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Thailand DSI: 'We Serve The Public, Not The Government'


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#1 webfact

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Posted 2011-03-14 06:25:48

EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW
'We serve the public, not the government'
By Somroutai Sapsomboon,
Kornchanok Raksaseri
The Nation

The Department of Special Investigation (DSI) is not a political tool for politicians, director-general Tharit Phengdit said. He argues that the DSI should be elevated to be a "super" department just like the Royal Thai Police, National Security Council and the National Intelligence Agency.

DSI is seen as a political tool. Is that true?

I have to accept that the DSI has been always criticised as such. I have been working here for nine years, I can say the DSI does not serve politics. Everyone can make use of the DSI. We have to work no matter if it is the opposition or the government who files a complaint. Otherwise, we must be charged with malfeasance. The DSI is a public service, not the government's, nor the opposition's.

But the DSI is seen as more inclined to work for the government.

We are a law enforcement agency. We then have to work for the state sector. Our agency is under the government just as the police but we don't follow the government's policies. We stick to the laws. Right is right, wrong is wrong. It depends on how one can smartly make use of that.

Is the Special Investigation Board part of the reason the DSI is seen as having its work interfered with by politicians?

The board has nothing to do with the case order. It cannot say who is right or wrong. It's just similar to the police board in that some members are politicians.

The national police board can be involved in a reshuffle, but the DSI boards can't. Its duty is to screen cases that may become special investigation cases. Most of them match the laws listed at the end of the Special Investigation Act. Moreover, there are only two members that are politicians: the prime minister and the finance minister. The 20 others are government officials and experts.

By the way, do you think cases can be interfered with more easily if it they are with the DSI or with police?

DSI mechanisms involve many agencies so it is very difficult to interfere.

Three weeks ago, the DSI dropped the share concealment case against (former prime minister) Thaksin (Shinawatra) and Pojaman (Damapong, his ex-wife). Why would we do that if we worked for the government?

I insist we work straight-forwardly and it's difficult to dominate us.

It is said that you used to support the (anti-government) red shirts and switched sides later.

I'm not a member of any group but I can have a preference, as our country is democratic.

The turning point in my life was that I was moved from the Attorney's office to the Justice Ministry when Thaksin was the premier and Somchai (Wongsawat, Thaksin's brother-in-law) was the permanent secretary of justice. If you say those who got promoted at that time were red shirts, that would cover all the Justice Ministry's officers. Nevertheless, I still respect and I have faith in him just the same, that never changes.

How has your life changed? How is your security after being attacked by the red shirts?

I am still a good boy for my security guards. I used to go to the market and bring my kids to places. Now I can't, since I went to buy a newspaper and some red shirts surrounded and scolded me.

The security people then asked me not to go to public places. I have to follow that, as I am the DSI director-general.

If the DSI office is bombed with M-79 grenades or I am hit on the head, that will affect the DSI's credibility. People will say that we can't even take care of ourselves, how can we save the people?

Over the past nine years, do you think the DSI has accomplished the objective of establishing this agency?

I think so. According to statistics, a lot of cases were submitted by the DSI, the attorneys filed the cases and the court found the defendants guilty as we indicted.

What are the DSI's masterworks?

(Tharit described many cases the agency is in charge such as "tax evasion cases and natural resources and environment cases, which we reclaimed and save a lot of the country's interest," but not particular cases.) The success was a result of the DSI's teamwork. Our principle is that we cannot create a super man but we can create superman teams. Unlike police, the DSI integrates people from agencies to work as a task force. We don't work a one-man-show.

DSI is perceived as having conflicts with police.

No. In principle we examine each other so that no agency is 100 per cent authorised. That's for the country's sake. In practice, we work in parallel and sometimes share information. We don't conflict these days; we might have in the early age of the DSI, as police didn't want this agency to be established.

What are the examples of cases that show the DSI is not a political tool?

Our initial investigation that found out that soldiers were involved in the death of 13 people during the protest last May can clearly prove that we are not a tool or take one side. Do you think the military will be happy that we do the case? We work amid the likes and the dislikes. (There are both people who like and dislike us.) Another case is the "share concealment part two" when we dropped the case against Thaksin and Pojaman.

Is the Democrat Party dissolution case an example of the cases that are not in the laws listed at the end of the Special Investigation Act?

That happened in the era of (former DSI director-general) Tawee (Sodsong). Actually we don't have authority to do the party dissolution case.

We did the TPI case, which is a listed company and then in the list of laws.

(The DSI already dropped the case involving TPI Polene money donated to the Democrat Party, saying there was no evidence.)

Is FBI the DSI's model?

No, we mix and adapt from many models from many countries. Taiwan's MJIB (Investigation Bureau) and Japan's special police are most similar to us.

