Newly appointed deputy Bangkok governor Pol Gen Aswin Kwanmuang oozes confidence when discussing his new role of cleaning up the capital.
Pol Gen Aswin Kwanmuang, deputy governor of the Bangkok Metropolitan Administration, at his office. PANUMAS SANGUANWONG
He believes his background in combating crime will be useful to the city's administration, even though he was at first reluctant when governor Sukhumbhand Paribatra approached him a week after getting re-elected on March 3.
"I told him I've been a police officer all my life," said Pol Gen Aswin, initially at a loss as to how his experience would be helpful in City Hall.
MR Sukhumbhand told him "the new job is nothing but police affairs".
Their talk at Siam City hotel, opposite MR Sukhumbhand's residence in Suan Phakkad Palace, marked the start of a new career for Pol Gen Aswin.
He made his decision to work with MR Sukhumbhand after talking to several Democrat heavyweights, including former prime minister Chuan Leekpai. All of them asked him to help Bangkok because "society is getting worse".
Pol Gen Aswin, whose last job before retirement was as an adviser to the Royal Thai Police Office, said he needs some time to familiarise himself with City Hall's administrative style.
But he is confident he will be able to quickly plan out and act on measures to stymie crime in the capital.
His record includes working on criminal cases such as an alleged car bomb plot against former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra in 2006, and the crackdown on a drug ring run by Jo Danchang, who was slain in Suphan Buri in 1996.
MR Sukhumbhand has appointed Pol Gen Aswin to oversee city law enforcement, disaster response and the city administration and registration departments.
The former police officer views city law enforcement officers, known as thetsakit, as his first priority.
He intends to focus on solving a long-running conflict between thetsakit officials and street vendors who defy city ordinances by setting up stalls in prohibited areas, including bus stops, crosswalks and pedestrian bridges.
On April 12, he called a meeting with 50 district directors, instructing them to make sure street vendors adhere to city laws.
"I didn't order them to do a difficult job. I just told them to strictly enforce the laws," Pol Gen Aswin said.
The success of the initiative will depend on whether city officials take serious action against violators, as they may harm the vested interests of some powerful people, he said.
If the mafia or other influential figures mastermind illegal acts, he said: "I will deal with the problem myself. I've never bowed to crimes."
Pol Gen Aswin has set May 1 as the deadline for district chiefs to ensure vendors only sell goods in permitted areas.
If they fail, he said: "I will ask them whether they want others to replace them."
Pol Gen Aswin also wants to tackle drug problems by working with the Bangkok Internal Security Operations Command committee, which is supervised by City Hall.
The committee is made up of representatives from state agencies such as the Narcotics Suppress Bureau, and can help the city's anti-drug campaigns, he said. Again, he intends to make sure influential figures behind criminal activities do not interfere with his work.
"I will work with police I know at the commander level, asking them to help solve the problem," Pol Gen Aswin said.
Pol Gen Aswin also already has plans regarding other aspects of his work.
He wants to improve disaster response management by first upgrading fire-extinguishing equipment.
Old fire trucks must be repaired and more cranes are needed to deal with fires in high-rise buildings, he said.
Pol Gen Aswin intends to harness all his experience in taking on his latest big challenge.
"I believe there are high expectations of me.
"I've already achieved much in my police career and family life, so now I will devote myself to serving society," said the father of three.
About the author
- Writer: Supoj Wancharoen