Generals fear looser grip on reshuffles
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Generals fear looser grip on reshuffles

Defence Minister Sutin Klungsang
Defence Minister Sutin Klungsang

Top military commanders are concerned that a proposed rejig of the laws could invite undue political interference in armed forces' affairs, according to a military source.

The concern followed acknowledgement by the Defence Ministry meeting last week of a proposal to amend two laws governing the administrative functions of the Defence Ministry and the Military Court charter. It also specifies new criteria for promoting generals.

At the heart of the proposal was the authority given to the prime minister to suspend top officers suspected of plotting a military coup.

Also brought to the meeting's attention was the plan to add two more members to the council now run by three members.

The source said the armed forces have not seen details of the proposal which Defence Minister Sutin Klungsang asked the council meeting to adopt.

The council meeting on April 19 was informed of Mr Sutin's appointment of a working group to draft amendments to the two laws. The group is chaired by Gen Somsak Rungsita.

No details of the proposal were divulged at the meeting.

The source said it was expected the two additional council members would represent the government.

The armed forces leaders were in the dark as to whether the proposal was seeking to alter the composition of the so-called "Seven-Tiger Board" in charge mainly of putting together top-level reshuffles of military officers.

The board is typically made up of seven members: the defence permanent secretary, the chief of defence forces and the commanders-in-chief of the army, air force and navy, as well as the defence minister and a deputy defence minister if one is installed.

In case a government does not appoint a deputy defence minister, the Seven-Tiger Board has six members.

"There's no telling at this stage if the board will remain in its current composition," the source said. Armed forces leaders worry that if more members of the government's side are introduced to the board, they might lose their bargaining power over the composition of military reshuffles.

With the majority of five votes in their hands, the armed forces leaders have traditionally enjoyed the greatest say over who will be promoted to crucial posts, including the commander-in-chief seats.

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