I believe we are heading in the right direction. DSI's director-general is a very meaningful [role] as the position is the head of investigators and can direct the guidelines for judgement. Therefore, the DSI director-general should have immunity from politics.

How can a DSI director-general be immune from politics?

In the future, the status of the DSI should be elevated from a normal department to a super department, whose CEO is of C-11 position (highest rank of government officials), just as the National Security Council, the Royal Thai Police and the National Intelligence Agency. The DSI's roles nowadays are not lower than those three agencies but their CEOs have higher immunity. They are C-11 government officials so they don't have to be afraid of being transferred or sacked.

May I emphasise that I'm not saying for myself. But fears that the DSI director-general will be transferred will be reduced if his position is at the C-11 level. There is a high chance that a C-10 DSI director-general would be sacked.

How many years do you have before retirement?

Eight years.


-- The Nation 2011-03-14



#2 silp1979

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Posted 2011-03-14 15:41:06

the headline is so funny lol....you think he believes it himself?

#3 Pi Sek

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Posted 2011-03-14 15:53:41

I think the arrest of Crispin Paton-Smith is a good example of how the DSI were politically involved - this happened the day after TRT/Thaksin was investigated for illegal land transfers and encroachment on Koh Samui. The DSI continually tried to pin details of money-laundering with respect to illegal land transfers to Mr. Paton-Smith and the others arrested. He was held without charge for a long time and eventually, the case was thrown out by the judge and the DSI was scolded for not offering anything credible. The prosecution offered one source - a written account by a mentally unstable ex-business partner of Mr. Paton-Smith, who didn't show up to offer his evidence to the Court.

However, I think there is no question that the agency has evolved and it is more transparent and accountable these days. It now does serve the public, although I have my doubts they don't also serve the government to an unacceptable extent.

#4 random

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Posted 2011-03-14 15:58:13

Did he keep a straight face when he said this?

#5 phiphidon

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Posted 2011-03-23 23:15:22

To add further proof that the DSI is not a "political tool" as evidenced by

'Our initial investigation that found out that soldiers were involved in the death of 13 people during the protest last May can clearly prove that we are not a tool or take one side',

or more inclined to work for the government, and possibly, to add to its "masterworks"

(http://www.thaivisa....the-government/)

we can add this classic;


Police say troops not responsible for Japanese cameraman's death

Police investigators have concluded no authorities were responsible for the killing of a Japanese cameramanfor Reuters, the Department of Special Investigation announced Wednesday.
DSI Director-General Tharit Phengdit said police have wrapped up the case and sent it to the DSI to carry out further investigations to try to findthe one behind the death of Hiroyuki Muramoto.
Tharit said the DSI would need about a year to carry out further investigations.
http://www.nationmul...m-30151601.html


So it wasn't the Army or Police or the Fire Brigade or the Central Security Guards so that can only leave either the Red Shirts or "The Men in Black" being responsible for the death of Hiroyuki Muramoto. Apparently the "Authorities" have a number of "Men in Black" in custody so I understand, though how many of the original "500" is not known, and more than a few Red Shirts still behind bars. So I suggest the DSI start there and maybe, just maybe, it wouldn't take a year to get the results they want. Though whether those results and what the Japanese Government are asking for, aka "TheTruth",coincide is another matter imho.

Edit : forgot to add source of DSI Tharit's words

Edited by phiphidon, 2011-03-23 23:19:19.


#6 rubl

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Posted 2011-03-24 01:25:27

So it wasn't the Army or Police or the Fire Brigade or the Central Security Guards so that can only leave either the Red Shirts or "The Men in Black" being responsible for the death of Hiroyuki Muramoto. Apparently the "Authorities" have a number of "Men in Black" in custody so I understand, though how many of the original "500" is not known, and more than a few Red Shirts still behind bars. So I suggest the DSI start there and maybe, just maybe, it wouldn't take a year to get the results they want. Though whether those results and what the Japanese Government are asking for, aka "TheTruth",coincide is another matter imho.


The Japanese understand all about 'face' and 'face saving', have a really good idea about the value of 'tit-for-tat' and can be very pragmatic if need be. A 'reasonable' truth may be sufficient, IMHO.

It may be we have to wait for the book Nick Nostitz will publish one of these days. In one of the topic discussions a while ago he promised us some till now unknown details of the April 10th, 2010 activities.

#7 Buchholz

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Posted 2011-03-24 01:32:04

It may be we have to wait for the book Nick Nostitz will publish one of these days. In one of the topic discussions a while ago he promised us some till now unknown details of the April 10th, 2010 activities.


:cheesy:

Always the only one who knows something and always the one with so much intrigue... :D :lol: ... what a character.

#8 Pi Sek

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Posted 2011-03-24 12:09:18



It may be we have to wait for the book Nick Nostitz will publish one of these days. In one of the topic discussions a while ago he promised us some till now unknown details of the April 10th, 2010 activities.


