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Thailand Weekly Intelligence Report

Date: 4 December 2017
Monitoring Period: 00:00, 25 NOV 2017 to 23:59hrs 02 DEC 2017 (GMT+8


Overall, this week has seen an increase in the level of activity across Thailand. The increase in the rate of incidents per day across the country has seen November conclude with the highest rate of incidents per day since closer monitoring began in May. The trends behind this rate of incidents per day remains the same â Crime, Hazards from Floods and Other incidents largely focusing on political developments across the country continue to be the main contributors â and will PROBABLY continue.

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This Intelligence Report aims to summarise the incidents that have occurred during the past week in Thailand, expand on the significant incidents â SIGACTS – and analyse what it means for the country. Over this period there have been 67 incidents throughout Thailand which have been logged on the Intelligence Fusion platform; a slight increase from last week.
This week has seen November conclude with the highest level of activity in Thailand by a large margin; 240 total incidents with an incident rate of 8 per day. The South and Bangkok Reporting regions continue to see the highest levels of activity in Thailand and incident trends remain the same with âCriminality,â incidents occurring throughout the country; âHazardâ incidents largely from an increase in floods in the South and âOtherâ incidents being concentrated in the Bangkok reporting region. (McCabe and Harrington, 2017).
COMMENT. Last weekâs report saw similar trends in incidents, assessing the level of activity was an increased level in the status quo and did not pose concerns to Thailandâs overall stability. Last week assessed it would be PROBABLE this week would be a continuation of the same with the POTENTIAL for more provinces in the South to experience similar conditions to what has been seen in Prachuap Khiri Khan and Phetchaburi. If floods continue in Phetchaburi and Prachuap Khiri Khan as well as additional provinces in the South, it is POSSIBLE roads connecting the South to Bangkok will be flooded and thus limit road access (PRATTEN 2017d).

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Activity in the North has been limited to Chiang Mai according to available open sources. This week has seen incidents of low level crime surrounding individuals and an absence of drug trafficking incidents. At this time, traffickers appear to be avoiding this area of Thailand for reasons unknown at this point.
2. Nothing to Report

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3. SUMMARY: Reporting on drug trafficking appears to have resumed for the North-East with 3 incidents recorded; two of which have occurred in a known entry point for drug traffickers into Thailand â Nong Khai province â from Laos (PRATTEN 2017c). The vehicle incident in Nakhon Phanom does not hold any individual significance but initial examination and comparison to other vehicle incidents across the country would suggest there are common aspects to them all.
4. 27 NOV 2017: Yaba Found on Roadside in Somdet District, Kalasin
A total of 84,000 amphetamine pills – yaba – were found on a roadside in Sahatsakhan district. The drug was found inside a fertiliser bag under a roadside tree on Somdej-Sahatsakhan Road. Pol Maj-General Montree Jaralphol, Kalasin police chief, held a press conference on Tuesday to announce the seizure of the drug. Montree said police believed the drugs were smuggled in from the border by a drug trafficking gang that managed to evade police.
5. 01 DEC 2017: Large Quantity of Heroin Seized in Sangkhom District, Nong Khai
Following a tip-off, police and soldiers seized 200 slabs of heroin, weighing 76.5kg and worth almost Bt100 million (US$3,069,000.00) on the bank of the Mekong River in Tambon Ban Muang, Sangkhom district.
A group of 10 men were seen carrying fertiliser sacks from a boat on the riverbank. As the patrol emerged from hiding to carry out a search, the men quickly dropped the sacks and fired at the patrol as they fled into a nearby forest. Police later learned that the drug was supposed to be transported to Songkhla province to be smuggled into Malaysia.
COMMENT. The Yaba found in Somdet district is approximately 50% smaller than the largest known finds since 01 May 2017. Heroin has only emerged in this incident. However, the trafficking of this drug is not a new development for this part of the world as the North of Thailand sits at the bottom of the âGolden Triangleâ which became renown in earlier years for trafficking heroin. In recent months Yaba, Crystal Methamphetamine â Ice â and Marijuana have been the drugs of choice for producers as opposed to Heroin and have been trafficked in significantly large quantities; the largest ones are shown in the imagery below. With regards to the shipmentâs assessed destination, previous incidents and analysis would indicate this shipment was destined for Hat Yai in Songkhla where it would be then distributed further, including across the border to Malaysia where it can be shipped around the region (McCabe and Harrington, 2017, Elswood, 2017). COMMENT ENDS.

