Matt Pratten

Matt Pratten

Associate Analyst

14/12/2017

14/12/2017

Thailand Weekly Intelligence Report

Date: 14 December 2017

Monitoring Period: 00:00, 03 DEC 2017 to 23:59hrs 09 DEC 2017 (GMT+8)

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY

This week has seen a similar level of incidents as the previous monitoring period. Compared to previous reports, this week has seen a continued high level of activity in Thailand as far as quantity and quality of incidents are concerned. The status quo remains in terms of the types of incidents occurring as well as the locations they are concentrated in. The main contributor to the overall rating is the flood situation in the South; the continued floods there have made the severity rating high. In the next few weeks though, these ratings will POSSIBLY begin to decrease as this month is beginning to appear similar to low-medium levels of activity seen in May and August 2017.

The below rating is a new addition and will be finessed with future reports. It is intended to provide a quick, graphic overview of Thailand’s overall situation.

INTRODUCTION

This Intelligence Report aims to summarise the incidents that have occurred during the past week in Thailand, expand on the significant incidents – SIGACTS - and analyse what it means for the country. Over this period there have been 60 incidents throughout Thailand which have been logged on the Intelligence Fusion platform; a slight decrease from last week. The majority of incidents consist of the types – Crime, Hazards and Other – but are at slightly lower levels than last week. The severity of many of the incidents however, particularly Hazards, appear to be higher than last week. Bangkok and the South remain as the areas of highest activity by a large margin in comparison to the rest of the country. In terms of incidents per day, December looks like it will be similar to May or August 2017; making November’s level of activity appear to be a spike as opposed to the beginning of rising levels of activity throughout Thailand (McCabe and Harrington, 2017, Pratten, 2017e).

NORTH

1. SUMMARY

Open Sources used for monitoring Thailand continue to indicate a low level of activity in this part of the country. However, this week has seen a major drug trafficking incident as well as human trafficking, isolated drug trafficking of prescription medicine – not shown due to its identical location of the human trafficking incident in Phrao district – and arrests made in conjunction with a scam operation in Bangkok. Overall, no major changes appear to be occurring with regards to the types of activity occurring in the Northern reporting region.

SIGACTS

2. 05 DEC 2017: Four Traffickers Shot Dead, Yaba Found in Mae Ai District, Chiang Mai

Soldiers from Pha Muang Task Force were patrolling along the border in Mae Ai district after receiving a tip-off that a large quantity of drugs would be brought into Thailand within this area. The patrol located and attempted to stop a drug caravan of 20 men crossing into the border but were fired upon, leading to an exchange of gunfire. The shooting went for 15 minutes and ended with the armed traffickers escaping. Authorities inspected the clash site and found four bodies of suspected drug traffickers and over 600,000 methamphetamine pills - yaba - inside six backpacks.

COMMENT. This kind of activity – and the reaction of traffickers – has been a common feature of drug trafficking incidents in this part of Thailand. However, there has been a low number of drug trafficking incidents in this part of Thailand in recent months by the Pha Muang Task Force. A check of previous trafficking incidents in the North indicates that past incidents have been occurring to the North East in Chiang Rai province – shown in dotted lines in the above imagery. With this in mind and the terrain shown in the imagery from Thai PBS, it could very well be a case that drug trafficking incidents have not been a frequent feature of reporting due to the concealment provided by the dense vegetation. COMMENT ENDS.

NORTH-EAST

3. SUMMARY: The North-East reporting region has been seen a low amount of activity this week based on monitoring of open sources; only two incidents have been recorded. Furthermore, the nature of these two incidents is out of the ordinary; one incident of a man trying to break rob a temple in Nakhon Phanom but more unusual is the Small Arms Fire reported by residents near the Thung Kham gold mine in Loei province. At this time, there is only speculation as to what happened exactly as there have been no reports found on arrests or other related activities.

COMMENT. Also of note is the absence of drug trafficking activity this week. This part of Thailand is the most active area for drug trafficking in the country. Prior reports have featured regular incidents of large quantities of yaba, ice, marijuana and heroin being brought in from Laos for transport to Malaysia and distribution throughout Thailand (Pratten, 2017c, Pratten, 2017a, Pratten, 2017e). COMMENT ENDS.

