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Major General Paween Pongsirin may quit rather than accept a risky new role

Thailand Trafficking Officer Plans to Quit

Tuesday, October 27, 2015
PHUKET: The policeman who headed Thailand's investigation into human trafficking is on leave and contemplating resignation because of a reassignment to the deep south that he believes puts his life at great risk.

Major General Paween Pongsirin headed the task force that made 155 arrests following the discovery of mass graves and secret jungle trafficking camps along the Thai Malaysia border earlier this year.

His unit has since been disbanded.

''We were only given five months,'' General Paween said. ''The job is not finished yet.''

Major General Paween believes more senior officers would have been arrested if his unit had not been broken up so quickly.

Among those arrested were five military officers, including an Army lieutenant general, four senior police and four Interior Ministry officials, with local politicians, including members of councils and mayors, and a Health Ministry nurse. Former police and former politicians were also arrested.

One Army officer and a Navy officer have yet to surrender to police.

Major General Paween was seconded from Region 8 to Region 9 for the human trafficking probe. He has a reputation for enforcing the law, and ignoring reputations.

In this week's annual round of reassignments for 239 senior police, Major General Paween was given the role of deputy commander of Yala province - one of three troubled deep south border provinces.

Yala is reputed to be the heartland of human trafficking in Thailand. When he conducted the trafficking arrests, Major General Paween was based in Surat Thani, a province further north.

He was shocked to be so obviously exposed to the people he had been trying to bring to justice.

''I could have been appointed to other provinces but my masters chose the deep south,'' he said. ''I have pointed out that this is not good governance. I am very concerned for my safety. What have I done wrong?''

A career police officer, Major General Paween, aged 57, has taken leave and is now contemplating resignation.

''Human trafficking saw Thailand dropped to Tier 3 - the lowest level - on the US State Department's Trafficking in Persons report,'' he said. ''Trafficking remains a problem, not just for Thailand but for the whole region.''

Phil Robertson, Deputy Director, Asia Division, Human Rights Watch, said today: "Thailand needs to ensure that actual investigations on the ground to combat trafficking match the rhetorical commitments made by Bangkok's leaders to make this campaign a top priority.

'''Clearly that includes making sure that officials who have worked hard to get to the bottom of these cases are valued, and that their efforts are rewarded when they successfully act to end impunity for these horrific crimes.''

Major General Paween previously led a secret investigation into the taxi ''mafia'' on Phuket that resulted in scores of arrests and was called in to take over the murder investigation following the finding of the bodies of British tourists Hannah Witheridge, 23, and David Miller, 24, on a beach at the holiday island of Koh Tao in September last year.


Comments have been disabled for this article.


" What have I done wrong? "

He has a reputation for enforcing the law, and ignoring reputations.

I guess an incorruptible police officer willing to enforce the law without bias is unwanted in the RTP.

I hope this does not go unnoticed when the next TIP report is being compiled.

Posted by Herbert on October 27, 2015 18:31


goes to show you where the power truly lies in this country

Posted by sky on October 27, 2015 18:45


What a shame if the police force were to lose such a courageous officer, unafraid to take on the many Dark Forces at work in the seamier side of Thailand.
The man deserves proper recognition for his bravery rather than put in harm's way.

Posted by jimbo34 on October 27, 2015 18:52


Wow. And the truth is revealed ! It wasn't finished and they stopped the investigation !?! (I know we knew that but to have somebody in authority confirm it.)

More senior officers were involved and weren't brought to justice. And now he doesn't want to go and live in their backyard !?!

I don't blame him. I blame ... Actually, I'm not a hundred percent sure who to blame, but somebody's done a lot of covering up. And others have a lot to answer for. (And when I say a lot, I'm talking murder, torture and rape.)

Posted by James on October 27, 2015 19:19


'Major General Paween believes more senior officers would have been arrested if his unit had not been broken up so quickly.'
So the dog got too close to the bone?

Posted by seht1912 on October 27, 2015 19:20


Simply sad - a good man lost!

Posted by Logic on October 27, 2015 23:12


Very sad development.

I hope that it is still can be fixed, both in term of being serious on human trafficking, and on the fate of Gen. Paween.

Posted by Sue on October 28, 2015 02:27


Thank you for your courageous reporting. You will be sadly missed now you are needed more than ever.

Posted by Tamvong on October 28, 2015 07:04


We have been asking for real crackdown of trafficking for years. Luckily Major General Paween have done an excellent job .His life is threaten now. We really need more noble officers like Major General Paween .If not the traffickers control the whole region and public lives will be endanger

Posted by Maung Kyaw Nu,BRAT. on October 28, 2015 11:50


Major General Paween Pongsirin please don`t give up, this people ned like you, fore cleaning the Contry.

The all Best to you from Bjorn Ronningen (Norwegian) Phuket.

Posted by Bjorn Ronningen on October 28, 2015 14:30


Very sad. Finally a good and skilled/professional cop, and than this.
It is questionable why this eminent Police officer always appointed on serious cases, and the moment he is successful in his work, higher authorities block him to continue.
Why is that?

