Young cop made to publicly explain away banner criticising bosses

Young cop made to publicly explain away banner criticising bosses

Lower-ranks upset after short-changed on overtime pay

Pol Cpl Wutthichai Hongsamrong holds up a banner saying,
Pol Cpl Wutthichai Hongsamrong holds up a banner saying, “We work like a horse but the bosses take some of the money”, after his unit returned from duty outside the German embassy during the demonstrations there on Monday. (Photo from @Lukkrandee Twitter account)

A low-ranking Border Patrol policeman has explained how a photo of him appeared on social media holding up a banner accusing his superiors of not passing on the full payments due for overtime worked during the Covid-19 lockdown.

“We work like a horse but the bosses take some of the money,” declared the banner held up by Pol Cpl Wutthichai Hongsamrong on Monday night — and the picture went viral on social media.

Pol Cpl Wutthichai, of the BPP Second Command based in Surin province, displayed the banner when his unit returned to the accommodation provided for their overnight stay after being assigned to guard the German embassy on Monday.

The embassy was targeted by both royalists and anti-government demonstrators on that day.

His display of the banner and its blunt message coincided with complaints by low-ranking police across the country that they did not receive in full the promised payments for the extra duties they were assigned during the coronavirus lockdown. They alleged their bosses siphoned off deductions from the money they were due.

Each police officer was supposed to get 60 baht per hour for working overtime, up to a maximum 420 baht a day for seven hours.

The Royal Thai Police Office is looking into the complaints, which were made in about a dozen provinces, including Saraburi, Nonthaburi and Phuket. (continues below)

Pol Cpl Wutthichai Hongsamrong (left) sits alongside police spokesman Pol Maj Gen Yingyos Thepchamnong at a media conference at the Royal Thai Police Office on Friday. (Photo: Wassayos Ngamkham)

Pol Cpl Wutthichai was sitting alongside police spokesman Pol Maj Gen Yingyos Thepchamnong when he explained his action at a media briefing on Friday at police headquarters.

The chastened police NCO said he had no intention to make a protest or cause damage to the police force over the issue. He did not intentionally show the message to the public.

“I was taking the banner to dump it in a trash can, when a friend of mine who had not seen it asked me to show it to him. So I held it up for him, before I threw it in the bin,” he said.

He also denied he was punished for his action, but said he was ordered to write a report to his commander.

The police spokesman said the issue was not over. He believed there were attempts to put the issue in the public limelight. Banners with similar messages were found in all buses taking police to and from the embassy on Monday.

Pol Cpl Wutthichai promised he would not do anything like that again, and offered an apology.

“I would like to apologise to all commanders and my unit for doing something that could damage the police force,” he said.

“Next time I will throw it away, right away,” he added.

It was not explained how the photo came to be taken and posted on Twitter.