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The South China Morning Post of January 19, 2009

Thai Army Officer With Links to 'Pushbacks' Faces Arrest for Alleged Human Trafficking

Monday, June 1, 2015
PHUKET: A Thai court has approved an arrest warrant for the Army's Major General Manat Kongpan, who becomes the most senior official in Thailand so far to be accused of smuggling Rohingya boatpeople.

Phuketwan first encountered the major general back in 2008, when he was a colonel based in Ranong and connected to the inhumane ''pushbacks'' of boatpeople from Thailand.

In January 2009, the South China Morning Post newspaper in Hong Kong published a photograph of the colonel on Koh Sai Dang - Red Sand Island - where Rohingya were held in barbed wire enclosures before being pushed out to sea in boats with no means of propulsion.

Hundreds are thought to have died before survivors washed up in two boats, one on the Indian territory of Andaman and Nicobar islands and the other in Indonesia.

Phuketwan journalists Chutima Sidasathian and Alan Morison worked with the Post to break the news of the Rohingya pushbacks from Thailand.

The Prime Minister at the time, Abhisit Vejjajiva, promised an investigation, but no probe followed.

The colonel's career flourished and he continued to hold the senior position in the Army's Internal Security Operations Command, based on the Thai-Burmese border, north of Phuket.

The 58-year-old colonel has since been promoted and moved from Ranong to become a senior Royal Thai Army adviser.

The major general becomes the most senior official to have been accused in the month since the human-trafficking scandal was revealed with the discovery of scores of graves at secret jungle camps along the Thai-Malaysia border.

Scores more graves have also been discovered on the Malaysian side of the border, with an unknown number of trafficking victims stranded at sea because of the breach in the people-trade pipeline from Burma and Bangladesh.

Back in 2008-2009, any boatpeople apprehended along Thailand's Andaman coast were trucked north to be given over to ISOC, which kept the Rohingya in secret on Koh Sai Dang until there were sufficient numbers to justify towing out to sea the unwanted arrivals on large, obsolete vessels.

The boatpeople were then cut adrift.

The ''pushback'' policy was replaced with the ''help on'' policy soon after the Phuketwan journalists, working with the South China Morning Post, revealed what was happening.

Reports tonight said Major General Manat had surrendered to police but Phuketwan was unable to confirm that he had given himself up.

The Na Thawi Provincial Court in Songkhla province agreed on Sunday to a police request for the warrant. Eighty-two warrants have so far been issued, with 51 suspects detained.

WATCH How Trafficking Works
Phuketwan Investigative reporter Chutima Sidasathian, still being sued for criminal defamation over a Reuters paragraph: ''It's worse and worse, day by day. Nobody cares''.

LISTEN The Rohingya Solution
A tragedy almost beyond words has been unfolding in Thailand, where a human smuggling network is thriving with the full knowledge of some corrupt law enforcement officers. Alan Morison of Phuketwan talks to Australia's AM program.

Declaration of Interest: In July, Phuketwan journalists Alan Morison and Chutima Sidasathian face the continuation of a trial over criminal defamation and Computer Crimes Act charges brought by the Royal Thai Navy, citing a 41-word paragraph from a Pulitzer prize-winning Reuters special report on the Rohingya boatpeople.

The paragraph does not mention the Royal Thai Navy. Reuters and other news organisations in Thailand that published the same paragraph have not been charged. The charges were laid before the military takeover in Thailand.


Comments have been disabled for this article.


These folks were all born in Burma, they are citizens of that country! Their forefathers may migrated from elsewhere, but that was a century or more back! If Burma refuses to respectfully take them back > Full on Sanctions!! This is the Solution! No need to break head, waste money on too many meetings, use it to buy food for the folks now!

Posted by Sun on June 1, 2015 23:45



although sanctions indeed can return it will resolve nothing .

Moreover if there is deep-routed conflict, it doesn't extinguish within generation or even longer. Although there is obviously a conflict nation state vs. immigrant state conceots, each is different and legitimate concept of state.

I think there is no practical measures that may resolve Rohingya problems on the ground, except international donor-sponsored resettlement, that should involve political element to agree with other countries fir buying land for them and legal conditions, construction of dwelling, educating of new skills to provide for themselves that at cost 10kUSD per person would amount to total 10B USD, that is not big amount for an international community. Obviously, the leader role should be taken on that by the UK, that brought fir their own profit majority of Rohingya in ca.1850 into territory of the current Myamnar.

There are examples of major resettlements in modern history, like 1Mio migration to India from Pakistan and vice-versa upon 1947 portion of India into Hindu India and Muslim Pakistan.

Although, much less comfirtable case is migration of Shiits and Sunits around Baghdad - during last five years, many, if not most of them, had to change their place of living due long-standing mutual animosity - and war event have nothing to do with that.
Just accept that there are circumstances where such animosity can be resolved only by separation.

Posted by Sue on June 2, 2015 05:32

Editor Comment:

The Rohingya have been in Burma for centuries, informed sources say. Any alleged British connection is not relevant. Their home is Burma. Tolerance is the universal answer, not separation.


I am sick & tired of discussion (procrastination) on this topic.

As Sun states, it is Myanmar's responsibility for the Rohingya's (as is it Bangladesh's for their migrants).

Kid gloves off. Full blown sanctions till it is stopped at source.

What these Burmese 'hate' monks are doing to whip up a frenzy in Myanmar is as bad as IS in the Middle East.

Posted by Logic on June 2, 2015 06:03


The general is referred to as Thai navy captain Manat Kongpan in a Sydney Morning Herald report of 29 January 2009 and in a foxnews report of 27 January 2009.

Posted by Ian Yarwood on June 2, 2015 07:01

Editor Comment:

This is around the time that Phuketwan was defending the Navy from claims that a Navy warship was involved in the ''pushbacks.'' The mistake was based on boatpeople assuming every grey vessel was a Navy vessel. (The broader term used more recently by Reuters is ''Thai naval forces.'') Colonel Manat was in the Army, not the Navy.


Phuketwan being for me Alan & Chutima you are doing an excellent job and you deserve more then credits for it. I would say you earned by now at least a Pulitzer award yourself. But also check with Bahtsold how they receive payments. If you activate this in your system I promise to donate quiet a few bahts for financial support to the needing Royingha's. If you publish this methode I now suggest we readers and admirers of your Phuketwan we can easily start shoeing our support to PhuketWan & the Royingha's. You know what I mean Alan.

Greetings a happy guy who loves to share in anonymity.

Posted by phuketgreed on June 2, 2015 22:31

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