Documents apparently showing a list of police officers to be favoured for promotions were presented in parliament Friday, as opposition members questioned the involvement of Prime Minister Prayut Chan-ocha in the alleged “patronage” system during the ongoing censure debate.
#ตั๋วช้าง (elephant ticket) was trending after Rangsiman Rome of the opposition Move Forward Party showed the four-page document from 2019, when the Royal Thai Police force was under the leadership of Prayut and of current Deputy Prime Minister Prawit Wangsuwan.
The so-called chang or elephant ticket is allegedly a list of police officers assured of promotion. The ticket, according to Rome, is a vehicle for positions and connections within the police, bypassing the official merit-based system for promotion.
“By forcing police officers to abide by the hideous cycle of the patron-client system, this ultimately hurts Thai society as a whole,” Rome said during the debate.
This scandal took place when Prayut and Prawit were still heads of the military junta, the National Commission for Peace and Order (NCPO), and also acting as heads of the Royal Thai Police force. Rome also said several senior government officials had written to various government agencies about promoting specific officers in 2019.
Rome asked whether Prayut and Prawit were aware that such corrupt practices were taking place, accusing the administration of allowing the police to indulge the “godfathers” operating gambling dens and the drug trade, while cracking down on pro-democracy protestors like criminals.
“Many officers have rapidly risen through the ranks without going through the right protocols and guidelines,” said Rome. “This demotivates police officers that are actually genuinely working for the people, and destroys the integrity of the police.”
The parliamentarian added that the Prime Minister and Deputy Minister should no longer hold office given the cronyism.
Rome said he was aware that he was breaching a dangerous taboo against some of the country’s most powerful vested interests. “This is probably the most dangerous action I’ve ever taken in my life,” he said during the hearing. “But since I have been chosen by the people, I will fight for the people.”
“I do not know what tomorrow will bring, but I have no regrets over the decisions that I have made today.”
The hashtag #ตั๋วช้าง had been tweeted over one million times on Friday afternoon in an outpouring of netizens’ support and respect.