SIGACTS

4. Nothing Significant To Report

CENTRAL

5. SUMMARY

Like the North and North-East regions, the Central reporting region has seen a low amount of activity this week. Monitoring in previous weeks and months have usually featured multiple instances of drug trafficking, floods and illegal logging. This week though has seen police arrest a woman for child sex offences in Phitsanulok and ten arrests so far in Ayutthaya for under-age prostitution.

SIGACTS

6. NOTHING TO REPORT

BANGKOK

7. SUMMARY

Bangkok continues to be an area of high activity in Thailand due to its positions as the centre of power for the country. Police have continued to make arrests against scam operations, drug networks, developments revolving around the 2018 election, arrests being made in relation to the weapons find in Chachoengsao province as well as further suspects in the same case. In addition, the man responsible for the bombing of the Phramongkutklao hospital bomber was found guilty and sentenced to 27 years prison.

SIGACTS

8. 01 DEC 2017: Developments Surrounding the Chachoengsao Weapons Cache

A legal officer at the Supreme Command and National Council for Peace and Order – NCPO – provided the names of five suspects in relation to the weapons cache which was found in Bang Nam Priao district, Chachoengsao province last week; weapons linked to the 2014 protests and unrest which saw the NCPO take over the country. Those wanted in connection with the cache are Jakkapop Penkae, Lt Gen Manas Paorik – former deputy commander of the 3rd Army Region – Wattana Sapwichian, Chaiwat Polpho and Somjet Khongwattana. The five have been accused of racketeering and possession of war weapons. Wattana Sapwichien – and likely the other four - have been linked to a network of hard-line Red Shirt militants. On the same day, Wattana Sapwichien handed himself into police. Red Shirt and Pheu Thai Party leaders have accused the junta of staging the Nov. 24 arms discovery as a pretext to maintain its grip on power in the name of security (Pratten, 2017e).

COMMENT. The accusations made by the Red Shirt and Pheu Thai Party leaders would appear to be contrary to incidents logged this week and last. While there has been speculation about the NCPO holding on to power, the speculation has come from comments made by Deputy Prime Minister Prawit Wongsuwon in the immediate aftermath of the cache find. Prime Minster Prayut Chan-o-cha and Deputy Prime Minister Wissanu Kreangam have stated a commitment to having an election next year along with the Prime Minster reaffirming that commitment during a visit in the South during this monitoring period as well as all Organic Laws for the next Constitution to come into full effect having with been passed, awaiting Royal Approval or are currently being read in the National Legislative Assembly (McCabe and Harrington, 2017, Pratten, 2017e).

The accusations by Red Shirt and Pheu Thai Party members have come at a time where a hard-line Red Shirt member was convicted of the bombing of the Phramongkutklao hospital due to his hatred of the military. His actions and the weapons cache developments indicate that Red Shirts members are willing to engage in violence including terrorism either alone or part of an organised campaing. With the election coming next year and speculation on when political activites will resume, such actions by Red Shirts members will be something that its affiliated Pheu Thai Party will want to distance itself from or distract attention from (McCabe and Harrington, 2017, Pratten, 2017f, Pratten, 2017b, Pratten, 2017e) COMMENT ENDS.

9. 02 DEC 2017: Large Supply Of Yaba and Ice Seized in Khlong Sam Wa District, Bangkok

Police have seized 10.5 million Yaba pills and 12kg of Ice from an international syndicate before they could smuggle it to a neighbouring country. The seizure was a follow up from last month's operations in Samut Prakan province where the police seized 10.3 million Yaba pills from the same syndicate. The drugs were smuggled into Thailand and stored in a rented house at Klong Sam Wa district, north of Bangkok before it was distributed to the syndicate's customers.

COMMENT. Prior reporting on drug activities suggest the Yaba and Ice would have gone south to Hat Yai, Songkhla province where – according to logged incidents – is a hub for organised crime networks in the South. In addition, Thai authorities also seized large quantities of Heroin in Nong Khai province and in Hat Yai. While reports continue to point to the drugs entering via Chiang Mai and along the Mekong River in the North East, the large quantities of drugs seized both last week and this week could indicate Thai authorities are focussing on a major network. COMMENT ENDS.

