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Controversial ex-‘tough cop’ Salang dies in mall plunge

Posted by pakin On February - 26 - 2018

Former deputy national police chief Pol Gen Salang Bunnag died on Sunday after falling from the 7th floor of a shopping centre in Nonthaburi. He was 81.

His son, Pol Lt Col Hemmachak Bunnag, said Sunday that his father had suffered from depression for several years, a condition which may have contributed to his death.

Police have not officially concluded whether he had committed suicide or suffered a fatal accident. But a video clip released online showed him intentionally letting himself fall, and he left behind a lengthy note to family and the public.

The clip shows a man walking alone inside a shopping mall. He approaches a glass barrier and climbs over it before falling.

Pak Kret police were informed of a man plunging from the seventh floor at a shopping centre on Chaengwattana Road about 11am.

The man was later confirmed as Pol Gen Salang.

Pol Capt Thanawat Cheewitsophon, an officer at Pak Kret police station, said that police found several handwritten notes signed by Pol Gen Salang near the body.

The letter said he had less than two years to live and he wanted to offer society some benefit when he died.

He urged the public to oppose plans to build a double-track railway line with a track width of only one metre and elevated trains, but requested the public to push the construction of “autobahn” express highways.

Police deputy spokesman Pol Col Kritsana Pattanacharoen said national police chief Chakthip Chaijinda offered deep condolences to Pol Gen Salang’s family.

“He did many good things for the Royal Thai Police and his death is a great loss.”

That is not a universal view.

Pol Gen Salang had a history of dramatic and controversial actions. The self-styled “tough cop” was involved in bloody incidents that brought strong criticism.

  • In 1996, after police arrested “most wanted” narcotics kingpin Joe Danchang and five other drug suspects in Suphan Buri, Salang showed up at the scene.

He took all six suspects behind a house, out of the view of a large press group, and shots were fired. Gen Salang then emerged to announce that the six men had broken free from their handcuffs and tried to grab hidden guns, with the result that all the suspects were killed and all the police were unharmed.

The Suphan Buri district court accepted Salang’s claim and ruled on Oct 8, 1999, that Joe Danchang and the other suspects grabbed concealed weapons to fight with the police before being killed by the police in the ensuing gun battle.

The father of the Joe Danchang said he accepted the court ruling, which marked the end of the extra-judicial killing case.

  • Arguably his most-remembered moment of Salang’s career came on Oct 6, 1976. As a police lieutenant-colonel, he led the anti-riot police to attack and kill students at Thammasat University, along with paramilitary forces and so-called Village Scouts. The bloody government attack on Thais ended the three-year democratic revolution of Oct 14, 1973.
  • A strong supporter of Thaksin Shinawatra from the start of the mobile phone tycoon’s political rise in the late 1990s, Salang remained a red shirt supporter until the end. He was interrogated, but never charged, after red shirt violence at Songkran, 2010, in Bangkok, and was called in during other investigations into the financing of the red shirts.
  • In October, 2008, Salang claimed he would mount an independent effort to confront anti-government yellow shirt supporters of the People’s Alliance for Democracy (PAD), and “retake Government House” as they protested against then-prime minister Somchai Wongsawat.

Salang’s alleged plan was to rally a group of other ex-policemen under his command, in order to besiege Government House and cut all food and water supplies to the protesters. Although Salang received much front-page publicity, his plan never got beyond the self-promotion and tough talk.

  • More bizarrely, Salang was a central figure in the promotion of a quack “cure” for HIV in 2000-2002. Sold or given as a marketing ploy to Aids and HIV victims, the V-1 Immunitor “medicine” was revealed by health authorities as ineffective, and the medicine was banned for promotion and sale.


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