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Big Joke: Was airport “Fast Track” project behind fall of immigration chief?

Thai media Manager has speculated that the much vaunted “Fast Track” project at Suvarnabhumi airport may be behind the removal of former chief of immigration Surachate “Big Joke” Hakparn.

The poster boy chief was removed from the police force and transferred to a civil service position as adviser to the Prime Minister’s office in a surprise move earlier this month. 

So far there has been no word as to why Surachate was removed. And speculation has been rife in the Thai and foreign communities especially as Surachate was so high profile and advertised his every move. 

Manager made reference to the Fast Track service that was originally intended to allow such people as embassy staff, aircrew and the handicapped to use a “Priority Lane” to enter and exit the airport quickly. 

In the middle of last year they said that Surachate called a meeting with airport chiefs and the VFS Global Group after claims that the service was being abused to profit certain people. 

Manager said that VFS were allowed to print 120,000 tickets per month and 150,000 during high season. It was suspicious that a private company was given the right to be involved in this way, said Manager. 

These were supposed to have been sold for 35 baht or less but were being traded for as much as 900 or 1,000 baht a time. 

Tour groups were going through agents paying high fees to get their customers through quickly. Individuals were also paying over the top to some people.

Following the meeting the fraud was reined in but later resurfaced, said manager, with VFS and the AoT and AOC allegedly involved. 

They said that the fraudulent practices were worth 4 million baht a month to someone. 

They speculated that the money may not have found its way into government coffers. 

Manager asked why VFS Global employees were given access to no-go areas at the airport. 

Manager intimated that the whole Fast Track scheme should be investigated again. 

They called this the latest bombshell in the ongoing saga surrounding Surachate or Big Joke who they referred to as “The Sweetest Joke” in their latest article. 

Thai Visa / Manager

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