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Weekly Intelligence Report: Monitoring in Thailand

Period Covered: 12:00hrs, 24 SEP 2017 â 23:59hrs 29 SEP 2017 (GMT+7)
EXECUTIVE SUMMARY
Overall, this week will PROBABLY see September finish as the second highest period of activity in Thailand. Many of the incidents â the drug trafficking, floods, progress on Organic Laws and incidents in the South-East â represent a continuation of common activity in Thailand. Overall, Thailandâs situation â with the exception of the South-East reporting region â appears to be stable. An upcoming Snapshot on the insurgency will provide further analysis.
With recent incidents and PM Chan-o-chaâs upcoming visit to the White House, available sources for monitoring Thailand will POSSIBLY continue to focus on what is happening in Bangkok, PM Chan-o-cha, Yingluck Shinawatraâs whereabouts and her chances of gaining asylum in another country. Such focus will POTENTIALLY mean incidents in other areas of interest to Intelligence Fusion will not feature in open source reporting.
Once the visit to the White House is complete, protests in Thailand will POTENTIALLY be prevented or shut down by authorities. From next week and on, protests being conducted in Thailand will POTENTIALLY pose a risk to those nearby being caught up in any unrest that could occur between protest groups and authorities arresting/cracking down on them.

N.B. â The orange zone shown in the âThailand Incidents â Las 7 Daysâ graphic represents areas of Southern Thailand where the UK, USA, Australian, New Zealand and Canadian governments have advised to avoid travelling to. As at the time of this report, no major changes have occurred in the travel advisories issued by these governments.
INTRODUCTION

This Intelligence Report aims to display all the incidents that have occurred during the past week in Thailand and expand on the key incidents that have occurred in the reporting regions shown in the imagery above. Over this period there have been 27 incidents throughout Thailand which have been logged on the Intelligence Fusion platform at the time of this report. (McCabe and Harrington, 2017). Technically, this report does not capture incidents that have occurred on 30 SEP 2017; however, the number of incidents would have a minimal impact on overall trends.
To date, September 2017 has seen the second highest level of activity across Thailand. The majority of incidents have been concentrated in the Bangkok â also the case for the monitoring period of this report â South-East and North reporting regions. These areas have been the main contributors to the incident rate of 4.67 incidents per day and have been the main reason behind September stopping what was beginning to appear as a downward trend in activity. Analysis on what is behind these numbers is currently being examined and will feature in future reports.
COMMENT. This week there has been an absence of open source reporting of incidents occurring in the North reporting region despite incident data indicating it is one of the most active areas for incidents logged on the Intelligence Fusion platform. Previous reports have featured several incidents occurring in the North revolving around drug trafficking. However, there have also been increasing issues relating to flood hazards caused by heavy rain and wind as a result of monsoonal weather conditions such as the damage caused by Tropical Cyclone DOKSURI (PRATTEN 2017e). These weather conditions have caused issues with road conditions and mobility. COMMENT ENDS.
COUNTRY WIDE SIGNIFICANCE / UPCOMING EVENTS NEXT WEEK
1. 03 OCT 2017: PM Chan-o-cha to Visit President Donald Trump at the White House
The White House has announced that Prime Minister (PM) Prayut Chan-o-cha will meet President Donald Trump on 03 October 2017. According to a White House statement, they will discuss ways to strengthen and broaden bilateral relations and enhance cooperation. The PM will be accompanied by Deputy Prime Minister Somkid Jatusripitak, Foreign Affairs Minister Don Pramudwinai, Interior Minister Gen Anupong Paojinda, Commerce Minister Apiradi Tantraporn and Deputy Defence Minister Udomdej Sitabutr. Topics for discussion include bilateral security, economic cooperation, trade and investment. They will also exchange views on the regional situation.
COMMENT. Reporting surrounding this upcoming event indicates Thailand is often cited as the United States’ oldest ally in Southeast Asia. However, ties between the two countries were strained under the Obama Administration, who had noticeably avoided Thailand in the wake of the 2014 coup. Trump’s administration has started to reset relations with the military government, dispatching high-level diplomats including the Secretary of State Rex Tillerson visiting Thailand recently (McCabe and Harrington, 2017). COMMENT ENDS.
NORTH
2. Nothing Significant to Report
NORTH EAST

