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Thailand Weekly Intelligence Report

Date: 12 November 2017
Period Covered: 12:01hrs, 04 NOV 2017 to 12:00hrs 11 NOV 2017(GMT+8)

 

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY
This week has seen normal levels and types of activity continue in Thailand. Although there has been an increase in incidents in Southern Thailand that has made it the second most active region in the country; a position which has previously been occupied by the North, North-East or Central regions.
Overall, the next week will PROBABLY see this kind of activity continue with Criminality and Other types of incidents continuing to be the most frequent while Hazards will POSSIBLY continue in the South and emerge in the South East due to the presence of TC TWENTYNINE-17 and forecasted weather conditions.
INTRODUCTION

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This Intelligence Report aims to display all the incidents that have occurred during the past week in Thailand, expand on the key incidents and analyse what it means for the country. Over this period there have been 50 incidents throughout Thailand which have been logged on the Intelligence Fusion platform; a slight decrease from last week.
This week has seen an unchanged level of activity across Thailand; with Hazards, Criminality and âOtherâ types of incidents continuing to be the top three types of incidents occurring in Thailand. However, what appears to have changed is where these incidents are concentrated. While the imagery above and the graph and table below show that Bangkok and its surrounding areas continue to be where the most active areas, this week has seen activity in the South â specifically between Phuket and the Thai-Malaysia border â take second place as opposed to the North or North-East reporting regions (McCabe and Harrington, 2017).
COUNTRY-WIDE SIGNIFICANCE

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1. 04-08 NOV 2017: Flooding Situation Across Thailand
Flooding has continued in the Central and North-East provinces. Provinces which remain affected include Nakhon Sawan, Sing Buri, Ayutthaya, Suphan Buri, Maha Sarakham, Roi Et and Khon Kaen, where some of the worst flooding was beginning to recede.
However, the South of Thailand has seen flooding occur due to the effects of ex- Tropical Cyclone â TC â DAMREY-17 and TC TWENTYNINE-17 in the Gulf of Thailand. The heavy rains which have come with these cyclones has seen flooding in Prachuap Khiri Khan result in the Bang Saphan Hospital being forced to evacuate after it was flooded. Further South, heavy rain and floods have occurred in particularly Nakhon Si Thammarat and Phatthalung provinces but also Surat Thani, Songkhla, Pattani, Yala, Narathiwat, Krabi, Trang and Satun.
COMMENT. The number of Central provinces experiencing flooding appears to have decreased form last week while the number in the North-East have increased since last week (PRATTEN 2017d). The North-East would have been affected by heavy rainfall caused by ex-TC DAMREY-17.TC DAMREY-17 was a significant storm which affected predominantly Vietnam` and Cambodia; these countries â along with Laos â act as a buffer against Tropical Storms but Thailand nonetheless experiences heavy rain which leads to flooding (PRATTEN 2017d).
While it is still active, TC TWENTYNINE-17 is assessed to only have a low humanitarian impact and would appear to be nearing the end of its life (Joint Research Centre, 2017). COMMENT ENDS.
BANGKOK

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2. 06 NOV 2017: Deputy PM Orders Amphibious Vehicles For RTMC
Defence Minister General Prawit Wongsuwon has ordered five Bt100 million (US$3018779.00) Thai-made amphibious armoured personnel carriers (AAPC) for use by the Royal Thai marine Corps (RTMC). Gen Prawit – also a Deputy Prime Minister – while presiding over the opening of the Defence and Security 2017 fair which ran this week. The carriers can be used in amphibious landing drills and rescue missions since it is equipped with a medical floating kit.
COMMENT. This incident on its own does not necessarily represent a significant activity. However over recent months the government has been purchasing or taking delivery of various military hardware assets from around the world; submarines and main battle tanks from China and Blackhawk helicopters form the United States. With all these different weapons systems would come different logistical and support requirements (McCabe and Harrington, 2017, Malyasov, 2017, Parameswaran, 2015, Parameswaran, 2017). COMMENT ENDS.
3. 09 NOV 2017: Customs Seize Ivory Tusks and Pangolin Scales at Suvarnabhumi Airport
Customs officials at Suvarnabhumi airport seized 116kg of Ivory tusks and 15kg of Pangolin scales in cardboard boxes imported from the Congo within its cargo warehouse. The items were falsely declared as fish maw were estimated to worth over Bt11 million (US$332065.69).
COMMENT. Earlier on Sept 18, elephant tusks from Congo were also seized at Suvarnabhumi Airport. Authorities suspected that this batch came from the same group of smuggler. Suvarnabhumi Airport continues to have incidents of wildlife products seized along with various types of trafficking – ivory from Africa, drugs and Rhino horns â all of which are bound for the wider region (McCabe and Harrington, 2017). The repeated seizures would indicate these activities are continuing; leading to a suggestion that more is getting through than what is being seized. COMMENT ENDS.
4. 09 NOV 2017: Drug Trafficker Arrested in Bang Khen District
Police arrested a drug trafficker with 240,000 methamphetamine pills – Yaba – in Bang Khen district after receiving a tip-off from an informant. Police spotted Wasan “Tom” Wongnara, 24 driving a motorcycle along Soi Ram Intra 34 and stopped him for a search; finding an initial 6,000 Yaba pills on him. In a subsequent search of his house in Ram Intra area, the police found another 234,000 meth pills.
COMMENT. The seizure is quite a small arrest when compared to the Yaba that is being trafficked into and through Thailand from the North and North-East provinces with Ayutthaya acting as a storage/redistribution area (PRATTEN 2017b). However, when looking at available drug trafficking incidents â see below â Bang Khen district and its immediate surrounding districts would appear to be emerging as an area favoured by traffickers. COMMENT ENDS.
N.B â In addition to the above, a number of incidents relating to new legislation and the monarchy have occurred which will be the subject of an upcoming Snapshot product.

