Thais can see through police

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THAI POLICE have been ordered to be more transparent in their dealings with motorists - they have been told to remove darkened glass windows from their traffic booths.

Senior police chiefs are fed up with officers forcing bribes out of motorists where no one can see the money changing hands. Bangkok's assistant commissioner of the Metropolitan Police Bureau, Pol Maj-Gen Bariboon Wuthipakdi, ordered officers to remove the tinted film so that the public can see what they are up to.

The bizarre crackdown is the latest in a string of moves to clean up the force which has a reputation for extortion and petty bribery at street level and mafia links in the higher echelons. Officers run protection rackets and have ties with illegal but widespread gambling dens, prostitution rings, and drug syndicates.

Some even hire themselves out in their spare time as hit men to crime bosses .

This week, Bangkok police and the Army launched a joint crackdown on officers with links to the city's nightclubs, massage parlours, discos, and motorcycle taxis. Semi-legal businesses like these are often forced to slip officers extra payments to avoid the hassle of police raids.

Junior officers complain that their pay is so bad - only about US$100 a month - that they are forced to turn to crime to supplement their income.

Their station chiefs often earn hundreds of thousands of baht from protecting powerful underworld bosses or losing crucial police files.

This week, officers suspected of links to a gang dealing speed pills were arrested after the gang turned on drugsbusters with hand grenades and assault weapons.

Once gang member was killed and four policemen wounded. A total of 800,000 amphetamine tablets were seized.

Just days before this, four officers were transferred after a raid on a massage parlour.