The Thai government has announced the appointment of a new head of its Immigration Bureau, replacing Pol Lt Gen Surachate “Big Joke” Hakparn who was removed from the position in early April. As confirmed in the Royal Gazette, Pol Lt Gen Sompong Chingduang will now lead the Immigration Bureau.
Pol Lt Gen Sompong moves to Immigration from the Border Patrol Police Bureau where he held the position of Commissioner. Pol Lt Gen Sompong, known as ‘Big Oud’ in the Thai media, was once dubbed “the crime buster of Bangkok”, following his work as a former deputy commissioner at the Metropolitan Police Bureau. In October 2018, he was appointed chief of the Border Patrol Police, and as a result was promoted to police lieutenant general.
He has also worked at the Crime Suppression Division in southern Thailand and been a district police chief in Narathiwat. During his time in the south he was credited with capturing many secessionist militants active in the area. Meanwhile, Pol.Lt. Col. Surachete Hakparn, the former commander of the Immigration Bureau, has been appointed to a clerical role within the Prime Minister’s Office. Surachete no longer works for the police and is now just a civil servant in the Office of the Permanent Secretary.
Deputy Prime Minister General Prawit Wongsuwan that Surachete will not face an investigation following his sudden and mysterious transfer from head of Immigration to what is a now a civilian role in the civil service. Surachate was once a prominent rising star in the police force and was featured regularly in news coverage and on social media dealing with high-profile cases. During his time leading the Immigration Bureau, Surachate became synonymous with the ‘X-Ray Outlaw Foreigner’ policy that attempted to crackdown on visa overstayers and foreign criminals residing in Thailand.
Surachate also launched a crackdown on his own immigration officers, implementing a tough anti-corruption message in the form of signage which read “No Tips” and that was displayed at offices and border checkpoints nationwide.