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This part of Thailand appears to be decreasing in activity now that the floods appear to be subsiding or have subsided completely. Little in the way of SIGACTS appears to have happened in this reporting region with the exception of the Hazard incident.
7. 27 NOV 2017: Suspected Anthrax Infections in Tak Province
At least three out of more than 30 villagers in Tak province who consumed goat meat are suspected of having contracted anthrax after they developed symptoms of the disease. Doctors are still awaiting the results of tests conducted on samples of the animals’ carcasses to see if they were infected.
COMMENT. Anthrax is a communicable disease caused by the Bacillus Anthracis bacterium that spreads via contact with the bacteria’s spores, often from infected animal products. Eating under-cooked meat from an infected animal puts the consumer at considerable risk, with detectable symptoms including fever, abdominal pain, nausea and vomiting surfacing in 12-24 hours.

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A shown above, Tak province appears to be a common site for infectious diseases in Thailand as well as Sa Kaeo province to the East. These two parts of Thailand appear to experience frequent cases of infectious diseases â mainly H1N1 Influenza â crossing the border into Thailand. From Myanmar in Takâs case and Cambodia in Sa Kaeoâs case. However, there has not been a case of Anthrax occurring since 01 May 2017, this incident appears to be the first (McCabe and Harrington, 2017). COMMENT ENDS.

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Bangkok remains the second most active region for incidents in Thailand. Over this week, a number of developments have occurred in Thailandâs political environment that include a new cabinet being announced in addition to the SIGACTS shown above. Furthermore, the arrest of a Burmese national liked to money laundering for drugs traffickers will provide police with additional leads and arrests in the future.
9. 23 & 30 NOV 2017: Organic Acts Pass Initial Readings in the NLA
The National Legislative Assembly (NLA) voted in favour of the draft Organic Law on the procedures of the Constitutional Court on 23 NOV 2017. 188 NLA members approved the bill while five members abstained from voting. The bill was drafted by the Constitution Drafting Committee and was submitted to the NLA in September.
Under the bill, the Constitutional Court could order other public agencies to follow its direction provided that half of the members of the house of representatives approve the measure. Banjerd Singkaneti, one of the NLA members who voted in favour of the bill, said giving the Constitutional Court such authority is necessary in order to protect the rights of the people effectively. Udom Ratamarit, another member who voted against it, said the bill gives the Constitutional Court too much power, warning that such power could lead to political crisis if the court intervene in politics.
On 30 NOV 2017, the NLA deliberated the draft laws on the election of the Members of Parliament and the draft law on the election of the Senate, which were the last two drafts submitted by the Constitutional Drafting Commission. After the deliberations, the NLA voted to accept both drafts in principle and to set up two separate committees to work on them before they are brought back for the second and third readings.
Main points under these drafts are:
Under the draft MP election law, the number of lawmakers is set at 500, with 350 designated as constituency MPs and 150 as party-list MPs. In addition, there will be only one election ballot for each voter to elect their preferred constituency candidate while the total number of elected candidates of each party will be used in the calculation of party-list MPs.The main focus of the draft Senate election law is the election of Upper House lawmakers, which is in accordance with the intent of the new Constitution, and the effort to rid the system of nepotism or cronyism as well as fraud.
COMMENT. Under the Interim Constitution, the Organic Law on the procedures of the Constitutional Court will undergo a review process by the Constitution Drafting Committee and Constitutional Court; the review process will be for 10 days where these bodies will have time to review and raise any concerns with the President of the NLA. From there, it is understood it will go the King for Royal Approval.
As for the draft Organic Acts on the election of the Members of Parliament and the draft law on the election of the Senate, these laws will need to be further examined and the NLA will have 60 days from the receipt of the drafts to do so (Office of the United Nations Resident Coordinator in Thailand, 2016).
With these two drafted Organic Laws being the last, there will be greater confidence that an election will be held. However, confirmation will come if and when these drafted Acts are approved by the NLA during subsequent readings over the next 60 days. These laws will â based on the Draft Constitution â be ready for further review and later Royal Approval between January-February 2018. COMMENT ENDS.
10. 26 NOV 2017 PM And Deputy PM Confirm Intentions on Relaxing Political Ban
Prime Minister Gen Prayut Chan-o-cha has confirmed that the government is considering relaxing its ban on political activities and looking to revise several laws in preparation for local elections. According to Deputy Prime Minister Wissanu Krea-ngam, six laws related to municipal elections will be prepared as the administration is consulting responsible agencies including the Ministry of the Interior and the Election Commission in regard to the revision of those acts.
COMMENT. For the past month, several political groups and activists have been calling on the government and the National Council for Peace and Order â NCPO â to retract their order outlawing all forms of political activities in the country. However, another Deputy Prime Minister â Gen. Prawit Wongsuwon â has been commenting about the restrictions staying in light of a weapons cache find in Chachoengsao â see âSouth East.â COMMENT ENDS.
11. 27 NOV 2017: PM Grants More Authority to ISOC Across Thailand
PM Gen. Prayut Chan-o-cha has amended Article 11/1 of the Internal Security Act, expanding the mandate of the Internal Security Operations Command â ISOC â giving its commanders wider authority to direct other state agencies at the regional and provincial level. State prosecutors were a new and unprecedented addition to that list, which included the police, Interior Ministry and other regional and local bodies that ISOC has commanded.
This increase in ISOCâs authority has raised concerns. Critics such as Chulalongkorn University political scientist Puangthong R. Pawakapan and National Human Rights Commissioner Angkhana Neelapaijit have expressed concerns that it will systematise existing mechanisms that have been used to silence protests, dissent and expression.
COMMENT. ISOC has been at the forefront of the governmentâs ongoing efforts against insurgents in Southern Thailand. COMMENT ENDS.

