A young Border Patrol policeman has explained how a photo of him holding up a banner accusing his superiors of not passing on the full payments due for overtime worked during the COVID-19 lockdown, appeared on social media.
The banner held up by Pol Cpl Wutthichai Hongsamrong on Monday night read “We work like a horse but the bosses take some of the money.”
The photo went viral on social media.
Pol Cpl Hongsamrong, 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 of 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.
Pol Cpl Hongsamrong 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 rubbish bin, 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 Hongsamrong 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 immediately,” he added.
It was not explained how the photo came to be taken and posted on Twitter.