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Weekly Intelligence Report: Monitoring in Thailand

 

Date: Saturday, 05 August 2017
Period Covered: 00:00hrs 29 July 2017 to 12:00hrs 05 August 2017 (GMT+7)

Thailand Incidents – Last 7 Days

N.B. â The orange zone shown in the âIncidents â Thailand Wideâ graphic represents areas of Southern Thailand where the UK, USA, Australian, New Zealand and Canadian governments have advised to avoid travelling to (Bureau of Consular Affairs, 2017, Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, 2017, Foreign and Commonwealth Office, 2017, Global Affairs Canada, 2017, New Zealand Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade, 2017).
Introduction
Examining the total number of incidents over the past three months, July has concluded with a lower number of incidents compared to June but a higher amount than May 2017; leading to the conclusion that the lower number of incidents in July compared to June is only a slight decrease and not indicative of a decreasing amount of activity.

Table 1. Incidents by Region, May 2017 to 29 July 2017
Over the past week there have been 33 incidents throughout Thailand compared to 17[1] over the previous monitoring period. There have been a number of arrests, trafficking incidents, bombings and statements occurring predominantly in the North, North-East, Bangkok and South-East reporting regions.
Country Wide Reporting of Interest

03-05 August 2017 0 Natural Hazard Incidents Across Thailand (Click on above image to expand):
Of particular significance is the number of incidents relating to Natural Hazards across Thailand depicted in the map above.
During this period, the Department of Disaster Prevention and Mitigation (DDPM) issued warnings to 30 provinces to brace for flash floods and mudslides. The warnings were for the following provinces:
Northern provinces – Chiang Rai, Chiang Mai, Lamphun, Lampang, Phrae, Uttaradit, Sukhothai, Phitsanulok and Phetchabun;North-Eastern provinces – Nong Bua Lamphu, Nong Khai, Bueng Kan, Udon Thani, Sakon Nakhon, Nakhon Phanom, Khon Kaen, Roi Et, Kalasin, Yasothon Sisaket, and Ubon Ratchathani; andSouthern region provinces – Ranong, Phang Nga, Phuket, and Krabi.
The Meteorological Department also reported that the south-westerly monsoon over the Andaman Sea (to the west of the South Reporting region) and Thailand had intensified, resulting in more rainfall in the country.

Over the two days that followed those warnings, 11 provinces predominantly in the North-Eastern provinces had been declared disaster areas due to the flooding caused by heavy rainfall and the Lam Pao dam in this area having to discharge water at a high rate; it had reached 87% of its capacity with no signs of levelling off, threatening the damâs structural integrity. However, this action added to existing floods caused by rainfall in the North-East reporting region. Furthermore, a landslide in Phang Nga province (South reporting region) had destroyed a section of Highway 401, a route that serves as a connection between Phang Nga province and Surat Thani province to the East.
COMMENT. The North and North-Eastern provinces had already been experiencing floods due to heavy rains from Tropical Depression SONCA over the course of last week as well as inundation caused by heavy rainfall before it and the necessity for dams to discharge water â such as the Chao Phraya dam. The rainfall had flooded a number of areas in the North East and even caused Sakhon Nakhon airport to close, denying an air point of entry into these areas. Last weekâs repots had also mentioned that dams in the North-East were having to discharge water and thus exacerbate the floods (PRATTEN 2017f)
North

02 August 2017 – Two traffickers shot dead, Ya bah and Ice seized in Mae Sai District, Chiang Rai. (Click on above image to expand):
After receiving a tip off about an upcoming delivery from Myanmar intended for a province in Central Thailand, Narcotics Suppression Police attempted to stop and search a pickup truck. However, the two men inside the vehicle shot at them and attempted to drive off. Police returned fire as the vehicle tried to flee, killing both the shooters. A search of the vehicle uncovered 13 fertiliser sacks holding 1,601 packages containing a total of 2,122,000 Ya bah and 65kg of ice, two pistols; and 10,000 baht in cash (US$300.57).
COMMENT. Police arrested five men on 28 July 2017 who were assessed to be major traffickers in Rayong province; with 1.6 million Ya bah pills later seized in Ayutthaya and 64 arrests made afterwards in a province-wide operation. Information from the arrest indicated that Ayutthaya was a major storage and distribution area for drugs coming into Thailand from Myanmar (PRATTEN 2017a). This information would have indicated the drugs seized incident were destined for Ayutthaya.
Prior to this incident, drugs had been found cached or stashed in and around these provinces. However, Police and Thai Military elements of the Pha Muang Task Force had carried out a number of successful cache finds and arrests.
This incident supports a previous assessment that Chiang Rai is the southern part of the âGolden Triangleâ that exists as a transit point into Thailand and to Malaysia. The frequency of incidents relating to trafficking shows that Chiang Rai is âbottleneckâ for traffickers that Thai authorities are able to exploit very well; but not enough to impact on supply (PRATTEN 2017d). COMMENT ENDS.
North East (Lam Pao Dam Addressed in ‘Country Wide Reporting Interest’ Section)

