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Weekly Intelligence Report: Monitoring in Thailand

 

Date: Saturday, 02 September 2017
Period Covered: 00:00hrs, 19 August 2017 to 23:59hrs, 01 September 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
NOTE â THIS REPORT COVERS A FORTNIGHT RATHER THAN A WEEK DUE TO OTHER CIRCUMSTANCES. THIS REPORT WILL RESUME ITS WEEKLY SCHEDULE FROM NOW ON.
Incident data for this week and the trends for August would indicate that Thailandâs situation has stabilised somewhat. However, the reduction in incidents is PROBABLY down to the attention by media organisations within and outside of Thailand focussing on the developments of Yingluck Shinawatraâs then upcoming verdict and her subsequent escape from the country. Thailandâs situation in terms of overall stability POSSIBLY remains the same in previous intelligence reports.
Introduction
This Intelligence Report aims to display all the incidents that have occurred during the past fortnight 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 14 days there have been 26 incidents throughout Thailand. Incidents that have been logged on the Intelligence Fusion platform indicate that August has added to the downward trend in terms of the number of incidents occurring throughout the country; with the trends in the North and Bangkok reporting regions being exceptions. The rate of incidents for August has been 3.52 incidents per day, finishing lower than July – 4.45 incidents per day â and lower June â 5.77 incidents per day (McCabe and Harrington, 2017).

Table 1. Incidents by Region, May 2017 to 20 Aug 2017
North
1. Nothing Significant to Report.
North East
2. Nothing Significant to Report.
Central
3. The continued threat of flooding from rains up in the North along with recent developments over this fortnight will be the subject of an upcoming Fortnightly Snapshot product.
Bangkok

(Click on above image to expand)

4. 25-29 August 2017 – Yingluck Shinawatra Flees Thailand:

Figure 1. Former Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra (L) and Thaksin Shinawtra (R). Sources (in order): The Bangkok Post and South China Morning Post
Former Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra (pictured above) failed to appear at the Supreme Court on 25 August 2017 for the verdict in the negligence case brought against her by the current government; the National Council for Peace and Order. The Supreme Court subsequently issued an arrest warrant after she failed to attend the court.
It was later discovered that she had fled the country. She is believed to have fled to Dubai where her brother, former PM Thaksin Shinawatra, is living in exile after he fled the country. The Supreme Court has since re-scheduled the verdict for the 27 September 2017. However, available reporting indicates Thai authorities have no record of her leaving the country by any official means.
COMMENT. Yingluck faced up to 10 years in prison if she was found guilty. The verdict was assessed to be a potential flashpoint for politically motivated violence and led police to deploy up to 4,000 personnel outside the court to prevent it; particularly from those of the âRed Shirtsâ movement that heavily support the Pheu Thai Party dominated by the Shinawatra family. This group had previously been behind unrest that shut down the 2009 ASEAN Summit as well as one member carrying out a series of bombings earlier this year; indicating the potential for lone individuals in the âRed Shirtsâ to cause unrest in the country. The Red Shirts and its members predominantly consist of those living in rural areas up in the North-East who benefitted greatly form the rice pledging scheme Yingluck was on trial for. The Red Shirts have long believed that the trial and actions taken against the Shinawatra family and Pheu Thai Party have been nothing more than politically motivated efforts by elites in Bangkok to undermine the Shinawatraâs influence. (McCabe and Harrington, 2017, PRATTEN 2017a).
However, there would have also been potential for unrest had there been a not guilty verdict on the part of the anti-Thaksin âYellow Shirtsâ groups or Peopleâs Alliance for Democracy (PAD). A not guilty verdict had the potential to further infuriate the group after the recent acquittal of former Prime Minister Somchai Wongsawat â a relative of Thaksin and Yingluck Shinawatra â and three others for the October 2008 crackdown on Yellow Shirtsâ occupation of government buildings (PRATTEN 2017b). COMMENT ENDS.
In the wake of her fleeing the country, allegations arose that her escape was assisted by high ranking government and security officials in order to avoid the potential unrest whichever verdict the Supreme Court could have handed down. This led to calls form the PAD for inquiries and action to be taken by Thailandâs anti-corruption commission.
A subsequent statement on 29 August 2017 by Royal Thai Army Chief General Chalermchai Sitthisad rejected claims of her the government or security forces assisting her escape and indicated that Yingluck seized the moment when the government’s guard was down. With help from the likes of her brother Thaksin, she slipped out of the country undetected. According to General Chalermchai Sitthisad, she abandoned all of her phones and changed cars, making it hard to track her. In addition, the General revealed that officers had recently been withdrawn from guarding the front of her Bangkok house in response to allegations from the public and Yingluck herself that the military were violating her personal rights and intimidating her.
COMMENT. The lead up to the final verdict and Yingluckâs escape from Thailand have been topics which have dominated open source reporting channels over this monitoring period. Such coverage would provide an indication as to why the August incident data in this reportâs introduction has come much lower than previous months. COMMENT ENDS.
5. 25-31 August 2017 â Former Commerce Minister Boonsong Teriyapirom Jailed For 42 Years:

