Deputy PM General Prawit Wongsuwan has instructed the Internal Security Operations Command (Isoc), police, Army and related administrative officials to proceed with the implementation of a well-rounded solution to the problem of people reeling under huge debts after falling victim to unfair contracts with loan sharks.
Defence Ministry spokesman Lt-General Kongcheep Tantravanich on Monday said that Prawit, who is also defence minister and the deputy premier overseeing police affairs, had urged Isoc to coordinate all related agencies’ cooperation to tackle the woes faced by illegal money-lenders’ victims by negotiating for debt release, new and fair loan contracts, and by strictly enforcing the law.
Under the new drive, once officers search and seize properties and arrest illegal money-lenders, police would eventually return the assets that loan sharks had unfairly seized from their debtors to the rightful owners, especially land and house title deeds, so that borrowers could get back on their feet again, Kongcheep said.
The spokesman also quoted Prawit as instructing the agencies to boost people’s access to legal loans, especially those arranged by the state, promote debtors’ vocational skills to enable them to generate sufficient income, and to follow up by providing mental rehabilitation for terrorised debtors to prevent them from suffering extreme stress that can lead to family problems and/or violence.
Those being threatened by loan sharks can call the 1155 hotline or file a complaint to their provincial Dhamrongtham Centre, he added.
In the meantime, national police chief Pol General Chakthip Chaijinda vowed to crack down on loan sharks across the country – including those with alleged ties to uniformed influential figures – following the case in which a 46-year-old Bangkok resident, Natthasak Khamkhern, last Thursday killed his 25-year-old wife and two children, aged one and five, before attempting to commit suicide at their shop house in Khlong Sam Wa district.
Natthasak claimed that “the family had mutually agreed to die to avoid harm from a loan shark’s threat”.
In the latest development concerning the triple killing, Metropolitan Police Bureau Division 3 deputy chief Pol Colonel Charnwit Phumpho on Monday said police had already taken into custody and presented to a court four illegal money-lenders, from whom Natthasak had borrowed money at a beyond-legal interest rate, for the charges of public fraud and charging an illegal loan interest rate.
A remorseful Natthasak, who has confessed to the killing of his wife and children, was still recovering from his self-inflicted serious injury and as of press time was being held by police at a hospital.
It is expected that within a week, doctors would be able to release him so that police could move him for detention to Min Buri Prison and Correctional Facility, Charnwit added.
A police source said that Natthasak, in order to fund his audio-system shop, had borrowed from multiple loan sharks in Pathum Thani, with the highest amount said to be Bt50,000 from a single moneylender.
He soon fell behind with his repayments, resulting in huge debts – for which he reportedly had to pay a total of Bt8,000 per day to multiple lenders – and immense stress that allegedly drove him to kill his family members and try to commit suicide.
Meanwhile, relatives on Monday brought monks to perform a rite in the early morning to invite the three deceased victims’ spirits to depart the scene of their violent deaths and travel to Wat Bumpen Nua, where the cremation ceremony was due to be held at 5pm.