3. 25 SEP 2017: Four Arrested for Trafficking Yaba in Chiang Yuen District, Maha Sarakham
The arrest of the four men trafficking 4 million methamphetamine pills â commonly known as Yaba â is not unusual activity in this region. In addition, information gained from the arrest was the source of the pills was Nong Khai up near the Thai-Laos border. Based on the locations shown above, the pills would have been manufactured in Laos and brought into Thailand via the border checkpoint in Nong Khai.
COMMENT. This activity has not been noticed recently. Given that the Thai-Laos border is marked by the Mekong River and the recent occurrence of Tropical Cyclone DOKSURI heavily affecting the North and North-East, the Mekong River would have been a significant obstacle to cross. COMMENT ENDS.
BANGKOK

4. 25 SEP 2017: Four Buddhist Monks Charged with Corruption Offences
The Royal Thai Police’s Counter Corruption Division (CCD) has laid charges against four senior Buddhist monks in relation to the embezzlement of temple funds. The CCD has charged the four with violating Sections 157, 147 and 86 of the Criminal Code. Section 157 deals with dereliction of duty, Section 147 with abuse of authority in the appropriation of funds, and Section 86 with assisting any person in the commission of an offence. The CCD suspects that between 2012 and 2017 the four monks and 15 accomplices have misused about US$4,202 million in state subsidies from 23 temples by wiring the money onto personal accounts of state officials.
The four senior monks â pictured below â are:

Phra Khru Kittipatcharakhun â abbot of Wat Lat Khae in Chon Daen district, Phetchabun. Phra Rajratanamunee – assistant abbot of Wat Pichaya Yatikaram in Bangkok. He also serves as a secretary to Somdet Phra Buddha Chinnawong, a member of the Sangha Supreme Council (SSC) and chief of the monastic committee in the Central region. Phra Thepsenabodi – the abbot of Wat Kawisararam in Lop Buri’s Muang district and chief monk of Lop Buri. An additional charge of falsifying state documents under Section 162 of the code has been laid against him. Phra Khru Wisutthiwattanakit – assistant abbot of Wat Ratchasittharam in Bangkok Yai district.
COMMENT. These charges came in the wake of the CCD raiding 14 locations in seven provinces last week as the agency expands its probe into allegations of graft (McCabe and Harrington, 2017). The accomplices in this alleged embezzlement include former National Office of Buddhism (NOB) director Phanom Sornsilp; Chatchai Chuchuea, director of the NOB’s Buddhist monastery division; Phayong Seelueang, a civil works technician attached to the NOB; Narongdet Chainate, director of the NOB’s Sing Buri provincial branch; Pattana Su-ammartmontri, a religious academic attached to the NOB’s Nakhon Pathom branch; and Natthawadee Tantayawisarnsut, a former NOB official.
Corruption amongst senior monks has been an ongoing issue and a strain on relations between the government and the senior Buddhist leaders. Previous reports have in relation to Buddhism in Thailand since May 2017 have included high-profile temple scandals over murder, drugs, and sex as well as improper financial dealings. In conjunction with these charges came the reinstatement of former NOB Director LTCOL Pongporn Pramsaneh on 26 SEP 2017. With his re-instatement came a vow from the military government to reform Buddhism, which is followed by 90 percent of a population of 67 million and is viewed as one of the three traditional pillars of Thai society, along with the nation and the monarchy. Despite the scandals, some monks have seen efforts towards reforming Buddhism â especially those of LTCOL Pongporn Pramsaneh â as interfering with Buddhist affairs, which are handled by a Sangha Supreme Council made up of senior monks (McCabe and Harrington, 2017). COMMENT ENDS.
5. 25 SEP 2017: Land Rights Protest Outside Government House
Land rights activists gathered in protest outside Government House demanding a solution to land conflicts that have arisen as a result of government policies. The People’s Movement for a Just Society (P-Move) led the demonstration to demand government action, saying they had been campaigning on this issue for four years but there had been no improvement.
COMMENT. This is the fourth protest in Thailand recorded on the Intelligence Fusion platform. Such gatherings are banned under current laws by the military government; yet there appears to have been a lack or absence of response from the government. This protest â and recent, previous ones â have occurred in the lead up to Prime Minister Chan-o-chaâs visit to Washington; a visit that would have the potential to repair strained ties between Thailand and the US since the military took control of Thailand in 2014. COMMENT ENDS.
6. 26 SEP 2017: Former PM Yingluck Shinawatra Sentenced to 5 Years Prison in Absentia
Former PM turned fugitive Yingluck Shinawatra has been sentenced in absentia to five years in prison with no suspension of jail term by the Supreme Court’s Criminal Division for Holders of Political Positions after finding her guilty of dereliction of duty under Section 157 in the controversial rice-pledging scheme that caused over 500 billion baht (US$15,015,015,000.00) in damages to the state while her and the Pheu Thai Party government were in power. The Supreme Court also issued a second warrant to arrest the PM to serve the prison term immediately.
Further reporting captured during this period has indicated that Yingluck has been confirmed by PM Chan-o-cha to have fled to Dubai. In addition, the Royal Thai Police have requested INTERPOL to issue a Blue Notice.

