SUPHAN BURI — The police commander of Suphan Buri province has been transferred two days after he ordered a group of newly appointed police officers in the area to pay respect to an influential former Prime Minister.
Pol.Maj.Gen. Chatcharin Sawangwong was instructed to leave his current post in an urgent notice issued yesterday evening by the 7th Region Police headquarters. The order stated that Pol.Maj.Gen. Chatcharin will be informed of his new duties after he reports personally to the headquarters at 8.30 am today.
Although the notice did not state any reason for his transfer, several police officers privately told Khaosod that Pol.Maj.Gen. Chatcharin was removed because he ordered 28 recently promoted Suphan Buri police officers to personally pay respect to former Prime Minister Banharn Silpa-archa at his residence.
The directive, which was issued on 25 January, instructed the officers to meet with Banharn at 7.30 am on 27 January.
“The instruction described in point 1 of this document is the policy of Suphan Buri Police. Therefore, the officers must attend the aforementioned meeting without exception. All officers must also be punctual,” the order reads.
After the order was leaked and began circulating on social media, many internet users criticized Pol.Maj.Gen. Chatcharin’s order as an attempt to instill loyalty among the police force to a local politician. Banharn, who led the Thai government from 1995 to 1996, is an extremely influential figure in his home province of Suphan Buri.
Banharn is regularly cited as an example of the “Godfather” politics that characterizes many parts of Thailand. Other examples include the political domains of Newin Chidchob in Buriram, Somchai Khunpluem in Chonburi, and Thaksin Shinawatra in Chiang Mai, among others.
Following the outcry, Pol.Maj.Gen. Chatcharin issued another order on 26 January to cancel the meeting between the officers and former Prime Minister Banharn, citing “the ongoing political situation” and “other reasons.”