“Put the right man in the right job”

Burin Kantabutra writes to the Thai Nation:

Random assignments will make situation worse

Police chief Adul Saengsingkaew refuses to reconsider his order to select officers randomly from a pool of 4,000 specialist investigators nationwide and send them to fill vacancies in the strife-ridden South. This lottery is wrong from top to bottom.

The concept of a national police force goes directly against former prime minister Anand Panyarachun’s “Seven Pillars of Sustainable Democracy”, one of which is decentralisation. A police force must, by its nature, be localised, for each region differs from others – especially the South. For example, how many cops in Bangkok or Isaan speak Yawi and understand Islam and its culture? How will they communicate effectively with locals, let alone investigate? The cops from each region should be drawn from, and be accountable to, the region’s citizenry, through its elected representatives. Not only the police lottery, but the department itself, is built upon a false premise, one of national homogeneity.

Not surprisingly, those who are forced to do anything will not be willing workers, and are likely to be ineffective – further aggravating the volatile situation down south.

Police Lt-Colonel Khaisaeng Thawilwong, representing 76 officers from Provincial Region 4 who oppose the plan, says that those objecting are not protesting against being transferred to the South, but rather against the random selection process. Rather than saying that the protesters should face a disciplinary investigation, Deputy PM Chalerm Yoobamrung, who oversees the police, should commend Pol Lt-Colonel Khaisaeng for his courage, and work with the 76 to get a process that identifies those most suited for these most sensitive posts and rewards them accordingly, so that they go full of enthusiasm to help calm this troubled region.

As Chalerm is fond of saying, “Put the right man in the right job” – and a random process surely doesn’t do that.

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4 Responses

  1. >As Chalerm is fond of saying, “Put the right man in the right job” – and a random process surely doesn’t do that.

    That certainly seems true in this example, unless there were cogent arguments in its favour (for example claims of corruption in the local force). Absent those arguments its hard to see what the added value of random selection would be, as opposed to choosing officers with the relevant language skills and cultural background.

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  2. Given that The Nation is a mouthpiece of Thailand’s government and its business elite, and given that the text implies that the police chief is a supporter of the former prime minister, and given that it clearly supports one faction of an argument within the police force over another, and given that Thailand perpetually scores very badly in international measures of corruption, and given that the article offers no explanation as to why the police chief chose to allocate officers at random in the first place (perhaps he’s mad!), I think it would be very unsafe to jump to the same conclusion as Keith.

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  3. I didn’t come to any conclusion, other than to point out that the value of sortition as a means of avoiding corruption has to be traded against the value of choosing those with the relevant linguistic and cultural skills. Stratified sampling of the subset with the relevant skills would combine the two ideals. And you have to add to that the illiberality of a “national” police force without any local roots (think back to the miners’ strike).

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