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Weekly Intelligence Report: Monitoring in Thailand

 

Date: 9 October 2017
Period Covered: 00:00hrs, 30 SEP 2017 â 12:00hrs 07 OCT 2017 (GMT+7
EXECUTIVE SUMMARYa
Overall, Thailandâs situation continues to be stable. Bangkok and the South-East â in that order â will PROBABLY continue to feature the highest amounts of activity for the next week. In Bangkokâs case especially, future reporting by available sources will PROBABLY focus on the upcoming funeral and cremation of the late King IX. However, with the apparent beginning of the dry season for Thailand, the amount and severity of flooding that has been occurring will POSSIBLY begin to decrease; this will POSSIBLY pave the way for greater monitoring of events by various media outside of Bangkok due to increased mobility and easier passage of information; thus increasing the amount of incidents being reported.
INTRODUCTION
This Intelligence Report aims to display all the incidents that have occurred during the past week in Thailand, expand on the key incidents in the reporting regions shown in the imagery below and analyse what it means for the country. Over this period there have been 31 incidents throughout Thailand which have been logged on the Intelligence Fusion platform at the time of this report. (McCabe and Harrington, 2017).
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.

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To date, September 2017 has seen the second highest level of activity across Thailand. The majority of incidents have been concentrated in the Bangkok and South-East reporting regions; Bangkok for its position as the centre of power in the country while the South-East continues to feature incidents relating to the ongoing insurgency (Deep South Watch, 2017a, Deep South Watch, 2017b, McCabe and Harrington, 2017). The start of October 2017 appears to be continuing this trend. Another noticeable detail about incidents this week is what appears to be a reduction in the number and severity of flood incidents across Thailand. Based on prior analysis of Thailandâs terrain and seasons changing in May and October, this week could mark a change into drier weather conditions (PRATTEN 2017a, Relief Web, 2017).Incidents over this reporting period have prompted slight changes in the travel advisories issued by the Australian, British and Canadian governments in relation to travelling to Thailand; details as to why can be seen in the section on Bangkok. Overall though, advice on travelling to Thailand has not changed (Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, 2017, Foreign and Commonwealth Office, 2017, Global Affairs Canada, 2017).
NORTH
1. Nothing Significant to Report
NORTH EAST

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2. 04 OCT 2017: 400kg of Marijuana Seized in Na Yoong District, Udon Thani
Border patrol police seized 400kg of compressed marijuana from Laos in Na Yoong district. They believed the shipment was destined for Japan. According to the police, the marijuana was ferried in sacks by three boats across the Mekong River from Laos to the Thai bank in Sangkhom district, Nong Khai province. Police followed the truck from Nong Khai to Ban Chiang Dee of Tambon Non Thong in Udon Thani’s Na Yoong district.
The driver of the vehicle managed to evade arrest when police tried to arrest him; resulting in police finding 390kg of dried and compressed marijuana bars, and 10kg of powdered marijuana in vacuum-sealed packs. The market value of the marijuana was Bt2 million in Laos, and Bt6 million once it had reached the Thai side of the border. The drugs were believed to be destined for Japan, where its price would soar 10 times.
COMMENT. The quantity of marijuana and its origin is nothing out of the ordinary. However, the apparent destination â Japan â is slightly peculiar. Japan is to the North-East of Thailand and Laos, making this shipmentâs direction of travel the completely opposite direction. A check of previous trafficking incidents has featured numerous incidents of illegal goods being discovered at Suvarnabhumi Airport in Bangkok. The illegal goods seized at this airport â mainly animal parts from Africa â were destined for Laos, Cambodia and Vietnam. In these cases, Thailand was a transit country (McCabe and Harrington, 2017). These drugs heading to Japan via Thailand cold have been going to Bangkok to be shipped to Japan via Suvarnabhumi Airport. COMMENT ENDS.
BANGKOK

