Opinion – Prayut’s promise of cleaning up Thailand from ‘ills’ falls flat on his face after Chinese triad network seeps to the top ranks

The week-after-week revelation of how deep the network of the Chinese mafia has reached in Thailand is something that can only be blamed on the government of the 2014 coup leader, General Prayut Chan-o-cha.

The latest revelation saw Prayut’s handpicked anti-money laundering chief resign for allegedly helping the triad rather than prosecuting them.

So far, more than 6 billion Baht worth of assets has been seized from a Chinese syndicate that was exposed after an illegal club/casinos/drug den called Jinling in Yannawa was raided by the police in October.

Out of the 6 billion, half of it belongs to Chaiyanat “Tu Hao” Kornchayanant including deeds, mansions, and luxury cars.

The police said themselves that Tu Hao and other mafia bosses had left China for Cambodia to escape prosecution.

They were causing a lot of trouble in Cambodia before they met with a huge crackdown in the neighboring country which eventually led them to Thailand.

Tu Hao was busted for his “Zero Baht” tour scheme in Thailand earlier, where his tour companies were taking Chinese tourists around to Chinese-run businesses in the Kingdom only, hence the nickname.

Tu Hao and his friends managed to illegally obtain visas from corrupt immigration officers in order to stay and commit their crimes in the country.

Tu Hao even received a Thai nationality through marriage with a police colonel attached to the foreign affairs sub-division and a niece of a former national police chief and former deputy prime minister Pracha Phromnok.

After the Covid-19 pandemic destroy their Zero Baht tour business, these mafia bosses turned to illegal casinos and selling drugs to Chinese tourists instead.

The opening up of various pubs and casinos around Bangkok while corrupt police officers were taking bribes to look away.

Those corrupt officers even helped at least 2 prime suspects who could be used as witnesses to implicate Tu Hao, including his nephew and the drug maker who were procuring and cooking drugs for him, to escape custody while in transit.

All of this and the police somehow said that they still do not have enough evidence to charge him with money laundering and international crimes?

The drug-related charges are a given since they found drugs at the illegal club/casinos/drug den that he owned.

Jinling was clearly being used as a casino, he was accused of selling drugs and they seized more than 3 billion Baht from him but they still failed to charge him with money laundering.

An image of a counter inside Tuhao’s Jinling Club

These questions coupled with revelations from former massage parlor tycoon Chuwit Kamolvisit who has been exposing the triad led to the Department of Special Investigation’s decision to take on the money laundering charges instead of the police.

Then came another disclosure by Chuwit this week when he claimed that Tu Hao knows some bigwigs within the Anti-Money Laundering Office (AMLO) which is why the money laundering is still not bought up against him.

Chuwit said the Metropolitan Police Bureau had requested for AMLO to examine the money trail of the Chinese triads but the office failed to do so.

Chuwit also said he has evidence that Tu Hao has visited the office many times.

The exposure led to the resignation of AMLO’s chairman, Pol Maj Gen Piyaphan Pingmuang.

A copy of his resignation letter that was released online by Chuwit which was later confirmed to be true by Deputy Prime Minister Wissanu Krea-ngam stated that Piyaphan resigned because of health reasons.

Chuwit, like many people, dismissed the excuse before praising Piyaphan for resigning so that he can be investigated.

Wissanu confirmed that the National Anti-Corruption Commission (NACC) will still be able to investigate Piyaphan for his alleged connection with Tu Hao despite his resignation.

Wissanu also said that he will discuss acting Amlo secretary-general Theppasu Bavornchotidara to see what can be done next.

The exposure of this triad has once again shown how corrupt the police force and so-called independent institutions have become under the guidance of the 3 Ps (Prime Minister General Prayut Chan-o-cha, Deputy Prime Minister Prawit Wongsuwan and Interior Minister Anupong Paochinda).

The leadership from the coup makers who promised to get rid of corruption in the country when they took over power via a military coup in 2014 led to this mess, especially Gen. Prayut since the police answer directly to the PM office.

These generals painted a picture of a corrupt free society with their propaganda but the reality is far from it.

The reality is Prayut had failed to declare his asset, Prawit still got away with a false asset declaration by borrowing expensive wristwatches from a dead friend, and a Chinese triad that was running wild and unchecked until they were too obvious to deny.

AMLO was supposed to be one of the key institutions to tackle corruption but Gen. Prayut ordered the office to answer directly to him since 2016 and now its former chairman who Gen. Prayut appointed is being implicated with a triad.

Convicted drug smuggler and former deputy agriculture minister Thammanat Prompao, who was Gen. Prawit’s right-hand man before he chopped it off, was also linked to Tu Hao to the point where they were sitting on the same private jet and going to the same wedding.

Tuhao also donated 3 million Baht to the ruling pro-military Palang Pracharath Party that was led by Gen. Prawit last year.

So, in the end, if Tu Hao and his friends managed to get away with small sentences or ended up hanging himself in jail, it will not be a surprise at all.


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