BANGKOK – According to a government spokesperson Junta PM, Gen. Prayut Chan-o-cha has transferred Pol Lt Gen Surachate Hakparn, aka Big Joke, from the police force to the civil service, where he will serve as a special adviser to the Prime Minister’s Office.
The order was signed by Gen Payut on Tuesday in his capacity as chief of the National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO) and published in The Royal Gazette the same day, effective immediately.
The order stated that Pol Lt Gen Surachate was another official assuming a temporary position pending an investigation. It effectively added his name to a list of 45 state officials sidelined pending investigations under another NCPO order. The original document was issued on May 15, 2015 by Gen Prayut using his authority under Section 44 of the interim constitution.
As a result of the order, Pol Lt Gen Surachate is completely detached from his former position of immigration police commissioner under the Royal Thai Police Office.
Assistant government spokesperson Taksada Sangkhajan said the cabinet meeting on Tuesday acknowledged Gen Prayut’s order. She did not know when Pol Lt Gen Surachate would report to the Prime Minister’s Office, or which area of work he would be assigned to.
Prime Minister Prayut did not explain the issue on Tuesday.
Following his appointment as immigration chief in October 2018 Pol Lt Gen Surachate rapidly became the kingdom’s most high-profile police officer, featuring almost daily in headline stories aggressively pursuing foreigners in the country illegally, visa overstayers and criminals alike, under the slogan “Good Guys In, Bad Guys Out”.
He was also deputy director of Thailand’s Action Taskforce for Information Technology Crime Suppression (Tactics), which targets cybercrime such as romance scams and online fraud and is also under the Royal Thai Police Office.
He was abruptly removed from the job of immigration chief last week. National police chief Pol Gen Chakthip Chaijinda transferred him to the Royal Thai Police Operations Centre on Friday night.
Pol Lt Gen Surachate was reported to retain close ties with Gen Prawit Wongsuwon, deputy prime minister, defence minister and deputy NCPO chief.