Thailand: Rotten At The Top


August 5, 2012: Eight years of continued terrorist activity in the south has led the army to ask for help. Specifically they want the national police and other government bureaucracies to help out. Currently, the army is expected to take care of everything. This includes a lot of police work (like guarding schools and teachers) and border control (dealing with the smuggling gangs, who finance the Islamic terror groups). The army also wants more aircraft, especially for surveillance. The army also wants the ability to impose a curfew as needed and more coordination with other government agencies. One part of the problem the generals do not want to discuss is corruption and political activity within the military. The army took over the government six years ago and only surrendered power last year. This has made dealing with the restive south difficult since, in the grand scheme of things, the Islamic terror campaign down there is not as important as the political struggle between royalists (who have the army on their side) and the populists (who have most voters on their side).  The populists have long criticized army performance in the south. Much of the criticism was unfair as the main problem was the government being distracted by the struggle between the royalists and populists. The army corruption did most of its damage in keeping the army from getting new or adequate equipment. The troops were eager to deal with the Islamic terrorism, despite the shortcomings of their commander.

This raises another problem the army has, which senior leaders prefer not to talk about: the useless bomb detectors. The army, and many other government agencies, spent over $30 million on buying useless bomb detectors. It's not a new problem, two years ago the government ordered the army to stop buying (for about $30,000 each) GT200 bomb detectors. Scientific tests of the devices (similar to the equally ADE 651 sold to Iraq) showed that they were useless. But apparently much of the sales price is kicked back to military procurement officials, as the devices cost less than $10 to manufacture. Army procurement officers insisted they were innocent and that the devices really do work (they don't, and the manufacturer in Britain is being prosecuted for fraud). Recently the DSI (Department of Special Investigation, similar to the U.S. FBI) again tried to get the devices taken out of service but the army and other government users (or at least the senior officials) refused. To admit that the accusations are true would open many senior officials to corruption charges.  

July 31, 2012: In the south (Pattani) Islamic terrorists set off a bomb, wounding five people.

July 30, 2012: Three police officers were sentenced to death for killing a 17 year old suspected of drug dealing and trying to hide their actions. The killing happened eight years ago and the three were among the few prosecuted and convicted for over 2,000 such killings back then. This was part of a government program to crack down on the drug trade, using any means necessary.

July 28, 2012: In the south three civilians were shot dead in two incidents. In addition four soldiers died when their patrol was ambushed by at least twenty Islamic terrorists. This spike in terrorist activity happens each year at the start of the Islamic holy month of Ramadan.

July 25, 2012: In the south a roadside bomb killed five soldiers.


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