COMMENT. Yingluck fled the country before the initial verdict was scheduled for 25 AUG 2017 (PRATTEN 2017c). The purpose of a Blue Notice is to request INTERPOLâs 192 member countries âto collect additional information about a personâs identity, location or activities in relation to a crime (INTERPOL, 2017).â With this requirement, efforts by Yingluck to seek asylum anywhere could be hindered due to INTERPOL member countries being expected to view her as a criminal. COMMENT ENDS.
7. 28 SEP 2017: NLA Passes Bill for EEC Development
THE Eastern Economic Corridor (EEC) bill passed the first reading in the National Legislative Assembly (NLA) despite concerns of academics and citizen activists. It was the first major legislative step to push forward the government’s mega-projects aimed at industrial development in the three targeted provinces in the Eastern Region: Chon Buri, Rayong, and Chachoengsao â the areas of greatest economic potential in the country.
COMMENT. The EEC project consists of up to 1.5 trillion baht (US$45 billion) of construction projects over the next 12 months in order to create a special investment zone that will encourage greater foreign direct investment in the country. Within the zone, clusters of industries will be promoted, in sectors including electronics, aviation, biotechnology and robotics among several others. Previous analysis on infrastructure development in Thailand has indicated this is an area of great importance to the military government. In other cases of infrastructure development, PM Chan-o-cha has invoked Section 44 powers to bypass established government procedures to speed up progress on the Bangkok-Nakhon Ratchasima rail project; risking a perception of being stereotypically authoritarian (PRATTEN 2017b). COMMENT ENDS.
8. 29 SEP 2017: NLA Votes in Favour of Organic Law on Constitutional Court Procedures
The National Legislative Assembly (NLA) yesterday voted unanimously to accept an organic bill on Constitutional Court trial procedures in its first reading. The bill will pave the way for a new selection process for the court’s panel of judges. Under the bill, the court is made up of nine judges, reflecting the current composition, with a seven-year term of office.
Lawmakers backed the bill with a unanimous vote of 198-0. A 22-member committee has been set up to scrutinise the bill, submitted by the Constitutional Drafting Committee. The scrutiny panel has 50 days to vet the bill before returning it to the NLA for final approval.
COMMENT. Under the current interim constitution, Thailandâs full return to democracy will be complete with the passage of 10 Organic Laws which will guide key institutions of governance; four of which will outline how the next election will be carried out. While this Organic Law will assist a return to democracy once it has passed further scrutiny and has received royal approval, it is not one of the two remaining Organic Acts relating to the conduct of the next election. Previous reports on the progress on the 10 Organic Acts assessed it is PROBABLE the two remaining laws required for the election to be conducted â MP Elections and Acquisition of Senators â will be the last of the Organic Laws to be passed by the NLA to ensure that none of the Organic Laws required to be passed into law are left as unfinished business after the next general election (PRATTEN 2017d). COMMENT ENDS.
CENTRAL, EAST, WEST & SOUTH
9. Nothing Significant to Report
SOUTH EAST
10. Continuing Incidents
Over this week there has been a continuation of incidents that are common for this reporting region. The most significant of these has been the IED find in Narathiwat province indicating a POSSIBLE area insurgents use for caching weapons (PRATTEN 2017a). A Snapshot report aimed at updating what is known about the ongoing insurgency is currently being created.
ASSESSMENT

