‘Big Joke’ Sues Newspaper Over Fraud Claim

Surachate Hakparn poses by a “No tips please” sign at Don Mueang Airport on Oct. 4, 2018.

BANGKOK — A newspaper said on Wednesday that it is being sued for libel by a former immigration bureau chief.

Surachate “Big Joke” Hakparn filed the suit via his lawyers at Ratchadapisek Criminal Court today, according to Manager Online. The newspaper had accused the disgraced policeman of swindling millions from the state by selling “fast-tracked immigration” tickets to tour groups.

The reports quoted unnamed airport officials as saying that Surachate charged 500 baht per pass.

Surachate’s attorneys denied the accusations, arguing their his reputation has been damaged by Manager Online’s coverage. The lawsuit calls upon Manager Online’s editors to remove the allegations and post an apology to Surachate.

The suit also demands similar apologies be published in Thairath, Daily News, Khaosod and Matichon newspapers.

A court date is scheduled for July 15.

Surachate headed the immigration bureau until the government abruptly removed him from the police force in April without explanation. The former police lieutenant was transferred to an obscure civilian post and has not been seen in public for weeks.