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3. 04-06 OCT 2017: Further Warrants and Charges for Thaksin and Yingluck Shinawatra
The Attorney General Office has agreed to a police request to formally charge fugitive former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra for lésé majéste and violation of the Computer Act. Thaksin lives in exile after fleeing Thailand to escape a jail sentence for corruption after he was overthrown in a 2006 coup. Thaksin had allegedly made the contentious statements about who was behind a coup that ousted him in September 2006 during his interview with a South Korean media outlet in 2015.
Newly appointed Attorney General (AG) Khemchai disclosed this decision during his first press conference after assuming the top post at the Attorney General Office on 04 OCT 2017. AG Khemchai said that the next step would be to locate Thaksin and issue an arrest warrant. Once his whereabouts were confirmed, the Thai authorities would ask for his extradition.
Two days later, a third arrest warrant has been issued for former prime minister Yingluck Shinawatra, this time for sneaking out of the country. The Southern Bangkok Criminal Court issued the warrant for her failure to use an official border checkpoint to travel out of the country.
COMMENT. Yingluck fled Thailand around 23 August 2017, according to reports she crossed the border into Cambodia from Sa Kaeo province. The police investigation into those who helped her flee is continuing. After she was sentenced in absentia to 5 years prison, Thai police requested that INTERPOL issue a Blue Notice in order to gain information on her whereabouts. During these developments, it has been rumoured that Yingluck has been seeking asylum in the UK.
With several warrants for her arrest and a conviction along with the lésé majéste for her older brother Thaksin, it may become harder for these two to remain in exile. COMMENT ENDS.
4. 06 OCT 2017: 110,000 Pay Their Respects to Late King on Final Day of Public Viewing
About 110,000 people paid respects to the late King Rama IX’s royal urn on the last day for public viewing â the largest crowd to gather at the Throne Hall, raising the total to 12.7 million since the King’s death on 13 October 2016 at age 88, 12,628,642 mourners had viewed the Royal Urn in the past 336 days with donations received as a form of making merit for the late King now reaching Bt882,528,282.01 (US$26407196.59). The late monarch’s funeral will be held from October 25-29, with the cremation taking place on October 26.
COMMENT. These large numbers of people paying respects to the late King could indicate what kind of crowds will be in Bangkok during King Rama IXâs funeral and cremation. Such numbers for these significant ceremonies would be cause for roads to be closed, businesses to operate at shorter hours or close completely; making movement through Bangkok very restricted. COMMENT ENDS.
5. 07 OCT 2017: Organic Law on Political Parties Comes into Effect
The organic law on political parties, which introduces a primary voting system, has been promulgated and published in the Royal Gazette. It is set to take effect on 08 OCT 2017. This Organic Act – the 2017 Constitutional Act on Political Parties â is one of the four required to come into effect before the next general election is held.
Among the changes the 152-section law introduces are the required seed funds, membership fees and the primary vote. Before each party is set up, it must have at least 500 co-founders and a seed fund of not less than Bt1 million baht, contributed by all of its founders at rates ranging between Bt1,000 and Bt50,000. A party must collect an annual fee of Bt100 per year or a one-off lifetime fee of Bt2,000 from its members.
An MP candidate must be first chosen by his/her party’s respective branch or provincial representatives before they can run under its banner. Any donor to a party, its executives or members that support prohibited acts under Section 44 shall be subject to a jail term of not more than 10 years and/or a fine not more than Bt200,000. They will also lose the right to run for elections. The court may also try, hear witnesses and rule in absentia in a case where the defendant under the law has fled and cannot be brought to trial.
COMMENT. This is the first of the four organic laws to enable the election to occur to completely pass through the processes under the Interim Constitution. While this will enable political parties to begin preparing for the election to be held next year â if all Organic Laws are passed – COMMENT ENDS.
CENTRAL
6. Nothing Significant to Report
EAST

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7. 03-05 OCT 2017: Criminal Activity in Pattaya, Bang Lamung District, Chon Buri
Three incidents â a gang assault on a tourist, an arrest of a bank robber and an arrest of a Russian drug trafficker â have occurred during the week in Pattaya. Individually, these incidents are isolated. However, a quick examination of âCriminalityâ incidents from 01 May 2017 to Present has shown these three incidents have occurred within the majority of Crime incidents in this reporting region.
COMMENT. Such activity appears to be common. The Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade â DFAT â warns about risks of crime in popular tourist and night life areas including Pattaya (Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, 2017). Incidents plotted so far support advice given by DFAT but also suggest additional crime threats. A snapshot on high crime areas across Thailand appears to be warranted. COMMENT ENDS.
WEST
8. Nothing Significant to Report
SOUTH
9. Nothing Significant to Report
SOUTH EAST

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10. 30 SEP 2017: Peace Talks Over Southern Thailand Insurgency to Resume
General Aksara Kerdphol â a negotiator in peace talks with rebel groups â has stated that peace talks between the Thai government and insurgent groups the talks will resume after the royal cremation ceremony of the late King.
He admitted that the progress for peace talks was interrupted in the wake of recent improvised explosive device (IED) attacks. He said critics and news analysts linked the continual violence in the Deep South, despite of the ongoing peace talks, to whether groups that were negotiating have real command of the rebels. However, he has assured that despite the peace talks, security officials will continue their strategy to deploy troops in community areas, rural areas and jungles to win support from local people to reject all forms of violence.
MARA Pattani â an umbrella body consisting of several separatist groups â has reportedly stated it is ready to discuss a proposal to set up safety zones in the South at the next round of talks. A safety zone would be an area where fighting would be off limits, but the precise details of its location or size have not been made clear.
COMMENT. Peace talks with insurgents will be difficult due to an ongoing strategy of insurgent groups such as the Barisan Revolusi Nasional (BRN) not taking credit for attacks. This strategy makes it difficult to confirm which insurgent groups are willing to participate in peace talks. With this strategy, it is difficult to ascertain how much control or influence MARA Pattani has over insurgents in the South-East. Prior analysis on insurgent groups in this part of Thailand has not been able to identify which insurgents they exert influence or control over (PRATTEN 2017b, PRATTEN 2017c) COMMENT ENDS.
11. 04 OCT 2017: Deep South Watch Releases September Statistics in Mueang District, Pattani
The Deep South Watch civil society organisation â located at Prince of Songkhla University in Pattani â has published monthly statistics on incidents related to the insurgency in the South of Thailand. In summary, it has recorded 21 x shootings, 5 x IED incidents, 2 x assaults and 1 x incidents of sabotage. Data they have captured indicates insurgent activities â pictured below alongside incidents logged on the Intelligence Fusion platform â indicates the most active areas in September have been Sai Buri district in Pattani along with Rueso and Mueang districts in Narathiwat (Deep South Watch, 2017b).