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NORTH, NORTH EAST AND SOUTH EAST
5. NOTHING SIGNIFICANT TO REPORT
CENTRAL

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6. 06 NOV 2017: NCPO Will Conduct Further Negotiations with Kingsgate Over Mine Closure
The National Council for Peace and Order â NCPO â will conduct further negotiations with Australia’s Kingsgate Consolidated following a dispute over the closure of the Chatree Gold mine, downplaying speculation that it may have to pay significant compensation to the firm.
COMMENT. Chatree is Thailandâs only gold mine. This issue began with Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha exercising his authority under Article 44 of the interim charter to close the mine in December 2016 citing several reasons, including a conflict between its supporters and local people opposed to it. PM Chan-o-cha has used Section 44 on a number of occasions this year, citing national interest as the reason behind it. Last week, Australian gold mining company Kingsgate Consolidated Limited has launched legal action against the Thai government, claiming it has harmed their business in the country. The company announced on its website that it had failed to settle a dispute with the NCPO so it had decided to commence arbitration proceedings against Thailand under the Australia-Thailand Free Trade Agreement (McCabe and Harrington, 2017, PRATTEN 2017c).
This dispute comes during a period where the NCPO has been trying to encourage increased foreign direct investment in Thailand; namely through its Eastern Economic Corridor projects in Rayong, Chon Buri and Chachaoengsao provinces further south. This dispute could cause doubt in the minds of investors if disputes around this mine continue. COMMENT ENDS.
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SOUTH

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7. 08 NOV 2017: Two insurgents shot dead in Sai Buri
A combined force encircled a target house at Ban Jobo at 04:00hrs after they received a tipoff that several southern militants with serious crime records were at the location. Attempts to have the insurgents surrender failed which resulted in a shoot-out between the insurgents and security forces. The fight lasted two hours later and troops then broke into the house where two militants were found dead. Both of the militants had been linked to previous attacks.
COMMENT. Insurgents have been able to largely avoid these situations in recent months. The last known incident where the police and army have been able to track down insurgents to a house was back in July 2017 when a suspect linked to the Big C Supercentre bombing was shot and killed in Paka Harang, Pattani (PRATTEN 2017a). In addition, this incident is the first incident in two weeks related to insurgent activity. COMMENT ENDS.
8. 08 NOV 2017: Ice and Yaba Seized in Hat Yai
An attempt to smuggle 81kg of ‘Ice’ and 200,000 ‘Yaba’ pills was stopped during a joint agency operation in Hat Yai, Songkhla. According to the Office of Narcotics Control Board (ONCB) chief Sirinya Sitdichai, five local men from Narathiwat province in southern Thailand were arrested in the operation. The suspects told the investigators they were paid to smuggle and hand over the drugs to a syndicate member in Kedah, Malaysia. The drugs were to be transported to Australia after arriving in Kedah, where it will fetch a higher price in the black market.