Figure 2. Former Commerce Minister Boonsong Teriyapirom. Source: The Bangkok Post.
Former commerce minister and former Pheu Thai Party member Boonsong Teriyapirom (picture above) was sentenced to 42 years in jail by the Supreme Court’s Criminal Division for Holders of Political Positions on 25 August for his involvement in corrupt government-to-government rice deals during the government led by then-prime minister Yingluck Shinawatra. The verdict was delivered on the same day Yingluck Shinawatra was due to appear for her verdict as the two cases were linked.
His lawyer attempted to secure bail for him for the second time as part of making an appeal against the sentence on the 31 August but the Supreme Court’s Criminal Division for Holders of Political Positions ruled there were no grounds for his temporary release from prison to appeal the judgement.
COMMENT. The rejection of bail would appear to be a means of preventing him from fleeing the country in light of Yingluck Shinawatraâs escape from Thailand. COMMENT ENDS.
6. 24-29 August 2017 â Reactions of the Pheu Thai Party, Red Shirts and Additional Convictions:
Yingluckâs escape from Thailand has resulted in key members of the Pheu Thai Party to meet and discuss the way ahead for the elections to be held next year. However, Yingluckâs sudden escape from Thailand has drawn criticism from previous supporters amongst the Red Shirts; reporting about Yingluckâs escape has featured Red Shirts members criticising her fleeing Thailand and heavily degraded the influence of the Shinawatra family in the Pheu Thai Party. The subsequent losses of support and influence have indicated the Pheu Thai Partyâs appeal and influence in Thai politics has been broken. In addition, two former members of the party were sentenced to two yearâs prison each for corruption offences by Thailandâs Criminal and Appeals Courts (McCabe and Harrington, 2017).
COMMENT. These incidents just before and after Yingluckâs escape from Thailand would mean the Pheu Thai Party will, if it still exists next year, be contesting the election with a much lower support base and much less strength from influential elites. COMMENT ENDS.
7. 31 August 2017 â Supreme Court Dismisses Case Against Former PM Abhisit Vejjajiva For Crackdown On Red Shirts Protests In 2010:

Figure 3. Former Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva (L) and Suthep Thaugsuban (R). Source: The Bangkok Post
Thailand’s Supreme Court on Thursday dismissed a case against former Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva (pictured above) for ordering a deadly crackdown on demonstrators protesting against his government in 2010. Abhisit and his deputy, Suthep Thaugsuban, were accused of murder and attempted murder in connection with the crackdown on “Red-Shirts” two-month street protests in Bangkok.
The Supreme Court upheld rulings by lower courts that the police’s Department of Special Investigation had no jurisdiction to bring the case. The Supreme Court said that any case against Abhisit would have to be filed by the National Anti-Corruption Commission through a specific division of the court that deals with those who held political office. A spokesman for the pro-Shinawatra Red Shirts said the group had already petitioned the Anti-Corruption Commission to take the case against Abhisit and Suthep back to court.
COMMENT. This case appears to be a similar scenario that saw former Prime Minister Somchai Wongsawat acquitted for a crackdown against the anti-Thaksin âYellow Shirtsâ group back in 2008. The acquittal has since been a source of anger by the group. COMMENT ENDS.
East
8. Nothing Significant to Report.
West

9. 31 August 2017 – Thai Customs seize smuggled live Pangolins and Pangolin scales in Prachuap Khiri Khan:
After receiving a tip-off, Thai Customs seized 136 Pangolins and 450kg of the animal’s scales destined for Laos and China when they intercepted two pick-up trucks in Prachuap Khiri Khan. The smuggled pangolins were brought into Thailand from Malaysia.

Figure 4. Pangolin. Source: The Star Online.
Found only in Asia and Africa, the largely solitary and nocturnal pangolin, or “scaly anteater,” (pictured above) is in high demand in countries like China and Vietnam, with their meat considered a delicacy and their scales used in folk remedies for ailments such as asthma, rheumatism and arthritis. The demand has put this animal under threat from becoming extinct.
COMMENT. Previous reporting going back to May 2017 has not featured this kind of animal being smuggled into Thailand, nor has there been any arrests of any endangered animals in this area. Previous reports of animals or animal parts being smuggled into or through Thailand have been down at the border in Satun Province or smuggled items being discovered at Bangkokâs International Airport (McCabe and Harrington, 2017). COMMENT ENDS.
South
10. Nothing Significant to Report
South East
11. The recent arrest of three people linked to the VBIED raids in Songkhla has provided information relating to the supply lines of insurgent groups in the South East. This incident, combined with reporting from the VBIED raids, will be utilised in a future Fortnightly Snapshot Product.
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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