Former Immigration Bureau chief Police Lt-General Surachate Hakparn will not be investigated regarding his transfer from the Royal Thai Police to the Prime Minister’s Office, Deputy Prime Minister General Prawit Wongsuwan said on Friday.
In effect, Prawit dismissed speculation of an imminent investigation against Surachate, who was once a prominent rising star in the police force.
Speculation had pointed to alleged irregularities involving personnel transfers of senior police officers.
General Prawit, who oversees the police, was asked by reporters at the Royal Thai Police headquarters on Friday whether Surachate would be investigated regarding his transfer out of the police force.
“Investigation about what? No investigation committee has been appointed. Not at all. It’s over already,” Prawit replied.
When asked about the reason for Surachate’s transfer, Prawit said: “I don't know. Ask him if you want to know.”
Surachate, also known by his nickname “Big Joke”, is close to General Prawit, who is also serving as the defence minister.
General Prawit was at the headquarters to chair a meeting of the Police Commission regarding the appointment of force commanders following Surachate’s transfer. National police chief Pol General Chakthip Chaijinda and his deputies also attended the meeting.
The meeting, which lasted about 45 minutes, resolved to appoint Border Patrol Police commander Pol Lt-General Sompong Chingduang as the new commander of the Immigration Bureau to fill the seat left vacant following Surachate’s transfer.
The high-ranking meeting also decided to appoint Pol Lt-General Wichit Paksa, commander attached to the national police chief's office, as the new Border Patrol Police commander, replacing Sompong.
Once a regular headline-maker dealing with high-profile cases, Surachate was on April 9 moved out of the Royal Thai Police to the Prime Minister’s Office at the order of Prime Minister General Prayut Chan-o-cha in his capacity as the head of the ruling National Council for Peace and Order.
The order appointed Surachate as a special adviser at the Prime Minister’s Office, a position considered inactive. No reason was given for Surachate’s transfer, first out of the Immigration Bureau and then out of the police altogether.