Authorities Respond to Questions About Missing Plaque With Arrests, Silence

Government transparency activist Srisuwan Janya is taken into military custody Tuesday morning at the military government's complaint center in Bangkok. Photo: Voice TV / Courtesy

Teeranai Charuvastra and Sasiwan Mokkhasen

BANGKOK — A transparency advocate was taken into military custody Tuesday when he arrived to file a complaint over the missing the 1932 Revolution plaque, as City Hall denies it has security camera footage of the incident and police say they won’t take action.

Srisuwan Janya, a familiar face for his more than 3,000 administrative and criminal complaints over alleged corruption and malfeasance, was taken into custody at the government’s petition center on Phitsanulok Road. Srisuwan had traveled to submit a letter addressed to the prime minister this morning asking him to bring to justice those who removed it and return the original plaque to its place in the Royal Plaza. It was unknown where he was taken, and he could not be reached by telephone.

The plaque, a modest brass marker commemorating Thailand’s 1932 revolution that led to the transition to a democratic, constitutional monarchy, was replaced earlier this month with a similar one bearing pro-monarchy inscriptions.

Read: Police Complaints Filed Over Missing Revolution Marker

A small protest near the site was broken up by police last night, and its leader taken into custody.

When Khaosod English this morning filed a request to view security camera footage of the period of time the plaque is thought to have been removed, a City Hall official in charge of the CCTV control room told a reporter such footage does not exist.

The Bangkok Metropolitan Administration, or BMA, operates the capital’s extensive network of CCTVs. The official said security cameras were disabled where the marker was located: The Royal Plaza, near an important monument to King Rama V and a short distance from the Ananta Samakom Throne Hall.

The official, who declined to give his name despite repeated inquiries, said the BMA recently rebuilt footpaths and roads in the Royal Plaza, so all CCTVs in the area had been removed.

“They had to take them out and rewire them,” the official said, adding that he didn’t know when the cameras would return.

As questions from the public grow louder to what happened to the historic plaque, which was removed without any notice, government officials remained notably silent. A police commander even suggested that his force cannot investigate the case because the public has no right to urge action over the plaque, a state property.

Reports on social media claim that the plaque was likely removed on the night of April 5. One photo purportedly shows tents erected over plaque’s location in the Royal Plaza, while a number of policemen are seen observing from afar.

On Monday, a group of student activists filed complaints with the police, urging them to investigate the plaque’s disappearance. But deputy police commissioner Srivara Ransibrahmanakul said it is not possible for police to do so.

Gen. Srivara told reporters Monday afternoon the activists have no legal standing to complain about its removal because they don’t own the historic relic.

“Is it their possession, or does it belong to someone else?” the police general said. “If they have proof that it is their belonging or heirloom, we will proceed with it.”

No one has claimed responsibility for its removal. Gen. Srivara’s stance echoed that of a hardline royalist who late last year threatened to dig out the plaque if no one claimed ownership of it. However Thepmontri Limpaphayorm said on his Facebook earlier this week that he had no part in it. Government spokesmen have also declined to speak to the media about the topic.

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