29 July – 03 August 2017 0 Trial of Activist ‘Pai Dao Din’ Begins in Khon Kaen. (Click on above image to expand):
The first plaintiff witness hearing in the case of Jatuphat ‘Pai Dao Din’ Boonpattararaksa began this week after the activist was denied bail a few days beforehand; âPai Dao Dinâ is a known anti-junta activist. He is accused of violating Article 112 of the Criminal Code, the lèse majesté law; the first person to be arrested for lèse majesté under the reign of the new King. He is also facing trial in a military court for violating the junta’s ban on political gatherings of five or more persons during a gathering at the replica of the Democracy Monument in Khon Kaen Province to commemorate the first anniversary of the coup d’état on 22 May 2015 (PRATTEN 2017d).
COMMENT. Lèse Majesté has long been an offence in Thailand. However, since the coup in 2014, punishments under this law have become quite high with a recent conviction on 09 June 2017 resulting in a 35-year prison sentence (ref). Pai Dao Dinâs arrest has been a source for at least one protest carried out on 22 June 2017 with a group of students carrying out a demonstration but appeared to disperse before authorities could respond. The protest carried out by this group suggests that any convictions and imprisonment of Pai Dao Din could be an event that activists will be willing to protest about despite the risk of arrest and imprisonment. COMMENT ENDS.
Central

04-04 August 2017 – Arrests and Drug Seizures in Ayutthaya.(Click on above image to expand)
The seizure of 6 million methamphetamine pills – Ya bah â in Ayutthaya after the 64 arrests in the province the day before appears to support previous analysis carried out; Thai police have POSSIBLY improved their ability to exploit information of value and conduct large-scale follow up operations at a faster speed.
While the arrests and seizures that have occurred so far have removed a large supply of Ya bah and removed a large number of traffickers of different levels out of the drug trade and trafficking operations in Thailand; it is PROBABLE the effects will again be short term at best. There appears to be little to no chance of Thai police finding and shutting down any manufacturing operations as these are PROBABLY located in Myanmar, out of their reach (PRATTEN 2017a).
COMMENT. No operations appear to have occurred to date in other provinces where the five traffickers are from. However, the shooting incident up in Chiang Rai adds to information gained for the Rayong arrests that Ya bah and Ice are supplied form Myanmar (PRATTEN 2017a). Furthermore, the shooting incident in Chiang Rai was made possible by police acting on a tip off that the drugs were on their way to a province in the Central area of Thailand. COMMENT ENDS.
Bangkok

01-03 August 2017 – Weapons procurement plans for the Royal Thai Armed Forces. (Click on above image to expand):
This week has seen the Commander of the Royal Thai Army state that 28 of the 38 Chinese VT4 Main Battle Tanks it has ordered are expected to arrive this year, however there has been no specific time as to when this will occur. In addition, The Thai government has cleared a project to upgrade the Royal Thai Air Force’s ageing Northrop F-5E Tiger II fighter aircraft. The programme has been allocated US$96 million and features modernisation work on 14 x F-5 aircraft and work focussing on replacing radar systems for 10 of its aircraft. The upgrade is expected to be carried out by state-owned Thai Aviation Industries (TAI), and will include the procurement of systems acquired from Israeli companies such as Rafael Advanced Defence Systems and Elbit Systems.
COMMENT. Previous reporting on 29 June 2017 stated the Thai Army is in the process of acquiring four UH-60 Black Hawk helicopters from the United States. These incidents would suggest a peculiar approach to weapons procurement in Thailand. COMMENT ENDS.
02-04 August 2017 â Acquittal of Former Prime Ministers and PAD reaction:
On 02 August, the Supreme Court of Thailand acquitted former Prime Minister Somchai Wongsawat, his then-deputy Chavalit Yongchaiyudh and two former police officials of abuse of power in the quelling of an anti-government protest in 2008. The defendants had been accused of authorizing police to use force against protesters who had blockaded the National Assembly building. The subsequent operation had resulted in two members of the Peopleâs Alliance for Democracy (PAD) â a.k.a. âYellow Shirtsâ â being killed. Following the acquittal, PAD leaders revealed they will pressure the National Anti-Corruption Commission (NACC) to appeal the Supreme Court’s acquittal.
COMMENT. Somchai is the brother-in-law of another former prime minister, Thaksin Shinawatra, whose removal in a 2006 coup has triggered sometimes-violent battles for political power in Thailand between âYellow shirtsâ and the âRed shirtsâ that support both Thaksin and Yingluck Shinawatra who is due to hear the verdict on her trial relating to the Rice Pledging Scheme on 25 August 2017. Furthermore, a leader of the âRed Shirtsâ was recently jailed under defamation laws (PRATTEN 2017e).
Red Shirts members apparently see the various criminal cases against the Shinawatras and their allies as attempts to erase their influence from Thai political life. Combined with the possibility of a guilty verdict being handed down to Yingluck Shinawatra on 25 August, a successful appeal to the NACC by the PAD could be a scenario that triggers the kind of violence between Red Shirts and Yellow Shirts that has occurred in previous years. COMMENT ENDS.
East
Nothing Significant To Report outside of the arrests of five traffickers in Rayong province that appears to have led to a number of operations in Ayutthaya and Chiang Rai provinces (PRATTEN 2017a).
West
Nothing Significant To Report
South
Refer to the âCOUNTRY-WIDE REPORTING OF INTERESTâ which covers the landslide incident in Phang Nga province.
South East