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This week â and the entire month â has seen a higher than normal amount of activity in the South-East reporting region. For this part of Thailand, November has seen the highest level of activity since June 2017. The majority of incidents are related to Crime and are isolated in nature. Although the arrest of a suspected crime figure in Sattahip provides the possibility of gaining further understanding into organised crime.
13. 24 NOV 2017: Weapons cache found in Bang Nam Prieo district, Chachoengsao
An arms cache has been discovered in a rice field in tambon Don Chimphli, Bang Nam Prieo district and are believed to be linked to bombings in Bangkok during the political unrest that preceded the 2014 coup. Authorities found that several firearms and rounds of ammunition came from similar sources and matched the evidence collected from scenes of unrest and people arrested during the 2014 political turmoil.
Explosive Ordnance Disposal â EOD â officers confirmed the cache was intentionally hidden rather than abandoned as the weapons were primed and ready for use. They found:
30 x GRD hand grenades;7 x PVC pipe bombs;1 x TNT stick;2 x M79 grenades;12 AK-47 magazines each containing 30 rounds of ammunition; and,1,799 x 7.62 cartridges.
Deputy PM Gen. Prawit Wongsuwan suspects it is linked it to the Red-Shirt activist Wutthipong “Ko Tee” Kochathmmakun, who went missing in July and is widely thought to have been abducted and murdered or is hiding within a neighbouring country. In light of the find, he has stated it has cast doubt on whether the government can begin to relax the strict laws on political activities (see Bangkok section). In addition, a number of suspects have been identified and will be arrested in the coming weeks.
However, this claim has been refuted by members of the Red-Shirts â or United Front for Democracy Against Dictatorship a.k.a the UDD – Nattawut Saikuar and Korkaew Pikulthong who are claiming it is aimed at distracting the public from the negative press the government recently received from a roving cabinet meeting in Southern Thailand.
COMMENT. Such weapons appear to have indeed been kept there for later use as opposed to trafficking them to Myanmar as prior weapons trafficking incidents would suggest due to their condition being quite poor based on the imagery. What appears to be several rusted magazines, rounds and grenades indicates these weapons were exposed to the elements without maintenance for a considerable time and would have difficulty in functioning, if at all.
The suspected link to the Red-Shirts does have a level of credibility to it. In addition to links to the unrest in 2014 that resulted in the coup, a Red-Shirt member was behind a spate of bombings earlier in the year. This man acted alone and was able to do so based on his engineering knowledge and experience. The use of weapons is a tactic that Red-Shirts members have the capability and intent to do; either with the leadershipâs knowledge or not (PRATTEN 2017b) (PRATTEN 2017a). COMMENT ENDS.

