BANGKOK — Senior police officials on Thursday rejected a proposal to reinstate a police rank to former immigration chief Surachate “Big Joke” Hakparn.
Two months after his abrupt removal from the force, Surachate was nominated for a position in a police committee earlier this week, raising speculation that his return could be imminent. But deputy police commissioner Wirachai Songmetta said top police chiefs rejected the proposal in a meeting today.
Gen. Wirachai did not give an explanation for the rejection.
In a statement distributed to the press by his aides, Surachate said he’s willing to work in any capacity.
“No matter what position I hold, I am ready to work as a civil servant under His Majesty the King,” Surachate was quoted as saying. “And I will dedicate my strength and my heart to being a part of national development.”
Surachate, who many predicted would one day be police commissioner before his mysterious fall from grace in April, could not be reached for comment as of publication time.
He has not attended any public events since his removal, which saw him lose all his police ranks and be transferred to an obscure post ostensibly advising the Prime Minister’s Office.
Photos widely shared on social media showed Surachate praying at a temple in Nakhon Si Thammarat last week. In his statement, the former immigration chief confirmed the authenticity of the pictures.
“Ever since I was appointed as a civilian [official], I no longer have to go out and fight crime like in the past, so I have more time to practice my faith,” Surachate wrote, adding that he is currently on a tour with his wife to pray at famous temples in the south and the northeast.
He did not mention the circumstances surrounding his removal from office, which struck some observers of police circles as odd: Surachate was not formally accused of any wrongdoing, and top brass never convened a disciplinary committee as is typical for disgraced police officials.
Prior to his mysterious departure from the force, Surachate held multiple senior positions including in the immigration bureau and cybercrime department.
When questioned by reporters yesterday about Surachate’s possible return to the police ranks, deputy junta chairman Prawit Wongsuwan gave a resounding no.
“He can’t come back to serve in the police force, because he’s already been transferred to the civilian administration,” said Gen. Prawit, who oversees military and police affairs. “How can he come back?”
Note: Some details were omitted from this article due to legal concerns.