Thailand: Monthly Intelligence Report for September 2018
Date: 1 October 2018
Monitoring Period: 00:00 HOURS, 01 SEP 2018 to 23:59 HOURS, 30 SEP 2018
This Intelligence Report on Thailand is intended to analyse what has been happening in terms of threats which are tracked by Intelligence Fusion; those being Direct Weapons, Suicide/Complex Attacks, Indirect Weapons, Air, Maritime, Grenades, Protests, Criminality, Hazards and Other. This report aims to provide an overview of what has been happening, outline the significant activities which have been occurring and provide analysis in terms of the following IRs:
- What threats exist in Thailand?
- How do these threats continue to exist?
- What are the issues behind these threats?
- What significant events will affect the country’s situation and threats?
September 2018 has seen the status quo continue with no change in the overall types of threats seen within Thailand. Crime, Hazards and Other incidents firmly remain as the top threats within the country.
The developments surrounding the election have shown that Thailand will PROBABLY have an election – contrary to prior analysis – no later than May 2019.
The increase in cases of Dengue Fever this year show that unless precautions are taken to avoid contracting the disease, it is PROBABLE that visiting Thailand will carry risks of being exposed to it.
At the time of this report, there have been 131 incidents in Thailand logged on the Intelligence Fusion Platform. Shown below, the majority of incidents have been within Bangkok while there have also been high levels of activity up in the North of the country as well as the South. As shown below, the majority of incidents have been related to Crime or Hazards.
Closer examination of the total incidents logged has shown there is little change in the overall status quo; ‘Criminality’ poses the highest threat by a significant margin followed by ‘Other’ incidents as well as the continued threat posed by
Flood and Landslide Hazards from Bangkok and all the way to the Northern borders of Thailand which was exacerbated by Tropical Cyclones BARIJAT-18 and MANGKHUT-18. However, the threat posed by these particular Hazards will begin the subside with the upcoming change in seasonal weather conditions (Pratten et al., 2018c; McCabe and Harrington, 2018; Pratten et al., 2018b).
COMMENT. While there has not been a change in the major types of threats in Thailand, there has been close to double the amount of Crime incidents logged for Thailand in September, causing an increase by 2% and further cementing Crime as the major threat in Thailand.
Looking closer at the types of Crime that pose a threat in Thailand, Drug Trafficking ranks second with 18% of all incidents logged relating to seizures – often in large quantities – of Yaba, Ice, Heroin and Kratom. As shown in the imagery below, the tactics utilised by traffickers vary; some can be quite sophisticated through concealing drugs within consumer electronics while others are quite brazen in simply loading as much as possible into a vehicle.
One major feature of drug trafficking in Thailand though is the willingness by traffickers in the North of Thailand to engage in Skirmishes in order to bring the drugs into the country from Myanmar. As mentioned in previous reporting, this willingness of traffickers in Northern Thailand can make travel up there risky due to the potential to be caught in the crossfire either within urban areas or the forest/mountain areas which make up the Thai/Myanmar border (Pratten et al., 2018a; Chiang Rai Times, 2018; The Nation, 2018; Mueanhawong, 2018; McCabe and Harrington, 2018).
The most prevalent Crime incident in Thailand are incidents which come under as Arrests. Making up 40% of Crime incidents within Thailand, there is a miscellaneous nature towards these kinds of crime incidents due to these incidents not fitting under any other kind of crime activity. However, there is a common feature emerging amongst them – illegal online businesses run by foreigners. As shown below with the arrests in Pattaya, Chon Buri; Thailand would appear to be a favourite location for organised criminal gangs from China as well as from Africa to set up their operations in Thailand and run illegal gambling or romance scams (McCabe and Harrington, 2018; The Nation, 2018). These kinds of scam operations will need to be a feature of closer reporting. COMMENT ENDS.
During September 2018, there have been a number of SIGACTS occur which could have an impact on Thailand in the long-term. These SIGACTS have been within Bangkok.
04-28 SEP 2018: MAJOR DEVELOPMENTS SURROUNDING THE NEXT GENERAL ELECTION
The beginning of the month featured Interim PM Prayut Chan-o-cha stating on 04 SEP 2018 that he would consider his decision whether to run for PM at the next election after the remaining Organic Acts requiring Royal Endorsement would be actually endorsed by Thailand’s King Vajiralongkorn Bodindradebayavarangku. Reporting on the 12 SEP 2018 then indicated these Organic Acts - which state the rules for the lower house election and selection procedures for senators – were published in the Royal Gazette; thus being royally endorsed as per the current Constitution. The constitution states that a general election must follow within 150 days from the enactment of the law, meaning that it should be held by May at the latest.