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This week has seen the South continue as the most active part of Thailand although this has been largely due to the area covered in this reporting region. However, this week has seen a number of provinces across the South â from Nakhon Si Thammarat and down â affected by flooding. The extent of the flooding has caused all districts within Phattalung and Songkhla provinces to be declared disaster zones. In addition, train lines in Nakhon Si Thammarat and Trang provinces have been submerged resulting in rail services being affected. Flooding has not affected the rail lines connecting the South to Bangkok though.
As at 01 DEC 2017, the Meteorological Department has warned that a lower-pressure area covering Malaysia and the lower South of Thailand is moving to the Andaman Sea. Outbreaks of continuous rain are forecast with torrential downpours in much of the South. The affected areas are shown below.

In addition, the PM along with cabinet members visited the South during the week. His visit saw an attempted protest march begin in Thepa district, Songkhla over the construction of a coal fired power plant being built in the area. Such activities remain banned and as a consequence, police intervened in the march which saw 16 members arrested but later released on bail. Furthermore, there has only been on bomb explosion in the South this week, likely due to the rainfall across the region.
15. 24 NOV 2017: 99kg of Heroin Found in Hat Yai
Police seized 99kg of heroin that traffickers abandoned by the roadside in Hat Yai district after discovering they were being followed. Hat Yai police and narcotics officers had been tipped off that a large drug shipment from Chiang Mai was to be delivered in the district, and set up checkpoints at several locations. In addition to the heroin, 6,000 yaba pills were found inside the vehicle. The haul had an estimated street value of Bt100 million (US$76,060,000.00).
Police said the seizure was the largest in several years in the South. The seller was believed to be in Chiang Mai and the buyer is said to be in Rangae district, Narathiwat province. The shipment was said to be destined for Malaysia where its value would increase by as much as ten-fold.
COMMENT. Hat Yai is a distribution hub for drugs in the surrounding areas and is also a staging area for drugs crossing into Malaysia (PRATTEN 2017c).
This seizure is also larger than what was seized in Nong Khai province later on the 01 DEC 2017. The mention of the drugs coming through Chiang Mai is interesting as there have not been any successful seizures in that area recently. This would suggest that traffickers may have found alternative routes to that authorities have not yet discovered. COMMENT ENDS.
16. 24 NOV 2017: 6 Fisherman Arrested With 456kg Of Marijuana in Mueang District, Phang-Nga
Phang Nga police arrested 6 local fishermen with 456 kilograms of dry marijuana leaves after being informed about the drugs being transported by boat through the Andaman Sea. An undercover police officer contacted two of the men to buy some marijuana. The men brought the boat to shore in the mangrove forest near Baan Tha Dan Pier in tambon Koh Panyi. The police cordoned off the area and arrested them
The traffickers claim the drugs belong to ‘Bung Lee’ in Satun Province who arranged the transport to ‘Je Sao’ in Krabi Province (see map notes). The men told police they were hired to disperse the drugs to customers and sellers in the area for Bt60,000 (US$45,564.60).
COMMENT. This area has not previously appeared as an area used by drug traffickers. The size of the shipment is equal to what has been frequently brought into Thailand from the North-East. COMMENT ENDS.
17. 29 NOV 2017: Five Districts in Southern Thailand to Remain Under ISOC Control for Another Year
ISOC has declared five districts â Mae Lan district in Pattani province and Chana, Na Thawi, Thepha and Saba Yoi districts in Songkhla province â security control areas so as to allow government authorities to maintain peace and order efficiently. The announcement will take effect from Dec 1 and last until Nov 30, 2018.
COMMENT. This announcement comes alongside the PM expanding ISOCâs powers to also include authority over the state prosecutor. In addition, examination of incidents plotted in this area â shown below â indicates these districts to remain under ISOC control do not feature as much activity than what is being seen in Pattani, Yala and Narathiwat. However, these districts sit between Pattani, Yala and Narathiwat and Hat Yai in Songkhla. Keeping the districts mentioned above under ISOC control could effectively make it harder for insurgent and criminal networks to connect. COMMENT ENDS.

