Readers' Submissions

The Royal Thai Police Force




There was a submission in the middle of September by Rik in which he complained bitterly about being asked to make a small donation into the police fund for a ‘driving offence’. Boy! He’s been here 23 times, and that’s the worst he has to say about those gallant upholders of law and order?

There is often talk of the Thai Mafia being involved in this or that, without any shred of evidence that such a thing exists. I’m sure that most of the time people are referring to small-time criminals or gangs. Thailand doesn’t need the Mafia. There isn’t room for them, because much of the organised crime – murder, kidnapping, extortion, intimidation, drug dealing, protection, torture, child prostitution, running illegal gambling and drinking dens – is already controlled by a group of people. It’s called the Royal Thai Police Force.

There are countless and endless stories of members of the Royal Thai Police Force being actively involved in every type of crime imaginable, and it’s tempting to think that if the force was disbanded then crime would be reduced by 80 percent. No doubt someone else would soon fill the gap. How many actually realise they are bringing the country into international disrepute.

Here’s a quote reported by Australian broadcaster SBS, from Kraisak Choonhavan, a Thai member of parliament (whose members are often in cahoots with the Royal Thai Police Force). “The police in Thailand are probably one of most corrupt corps anywhere in the world. Many of the killings, many of the murders and assassins (sic) are carried out by policemen as hired assassins.” He’s not alone. A report by the United Nations described them as organised criminals.

Here are some examples they quoted. A border patrol unit were found to have been abducting and torturing people and forcing them to admit to drugs charges. Over 100 people lodged complaints. Then there was a scam involving the police and car rental companies. The gang deceived people to buy new cars and rent them out through car rental companies, which promised them high rental fees. But the victims lost their cars and never got to see the money they had been promised. The cars were stolen and sold on, over 1200 of them. The activity was only discovered when a former owner spotted his vehicle in a police station yard, awaiting transfer to a new ‘owner’. The crime even involved police from the Special Branch. The report states that the police force is beyond the law, with occasional talk of reform coming to nothing.

In another case, eight police officers were arrested for kidnapping a wealthy businesswoman and her two children and demanding an 8.6 million baht ransom. Then there is the situation in which many businesses are in need of ‘protection’ in Thailand, and I read of a story in which a bar owner refused to pay because business was bad. After three visits by the men in brown failed in them filling their pockets, a group of Thais came into the bar and pretended to play cards. Shortly after, just by chance, three police arrived, ‘arrested’ the card players, and closed down the bar. Simple, isn’t it. Police, naturally, get free food and drink at any place they care to visit, to ensure ‘goodwill’.

Police are always happiest if they can spot a foreigner and take advantage of their ‘wealth’. The 2000 baht fine for dropping cigarette butts provides a perfect money earner for them, even if the victim isn’t a smoker. All the police have to do is drop a butt close to the nearest foreigner and accuse him, and after arguing the victim is often forced to hand over a few hundred baht just to get away. In fact, Stickman once saw the shakedown, the police doing their bit to promote the Land Of Smiles to visiting tourists, at Siam BTS, and it was only him getting his camera out to record the episode that allowed the victims to escape. Guess what they told their family and friends about Thailand when they got back home.

But the case that really disgusts me was that of a factory worker and karaoke singer who had her arm chopped off because she refused to sit with a drunk Royal Thai Police officer and his friends while she was sitting alone having dinner. He tried to use his police badge as an ‘incentive’, together with his gun. She still said no. When she left on her little motorcycle she was threatened, and while she was riding home she was chased by the men on two motorbikes and had her arm chopped off with a machete. Naturally, she fell off her bike, breaking her leg in three places. All for saying no to some drunk. What happened when she reported the assault? The police saw her in hospital the next day and said that as she was in shock she was therefore not in a position to testify. That was that. The police tried to treat it as an accident, and it was only when she travelled to Bangkok and begged the National Police Chief for action that the assault came to light. A young woman’s life was ruined by a drunken thug and, instead of his superiors upholding the law, they tried to cover up the crime. Part of the culture, I suppose. After the victim eventually forced an investigation the three men were charged with attempted murder. And the police provided her with a prosthetic limb. That was nice of them. Now she sells garlands of flowers around restaurants and cafes.

Someone who has regular involvement with the Royal Thai Police force because he works with the rescue services said he has witnessed all kinds of abuses of power by these noble officers, including covering up a death at the police station, and trying to blackmail him into trapping foreigners into buying drugs. He also knows policemen who, he says, are drug dealers and murderers. If you cannot trust the police, and in Thailand nobody does, then the entire fabric of society breaks down. Because not only are many of them corrupt, but many actually commit the crimes they are there to prevent. Many fear to report a crime, because they know that it will not only never be investigated, but if they are poor they are likely to be victimised. I have a relative, a quiet decent man. I was in his car when a member of the scum waved him over for some imaginary offence. I have never seen anyone actually tremble before, but my relative did. This was when ‘greeted’ by a person that is supposed to instil confidence and trust. In Thailand they do exactly the opposite.

Stickman's thoughts:

I have got mixed feelings on the Thai police. In my personal dealings with them, and here I mean going about my everyday life, I have found them generally to be fair. Once or twice they have tried it on with when I have been driving but generally they are fair.

The other side of the coin is that things often work in our favour! I mean, paying 100 baht for a traffic infringement instead of being issued with an official fine – which will cost many times more AND getting demerit points on your licence to say nothing of the time it takes to get your licence back. "Situations" can be resolved quickly.

In the case of the policeman who hacked off the girl's arm, well of course that is terrible. I am not defending him here because what he did was so horribly wrong, but it needs to be understood that that was an off-duty policeman. There are bad cops in every police force in the world. I note one of your British cops was arrested in Pattaya this week for selling drugs!

I know two cops personally and both are very decent family men.

But yes, there are some outrageous stories in the press about the Thai police that really are scary and for sure, there are some rotten apples in the force.