Red shirt pursuers at the mercy of new government

Red shirt pursuers at the mercy of new govt – Bangkok Post, July 7, 2011
The futures of Tharit Pengdit, director-general of the Department of Special Investigation, and national police chief Wichean Potephosree hang in the balance as the administration of the country shifts to the Pheu Thai Party.
Mr Tharit has handled the prosecution of red shirt protesters who support former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra, the de facto leader of the Pheu Thai Party, while Pol Gen Wichean, instead of Thaksin’s brother-in-law, was promoted to become national police chief by the outgoing Abhisit Vejjajiva government…

[2015 note: Like many Thai newspaper articles from the early days of the Thai internet, this article is no longer online. Below is the complete text of the original article.]

Red shirt pursuers at the mercy of new govt

The futures of Tharit Pengdit, director-general of the Department of Special Investigation, and national police chief Wichean Potephosree hang in the balance as the administration of the country shifts to the Pheu Thai Party.

Mr Tharit has handled the prosecution of red shirt protesters who support former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra, the de facto leader of the Pheu Thai Party, while Pol Gen Wichean, instead of Thaksin’s brother-in-law, was promoted to become national police chief by the outgoing Abhisit Vejjajiva government.

Wichean Khaokham, a Pheu Thai Party candidate who was elected in Udon Thani province, said yesterday he would attend a meeting of his party today and propose the transfer of Mr Tharit from the DSI.

Mr Wichean was among the red shirt protest leaders whom the DSI prosecuted on lese majeste charges.

He also wants the new government under the leadership of Pheu Thai to review legal action taken against red shirt demonstrators and rehabilitate them. He said that reconciliation could only happen when arrested red shirt protesters were released.

Many red shirt demonstrators have been detained since their protests last year. Some have been charged with lese majeste, terrorism and illegal assembly.

Apart from Mr Tharit, Pol Gen Wichean looks likely to be replaced. He served the Abhisit government and recently deployed police to drugs suppression unit 315 which Pheu Thai supporters viewed as an attempt to obstruct the party’s vote campaigning.

His promotion to police chief last year shattered the dream of Pol Gen Priewpan Damapong, elder brother of Thaksin’s ex-wife Khunying Potjaman na Pombejra. Pol Gen Priewpan complained that Pol Gen Wichean’s promotion overlooked him unfairly. Pol Gen Priewpan will reach retirement age in October next year but Pol Gen Wichean will do so in the following year.

Pol Gen Wichean said it would be understandable if the next government were to replace him as police chief. But he said he is a professional and that he followed the policies of his supervisors.

But, under the National Police Act, the next prime minister could only assign Pol Gen Wichean to assist another government agency and make Pol Gen Priewpan acting police chief. The official position of the national police chief would remain with Pol Gen Wichean.

Pol Gen Priewpan could only officially take over the role if Pol Gen Wichean agreed to leave the Royal Thai Police Office to work for another agency.

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