THE MOVE to strip former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra of his police title should be made "courageously" this month, Justice Minister Paiboon Koomchaya said yesterday.
However, Pol General Somyot Poompanmuang, the National Police chief, denied delaying the decision, saying he referred the matter last month to the Council of State – the government’s legal advisory arm – as there were some issues needing review.
“The Royal Thai Police is not dragging its feet. I am dealing with this issue carefully and in accordance with the legal process. This matter is now in the hands of the Council of State, and I can’t press them. I hope with the justice minister’s involvement, this case will make faster progress,” he said.
The police chief said he explained the situation to Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha and Deputy Premier Prawit Wongsuwan when he met them earlier in the day.
Prayut assigned the Justice Ministry to take over after the police made no headway. Police rules call for an officer convicted of a crime to have his rank revoked. In 2008, Thaksin was sentenced to two years in jail for abuse of authority while he was premier.
Paiboon conferred with his ministry’s legal experts for an hour to determine the points to be raised during today’s meeting with representatives from the Council of State and police.
Police have been on this case for a long time already, he said.
“They should have a clear answer for society now. They must be brave to talk.”
After he was told by reporters that Somyot had told the prime minister that retracting an officer’s title could be done only when he was still serving in the force, he said that if that was the case, the police need to tell that to the public openly.
“This case of rank revocation is not just about a specific individual. So, when we have a clear answer, we must have the courage to tell the public. We must have no fear of people who want to see the rank revoked or people who don’t want it.
“If we have that fear, we won’t be able to enforce the law,” he said.
Laws and regulations must be followed, he said, adding that he expects to get a firm answer from today’s meeting.
“I said clearly that I don’t want to wait any longer. After we come up with a resolution, we will immediately pass it to the prime minister. Initially we intended to complete it in August. I see no need to prolong this any further,” he said.
Prayut said the authorities were working carefully on this, but denied that he wanted to help anyone in particular.