The cabinet has approved the appointment of Pol Lt Col Wannapong Kotcharak as the new secretary-general of the Southern Border Provinces Administration Centre (SBPAC).
Pol Lt Col Wannapong, who currently heads the Department of Juvenile Observation and Protection, will assume his new position on Oct 1 pending royal endorsement, said government spokesman Chai Wacharonke.
He will succeed Rear Adm Somkiat Pholprayoon, who has headed the SBPAC in a caretaking capacity since his term expired towards the end of the previous government’s tenure, said Mr Chai.
The SBPAC was established in 1981 and comes under the jurisdiction of the office of the prime minister. It has a mandate to serve as an administrative unit that helps coordinate the work of the central government’s planning, financial and people planning agencies in Pattani, Yala and Nakhon Si Thammarat. The focus on both development and security reflects the unique needs of the area where a low-level separatist insurgency has been taking place for nearly two decades.
A source familiar with the appointment said Pol Lt Col Wannapong, 55, received the backing of Justice Minister Pol Col Tawee Sodsong, who once headed the agency himself.
Pol Col Tawee leads the Prachachat Party, which wields considerable political influence in the southern border provinces. The party won seven of 13 seats in the far South in the May 14 general election.
Before joining the Department of Juvenile Observation and Protection, Pol Lt Col Wannapong headed the Central Institute of Forensic Science. He has also served as deputy director-general of the Department of Special Investigation (DSI).
He is the son of Pol Lt Gen Wannarak Kotcharak, a well-known former commissioner of the Metropolitan Police Bureau and former commander of the Crime Suppression Division (CSD). Pol Lt Gen Wannarak, now retired, was the supervisor of Pol Col Tawee when the latter was in the police force.
Pol Lt Wannapong was chief inspector at the CSD before being promoted to deputy superintendent of the division. He was later transferred to the DSI where he worked as a special cases specialist before ascending to the post of DSI deputy chief.