As a contribution to the campaign against plastic pollution, a Royal Thai Police spokesperson yesterday said that police would curtail the use of plastic in their operations.
‘The recent unfortunate recording of the death in custody of an alleged drug dealer in Nakhon Sawan, for example, showed an excessive use of plastic bags,’ said Pol Maj Gen Chalard Taebohuyang. ‘There was no need for the use of multiple bags to suffocate the suspect. A single bag of durable plastic such as is available at any retail outlet in the country is quite sufficient to achieve the desired result.’
A more difficult problem concerns the quantity of plastic handcuffs used in crowd control operations. Police have been forced to use thousands of these, most of which end up in landfills or floating in the ocean with ‘Property of the Royal Thai Police’ stamped on them. This, said the spokesperson, is damaging to the image of the police among garbage pickers and the marine animals who choke on them.
‘We could use metal handcuffs of course,’ said Pol Maj Gen Chalard, ‘but we don’t have that many and officers are forever losing the keys.’
Interviews with crowd control officers on the ground revealed a number of practical alternatives that apparently have not been considered by the higher-ups.
‘My dad was a riot cop,’ said one policeman who asked not to be named since he was not authorized to speak to the media. Or in fact to anyone. ‘Suppressing democracy activism sort of runs in the family.
‘Anyway, he showed me pictures of Thammasat on October 6. There were thousands of anti-monarchy communist so-called students who needed to be restrained so they made them take off their shirts and used them to tie their arms.’ In that way, students could be kicked, punched and stamped on with impunity.
‘It worked then, it would work now,’ said the police officer. ‘We’d really like to try it, especially on the girl protestors,’ he added with a lecherous wink.
As it is, when the plastic ties run out, officers have no alternative other than to beat the protestors unconscious so that they can transported miles and miles away to some distant police station. ‘But some of them have such thick skulls, they come to before we get there so we have to clobber them again.’
Pol Maj Gen Chalard was asked by reporters if the police could reduce their use of plastic by firing fewer rubber bullets. They could, for example, stop shooting at the media, motorcycle delivery guys or local residents. The high-ranking police officer was confused.
‘What’s rubber bullets got to do with it?’ he asked.
When informed that the so-called rubber bullets used by the police are in fact metal projectiles encased in plastic, the spokesperson expressed surprise. ‘So that’s why they don’t bounce. I always wondered.’
The spokesperson was also asked about the practice of sheathing royal portraits and official name signs in plastic to prevent damage from paint-throwing protestors. He defended this use of plastic since it did not constitute ‘single use’.
‘Once the demonstration is over, we take the plastic down and can use it again next time. This is like replacing plastic bags given away by supermarkets with re-usable plastic bags sold by supermarkets. And if this is what Tesco does, then it must be right.’
One area where the police have decided that the current use of plastic is justified concerns body bags, which will continue to be made from plastic.
‘Cloth bags just don’t do the job,’ said the Pol Maj Gen. ‘All sorts of bodily fluids leak to the bottom of the bag and when you lift a cloth body bag out of the back of a pick-up, it’s really, really icky.’