Somyot opposes police refom proposal

National police chief Somyot Pumpunmuang on Wednesday opposed the proposed police reform bill that would grant the Royal Thai Police status equivalent to a ministry, saying it did not suit the nature of the RTP’s work.

Pol Gen Somyot said the idea to form a “police ministry” was not appropriate because the nature of police work was similar to that of the military, and the RTP was a security agency whose highest commanding power should be held by a national police chief.

Pol Gen Somyot was speaking after the National Legislative Assembly’s committee on law, judicial process and police affairs, led by Adm Sithawat Wongsuwan, visited the RTP today to inspect work and talk to the police chief about police reform. National police chief Pol Gen Somyot Pumpunmuang The panel plans to propose a new national police act to the NLA soon. The bill seeks to reorganise the RTP’s structure into 16 departments such as border patrol police, immigration police, drug suppression, central investigation, metropolitan police and provincial police regions 1-9.

Each department director-general would be under the command of the police chief.

The panel said the new structure aimed to decentralise administrative power from Bangkok to police officers in the provinces.

But Pol Gen Somyot argued that giving command powers to heads of the 16 departments would slow down police work.

Pol Gen Somyot insisted that he continued to support reforms to keep the police force away from political meddling just as long as any proposals were “reasonable”. He said he wanted to eradicate the belief that police were the tool of politicians and ensure that they truly served the people. He said the police still lacked equipment to help in their work and did not receive enough pay. This was probably why some officers sought help from politicians and took bribes.