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

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Overall, this week has seen an increase in the level of activity across Thailand. The increase in the rate of incidents per day across the country has seen November conclude with the highest rate of incidents per day since closer monitoring began in May. The trends behind this rate of incidents per day remains the same â Crime, Hazards from Floods and Other incidents largely focusing on political developments across the country continue to be the main contributors â and will PROBABLY continue.
The seizures across the country indicate that traffickers continue to use the same or similar areas to enter Thailand with heroin making a POSSIBLE return. This drug has not emerged in reporting until recently and given the quantities seized and where they were heading to â PROBABLY Hat Yai in Songkhla â more shipments will PROBABLY be seen in the weeks to come. However, police efforts in the North-East appear capable of intercepting these shipments while in the North, efforts there are POTENTIALLY lacking due to absence of traffickers being caught in the area.
The incident in Tak continues to show that border areas of Thailand POSSIBLY pose the highest risk of contracting communicable diseases which are PROBABLY coming from Myanmar and Cambodia.
The weapons cache found in Chachoengsao province â considering the progress towards the election through the Organic Acts, intentions to begin relaxing regulations around political activity and supposed links to prior incidents of political unrest â is POSSIBLY linked to Red Shirts members. With the intentions of relaxing the regulations surrounding political activities, there is POTENTIAL that elements of the Red-Shirts â with or without the knowledge of senior figures â have begun to prepare weapons caches for the purpose of causing unrest at the earliest opportunity. There is POTENTIAL for more of these to be found over the coming weeks as arrests are made.
The flood situation in the South will PROBABLY worsen in the coming days with additional provinces to become disaster areas. However, with ISOC being in command of at least five areas amongst the flooded provinces, responses and aid will POSSIBLY be delivered quickly and will mean that Thai authorities will be able to handle the response without external assistance. In addition, the continuation of 5 districts across Songkhla and Pattani is POSSIBLY for the purpose of keeping insurgents as separated as possible form criminal elements in Hat Yai district.
With the last of the Organic Acts supposedly drafted and now being reviewed, it is POSSIBLE that attention in Bangkok will be focussed on the review and voting of the last two bills. However, with the interest that has been generated on when the election will occur, these draft bills will POSSIBLY be examined and reviewed for the full 60 days in order to keep expectations at November 2018 as the date for the next election.
ELSWOOD, J. 2017. South East Asiaâs Amphetamine Crisis. Intelligence Fusion [Online]. Available: https://www.intelligencefusion.co.uk/analysis/author/Jonny-Elswood [Accessed 25 November 2017].
MCCABE, M. & HARRINGTON, D. 2017. Intelligence Fusion Platform [Online]. Durham: Ambix. Available: https://www.intelligencefusion.co.uk/ [Accessed 25 November 2017].
OFFICE OF THE UNITED NATIONS RESIDENT COORDINATOR IN THAILAND. 2016. Draft Constitution of the Kingdom of Thailand: Unofficial English Translation [Online]. Bangkok: United Nations. Available: http://www.un.or.th/wp-content/uploads/2016/06/2016_Thailand-Draft-Constitution_EnglishTranslation_Full_Formatted_vFina….pdf [Accessed 03 December 2017].
PRATTEN M. 2017a. 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 19 November 2017].
PRATTEN M. 2017b. Thailand Fortnightly Snapshot: Armed Conflict in Thailand. Intelligence Fusion [Online]. Available: https://www.intelligencefusion.co.uk/single-post/2017/07/24/Thailand-Fortnightly-Snapshot-Armed-Conflict-in-Thailand [Accessed 25 November 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 25 November 2017].
PRATTEN M. 2017d. Thailand Weekly Intelligence Report – 27 November 2017. Thailand [Online], 27 November 2017. Available: https://www.intelligencefusion.co.uk/single-post/2017/11/27/Thailand-Weekly-Intelligence-Report [Accessed 03 December 2017].
THAI METEOROLOGICAL DEPARTMENT. 2014. Weather Forecast [Online]. Bangkok: Thai Meteorological Department,. Available: https://www.tmd.go.th/en/thailand.php [Accessed 03 December 2017].
NB â 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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