PM wants 10 days to pick NSC chief

PM wants 10 days to pick NSC chief

Security agency led by generals for 10yrs

Prime Minister Srettha Thavisin arrives at Government House for a National Security Council (NSC) meeting on Thursday. (Photo: Chanat Katanyu)
Prime Minister Srettha Thavisin arrives at Government House for a National Security Council (NSC) meeting on Thursday. (Photo: Chanat Katanyu)

Prime Minister Srettha Thavisin on Thursday asked for another 10 days to select a new National Security Council (NSC) chief, prolonging the guessing game as to who will be chosen to head up the country's top security body.

The secretary-general post was left vacant after Supoj Malaniyom retired at the end of the last fiscal year on Sept 30.

Chatchai Bangchuad, a deputy secretary-general, has since been serving as the acting chief.

Speaking after chairing an NSC meeting for the first time since taking office, Mr Srettha said appointing a new secretary-general had been postponed pending legal procedures, which must be completed in about 10 days.

The premier declined to comment on a reporter's question as to whether the legal processes had anything to do with the transfer of Pol Gen Roy Ingkapairote, a deputy national police chief, from the Royal Thai Police (RTP) to the NSC so that he could be appointed its head.

He insisted it was premature to talk about the issue at this point and gave his assurance that the appointment delay would not disrupt NSC operations, which were running smoothly.

He also foresaw problems in case someone from outside the NSC was named its new chief.

While Mr Chatchai has long been tipped to become the next NSC secretary-general, it was rumoured that Pol Gen Roy also had a strong chance of securing the role, according to a source close to the matter.

Prior to Thursday's NSC meeting, it was expected that the new secretary-general would be picked soon and that the appointment could be forwarded to the cabinet for approval as early as next Tuesday.

Following the 2014 coup, former prime minister Prayut Chan-o-cha appointed Anusit Kunakorn, who was then a deputy NSC secretary-general, as the NSC chief.

A year later, Gen Taweep Netniyom was chosen to replace Mr Anusit. Since then, NSC chiefs, including Gen Supoj, have all been military generals.

If Mr Chatchai ends up emerging as the agency's new secretary-general as widely expected, he would be the first civilian NSC chief in nine years, said the source.

Defence Minister Sutin Klungsang, meanwhile, said there was no legal hurdle to delay the appointment much longer.

He said he believed the matter would be wrapped up very soon.

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