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Weekly Intelligence Report: Monitoring in Thailand

 

Date: Sunday, 20 August 2017
Period Covered: 12:00hrs 12 August 2017 to 23:59hrs 18 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).
Executive Summary
While the statistics on incidents logged so far would indicate a continuing downward trend for activity occurring in Thailand, this week has shown that Thailand continues to experience a heightened situation due to the severity of incidents that have occurred. Flooding continues to affect the North and North-East and it appears that the South could begin to experience similar conditions.
While the VBIED raids that occurred in Songkhla are now over and all vehicles have been located, these raids indicate an escalation in insurgent activities in the South-East. On a more positive note, Thailandâs progress to returning to democratic rule appears to be on track with what would appear to be around 40% progress towards creating and implementing the 10 Organic Acts under its Constitution.
Introduction
This Weekly Intelligence Repot aims to display all the incidents that have occurred during the past week in Thailand, expand on the key incidents and assess what they mean for the country in terms of what could happen in the future and what it could mean for the countryâs stability.
Over the past week there have been 30 incidents throughout Thailand. Incidents that have been logged on the Intelligence Fusion platform indicate that so far, August is adding to a downward trend in terms of the number of incidents occurring throughout the country; with incidents up in the North reporting region being the only exception. The rate of incidents for August so far is at 4.7 incidents per day, slightly higher than July – 4.45 incidents per day – but much lower than June â 5.77 incidents per day (McCabe and Harrington, 2017).

Table 1. Incidents by Region, May 2017 to 20 Aug 2017
Country Wide Significance

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1. 15-18 August 2017 â Flooding Across Thailand continues:
Background on the above can be found in Post Incident Report: Flooding Continues Across Thailand, dated 15 August 2017.
Floods have continued in Bangkok, Phuket and in the 8 Central and North-East provinces mentioned in previous reporting. As of the time of this report, conditions do not appear to be improving in Bangkok, Ayutthaya or in areas such as Khon Kaen, Ubon Ratchathani, Sakon Nakhon or Nong Khai (PRATTEN 2017a). Conditions in Phuket appear to have worsened with the Phuket Governor Noraphat Plodthong stating the Southern Meteorological Centre forecasts the southwest monsoon prevailing over the Andaman Sea, the Gulf of Thailand and the southern coast would bring heavy rain to several southern provinces, increasing the chances of landslides on the island of Phuket as well as flash floods and runoff expected from Ranong all the way down to Satun province, see Figure 1 below.

Figure 1. Affected areas from current weather conditions. Phuket, Ranong, Phangnga, Krabi, Trang and Satun provinces.
In addition, heavy rain caused the Mae Sai River to break its banks, flooding the border area between Mae Sai district, Chiang Rai and Tachileik in Myanmar. Separate reporting has indicated the north-eastern region is expected to see another round of flooding next month as two more weakened storms are forecast to hit Thailand. The Water Resources Engineering Department at Chulalongkorn University has anticipated that at least two tropical depressions from the Indian Ocean are expected to develop in the next month, mainly affecting the North and North-East (Wipatayotin, 2017).
COMMENT. These areas of Thailand have experienced the brunt of heavy rain and the subsequent flood conditions. Provinces in the North-East reporting region were declared disaster areas after Tropical Depression Sonca reached Thailand. What has been adding to the conditions caused by the rain are major river systems such as the Mekong breaking their banks along with dams in these areas having to release water at a higher rate to avoid damage. According to information on seasonal conditions in Thailand, it is the monsoon season in Thailand it usually ends in October (Relief Web, 2017). COMMENT ENDS.
North

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2. 12 August 2017 – Police arrest man possessing Yaba and Heroin in Mae Chaem district, Chiang Mai:
Authorities raided the house of a hill-tribe man in Chiang Mai’s Mae Chaem district and found 3,940 methamphetamine pills – yaba pills – 1.7 kilograms of raw opium along with a homemade pistol and ammunition. He had bought the drugs from hill-tribe people in another village in Chiang Mai’s Galyani Vadhana district. The drug was shipped to his house every 10 days.
COMMENT. Due West and in close proximity to the dealerâs house and his suppliers in Galyani Vadhana is the Thai-Myanmar border shown in Figure 2. With the addition of higher ground to mitigate against flood risks and border patrols, this area could serve as an effective means to bring drugs into Thailand for sale and transportation further south. COMMENT ENDS.