10. 04 DEC 2017: Hoax IED Found at Old Myanmar Embassy, Bangkok

A fake improvised explosive device – IED – was found inside the old Myanmar Embassy building in Bangkok. Closer inspection revealed that the hoax IED consisted of a bag, a clock, a plastic pipe wrapped with tapes and a bag containing rice posing as the main charge.

COMMENT. IED attacks are a rare occurrence within Bangkok when compared to other parts of the country and no further details have emerged about this IED as yet. Available reports do not indicate any kind of hostile intentions between Thais and Burmese which would indicate a willingness for a Thai national to plant a device in the Myanmar Embassy. Furthermore, the current conflict between the Myanmar Army and several non-state actors do not appear to have spilled over into Thailand (Fevrier, 2017). COMMENT ENDS.

11. 04 DEC 2017: Activists to Petition Constitutional Court to Lift an NCPO Order in Bangkok

Activists have stated they will petition the Constitutional Court to lift one of the NCPO's orders on the grounds that it is an outright violation of the Constitution. The Democracy Restoration Group – an amalgamation of under the New Democracy Movement, Thai Lawyers for Human Rights and representatives of people affected by the NCPO Order No.3/2558 announced the move at Thammasat University. The order, issued under the special powers of the head of the National Council for Peace and Order on April 1, 2015, bans freedom of assembly and empowers soldiers to summon any person to testify and to detain people for up to seven days, among others.

COMMENT. Among these activists was Rangsiman Rome from the New Democracy Movement who has previously been arrested in June this year for his attempts to petition the NCPO to disclose details on the high-speed railway to be built by the Chinese (Pratten, 2017d, McCabe and Harrington, 2017). The approval was done via the Prime Minister’s use of Section 44 of the Interim Constitution. Despite the commitments from the Prime Minister to press ahead with the election, the weapons cache find in Chachoengsao will not provide much chance of success of this petition being approved. COMMENT ENDS.

SOUTH EAST

12. SUMMARY

The South-East has seen a continuation of the status quo this week. Pattaya City in Bang Lamung district continues to see incidents of crime along the lines of vehicle offences, organised crime and assaults on tourists; particularly along Pattaya beach during the night. Out of the ordinary was the King of Thailand opening a water reservoir in Na Di district, Prachin Buri province. Given the floods for this part of the country appear to have subsided, its effectiveness will be judged when floods and heavy rain return next year.

SIGACTS

13. Nothing Significant To Report

SOUTH

14. SUMMARY

This week has seen almost an absence of the regular kinds of activity in the South, predominantly due to the widespread floods continuing from Surat Thani province right down to provinces bordering Malaysia. The situation has seen may conditions worsen with the exception of Narathiwat province. So far, flooding elsewhere has been severe enough to shut down operations at Nakhon Si Thammarat Airport – which were scheduled to resume and subsequently reopen the airport on 10 DEC 2017 pending approval from the International Civil Aviation Organisation – and affect major roads. Floods have killed two people in Nakhon Si Thammarat with some reports indicating a much higher death toll as severe floods continue across the South with several districts surrounding the Songkhla Lake in Phattalung province – shown below – being among the hardest hit.

Efforts by ISOC continue across the South to provide assistance and pump water out of flooded areas. At this stage, there has not been any calls for international assistance but many areas remain declared as disaster areas. Damage assessments provided by the Department of Disaster Prevention and Management indicate that 805,000 people from 101 districts of 10 southern provinces have been affected.

SIGACTS

15. Nothing Significant To Report Outside of the Floods

WEATHER EFFECTS – NEXT 7 DAYS (Thai Meteorological Department, 2014)

ASSESSMENT

The below ratings are a new addition and will be finessed with future reports. They are intended to provide a quick, graphic overview of Thailand’s overall situation.

This week has seen a similar level of incidents as the previous monitoring period. Compared to previous reports, this week has seen a continued high level of activity in Thailand as far as quantity and quality of incidents are concerned. The status quo remains in terms of the types of incidents occurring as well as the locations they are concentrated in. The main contributor to the overall rating is the flood situation in the South; the continued floods there have made the severity rating high. In the next few weeks though, these ratings will POSSIBLY begin to decrease as this month is beginning to appear similar to low-medium levels of activity seen in May and August 2017.

