11 July 2024

Suchanun ‘Minnie’ Sucharitchinsri is in the spotlight after photos of her cuddling up to a close aide of deputy national police chief Surachate Hakparn went viral amid allegations that she runs several online gambling websites linked to high-ranking police officers.

Suchanun was in Singapore when the photos made headlines, prompting widespread anticipation she would go on the run. But far from doing that, the young woman headed straight back to Thailand and jumped under the glaring media spotlight to dismiss the “groundless allegations” against her.

“No, I am not behind gambling websites. Someone just wanted to force me to confess to this crime and implicate certain figures,” Suchanun declared firmly to reporters last Thursday,

She also demanded to know how her private photos had been leaked to social media, adding that only Unit 4 of the Cyber Taskforce Police had access to her phone.

Suchanun was arrested on July 30 on suspicion of involvement in online gambling but then bailed.

The gambling case is the latest in a string of high-profile scandals to hit the police force.

Fighting back

People have expressed surprise that someone so young – Suchanun is just 25 – could be accused of a scandal of such scale. Intrigued, journalists and others began digging into her background. Reporters traveled to her home province of Loei to interview her neighbors and workers for information on her character, past, and family.

“I am here to answer your questions,” Suchanun declared on September 28, showing no signs of stress as she was surrounded by cameras and reporters firing questions.

She protested her innocence and alleged that a member of Police Cyber Taskforce 4 had tried to force her to confess to a crime she had not committed.

Suchanun described herself as straightforward and brave enough to face whatever comes her way. “But don’t use me as a tool,” she said, apparently referring to the ongoing drama within the police force.

That drama began on September 25 when Surachate’s house was raided by armed police, just days before the new national police chief was due to be named. Surachate was among the candidates for the much sought-after post.

Police said the search was related to Surachate’s close aides, including Pol Colonel Pakpoom Pisamai, who was serving as deputy commander of the Provincial Police Region 4’s investigation division when the scandal broke.

Police investigators say Pakpoom accepted money earned from Suchanun’s online gambling operations.

Suchanan admitted to making several money transfers to Pakpoom but said the payments were not bribes or dirty money. “I just loaned him some money,” she said, adding that police officers were paid relatively small salaries.

Affair with high-ranking cop

Suchanan said she first met Pakpoom in 2020 in Loei, where he was serving as a station superintendent. They dated for a while, until she found out that he was already married, she explained.

She said the two of them got close again in late 2022 and they dated again in early 2023.

So, when she was arrested on gambling-related charges at 3am on July 30, she called Pakpoom for help. He advised her to seek bail.

Suchanun also said the photos of her kissing and cuddling Pakpoom were taken in public areas such as restaurants.

Powerful family

Suchanun is the youngest daughter of Chatchada Jansawang, who has served several times as a Loei councilor and operates the biggest cotton business in her hometown.  Her father also owns a large cassava trading business in Loei.

Although her parents are divorced, Suchanun apparently enjoyed a lavish lifestyle as a youngster, riding horses, caring for pets (including dogs, birds and snakes) and taking frequent trips overseas.

As a teenager, she married a wealthy Laotian and moved to Laos. The couple had one child together before deciding to go their separate ways.

After returning to Thailand, Suchanun reportedly had no shortage of suitors. A source said that apart from Pakpoom, she dated the son of an ice-factory owner, and a police officer with the initial “B” in his name.

She also studied briefly in China. During the COVID-19 outbreak, she imported facemasks for sale and engaged in various businesses.

Acquaintances of Suchanun describe her as witty, cheerful, friendly, and nice.

“She’s well-loved, though a bit stubborn,” said one of her former lovers.

By Thai PBS World’s General Desk