Police shake-up smacks of Thaksin

The recent nationwide police reshuffle has confirmed that those from former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra's inner circle retain a firm grip on key posts.

The restructure ranged from the ranks of deputy commander to inspector and was formally announced by the Royal Thai Police Office on Wednesday.

The reshuffle was deferred from November last year, a move critics believe was intended to deflect criticism the new line-up was designed to wrest control of the Feb 2 general election.

Among the thousands of posts in the shake-up, the focus inevitably rests with investigators, who are responsible for core police work.

Metropolitan Police Bureau (MPB) commissioner Kamronwit Thoopkrachang was given the nod from Thaksin to compile the reshuffle list himself, a police source said.

Despite strong reservations from politicians, Pol Lt Gen Kamronwit's line-up appeared to have taken place without a hitch. It is believed he keeps in direct contact with Thaksin.

At the MPB's Investigation Division, only a small reshuffle was made.

Pol Lt Col Atthaporn Suriyalert — deputy superintendent of investigation sub-division 2 at the MPB investigation division, known to have impressed Pol Lt Gen Kamronwit with its excellent record of car theft suppression — was moved to the post of superintendent of the MPB Intelligence Analysis and Special Tools.

Pol Lt Col Noppasit Mitpakdi, deputy investigation superintendent of the Metropolitan Police Division 5, was promoted to a superintendent position in Division 6. He has jurisdiction in Bangkok's business area Silom, and nightlife hotspot Patpong.

Pol Lt Col Noppasit is known to be close to caretaker Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra, the source said.

Metropolitan Police Division 8 covering Thon Buri — an area where gambling dens have been raided by police — saw a new investigation superintendent installed.

Pol Col Uthane Nuipin, who enjoys close ties with Pol Lt Gen Kamronwit, hails from Ang Thong province where he served as chief of police administration.

Another of Pol Lt Gen Kamronwit's allies, Pol Col Wachirapong Kaewduang, chief of Bang Pahan station in Ayutthaya, was shifted to the investigation superintendent post at the Metropolitan Police Division 9.

At the Provincial Police Region bureau, some transfers of investigators have also taken place. Most of them involve officers with connections to Thaksin, the source said.

Pol Col Thitiwat Suriyachai, superintendent of investigation sub-division 1 at Provincial Police Region 2, was transferred to the investigation superintendent seat of Chon Buri police. He is known to be close with former national police chief Priewpan Damapong, the elder brother of Thaksin's ex-wife Khunying Potjaman na Pombejra.

Pol Col Thitiwat now works under Thaksin's nephew-in-law, Pol Lt Gen Winai Thongsong.

In the Pheu Thai Party stronghold of Regional Police Region 5, which covers the upper North, a handful of investigators were transferred because most of their work in the past appeared to satisfy the government, the source said. Provincial Police Region 6, which covers the lower North, also saw some investigators with strong links to the government receiving promotions.

At Provincial Police Region 7, which oversees the western provinces, the only surprise was the transfer of Pol Col Chuan Chitprasert from superintendent of investigation sub-division 3 to investigation chief of Phetchaburi provincial police. The shake-up was believed to be driven by Pol Gen Assawin Kwanmuang, who is deputy Bangkok governor. As the Bangkok Metropolitan Administration is dominated by the Democrat Party, Pol Gen Assawin is seen not to be on the government's side.

Contact Crime Track: crimetrack@bangkokpost.co.th

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