Following these incidents, PM Chan-o-cha declared on the 24 SEP 2018 he is interested in entering politics, after previously keeping silent about his political ambitions. Asked about a cabinet reshuffle, Gen Prayut, also chief of the National Council for Peace and Order, said that no cabinet shake-up was on the cards. Two days later, General Apirat Kongsompong – a General regarded as being close to PM Prayut Chan-o-cha and from the Thai Army’s King’s Guard of the 1st Infantry Division – assumed command of the Royal Thai Army (McCabe and Harrington, 2018; Lefevre et al., 2018; Ono, 2018).
COMMENT. Previous analysis in early 2018 assessed that – due to actions by the Thai Parliament, PM Chan-o-cha’s decision to delay the election again and subsequent actions by protest groups at the time – it was POSSIBLE there will not be an election in February 2019; POTENTIALLY not at all. However, there has been separate reporting during this period of influential Thai politicians joining a movement called Palong Pracharath that is believed to form the core of support for PM Chan-o-cha to remain as PM after the next election as well as open source reporting that suggests PM Chan-o-cha would be the preferred PM should there be an election in the country. These recent developments would indicate prior analysis to be incorrect; however the next election would appear to be one that will see PM Chan-o-cha continue as PM and enable the military to maintain a high level of influence and control in Thailand’s politics (The Bangkok Post, 2018; The Thaiger, 2018; Pratten, 2018).
While such influence is often the cause of concern in many democracies, Thailand’s political history has been a cycle of coups and civilian governments often marred by corruption; with the latter being the justification for the former to occur. The most recent case was the 2014 coup which saw PM Prayut Chan-o-cha – then the Chief of Army – overthrow Yingluck Shinawatra’s Pheu Thai Party government due to ongoing unrest in Bangkok from a group called the People’s Democratic Reform Committee (Pratten, 2018). Military rule in Thailand – especially since 2014 – has seen periods of political stability in the country. The continuation of the military’s involvement in Thai politics would provide a stabilising influence for Thailand’s next attempt at democracy. COMMENT ENDS.
17 SEP 2018: DENGUE FEVER SPREADING WITHIN BANGKOK
Open Source reporting has revealed the Bangkok Governor Aswin Khwanmuang – quoting the Health Department of the Bangkok Metropolitan Administration – saying Dengue Haemorrhagic fever is spreading in Nong Chok, Huai Khwang, Bang Kapi and Khlong Samwa districts within Bangkok, with five fatalities this year.
COMMENT. Incidents for 2018 have shown that threats posed by diseases in Thailand have been outside of Bangkok until recently. In addition to the increase within Bangkok, separate reporting has indicated there has been a 30% nationwide increase in the disease so far this year.
Dengue fever is a mosquito-borne illness that does not have a vaccination nor specific treatment. It can only be mitigated against by avoiding travel to areas where Dengue fever is present or if this is unavoidable; taking measures such as mosquito proofing accommodation, using insect repellents and or taking prophylaxis (Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, 2018; McCabe and Harrington, 2018). COMMENT ENDS.
1. SEP – DEC 2018: Anticipated lifting of restrictions on political activities, allowing parties to resume political activity.
2. FEB – MAY 2019: General Election
|Less than 50% chance||50% chance or greater||75% chance or greater||95% chance or greater|
September 2018 has seen the status quo continue with no change in the overall types of threats seen within Thailand. Crime, Hazards and Other incidents firmly remain as the top threats within the country. While drug trafficking has been a major feature of Crime incidents across Thailand and poses a greater risk in the North due to the willingness of traffickers to engage in armed skirmishes with authorities, the actions of organised crime gangs setting up scam operations also pose a threat and are a common feature among the numerous arrests which occur. At this time, online betting or online dating services operating in the country are best avoided as they pose a POSSIBLE risk of being a scam operation which will threaten monetary resources.
The developments surrounding the election have shown that Thailand will PROBABLY have an election – contrary to prior analysis – no later than May 2019. While Thailand’s history during periods of democratic rule have featured large scale unrest; the posturing of the military and those who support Prayut Chan-o-cha will allow Thailand’s military maintain influence; POSSIBLY meaning that next year’s anticipated election will see current PM Prayut Chan-o-cha remain as Prime Minister. However, these circumstances will have the POTENTIAL to allow the stability that has come with military rule since 2014 to continue.