29 July – 03 August 2017 – Crime Incidents in Songkhla Province. (Click on above image to expand):
A number of criminal incidents in Songkhla province during this week have revealed a trend about this area of Thailand. The arrests of traffickers in Sadao and Hat Yai districts have indicated Songkhla is the southern part of the trafficking routes for drugs being transported from the North and North-East reporting regions.
COMMENT. Since the start of May 2017, there have been no incidents in Songkhla related to the insurgency in Southern Thailand. There have not been any improvised explosive device (IED) attacks yet this province is included as an area for tourists to avoid due to the insurgence in the south (Bureau of Consular Affairs, 2017, Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, 2017, Foreign and Commonwealth Office, 2017, Global Affairs Canada, 2017, New Zealand Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade, 2017).
The arrest in Hat Yai district on 31 July 2017 led to the arrest of five Thai nationals in Khon Kaen province on 28 July 2017. They were trafficking a large amount of Ice from Laos with the intended destination being Malaysia. Drug seizures in the North-East of Thailand have rarely featured seizures of Ice, previous reports featured seizures of large quantities of marijuana (PRATTEN 2017f).
These arrests mentioned that the suspects were part of âsyndicates.â Previous reporting has stated that during a recent meeting between Thailand and Malaysia Narcotics officials in Chiang Mai, Thai authorities intended to deploy an inter-agency taskforce to Penang, Malaysia to investigate a well-established crime syndicate (PRATTEN 2017e). COMMENT ENDS.
01-04 August 2017 – IED Attacks in Pattani and Narathiwat:
The post-incident report written on the attacks that occurred over 01 August 2017 have assessed that the Pattani insurgent group has regained an improvised explosive device (IED) capability while the Narathiwat group appears to have resorted back to utilising remote controlled IEDs (RCIED) but amended their application through using a smaller RCIED as a âcome onâ to increase the chances of inflicting casualties on Thai police (PRATTEN 2017b).
However, on 04 August 2017, a police vehicle was hit by an RCIED in Bang Prao, Sun-gai Padi, Narathiwat province. While there we no casualties, investigation of the scene indicated the RCIED consisted of a main charge made from a 20kg gas tank, placed on the side of the road.
COMMENT. Such a main charge has previously been used against Thai Army soldiers in neighbouring Pattani province. One such attack was able to kill six soldiers and destroy the vehicle they were being transported in. These kinds of IEDS had not been reported on since the death of Lakman Mading. (PRATTEN 2017c). COMMENT ENDS.
Gulf
Nothing significant to report.
Assessment