:cheesy:

Always the only one who knows something and always the one with so much intrigue... :D :lol: ... what a character.


After quizzing him here on Thavisa, I personally doubt his credibility and his objectiveness - but his knowledge is not bad for a foreign journalist reporting in Thailand, who are generally crap. Too many coincidences for me, but that's my personal opinion and I'm sure others find him quite a source of reliable information. For me though - there's too much of a personal slant on his reporting and it all leans the same way.

As he's a forum member here of course, he may wish to counter this post unless he's too busy. However, I would probably say the best counter would be to report more objectively. Just my opinion - and if I think like this, there are probably many many more who think likewise; to whom Mr. Nostitz has no opportunity to respond.

#9 nicknostitz

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Posted 2011-03-29 12:55:59

After quizzing him here on Thavisa, I personally doubt his credibility and his objectiveness - but his knowledge is not bad for a foreign journalist reporting in Thailand, who are generally crap. Too many coincidences for me, but that's my personal opinion and I'm sure others find him quite a source of reliable information. For me though - there's too much of a personal slant on his reporting and it all leans the same way.

As he's a forum member here of course, he may wish to counter this post unless he's too busy. However, I would probably say the best counter would be to report more objectively. Just my opinion - and if I think like this, there are probably many many more who think likewise; to whom Mr. Nostitz has no opportunity to respond.



Generally i am very busy these days, but nevertheless.
I always respond to criticism (unless it is completely insane ;) ). My credibility i believe is quite intact, otherwise you would not see people such as Chris Baker, Kevin Hewison and people of similarly good reputation write such good reviews of my work. Neither would Michael Nelson or Thitinan Pongsudirak have proof read my latest book. I would hardly have been invited as a speaker by last week's public hearing of the National Reconciliation Commission, if there would be doubts about my credibility.

Nobody is entirely objective, one can only try to be as factual as possible.None of my critics have so far been able to dispute my facts. People may have a problem with my sympathies, and interpretation of facts (which they are of course free to), but i do take much care that the facts i present are thoroughly researched, and impartial. I have numerous times asked my critics to show me where i have been wrong, and that it would only be helpful to me if they can do so, as it improved my work. So far - nil, zilch, nothing.
Recently i even got into an argument with a very extreme Red Shirt supporting academic on New Mandala (you can read that in the article with the transcript of my speech in the FCCT of my book launch, and in his article 'a watching game') over several issues, including over his version of what happened in Pattaya 2009.
If you read my books, you can see that much of what i write disputes the "official" version of the Red Shirts as well.

I launched my 2nd volume of Red vs. Yellow a few weeks ago. I have hoped that some of my critics would have appeared there, and taken the opportunity to criticize me in public and on the record, and this way giving me the opportunity to respond. But again, none of them came. I get the impression that these people prefer to do their little rumor mongering and character assassination behind my back, and from the anonymity, because they are too scared to face me in an open debate.

I follow journalistic procedure to the point, especially the points of protecting my sources, and to to corroborate information. I do not just talk with Red Shirts. I have numerous sources in the military, in the police, in other state institutions, and also in the PAD, especially and foremost under actors on the ground, in order to get first hand information. And that is in addition to my own procedure of trying to be on the ground as much as i can manage to be able to witness directly what i will write about. And to add - i go to all sides, not just to the Red Shirts.



As to the topic - the DSI. My personal experience with the DSI is that the investigators i was in contact with try to do their duty. Nevertheless, the statements of Tharit are at times more than bewildering, and the exact opposite of what DSI investigators say.
There is at least one case i know off, where false charges were leveled against a Red Shirt guard, and where clear proof is existing. This is the case of Manop "Bhet" Charnchangthong, who was charged with wrestling a gun from a police officer during the SC-Park Hotel incident, where clear proof exists that it was not Manop.
The notion that Red Shirt militants have killed may have killed their fellow Red Shirt protesters is simply absurd, especially if you know the lay out of the front lines and fight zones (see - i am objective enough to openly state that there were militants under the Red Shirts ;) ).
As to the case of the Japanese Reuters cameraman - please consider that there are many more witnesses existing than the DSI has, many of them are simply either too scared to appear as witnesses in an organization whose director is also personally accused in the legal cases of the killings in 2010 as he was a member of CRES, or their duty does not permit them to be witnesses. A more neutral agency (complete neutrality in this conflict does not exist) might have been more suitable to invest these cases.

But lets wait and see for their final report. There is also the National Reconciliation Commission, especially the subcommittee headed by Somchai Hamlaor, which is also investigating the many cases.

Edited by nicknostitz, 2011-03-29 12:58:45.


#10 ETatBKK

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Posted 2011-03-29 13:04:10

CIA is for the public, is not for the government :whistling:

the headline is so funny lol....you think he believes it himself?







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