Finally, the reporting surrounding Dengue Fever has shown that traveling to Thailand can expose oneself to the disease regardless of what part of the country is being visited. The increase in cases of Dengue Fever this year show that unless precautions are taken to avoid contracting the disease, it is PROBABLE that visiting Thailand will carry risks of being exposed to it.
- PM – Prime Minister
- SIGACTS – Significant Activities
Chiang Rai Times (2018) Drug Runners Busted in Northern Thailand after Trying to Smuggle Drugs in Two Ambulances – Chiang Rai Times English News Paper [online]. Available from: https://www.chiangraitimes.com/drug-runners-busted-in-northern-thailand-after-trying-to-smuggle-drugs-in-two-ambulances.html (Accessed 1 October 2018).
Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (2018) Thailand [online]. Available from: http://smartraveller.gov.au/countries/asia/south-east/pages/thailand.aspx (Accessed 30 September 2018).
Lefevre, A. et al. (2018) New Army Chief Takes Over As Thailand Prepares For Return Of Civilian Rule [online]. Available from: https://uk.reuters.com/article/uk-thailand-military/new-army-chief-takes-over-as-thailand-prepares-for-return-of-civilian-rule-idUKKCN1M812S?rpc=401& (Accessed 1 October 2018).
McCabe, M. & Harrington, D. (2018) Intelligence Fusion Platform - Asia [online]. Available from: https://www.intelligencefusion.co.uk/ (Accessed 30 September 2018).
Mueanhawong, K. (2018) 780kg of Kratom Seized at Phuket Checkpoint in Separate Incidents. The Thaiger [online]. Available from: https://thethaiger.com/news/phuket/780kg-of-kratom-seized-at-phuket-checkpoint-in-separate-incidents (Accessed 1 October 2018). [online]. Available from: https://thethaiger.com/news/phuket/780kg-of-kratom-seized-at-phuket-checkpoint-in-separate-incidents (Accessed 1 October 2018).
Ono, Y. (2018) Thai King Passes Last Bill That Paves Way For Election By May [online]. Available from: https://asia.nikkei.com/Politics/Thai-king-passes-last-bill-that-paves-way-for-election-by-May (Accessed 1 October 2018).
Pratten, M. et al. (2018a) Myanmar’s Armed Conflict Threatens to Cross into Northern Thailand [online]. Available from: https://www.intelligencefusion.co.uk/blog/myanmar-s-armed-conflict-threatens-to-cross-into-northern-thailand (Accessed 1 October 2018).
Pratten, M. et al. (2018b) Thailand Intelligence Report August 2018 [online]. Available from: file:///Users/mattpratten/Desktop/Intelligence%20Report%20-%20Thailand%20(August%202018).pdf (Accessed 1 October 2018).
Pratten, M. (2018) Thailand SUPINTREP: Will An Election Occur? [online]. Available from: https://www.intelligencefusion.co.uk/blog/thailand-supintrep-will-an-election-occur (Accessed 1 October 2018).
Pratten, M. et al. (2018c) Threat Warning For Cyclones BARIJAT-18 and MANGKHUT-18 [online]. Available from: https://www.intelligencefusion.co.uk/blog/threat-warning-for-cyclones-braijat-18-and-mangkhut-18 (Accessed 30 September 2018).
The Thaiger (2018) Prayut Remains Top Choice For Next PM – Pheu Thai Preferred Party [online]. Available from: https://thethaiger.com/news/national/prayut-remains-top-choice-for-next-pm-pheu-thai-preferred-party (Accessed 29 September 2018).
The Bangkok Post (2018) 4 Ministers, 3 Ex-PDRC Leaders Join Palang Pracharath [online]. Available from: https://www.bangkokpost.com/news/politics/1549002/ (Accessed 1 October 2018).
The Nation (2018) 20 Chinese ‘fraudsters’ held after Pattaya raids [online]. Available from: http://www.nationmultimedia.com/detail/around_thailand/30354789 (Accessed 1 October 2018).
The Nation (2018) Mule Escapes As 12m Meth Pills, Half-Tonne Of ‘Ice’ Seized In Chiang Rai [online]. Available from: http://www.nationmultimedia.com/detail/around_thailand/30355252 (Accessed 1 October 2018).