The flood situation in the South is certain to continue and will PROBABLY see areas like Phattalung province continue to be adversely affected by floods, making it PROBABLE that entry/exit to the South will be restricted and be an area to be avoided for the time being. While the damage caused by the floods appears to be severe; other incidents relating to Crime and Insurgency will be unlikely as the terrain and weather will not permit such activities to happen. With the floods beginning to recede in Narathiwat though, there is POTENTIAL the flood situation will begin to improve.

In Bangkok, it is PROBABLE that activity here will continue to revolve around when political activities will resume. Political parties and activists will certainly continue to push for a relaxation on the banning of political activities but there is only a POTENTIAL chance at best of such a ban being relaxed before all Organic Laws have been passed and received Royal Approval. This will not stop calls for the ban to be relaxed though.

The drug seizures in Chiang Mai and Bangkok indicate that Thai Authorities are beginning to have major successes in seizing the large supplies of drugs coming into and through Thailand. The incident in Chiang Mai indicates that authorities have POTENTIALLY identified new trafficking routes given the amount of time between this recent seizure and previous ones in the Northern reporting region. Combined with the major seizure in Bangkok and the floods in the South, drug trafficking in Thailand will POTENTIALLY decrease for the time being while producers in neighbouring countries identify new routes, storage locations and wait for access to the South to become much easier.

References

FEVRIER, V. 2017. Southeast Asia Mid-Month Report – November 1st – 15th. Intelligence Fusion [Online]. Available: https://www.intelligencefusion.co.uk/single-post/2017/11/16/Southeast-Asia-Mid-Month-Report-%E2%80%93-November-1st-%E2%80%93-15th [Accessed 13 December 2017].

MCCABE, M. & HARRINGTON, D. 2017. Intelligence Fusion Platform [Online]. Durham: Ambix. Available: https://www.intelligencefusion.co.uk/ [Accessed 11 December 2017].

PRATTEN, M. 2017a. Fortnightly Snapshot: Organised Crime in Thailand. Intelligence Fusion [Online]. Available: https://www.intelligencefusion.co.uk/single-post/2017/11/03/Fortnightly-Snapshot-Organised-Crime-in-Thailand [Accessed 13 December 2017].

PRATTEN, M. 2017b. Fortnightly Snapshot: Thailand's Red and Yellow Shirts. Intelligence Fusion [Online]. Available: https://www.intelligencefusion.co.uk/single-post/2017/09/21/Fortnightly-Snapshot-Thailands-Red-and-Yellow-Shirts [Accessed 13 December 2017].

PRATTEN, M. 2017c. Thailand Fortnightly Snapshot: Crime Analysis in Thailand. Intelligence Fusion [Online]. Available: https://www.intelligencefusion.co.uk/single-post/2017/08/07/Thailand-Fortnightly-Snapshot-Crime-Analysis-in-Thailand [Accessed 13 December 2017].

PRATTEN, M. 2017d. Thailand Fortnightly Snapshot: Infrastructure. Intelligence Fusion [Online]. Available: https://www.intelligencefusion.co.uk/single-post/2017/07/19/Thailand-Fortnightly-Snapshot-Infrastructure?lipi=urn%3Ali%3Apage%3Ad_flagship3_profile_view_base_recent_activity_details_all%3BL2oZQ7lSS%2B6eGy%2FNC2239Q%3D%3D [Accessed 13 December 2017].

PRATTEN, M. 2017e. Thailand Weekly Intelligence Report - 04 December 2017. Thailand [Online], 04 December 2017. Available: https://www.intelligencefusion.co.uk/single-post/2017/12/04/Thailand-Weekly-Intelligence-Report [Accessed 11 December 2017].

PRATTEN, M. 2017f. Weekly Intelligence Report: Monitoring in Thailand - 16 July 2017. Intelligence Fusion [Online]. Available: https://www.intelligencefusion.co.uk/single-post/2017/07/16/Weekly-Intelligence-Report-Monitoring-in-Thailand [Accessed 13 December 2017].

THAI METEOROLOGICAL DEPARTMENT. 2014. Weather Forecast [Online]. Bangkok: Thai Meteorological Department,. Available: https://www.tmd.go.th/en/thailand.php [Accessed 12 December 2017].

NB – For the sake of efficiency and to avoid potential misunderstandings, references mentioning myself or the Intelligence Fusion platform are built upon the collection and logging of incidents based on the combination of numerous open sources such as mainstream media, social media and open source mapping tools.

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