Thailand to crackdown on ‘influential figures’ or crooks involved in drugs, illegal loans

The campaign to rid Thailand of “influential figures” will kick off on December 1, aiming to eradicate so-called “red category” individuals within three months, the Interior Ministry said.

The Nation

The Nation



Image of Thailand's Deputy Minister Chada Thaiseth. PHOTO: THE NATION

November 23, 2023

BANGKOK – The Interior Ministry will spearhead the campaign to ensure public safety as well as transparency in local administration, Deputy Minister Chada Thaiseth said on Tuesday.

A list of influential figures – a euphemism for influential crooks – has been compiled since September from public input via the ministry’s hotline, with names of suspects divided into red and yellow categories.

The red category covers suspects directly accused of wrongdoing in cases that lack evidence for arrest, while yellow-category suspects of lower priority require further monitoring.

On Wednesday, Chada told the House committee on administration that there were 180 “influential people” operating in all but 10 provinces of Thailand.

Investigators will follow their financial trails, taxation histories and business associations, he said.

“We aim to use strongest measures against influential figures in the red group as well as their associates to set an example for others,” he said. “Within three months of the campaign’s launch, individuals in this group will be no more. Provincial authorities must report results from the operation every month.”

Chada said that influential figures involved in drugs and illegal loans will be top targets as their operations affect local communities the most.

For yellow-category suspects, the ministry will task agencies to verify facts and gather evidence and witnesses to build cases against them. Chada said he aimed to get rid of this group in six months, with provincial authorities reporting the investigation progress to the ministry every two months.

Chada said help in gathering intelligence on influential figures will be provided by local officials including deputy governors, district chiefs, subdistrict chiefs, village headsmen, district doctors, village committees, and volunteer defence corps.

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