But that is exactly what has happened on this tourism-dependent isle. (See story here.)
It’s no secret that the Royal Thai Police are under immense public pressure, especially following the very suspicious initial lack of action against Janepob Veeraporn for the high-speed car crash in Ayutthaya.
Only due to public pressure over this case has an investigation been launched into why police dragged their heels for so long in the 2012 hit-and-run case involving Vorayuth Yoovidhya, the youngest son of Red Bull executive Chalerm Yoovidhya, that the statute of limitations expired on charging the energy drink empire heir. And that case saw an officer from the police’s own ranks killed.
And all this follows the notorious handling of the Koh Tao murder trial.
Graham Catterwell, one the dozens of experts called on for advice for drafting the new Constitution – though with some advice heeded, and other key suggestions ignored – in Phuket last year said he rated the success of each successive “regime change” in Thailand by how effective the police force was after each coup.
If calling the army in to supplement – or monitor – police in carrying out their work is any indication, apparently this current round is not going well.
The rationale for this latest move seems clear that the army is believed likely to be more impartial in executing police action, as military personnel failing to perform their duties can face court martial.
Yet to avoid the same public image the police have suffered, the military will need to keep their own house clean. The current administration, probably through its many highly public experiences over the past two years, seems to be starting to understand that justice not only needs to be be done, but must be seen to be done.
If the army is to avoid the same pitfalls that seem to have snared the police, they will have to tread warily through the minefield of ensuring that no army personnel of any rank is found having any vested interested – financial or otherwise – in any affairs on which the army is supposed to be executing the law.