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COMMENT. The areas of high activity appear to be consistent. However, the data displayed on the left is over one month while incidents captured so far on Intelligence Fusion through monitoring multiple media is over a lengthier period. The differences in data appear to indicate that insurgent activities are much more active than what is being observed across other media covering Thailand (McCabe and Harrington, 2017, Deep South Watch, 2017b). While integrating this data â and data found for August 2017 â has not changed the overall incident trends for the South East, the activities by insurgents based on this new information will make it harder for MARA Pattani to exert control over groups to comply with goals of the previously mentioned peace talks. COMMENT ENDS.
ASSESSMENT

Overall, Thailandâs situation continues to be stable. Bangkok and the South-East â in that order â will PROBABLY continue to feature the highest amounts of activity for the next week. In Bangkokâs case especially, future reporting by available sources will PROBABLY focus on the upcoming funeral and cremation of the late King IX. However, with the apparent beginning of the dry season for Thailand, the amount and severity of flooding that has been occurring will POSSIBLY begin to decrease; this will POSSIBLY pave the way for greater monitoring of events by various media outside of Bangkok due to increased mobility and easier passage of information; thus increasing the amount of incidents being reported.
Events around the rest of the country show a continuance of the status quo; particularly for incidents relating to Crime and the ongoing insurgency in the South-East reporting region. With the growing amount of data on these incidents, updated products on threats such as Crime will become a greater possibility.
With regards to the South, the addition of incident data from Deep South Watch has added weight to previous intelligence products written on the activities of insurgents. Considering this and the policy of not claiming responsibility for attacks, it appears that upcoming plans for peace talks with the aim of establishing safe zones in the South East will POTENTIALLY occur at best. With little confirmation on what specific groups are operating in the South-East â at this time it is assessed but not confirmed to be the BRN â there appears to be little chance of MARA Pattani being able to exert control or influence over insurgents in the South-East and compel their compliance with any safe zones that are agreed to from the upcoming talks.
Finally, with regards to the Shinawatras, the warrants that are being issued for their arrest are POSSIBLY aimed at preventing chances of these two â particularly Yingluck â of being granted asylum by another country. The warrants being issued for their arrest are PROBABLY aimed at making their chances of success unlikely.
References
DEEP SOUTH WATCH. 2017a. Summary of Incidents in Southern Thailand, August 2017 [Online]. Pattani: Deep South Watch,. Available: http://www.deepsouthwatch.org/sites/default/files/datasheet_2017_08_en.pdf [Accessed 02 October 2017].
DEEP SOUTH WATCH. 2017b. Summary of Incidents in Southern Thailand, September 2017 [Online]. Pattani: Deep South Watch,. Available: http://www.deepsouthwatch.org/sites/default/files/datasheet_09-2017en.pdf [Accessed 07 October 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 08 October 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].
MCCABE, M. & HARRINGTON, D. 2017. Intelligence Fusion Platform [Online]. London: Ambix. Available: https://www.intelligencefusion.co.uk/ [Accessed 12 August 2017].
PRATTEN M. 2017a. Fortnightly Snapshot: Thailand’s Flood Hazards. Intelligence Fusion [Online]. Available: https://www.intelligencefusion.co.uk/single-post/2017/09/04/Fortnightly-Snapshot-Thailands-Flood-Hazards [Accessed 08 September 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 08 October 2017].
PRATTEN M. 2017c. Thailand Fortnightly Snapshot: Update on the Insurgency. Intelligence Fusion [Online]. Available: https://www.intelligencefusion.co.uk/single-post/2017/10/04/Thailand-Fortnightly-Snapshot-Update-on-the-Insurgency [Accessed 08 October 2017].
RELIEF WEB. 2017. Thailand Country Profile [Online]. New York: United Nations. Available: http://reliefweb.int/updates?source=1503 [Accessed 15 July 2017 2017].
NB â For the sake of efficiency, 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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