Police shake-up cuts ties to Thaksin
special report: Junta moves in officers it can trust
Since the military took over administrative power last week, scores of high-ranking police have been removed from their posts for their alleged links with former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra.
Many scenes like this 2013 scandal involving Metropolitan Police chief Kamronwit Thoopkrachang and the fugitive ex-premier Thaksin Shinawatra seemed to make it clear Thaksin intended to stay close to senior police officers. (File photo)
In addition to top-ranking police officers, the National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO) has also transferred Department of Special Investigation (DSI) director-general Tarit Pengdith, defence permanent secretary Nipat Thonglek, and more than 10 high-ranking civil servants to inactive posts.
Mr Tarit was replaced by police adviser Pol Gen Chatchawal Suksomjit, an officer the military is thought to trust.
Even national police chief Gen Adul Saengsingkaew, who is also the NCPO deputy chief, supervising special affairs, has been removed to pave the way for deputy police chief Watcharapol Prasarnrajkit to take the helm.
Pol Gen Watcharapol is known to be close to former police chief Patcharawat Wongsuwan, the younger brother of former defence minister Prawit Wongsuwan under the Abhisit Vejjajiva government.
Gen Prawit was among a group of civilians and military officers appointed as NCPO advisers on Tuesday.
As soon as Pol Gen Watcharapol took over as police chief, a series of police transfers followed.
Eight lieutenant generals were transferred to inactive posts at the National Thai Police Office.
Metropolitan Police Bureau (MPB) chief Kamronwit Thoopkrachang was replaced by assistant police chief Chakthip Chaijinda, who was MPB chief under the Abhisit administration.
Pol Lt Gen Chakthip is known to have close ties with People’s Democratic Reform Committee (PDRC) leader Suthep Thuagsuban.
NCPO chief Prayuth Chan-ocha also has confidence in him as they both worked at the Centre for Resolution of Emergency Situation (CRES) during the 2010 red-shirt crackdown.
Provincial Police Region 1 chief Nares Nanthachote, who was supported by former prime minister Yingluck Shinawatra, was removed and replaced by Pol Maj Gen Srivara Ransibrahmanakul, deputy commissioner of the Central Investigation Bureau.
Pol Maj Gen Srivara is close to Pol Gen Patcharawat.
Provincial Police Region 2 chief Kawee Supanan was removed and replaced by Pol Maj Gen Sanit Mahataworn, deputy chief of the Office of Police Commission.
Pol Lt Gen Kawee played a key role in crackdown on PDRC protesters in February that resulted in fatalities.
Pol Maj Gen Sanit reportedly had the support from Mr Suthep when he was in political power.
Provincial Police Region 4 chief Anuchai Lekbamrung, who was in charge of the police investigation into the 2010 deadly crackdown on the red-shirt demonstrators, was replaced by Pol Lt Gen Detnarong Suthichanbancha, commissioner of Police’s Office of Budget and Finance.
Pol Lt Gen Detnarong is known to also have a close connection with Mr Suthep.
Police Region 5 commissioner Suthep Detraksa, a close ally of Thaksin, was also replaced by assistant police chief Wanchai Thanadkit, who served as Police Region 6 chief overseeing lower northern provinces when Mr Suthep was deputy premier.
Provincial Police Region 7 chief Hanpol Nitwibul, who has a direct connection with former police commissioner Priewpan Damapong, a relative of Ms Yingluck, was replaced by Pol Lt Gen Somboon Huabbangyang, an inspector-general, who previously worked under Mr Suthep on security issues.
Immigration Bureau chief Phanu Kerdlarppol and Special Branch Police chief Saritchai Anakeweang were also removed and replaced by inspector general Pol Lt Gen Sakda Cheunpakdi and deputy inspector general Pol Maj Gen Rewat Klinkesorn, respectively.
However, some key police positions have been left untouched.
Those include the commissioners of Provincial Police Region 3, 8 and 9 as well as assistant police chief Winai Thongsong, a nephew-in-law of Thaksin’s former wife Khunying Pojaman na Pombejra.
They have not been transferred because the areas under their jurisdiction were not predominantly red-shirt zones, a police source said.