The man tasked with guarding the King
There was only one name on the list to head the new royal security division
When a new police division was formed on Oct 1 last year to specifically provide security for His Majesty the King and members of the royal family, the name of Crime Suppression Division (CSD) deputy commander Torsak Sukvimol reportedly emerged straight away as a candidate for the agency's top job.
Accordingly, he was promoted to become chief of the division, called the royal guard and special operations division, attached to the Central Investigation Bureau (CIB).
The division is an upgrade of what was previously a CSD special operations subdivision, also known as the commando unit, of which Pol Maj Gen Torsak once served as the chief.
"When I was the superintendent of the special operations subdivision, my job already was to serve King Rama X," said Pol Maj Gen Torsak. "But now the number of royal duties has risen significantly, so the subdivision's forces would not have been enough to cover them all. Talks were then held and an agreement was reached to upgrade the special operation subdivision."
According to him, national police chief Chakthip Chaijinda made it clear that the new division would be chiefly responsible for providing security for the monarch.
In January, it was renamed the "Ratchawallop Police Retainers, King's Guard 904".
Pol Maj Gen Torsak said his team is responsible for the advance surveillance of areas which the King will pass through as well as guarding the monarch and his family.
The unit's resources will not be deployed to deal with crime suppression, so it can focus on protecting the monarchy at all times, he said. However, some officers can still be sent on ordinary duties to capture those who have long been wanted under warrants, particularly in cases in which they made trouble for the public.
All officers attached to the division, he stressed, must pass the "Naresuan 261" training programme organised by the Border Patrol Police. It is the country's most thorough antiterrorism training course.
Pol Maj Gen Torsak said he attaches great importance to officers under his command receiving regular training so they are always ahead of the criminals when it comes to technology and technique.
"I believe that we also must have the best weapons for our officers," said Pol Maj Gen Torsak. "They must protect themselves along with the VIPs and to do that they must be well-armed."
According to Pol Maj Gen Torsak, his team often tries out new technology, weapons and equipment so they can maintain their edge in emergency situations.
He said that apart from providing security for the VIPs at royal ceremonies, it is also important for his forces to take care of civilians at those events.
During the King's coronation ceremony on May 4-6, Pol Maj Gen Torsak was praised by netizens for performing a wai on the lap of an elderly woman who was waiting for the King's procession on the side of a road.
His friendly gesture was widely shared online.
"I don't pretend. This is who I am," said Pol Maj Gen Torsak. "I was taught by my parents when I was young to respect senior figures."
He said when he saw the elderly group waiting for the procession, apparently for more than an hour, he approached them and made conversation to find out a little about them.
"I asked them where they came from and we found out a bit about their attitudes towards the monarchy," said Pol Maj Gen Torsak.
"Had they not been loyal subjects, they would not have come to sit there."
He said it is important for him to interact with people since it takes time to find out what they think.
"Various activities involving volunteers can help boost sentiment towards the monarchy. So when I go out, I speak about these schemes. But when someone wants to tarnish the reputation of the institute, it only takes half a minute to do," said Pol Maj Gen Torsak.
Speaking of the lese majeste law, Pol Maj Gen Torsak said the King gave guidance that he does not want to see anyone prosecuted under the lese majeste law as it can be "a double-edged sword", adding the monarch has always shown mercy.
Some people may misjudge the situation from things they have heard, he noted.
"The King gave guidance that no punishment should be made in relation to Section 112 [of the Criminal Code] since some people may have misunderstood or listened to false information," Pol Maj Gen Torsak said.
The monarch wants authorities to treat the matter on a case-by-case basis with a committee investigating the intentions behind supposed breaches, he said.
To boost his skills ahead of assuming the post, Pol Maj Gen Torsak said he underwent sniper and parachute training.
He had already served as a shooting coach at Chulachomklao Royal Military Academy and was once nominated as a national sharpshooter.
Pol Maj Gen Torsak has also been praised for his knowledge of Buddhism.
"When we have good thinking and a positive attitude, we know what we are supposed to do," he said.
He said he always encourages his subordinates to ordain as monks to help reduce their ego.
Pol Maj Gen Torsak said his nomination to the top job at the new division did not happen by chance.
"I have earned the King's trust by working hard for him," he said.