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COMMENT. Examination of previous incidents relating to crime in the Southern Thailand has shown that Hat Yai is the most active area in these provinces in relation to criminal activity. Previous incidents plotted on the Intelligence Fusion platform have shown that the quantities of Ice and Yaba seized in this operation are normal for this area. Previous analysis has assessed that Hat Yai serves as a storage and distribution area for trafficking to Malaysia where drugs are shipped internationally from Penang (McCabe and Harrington, 2017, PRATTEN 2017b). COMMENT ENDS.
9. 09 NOV 2017: Lighter Resembling an M67 Grenade Found at Phuket International Airport
An item resembling an M67 grenade was found at a taxi queue next to the Phuket International Airport at 19:50hrs. It was reported that the location of the item was just 500 metres from the Domestic Terminal. Closer inspection by Explosive Ordnance Disposal they discovered it to be a novelty lighter with an ashtray. Further analysis is being conducted.
COMMENT. This is the first incident of this kind to occur at Phuket Airport going as far back as January 2016. Further reporting will be needed to analyse this incident more accurately. COMMENT ENDS.
10. 10 NOV 2017: 95 Illegal Migrants Arrested Across Phuket
Officers from the Royal Thai Police Immigration, the Royal Thai Army, Phuket Provincial Police and Patong Police conducted a crackdown on illegal migrants with 95 foreigners arrested. 70 of them were found to be overstaying their visa – the longest one was 2,000 days or nearly five and a half years â while 24 others were illegal immigrants and one was charged for contravening the Beggar Control Act.
COMMENT. This operation appears to have occurred around the same time as several senior police officers in Phuket have been accused of accepting bribes from illegal immigrants and senior leaders in the Department of Labour being sacked last week by the PM himself for a lack of progress on registering migrant workers in Thailand. Furthermore, there has not been an incident of a foreigner being arrested in Phuket since July 2017 (McCabe and Harrington, 2017). COMMENT ENDS.
WEATHER FORECAST â NEXT 7 DAYS (Time & Date.com, 2017)

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ASSESSMENT

This week has seen normal levels and types of activity continue in Thailand. Although there has been an increase in incidents in Southern Thailand that has made it the second most active region in the country; a position which has previously been occupied by the North, North-East or Central regions.
Overall, the next week will PROBABLY see this kind of activity continue with Criminality and Other types of incidents continuing to be the most frequent while Hazards will POSSIBLY continue in the South and emerge in the South East due to the presence of TC TWENTYNINE-17 and forecasted weather conditions. The North, North-East and Central regions will POTENTIALLY see Hazards decrease due to low levels of rainfall and no cyclones currently active to the East; although this will change dramatically if another cyclone emerges.
The incidents of drug trafficking, small arms fire and crackdowns towards illegal immigrants are frequent occurrences within their respective locations. Considering that next week will PROBABLY see more of the same continue, it is POSSIBLE that the next week and onwards will begin to see these kinds of incidents being reported.
The developments surrounding the Chatree Gold Mine appear to be contrary to the NCPOâs efforts to encourage greater foreign investment â FDI â in the country. Given that Kingsgate has decided to seek arbitration under the Thailand-Australia Free Trade Agreement, it is POSSIBLE there will be further developments reported about this issue. Given the circumstances of the PM using Section 44 in a manner that is contrary to efforts to improve FDI, it is POSSIBLE this issue could POTENTIALLY discourage FDI in Thailand until the matter is resolved.

References
JOINT RESEARCH CENTRE. 2017. Global Disaster Alert Coordination System [Online]. Brussels: European Commission. Available: http://dma.jrc.it/map/?application=GDACS [Accessed 06 November 2017].
MALYASOV, D. 2017. China unveils first VT4 tanks produced for Royal Thai Army. Defence Blog [Online]. Available: http://defence-blog.com/army/china-unveils-first-vt4-tanks-produced-for-royal-thai-army.html [Accessed 16 October 2017].
MCCABE, M. & HARRINGTON, D. 2017. Intelligence Fusion Platform [Online]. London: Ambix. Available: https://www.intelligencefusion.co.uk/ [Accessed 12 November 2017].
PARAMESWARAN, P. 2015. Managing the Strained US-Thailand Alliance. The Diplomat [Online]. Available: https://thediplomat.com/2015/12/exclusive-managing-the-strained-us-thailand-alliance/ [Accessed 16 October 2017].
PARAMESWARAN, P. 2017. Managing the US-Thailand Alliance in the Trump Era. The Diplomat [Online]. Available: https://thediplomat.com/2017/10/managing-the-us-thailand-alliance-in-the-trump-era/ [Accessed 16 October 2017].
PRATTEN M. 2017a. Post Incident Report: Suspect in Big C Super Centre bombing killed in Paka Harang, Pattani. Intelligence Fusion [Online]. Available: https://www.intelligencefusion.co.uk/single-post/2017/07/13/Post-Incident-Report-Suspect-in-Big-C-Super-Centre-bombing-killed-in-Paka-Harang-
Pattani [Accessed 13 July 2017].
PRATTEN M. 2017b. 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 12 November 2017].
PRATTEN M. 2017c. 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 20 July 2017].
PRATTEN M. 2017d. Thailand Weekly Intelligence Report – 08 November 2017. Thailand [Online], 06 November 2017. Available: https://www.intelligencefusion.co.uk/single-post/2017/11/07/Thailand-Weekly-Intelligence-Report [Accessed 12 November 2017].
TIME & DATE.COM. 2017. Weather in Thailand [Online]. Stavanger: Time and Date.com. Available: https://www.timeanddate.com/weather/thailand [Accessed 12 November 2017 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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