famous lawyer relentlessly pursued a criminal complaint against police chief General Torsak Sukwimol. However, he is presently among the last 3,000 candidates in the final race to be elected to the next Thai Senate.

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Further reading:

Big Tor was reinstated but Big Joke’s fate is not yet decided. Massive internal police conflict confirmed

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