Sending Messages: The arrest of Thaksin loyalist Kamronwit in Japan

Above: The much discussed photo of Metropolitan Police Commissioner Pol Lt General Kamronwit Thupkrajang who credited his promotion to Thaksin and had Thaksin pin on his new rank insignia.

News of the arrest of Thaksin loyalist Kamronwit Thoopkrachang in Japan while carrying a handgun and ammunition once again places the Thaksin loyalist in the news.

Kamronwit was former Commander of the Metropolitan Police Bureau (purged from his post after the 2014 coup) who gained fame by openly acknowledging that he owed his post to personally lobbying Thaksin in Hong Kong.

The arrest has generated waves of rumors about Kamronwit being set up in retaliation for the recent show of defiance by current Chief of Police Somyot Poompanmuang.

Chief of Police Somyot Poompanmuang’s stunning ability to simply reject public calls by the junta to carry out their orders to strip Thaksin of his rank, even after the junta abandoned plans to reorganize the police force, demonstrates the limits of PM Prayuth’s absolute power.

Somyot’s further trumpeting of an old Thaksin favorite–legalization of gambling–in the face of junta opposition further underlines the continuing ability of the police to resist military influence.

In the Thai world messages are sent by employing hyper partisan figures to go after enemies. Kamronwit, an open Thaksin loyalist, has been part of this strategy when he personally assigned 13 police officers to investigate the Democrats in 2012. He was also front and center when assigning an officer accused in the notorious disappearance of human-rights activist Somchai Neelaphaijit during Thaksin’s time as PM to make the arrest in the Akeyuth murder case.

Even if one believes Akeyuth’s disappearance and murder was not connected to politics and was not ordered by Thaksin, the very strategic assignment of a police officer, notorious for his involvement in another enforced disappearance, to investigate the case was intended to send a message. The message was that Akeyuth’s murder was political retaliation and that the investigation would be quickly closed. It was meant to underline the impunity of the police (and those who control them) and create a climate of fear among those who dare oppose Thaksin.

Kamronwit’s arrest in Japan is most likely a fluke unrelated to any conspiracies against him. However, to some who see the incident as a message being sent, it is a strike at high-profile people who are loyal to Thaksin and a warning to those who oppose the new military order that they can be sidelined.

Update: Jail term awaits Kamronwit in Thailand Editor Ron Morris’ book, The Thai Book: A Field Guide to Thai Political Motivations, is available in the Kindle Store.

Below are some past mentions of Kamronwit in the media. His admission that Thaksin decided government promotions from Hong Kong made him a perennial target for editorial cartoonists.

Above: From Manager, January 1, 2014
Commander of the Metropolitan Police Bureau, Pol. Maj. Gen. Kamronwit Thoopkrachang: A third hand shot a policeman and other protesters.
[A “third hand” means the third party. This refers to the clash between riot police and protesters at the Thai-Japanese stadium on December 26, 2013. Anti-government protesters were gathering to prevent candidates registering for the upcoming elections.
This cartoon expresses skepticism that the shootings that occurred there were not carried out by the police themselves. The police later seemed to confirm that the “men in black” photographed on a rooftop were indeed police officers. This incident is similar to the army snipers who shot at Red Shirts trying to continue on their protest in a temple in 2010. It demonstrates that both the police and the army are political entities that side with one side or another in the interest of protecting their status and prerogatives.]

2014: Thaksin’s Songkran message: Let’s forgive and forget
…While in Hong Kong, Thaksin is expected to meet with several former Pheu Thai Party MPs and other supporters.
He has already met with Metropolitan Police Bureau chief Kamronwit Thoopkrachang, who has drawn criticism for his outspoken admiration of Thaksin.

2014: Thai police reshuffle confirms Thaksin Shinawatra’s inner circle retain a firm grip on key posts
…Metropolitan Police Bureau (MPB) commissioner Kamronwit Thoopkrachang was given the nod from Thaksin to compile the reshuffle list himself, a police source said.
Despite strong reservations from politicians, Pol Lt Gen Kamronwit’s line-up appeared to have taken place without a hitch. It is believed he keeps in direct contact with Thaksin…

2013: Thai editorial cartoon – If the amnesty bill is ratified… the person in Dubai must hang this sign

2013: Thai editorial cartoon – Adul and Thaksin

2013: Thai editorial cartoon – The Ombudsman
[This refers to the double standards that pro-Thaksin and Red Shirts complain about. The Ombudsman is going after a police officer who openly lobbied Thaksin for his post while ignoring Democrat antics in parliament.]

2013: Thai editorial cartoon – The Royal Thai Police Chief must warn Jaed

2013: Govt sends a signal – Officer accused in disappearance of human-rights activist Somchai brought in to make arrest in the Akeyuth case

2013: Do police in charge of Akeyuth investigation really owe allegiance to Thaksin?

2013: Thai editorial cartoon – Weird Logic
…Reference is to a giant Chinese firecracker thrown at the security post of the Thai Rath newspaper office at the middle of the night on May 11. After a preliminary investigation, Pol. Lt. Gen. Kamronvit Thoopkrachang, Commander of the Metropolitan Police Bureau, told the press that it was likely that the unknown suspects aimed to mislead the public to believe the incident was caused by Red Shirts in vengeance of the cartoonist’s hate speech against Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra following her speech in Mongolia last month. Since there was no evidence in any direction other than constant protests by angry Red Shirts over previous weeks, it seemed unusual that the police would not then assume some of the Red Shirts were involved as a likely suspect…

2013: Thai editorial cartoon – Good news brothers…

2012: Thai editorial cartoon – They Know They Owe Their Jobs to Thaksin

2012: Thaksin’s Police Chief assigns 13 cops to investigate top Democrats

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