Leader to publish drugs roll of shame
WILLIAM BARNES in Bangkok
The Government is set to reveal the names of politicians and bureaucrats who it claims are linked to the drugs trade.
The idea is to shame influential people into dropping their involvement in lucrative heroin and amphetamine trafficking, according to Wichai Chaijitwanitkul, who works in the office of the Prime Minister, General Chavalit Yongchaiyudh.
The move is part of the new Government's effort to suppress a drugs trade widely seen as increasingly damaging to Thai society.
The traffickers of the so-called Golden Triangle area around northern Burma have diversified into making amphetamines which can be sold for big profits to young Thais looking for kicks and to employees needing stimulation to help them work longer hours.
But Western narcotics officials were sceptical 'gimmicks' would work given drug traffickers are often well connected and that the police themselves can be easily persuaded to look the other way.
Mr Wichai said that 'many famous people are involved in drugs - that includes politicians in Bangkok and up-country'.
The official claimed that drug-tainted politicians and bureaucrats might be identified only by their initials when the evidence was not strong enough for them to be formally charged.
But observers doubted that such threats would have any great impact because they would essentially be seen as superficial attempts to boost support among a worried electorate.
'The Americans reckon that as much as half the heroin coming out of the world's biggest heroin producing area [the Golden Triangle] may go through Thailand, yet the Thais almost invariably catch only the small fish. I don't expect that to change anytime soon,' said one narcotics agent.
There have been reports that the United States - which has admitted refusing visas to two veteran MPs for their alleged drug links - has a blacklist of suspect Thai politicians.
But no official Thai investigation has ever probed seriously into high-level involvement in the drugs trade.