Figure 2. Incident location, supplier area and Thai-Myanmar border
3. 17 August 2017 â Yaba, Ketamine and Ice Seized Through Raids and Surveillance in Mae Sai District, Chiang Rai:
In two separate operations, members of the Narcotics Suppression Bureau (NSB) seized 4.9 million Yaba pills, 200kg of ketamine and 1kg of Ice.
In the first operation, the NSB raided the house in Mae Sai district after being tipped off that a large shipment of drugs had been taken to a house in Tambon Wiang Phang Kham (no further information). The subsequent search of the premises found several sacks stacked in a room, others already loaded on the back of a pickup truck and four mobile phones. A total of 4.11 million Yaba pills and 200 packets labelled as tea were found to contain 200kg of ketamine.
Initial investigation found the drugs had arrived from the border, with the planned destination being Phrae province just to the south.
COMMENT. Previous reporting has not mentioned Phrae province being a transit point for drugs. Previous reports had identified provinces further South as storage and redistribution areas like Kamphaeng Phet, Phitsanulok and Phetchabun provinces (PRATTEN 2017d).
In the second operation, four parcels containing 880,000 Yaba pills and 1kg of Ice were scheduled to be shipped via a private courier in Muang district. The NSB learned the drugs would be sent via a company named Siam First that runs a long-distance coach service between Chiang Rai and Bangkok.
Officers conducted surveillance of the company and saw two men enter wanting to send four boxes of goods addressed to a âSarin Ritsakulâ (no further information). When they left, they were followed to Mae Fah Luang airport where they met two others. All four were arrested.
COMMENT. Private courier firms have been used to move illegal goods previously in Bangkok. However, drug trafficking has usually been done through the use of multiple vehicles, especially pickup trucks. COMMENT ENDS.
North East

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4. 16 August 2017 РPai Dao Din Pleads Guilty to L̩s̩ Maj̩st̩ In Khon Kaen
Prominent student leader Jatupat âPai Dao Dinâ Boonpattararaksa has pleaded guilty to defaming Thailand’s royal family by sharing a news story about the kingdom’s new monarch on Facebook. He was later sentenced to 2 and a half years prison.

Figure 3. Jatupat âPai Dao Dinâ Boonpattararaksa. Source: BBC News
COMMENT. Previous convictions for Lésé Majésté have been severe. The Pai Dao Din case has been a popular topic amongst media outlets. While no protests seem to have occurred since this incident, activists have previously been willing to risk breaking the current laws on political gatherings to call for his release when a major event or announcement by the junta has been made (McCabe and Harrington, 2017).
Central

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5. Son of TAO official dies from H1N1 (Swine Flu) in Mae Sot district, Tak
Nopporn Khamyaeng, son of the TAO president Singkham Khamyaeng, was first admitted to the hospital with a high fever, sore throat and a cough. Initial tests did not indicate that he had contracted swine flu. Doctors believed the virus had attacked the patient’s heart which led to a cardiac arrest, which rarely occurs in swine flu sufferers.
COMMENT. This incident is in close proximity to the Thai-Myanmar border and it appears to be the first instance of swine flu since 01 May 2017. Travel advice from the USA, UK, NZ, Australia and Canadian foreign ministries has not mentioned the presence of swine flu in Thailand (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).COMMENT ENDS.
Bangkok

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6. 17 August 2017 â NLA Votes To ‘Set Zero’ On the Human Rights Commission in Bangkok
The National Legislative Assembly (NLA) voted 199-0 to “set zero” for the organic law on the incumbent National Human Rights Commission (NHRC), whose members will remain acting commissioners until new members are chosen within 320 days. After being approved, the bill will be sent back to constitutional writers and to the NHRC. If the two bodies view some points in the NLA-approved version are unconstitutional, a three-way joint panel will be set up to sort out the differences before it is enacted.
COMMENT. This Organic Law is one of ten laws that are required to be passed under Thailandâs Interim Constitution in order to set up the means to hold elections and return the country to democratic rule. According to an available draft version of Thailandâs Constitution that would appear to replace the Interim Constitution once all Organic Laws are passed and democracy is re-established, âthe NHRC shall consist of seven members appointed by the King, with the advice of the Senate, from the persons selected (Office of the United Nations Resident Coordinator in Thailand, 2016).â Reports surrounding the return of democratic rule in Thailand indicate elections are to be held mid-2018 as long as the Organic Laws are passed. COMMENT ENDS.
7. 17 August 2017 – “Four-Generation Bill” Regarding Conflict of Interest to be Considered by NLA:
The NLA has accepted the conflict of interest bill for consideration. Known unofficially as the “four-generation bill”, the legislation applies to all public and political officials, those of state enterprises and public organisations; as well as people from the private sector who sit on committees in the public sector. It also applies to their spouses or partners, so long as they are proven to have lived together, and four generations.
Deputy Prime Minister Wissanu Krea-ngam told the lawmakers on Thursday the bill prohibited politicians and public officials from having a stake, both directly and indirectly, in public interest through their positions. Under this bill, public officials who left office no less than two years are also banned from being advisers, board members, agents, employees or holders of other positions in the companies previously under their supervision.
Punishments under the bill are a jail term up to five years or a fine not more than 100,000 baht, or both. If a state official commits the offence, the penalty doubles.
COMMENT. Although available reporting does not specifically state it, this bill on addressing conflicts of interest would appear to be similar to the Organic Act on Prevention and Suppression of Corruption. With this bill being submitted, along with the passage of the Organic Act on the NHRC and previous reports indicating the Organic Acts on Political Parties and the Election Commission have been passed, progress on the Organic Acts that are required to return Thailand to democratic rule would appear to be approaching 40% completion. COMMENT ENDS.
East, West and South Reporting Regions
Nothing significant to report.
South East

