Thailand: More than 400 police officers reprimanded or fired in recent internal affairs cleanup

in #government2 months ago

You don't need to live in this country for very long in order to quickly realize that the police operate outside of the law and are a very corrupt entity. This corruption has existed for so long that the locals seem to accept that it exists, and the population tolerates it as long as the police don't "get too greedy." There is very little in the way of what foreigners would consider to be law-enforcement here since many individuals and businesses are allowed to break laws if they give money to the right people. In Chiang Mai this is evident simply by going out after midnight since it is required that all places serving alcohol are required to close by midnight. You don't have to look for very long before you find places that are not even trying to hide the fact that they are open.

This is just the tip of the iceberg though, and is a relatively harmless aspect of the police corruption that exists in this country.


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The above is a random picture of Thai police officers, I'm not suggesting that any of these guys are guilty.

It is well-known that it is very important to secure the "friendship" of a police officer if you are a business owner here. I don't even own a business and I know this just by having some friends that are in this position. If you have a "friend" in uniform, you now have someone to call that can get you out of trouble even though a lot of the trouble comes from totally made up laws that are designed to steal money from the business in the form of something that has become known as "tea money." Basically it is a shakedown on the part of the police. When faced with officers coming in and asking for various certifications that don't exist, the business owner has two choices: They can pony up the cash, or the police are going to inconvenience their operations to the point where they will eventually be forced to close. It is a tragic system for the little guys, because the big operations already do this and will not face the same regulation that people who try to just operate.

One only need to go out at night to see this is the case. The large hotels operate nightclubs that are open well past the official closing time and they are not even covert about this. The police actually go by all the smaller places to ensure that they close by midnight while the large, rich places have parties and even advertised venues that go on all night long.

Now none of this matters to me on a personal level because I am rarely out that late anyway but I still don't like that it takes place.


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Another minor, but very-easy-to-find level of corruption that exists on a monthly basis is the "police checkpoint" system. It happens in the first week of every month right after everyone has received their monthly salary. These checkpoints only happen during this time and during it, virtually everyone who is not connected will be pulled over and a "crime" of some sort will be found. Even if you are operating 100% legally, they will inconvenience everyone, both foreign and local, until said person coughs up a couple of hundred Baht per person. Attempting to fight this process is possible and you will eventually succeed, but at the cost of half of a day and traveling to and from multiple police offices. It appears to be designed this way so that people will just pay the money rather than throw half of a working day away.

There are tons of other examples such as family members of police officers bypassing certain rules when operating a business and ever unequal treatment when guilty of a very serious crime such as was the case with the family member of the Red Bull empire who crashed his Ferrari into a police officer, and killed the cop. That guy never served a single day in prison despite drink driving, having possession of illegal class-A substances, and vehicular manslaughter.

Basically, everyone knows that the police force in Thailand is corrupt to the core.

Recently, the acting Prime Minister did an internal affairs "sting" of sorts that resulted in 170 police officers losing their jobs and 250 or so more getting reprimanded to some other degree. While this would be nice if it was something that happened regularly in an effort to actually overhaul the police force, I fear that this is merely a public relations move and the people who were fired were likely low-level officers that are merely serving as fall guys for the higher up officers that are where the true problem lies.

I don't mean to be overly pessimistic but I believe that the corruption in the police force in this country is too widespread for anything real to ever be done to it. I only have a few months left in this country - or so it appears as of late - but I'm not getting my hopes up that anything is actually going to change. In Chiang Mai where I live, the monthly police checkpoints continue in broad daylight without any changes to the system.

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