This week has seen a period of heightened activity across Thailand. It would appear that Thailand is POTENTIALLY going through a period of increased risk for people currently there due to severe weather conditions around the country as well as developments in insurgent activities in the South East and the POTENTIAL for tensions between Red Shirts and Yellow Shirts to arise.
The floods and landslides caused by weather conditions and necessity to discharge water from dams up in the North of the country make it PROBABLE that these conditions will continue for what will POSSIBLY be for the entirety of August. The continuation of these conditions will POSSIBLY see more roads being affected from floods and landslides in the south, north and north-eastern reporting regions; making it PROBABLE the amount of disaster areas in Thailand will increase, affecting access and movement throughout the country.
The arrests and drug seizures that have occurred throughout Thailand will POTENTIALLY continue over the next week; they may even increase. Through the arrests in Rayong and Songkhla, Thai police will POSSIBLY be able to increase their chances of intercepting the supply of Ya bah and Ice coming into and through the country. Their actions so far have featured what appears to be highly valuable information on drug supply routes, delivery schedules and storage locations. They POTENTIALLY possess the means to target âbottlenecksâ of these trafficking routes in Chiang Rai and Songhkla provinces. While the drug manufacturing capabilities are outside of their jurisdiction, Thai police POTENTIALLY have greater chances of combatting drug trafficking at this time.
In addition to the analysis done on the IED attacks in the South-East reporting region on 01 August 2017, insurgents in these provinces have not just regained an IED capability in Pattani and adapted their employment of their RCIEDs to include âcome onâ style tactics; they have POTENTIALLY regained an IED capability which has previously inflicted the most casualties on Thai authorities since 01 May 2017; there is POTENTIAL that IED attacks in the South-East will now feature an ability to inflict larger amounts of casualties in addition to increased chances of current tactics becoming more lethal through âcome onâ tactics as well as the POTENTIAL for the Pattani group to combine their small arms attacks with IEDs and carry out complex attacks.
The PADâs intention to appeal the acquittal of former Prime Minister Somchai and those involved in the 2008 crackdown on Yellow Shirts members will have POTENTIAL to generate unrest similar to the violence between the two groups in previous years. However, this will POSSIBLY rely on the appeal to the NACC being successful and a guilty verdict being handed down to former Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra. Other unrest in the form of students protesting any guilty verdicts handed down to Pai Dao Din will be POSSIBLE too. Given the willingness to conduct protests while Pai Dao Din has been imprisoned, it is POSSIBLE that supporters of Pai Dao Din will be more willing to risk arrest and imprisonment should he be found guilty, especially of lèse majesté.
While unrelated to the above and not having any impact on the countryâs stability, the weapons procurements and upgrades that are to be completed for the Royal Thai Armed Forces indicate that the Thai government does not have a particular preference for particular countries when it comes to military weapons. Although further analysis on the Royal Thai Armed Forces will be necessary, it appears they have an eclectic approach to weapons procurement.

 

References
BUREAU OF CONSULAR AFFAIRS. 2017. Thailand [Online]. Wahington D.C.: US Department of State. Available: https://travel.state.gov/content/passports/en/country/thailand.html [Accessed 01 July 2017].
DEPARTMENT OF FOREIGN AFFAIRS AND TRADE. 2017. Thailand [Online]. Canberra: Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade,. Available: http://smartraveller.gov.au/countries/asia/south-east/pages/thailand.aspx [Accessed 01 July 2017].
FOREIGN AND COMMONWEALTH OFFICE. 2017. Thailand [Online]. London: Foreign and Commonwelath Office. Available: https://www.gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice/thailand [Accessed 01 July 2017].
GLOBAL AFFAIRS CANADA. 2017. Thailand [Online]. Ottawa: Global Affairs Canada, . Available: https://travel.gc.ca/destinations/thailand [Accessed 01 July 2017].
NEW ZEALAND MINISTRY OF FOREIGN AFFAIRS AND TRADE. 2017. Thailand [Online]. Wellington: New Zealand Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade. Available: https://www.safetravel.govt.nz/thailand [Accessed 01 July 2017].
PRATTEN M. 2017a. Post Incident Report: Drug Trafficker Arrests Rayong and Seizures in Ayutthaya. Intelligence Fusion [Online]. Available: https://www.intelligencefusion.co.uk/single-post/2017/08/04/Post-Incident-Report-Drug-Trafficker-Arrests-Rayong-and-Seizures-in-Ayutthaya [Accessed 05 August 2017].
PRATTEN M. 2017b. Post Incident Report: Southern Thailand IED Attacks. Intelligence Fusion [Online]. Available: https://www.intelligencefusion.co.uk/single-post/2017/08/03/Southern-Thailand-
IED-Attacks—Post-Incident-Report-Analysis [Accessed 03 August 2017].
PRATTEN M. 2017c. 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. 2017d. Weekly Intelligence Report: Monitoring in Thailand – 11 July 2017. Thailand [Online], 11 July 2017. Available: https://www.intelligencefusion.co.uk/single-post/2017/07/10/Weekly-Intelligence-Report-Monitoring-in-Thailand [Accessed 11 July 2017].
PRATTEN M. 2017e. Weekly Intelligence Report: Monitoring in Thailand – 24 July 2017. Thailand [Online], 24 July 2017. Available: https://www.intelligencefusion.co.uk/single-post/2017/07/24/Weekly-Intelligence-Report-Monitoring-in-Thailand [Accessed 24 July 2017].
PRATTEN M. 2017f. Weekly Intelligence Report: Monitoring in Thailand – 31 July 2017. Thailand [Online], 31 July 2017. Available: https://www.intelligencefusion.co.uk/single-post/2017/07/31/Weekly-Intelligence-Report-Monitoring-in-Thailand [Accessed 31 July 2017].
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