Gen Saprang dies at age 75

Gen Saprang dies at age 75

Gen Saprang Kalayanamitr. (File photo)
Gen Saprang Kalayanamitr. (File photo)

Gen Saprang Kalayanamitr, a pivotal figure in the September 2006 coup that ousted the Thaksin Shinawatra government, died of lung cancer on Tuesday morning. He was 75.

The funeral rites are scheduled to take place at Wat Phra Sri Maha That in Bang Khen district, Bangkok.

Born on July 8, 1948, in the northern province of Lampang, Gen Saprang embarked on his military career in 1969 after graduating from the Royal Chulachomklao Military Academy, Class 7.

He held several key positions, notably serving as the Third Army commander and deputy permanent secretary for defence until his mandatory retirement in 2008. He also served as chairman of the Airports of Thailand (AOT), as well as chairman of the boards of TOT and CAT Telecom, two major state-owned telecommunication companies.

Gen Saprang entered the public spotlight when he served as the Third Army commander, holding the rank of lieutenant general. He vowed to defend the institution of the monarchy and campaign against corruption.

The outspoken officer was also known for expressing views that were highly critical of the Thaksin administration, with his media interviews signalling the army's readiness to intervene in times of national crisis.

CNS chairman and army chief Gen Sonthi Boonyarattaklin (centre) and assistant army chief Gen Saprang Kalayanamitr (left) attend a meeting at police headquarters in Bangkok in June 2007. (Photo: Apichit Jinakul)

Following the 2006 coup staged by then army chief Gen Sonthi Boonyaratglin, Gen Saprang was named assistant to the secretary-general of the Administrative Reform Council (ARC) and later appointed a member of the Council for National Security (CNS).

Gen Saprang was a candidate for the army's top post, but the job was given to Gen Anupong Paojinda. Instead, he was made a deputy permanent secretary for defence.

He retreated from public view after his retirement in 2008 and was said to have spent his time with his family in Lampang and Chiang Mai.

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