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8. 18 August 2017 â Mazda Thunder Pick-Up Truck Found in Saba Yoi District, Songkhla:
Background information on this incident and the others shown above can be found in:
THREAT WARNING: Thailand – Possible Car Bomb in Songkhla or Pattani, dated 17 August 2017Post Incident Report: Songkhla VBIED Raids and Pattani Car Bombing, dated 18 August 2017
Police found the stolen Mazda Thunder pickup truck left abandoned in a rubber plantation in Saba Yoi district after they were tipped off by villagers. It is unknown if this vehicle was fitted with explosives. However, this vehicle was used to transport insurgents to the Wang To car centre in Songkhla that saw 6 vehicles stolen for the purposes of vehicle borne improvised explosive device (VBIED) attacks intended for Pattani province (PRATTEN 2017b).
While much of the raid and subsequent attacks have been covered in post-incident analysis, there have since been a few updates:
One of the hostages shot by the insurgents in Wang Yai, later died in hospital.Investigation revealed that all seven militants who robbed the used car shop did not conceal their faces and they spoke Yawi dialect. Most of them were identified by witnesses and the surviving hostages. It is believed they carried out Wednesdayâs attack at a dealership in Songkhla province due to tight security in the three southernmost provinces of Yala, Pattani and Narathiwat.The raid of the Wangto Car Centre was a coordinated operation by a group under Bukolee Lamso and Rosidee Buenae from Saba Yoi district as well as Manase Saidee from Muang district, Pattani. Other insurgents involved include insurgent cell leaders Sobeuree Jeha in Saba Yoi district, Songkhla and Ahama Sa-ie in Mayo district, Pattani. Sobuereeâs team stoles the vehicles in Yarang district while Manase lead similar efforts in Songkhlaâs Na Tawee district. The third team, led by Bukoree, fitted the explosives to vehicles (Itthipongmaetee, 2017) .Authorities believe they represent a new generation of the 54-year-old Barisan Revolusi Nasional (BRN). None were found to have criminal records, according to Gen. Udomdej Sitabutr, Deputy Minister Of Defence.Reporting that has since been added to these incidents on the Intelligence Fusion platform has revealed a final timeline of events. See Figure 2 below.

Figure 4. Timeline of VBIED raids and attacks (Click on above image to expand)
COMMENT. The timeline and locations shown above add weight to previous assessments that these VBIEDs were heading for Pattani. With regards to the group responsible, it is difficult to tell the specific groups insurgents belong to in Thailand as they do not follow methods of taking credit for attacks that is seen around the world.
This kind of attack has not occurred at least in 2017. Apart from the coordinated attack on Rangae police station, the last kind of high profile attack carried out in Southern Thailand was the Big C Super Centre bombing in May. This incident would have appeared to have been a much more severe attack had it succeeded. Given that not much is known about the attackers â apart from leaders and the one insurgent killed â those who carried out these attacks will have the ability to avoid detection and arrest for the time being.
While the BRN is the most established insurgent group in Southern Thailand, there is also the Runda Kumpilan Kecil (RKK). This group has previously been considered an offshoot or another faction of the BRN (Fevrier, 2017, PRATTEN 2017c). Prior to the raid on the Wangto Car Centre, updates were provided on the progress of three major cases. One of the incidents under these major cases pointed to an element of the RKK being behind a coordinated attack against the Rangae police station earlier this year (PRATTEN 2017b).
Assessment

