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Chiang Mai PAO chief insists no political manoeuvring behind PM’s order to reinstate him

Jun 11. 2018
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By The Nation

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The reinstated chief of the Chiang Mai provincial administrative organisation has denied any political bargaining after Prime Minister General Prayut Chan-o-cha issued an order last Monday to end his 22-month suspension from work.

Bunlert Buranoupakorn, who had been suspended from duty at the order of the junta since July 2016, resumed his work as the northern city’s PAO chief this Monday.

When asked if his reinstatement resulted from any bargaining with people in power, Bunlert maintained on Monday there had been no such political manoeuvring.

“This has nothing to do with politics. My return this time has no strings attached – no conditions at all. I have never met the prime minister, even once,” he said.

The Chiang Mai PAO chief added that the decision to reinstate him was instead due to an investigation finding that he had not committed any wrongdoing as alleged.

He also said he would not enter national politics, but rather would continue with local politics in the northern city. 

“I am more familiar with local politics, where I have been for over 20 years,” he explained.

Upon his return to work, Bunlert was welcomed by colleagues and well-wishers at the PAO office, including former Chiang Mai MPs from the Pheu Thai Party and an ex-senator. 

With smiles, he received many flowers from well-wishers and colleagues.

In 2016, Bunlert was investigated and suspended from duty after being accused of involvement in the issuance of leaflets making distorted claims about the draft new constitution, which was being put to the country in a referendum at the time.

Chiang Mai has been dominated by politicians from the Pheu Thai Party, which won all 10 House seats up for grabs in the northern city in the 2011 general election.

Bunlert is one of four suspended PAO chiefs whose reinstatements were ordered by PM Prayut last week. 

The other three are the PAO heads of Yasothon, Mukdahan and Sakon Nakhon provinces, all in the Northeast and dominated by Pheu Thai in the last national election.

Prayut and the junta reportedly are building a political alliance ahead of the next general election.

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