Posted by Kurt on October 28, 2015 14:54


He deserves the recognition with his great work cleaning up Thailand, not transferring him to the deep south. He did so many great work...why? Does Thailand leader being blinded? or really corrupted even the one who said that he would only do the right thing.....I am just a lay person....even then, I think this HERO need recognition, I am so disappointed with the system that at first I thought would be lawful and fair....well, the double actually rules... WTH....Thailand.

Posted by Anonymous on October 28, 2015 17:30


@Herbert It doesn't matter. Thailand needs to stay at Tier 3.
This shows they should never come out of Tier 3.
They are protecting the people who are selling Humans. Just because 1 man has arrested people, doesn't put Thailand in good stead. Also, have you heard anything about their prosecution or prison terms?
No? Neither have I.

Unless people face prison Terms, Thailand needs to stay at Tier 3 for a very very long time.

Posted by Tbs on October 29, 2015 09:18


He also handled the Koh Tao murder case. Look how well that went. Seems to be exactly opposite of his portrayal in this story.

Posted by Anymoose on October 29, 2015 09:49

Editor Comment:

He took over from local investigators, Anymoose, and put the case back on track.


Major General Paween Pongsirinis a man of very noble standing indeed.
I found this man to be very helpful in the handling of my case.
Please sir Thailand needs more officers of your calibre and reputation.

Posted by Graham on October 29, 2015 14:51


Thailand is shamed by the corruption these cases have revealed. Major General Paween is clearly a brave man. Thailand's leaders should back him and not put his life at risk.

Posted by Nick on October 30, 2015 06:10


@ Tbs

I can only conclude that neither the English language nor sarcasm are your strengths.

Perhaps you should re-read my comment and this time with some thought applied.

Posted by Herbert on October 30, 2015 11:02


Adrian Cronauer:

The thing is if now TP is such a TIP
Shouldn't we keep the PC on the QT
Becasue if we mix with the VC
You can end up in NAIHANG
And then we all put on KP

Posted by Sam on October 30, 2015 18:35


What needs to be put in print is who made the ultimate decision to post this guy to the deep south. Clearly the only reason to send him here is to make him leave the police force. So who did it? And is that person connected to the investigation?

Posted by Geoff on October 30, 2015 21:19



"So who did it?"

It is always done by the Police Commision - as far as I remember it.
And Prime Minister office takes a part in the commission work, nowadays Minister of Defence Prawit:

(by Bangkok Post 22.09.2558.)
The Police Commission yesterday approved a proposed reshuffle of 52 senior police officers including a police major general who is said to be a prime candidate in the upcoming selection of the chief of the Metropolitan Police Bureau (MPB). "

The reshuffle list was approved by the commission after a two-hour meeting chaired by Deputy Prime Minister and Defence Minister Prawit Wongsuwon yesterday.

The reshuffle list was approved by the commission after a two-hour meeting chaired by Deputy Prime Minister and Defence Minister Prawit Wongsuwon yesterday.

Pol Maj Gen Sanit Mahathaworn, deputy commissioner of Provincial Police Region 1, who is said to be well-trusted by Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-o-cha, emerged as police commissioner attached to the office of the national police chief, said a source.

The promotion of Pol Maj Gen Sanit to this post was temporary as he would actually be made the new chief of the MPB in a future appointment, he said.

The appointment of the new MPB chief could not be made for the time being while the appointment of the current MPB chief, Pol Lt Gen Sriwara Rangsipramanakul, as an assistant national police chief, had yet to formally receive royal endorsement, he said.

As soon as the MPB chief's position is vacant, Pol Maj Gen Sanit will be appointed as the new MPB chief, according to the source.

Meanwhile, other important promotions that were approved in the reshuffle included the appointment of Pol Maj Gen Naththorn Phrosunthorn, deputy chief of the Immigration Bureau, as the new chief of the bureau, said national police chief Somyot Poompunmuang after the commission meeting. Pol Gen Suporn Phansuea, Pol Gen Chaiyong Keeratikhajorn and Pol Lt Gen Winai Thongsong, who are all currently police advisers, have been appointed as deputies of the national police chief, the source said."

All (or may be only part of new appointments) should receive the Royal endorsement.

Posted by Sue on October 30, 2015 23:15



and deputy PM, now Minister of Defence Prawit, acts also as the Commission chairman.

Posted by Sue on October 30, 2015 23:41


The fact that this Police Major General prefers to leave the RTP instead of becoming a 'target' in the South shows that the Thai police force not want such excellent honorable officers. It could destroy the present police reputation.

Posted by Kurt on October 31, 2015 11:03


They get a untouchable style policeman then throw him to the wolves for his success what a reward for a honest dedicated man who gets results with years of service certain powers seem in play to remove him from further successful apprehensions.

Posted by slickmelb on November 1, 2015 22:34

Monday October 3, 2022
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