They have weathered such storms before, and if they choose to bow to public pressure as they have at times before, they just retire a scapegoat early and nothing of consequence ever changes. Each time they successfully dupe much of the Thai public that the problem has been “solved”, at least for now.
What is not hitting print is the context in which all this is happening. The Royal Thai Police give no recognition whatsoever to the fact that they are a taxpayer-funded service – not an extension of an almighty military. This extends to their colleagues at the Immigration Bureau, which operates under the Royal Thai Police and whose officers are generally are unable to distinguish from when they are to act like police officers and arrest criminals or when they are serving customers – that is, tourists and other foreigners – who are paying fees for a service.
Instead, while there are always some good guys locked in a crooked system, the general attitude throughout the ranks reeks of superiority and that the public must bow down to their authority.
Even in Phuket the transfer of 10 top-ranking police officers under investigation for allowing illegal gambling dens to operate in their areas remains silenced. So far any attempts by The Phuket News to obtain a simple update on the progress of the investigation is stonewalled by a combination of only one high-ranking officer being permitted to comment on the investigation, and that officer permanently being unavailable for comment. This is what happens when police investigate police, and no wonder that espoused anti-corruption efforts have failed for decades.
Back at the national level, one could hope that they might realise that the Boss fallout is echoing around the world in headlines, right when the government is in the middle of a sales pitch announcing how wonderful Thailand would be to visit once international travel returns.
But that would be hope only. The truth is that such a debacle as the “Boss bungle” would normally see the government of the day take a hit in their popularity and the impression among the voting public of exactly how they are running the country. However, while the nation remains under the Emergency Decree, that point just doesn’t matter. The powers that be can carry on regardless.
There will be no elections in the foreseeable future for any national party to worry about. Even the funds for local elections for town mayors, municipality councilors and tambon administration organisation (OrBorTor) councils has been re-assigned, reportedly, to bolster the B1.9 trillion COVID relief projects – which oddly many people, and businesses, have yet to benefit from.
At this point let’s be clear that Phuket’s two elected Members of Parliament are both members of the Palang Pracharath Party, that is the military-aligned government currently running the country. Yet all through this crisis these two so-called representatives have been nigh invisible.
This brings us to the other end of the power spectrum and the students who recently held their “rally for democracy” in Phuket. While the rally at Saphan Hin seemed to be nothing more than an extension of other protests held throughout the country, what the students in Phuket seemed to be forgetting to highlight was that while the Emergency Decree remains in effect, even attempts to garner a quorum to file a no-confidence motion against these local MPs to force a by-election would be futile. Right now, there is no way to hold these MPs accountable for their lack of effort to support the very people who elected them.
While the Emergency Decree remains in force, all this is moot. That’s pretty convenient.