While the statistics on incidents logged so far would indicate a continuing downward trend for activity occurring in Thailand, this week has shown that Thailand continues to experience a heightened situation due to the severity of incidents that have occurred. Flooding continues to affect the North and North-East and it appears that the South could begin to experience similar conditions.
While the VBIED raids that occurred in Songkhla are now over and all vehicles have been located, these raids indicate an escalation in insurgent activities in the South-East. On a more positive note, Thailandâs progress to returning to democratic rule appears to be on track with what would appear to be around 40% progress towards creating and implementing the 10 Organic Acts under its Constitution.
The flooding up in the North and North-East will certainly continue and PROBABLY worsen. Even though flooding appears to have reduced, this reduction will PROBABLY be a temporary respite. With just over two months to go before the monsoon season ends, weather conditions and terrain in these areas will continue to cause floods, landslides and POSSIBLY see roads and key infrastructure effected as well as increased risks of diseases spreading, leading to disaster areas being declared again.
With the conditions being seen in Phuket, warnings given for provinces surrounding it and the anticipated storms that will originate from the Indian Ocean, the same issues will PROBABLY occur in the South, exacerbating the flood situation in Thailand. However, the subsequent floods and disasters will PROBABLY be within the scope of Thai authorities to handle.
This could POSSIBLY be advantageous to addressing drug trafficking up in the North, particularly in Chiang Mai and Chiang Rai provinces. The floods caused by the Mae Sai river breaking its banks will POSSIBLY force traffickers crossing into Thailand to take the hill areas along the Thai-Myanmar border. While these borders are POSSIBLY porous and easier to avoid detection, the quantities of drugs that have usually been sent into Thailand will POSSIBLY be harder to move I these areas as roads will POSSIBLY be of poorer quality. In addition, NSB and other forces engaged in countering drug trafficking will POSSIBLY have a smaller area to concentrate their efforts.
The prison sentence handed down to Pai Dao Din will PROBABLY be an issue that activists will want to campaign about. However, they will POSSIBLY wait until the government makes an announcement on a separate issue that will generate large amounts of media attention from both local and international outlets.
Considering the above, these groups may even wait until after the elections as the progress on Organic Laws being passed by the NLA indicates that Thailand will have elections and return to democratic rule by mid next year. Once these have occurred, Pai Dao Din will PROBABLY still be imprisoned and activist groups will PROBABLY have much more freedom of movement.
The VBIED raids in the South-East are over. However, the attempt made by this group was audacious and had it not been for many of the vehicles running out of fuel, it is PROBABLE the damage and casualties caused by these insurgents would have been much more severe. The severity of the raids will PROBABLY force insurgents to lay low for the time being, they will POSSIBLY have to cross into Malaysia in order to avoid arrest given what has come to light about their identities. However, when the intensity to find all those involved subsides, it is PROBABLE this kind of attack will be attempted again. Given that these insurgents used stole the vehicles form Songkhla due to too much attention towards their activities in Pattani, Narathiwat and Yala, it is POSSIBLE these insurgents will attempt to obtain their vehicles elsewhere in order to avoid attention. They could POTENTIALLY source vehicles from nearby Trang, Satun, Krabi, Phattalung and Nakhon Si Thammarat provinces.
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].
FEVRIER, V. 2017. Southern Thailand: Instability in Patani, a Threat to the Greater Region. Intelligence Fusion [Online], 2017. Available: https://www.intelligencefusion.co.uk/single-post/2017/05/16/Southern-Thailand-Instability-in-Patani-a-Threat-to-the-Greater-Region [Accessed 16 May 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].
ITTHIPONGMAETEE, C. 2017. Truck Bomb Ring Is New Generation Of Militants: Officials. Khaosod English [Online]. Available: http://www.khaosodenglish.com/news/crimecourtscalamity/crime-crime/2017/08/18/truck-bomb-ring-new-generation-militants-officials/ [Accessed 20 August 2017].
MCCABE, M. & HARRINGTON, D. 2017. Intelligence Fusion Platform [Online]. London: Ambix. Available: https://www.intelligencefusion.co.uk/ [Accessed 12 August 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].
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 08 July 2017 2017].
PRATTEN M. 2017a. Post Incident Report: Flooding Continues Across Thailand. Intelligence Fusion [Online]. Available: https://www.intelligencefusion.co.uk/single-post/2017/08/15/Post-Incident-Report-Flooding-Continues-Across-Thailand [Accessed 19 August 2017].
PRATTEN M. 2017b. Post Incident Report: Songkhla VBIED Raids and Pattani Car Bombing. Intelligence Fusion [Online]. Available: https://www.intelligencefusion.co.uk/single-post/2017/08/18/Post-Incident-Report-Songkhla-VBIED-Raids-and-Pattani-Car-Bombing [Accessed 19 August 2017].
PRATTEN M. 2017c. 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 24 July 2017].
PRATTEN M. 2017d. 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 07 August 2017].
RELIEF WEB. 2017. Thailand Country Profile [Online]. New York: United Nations. Available: http://reliefweb.int/updates?source=1503 [Accessed 15 July 2017 2017].
WIPATAYOTIN, A. 2017. Indian Ocean storms to whip up floods. The Bangkok Post [Online]. Available: http://www.bangkokpost.com/news/general/1307383/ [Accessed 17 August 2017].
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