Overall, this week will PROBABLY see September finish as the second highest period of activity in Thailand. Many of the incidents â the drug trafficking, floods, progress on Organic Laws and incidents in the South-East â represent a continuation of common activity in Thailand. Overall, Thailandâs situation â with the exception of the South-East reporting region â appears to be stable. An upcoming Snapshot on the insurgency will provide further analysis.
PM Chan-o-chaâs upcoming visit to the White House is POTENTIALLY the reason behind the recent protests occurring in Thailand without a response by authorities. The PM will PROBABLY be seeking to repair the strained ties that existed with the Obama Administration as doing so will POSSIBLY help achieve the desired foreign direct investment for the Thai governmentâs EEC project. Hence, the protests have been able to occur to POSSIBLY avoid any chances of PM Chan-o-chaâs visit to the White House being marred with news of protests being shut down by the authorities. Once the visit to the White House is complete, protests in Thailand will POTENTIALLY be prevented or shut down by authorities. From next week and on, protests being conducted in Thailand will POTENTIALLY pose a risk to those nearby being caught up in any unrest that could occur between protest groups and authorities arresting/cracking down on them.
The charges laid against the senior Buddhist monks and 15 accomplices alongside the re-instatement of LTCOL Pongporn Pramsaneh indicate the government will continue its efforts reform Buddhist institutions. With the government being part of one of the three pillars of Thai society â The Nation â and Buddhist institutions being another of the three, future developments in relation to combatting corruption amongst senior Buddhist monks and the NOB will POTENTIALLY become much more serious; the POTENTIAL for growing animosity between the two could see the third pillar of Thai society â the Monarchy â intervene in matters. How that could play out is unknown at this time as future incidents will rely on how these recent charges unfold.
With these recent incidents and PM Chan-o-chaâs upcoming visit to the White House, available sources for monitoring Thailand will POSSIBLY continue to focus on what is happening in Bangkok, PM Chan-o-cha, Yingluck Shinawatraâs whereabouts and her chances of gaining asylum in another country. Such focus will POTENTIALLY mean incidents in other areas of interest to Intelligence Fusion will not feature in open source reporting.
References
INTERPOL. 2017. INTERPOL, [Online]. France: INTERPOL. Available: https://www.interpol.int/About-INTERPOL/Structure-and-governance [Accessed 01 October 2017].
MCCABE, M. & HARRINGTON, D. 2017. Intelligence Fusion Platform [Online]. London: Ambix. Available: https://www.intelligencefusion.co.uk/ [Accessed 12 August 2017].
PRATTEN M. 2017a. Post Incident Report: IED Found and Defused in Surkhin District, Narathiwat. Intelligence Fusion [Online]. Available: https://www.intelligencefusion.co.uk/single-post/2017/09/28/Post-Incident-Report-IED-found-and-defused-in-Surkhin-District-Narathiwat [Accessed 01 Ocotber 2017].
PRATTEN M. 2017b. 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. 2017c. Weekly Intelligence Report: Monitoring in Thailand – 02 September 2017. Thailand [Online], 04 September 2017. Available: https://www.intelligencefusion.co.uk/single-post/2017/09/04/Weekly-Intelligence-Report-Monitoring-in-Thailand [Accessed 04 September 2017].
PRATTEN M. 2017d. Weekly Intelligence Report: Monitoring in Thailand – 18 September 2017. Thailand [Online], 16 September 2017. Available: https://www.intelligencefusion.co.uk/single-post/2017/09/17/Weekly-Intelligence-Report-Monitoring-in-Thailand [Accessed 18 September 2017].
PRATTEN M. 2017e. Weekly Intelligence Report: Monitoring in Thailand – 26 September 2017. Thailand [Online], 26 September 2017. Available: https://www.intelligencefusion.co.uk/single-post/2017/09/26/Weekly-Intelligence-Report-Monitoring-in-Thailand [Accessed 01 October 2017].
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