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King appoints new advisers

Dec 06. 2016
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Three new Privy Councillors linked to the NCPO, including ex-Justice minister Paiboon, who was tough on lese majeste.

HIS MAJESTY King Maha Vajiralongkorn yesterday appointed a Privy Council including three new members associated with the junta’s National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO).

The new appointments took place only a few days after General Prem Tinsulanonda was selected again as the president of the Privy Council.

The King named another 10 advisers to make 11 in total, while 19 councillors are stipulated by the interim charter. 

According to the Royal Gazette put out yesterday, three of the 10 are former members of the NCPO – former justice minister Paiboon Koomchaya, former army chief Teerachai Nakwanich and former education minister Dapong Ratanasuwan. 

The other seven were Privy Councillors under the late King Bhumibol Adulyadej and were reappointed. Most of the 10 advisers are publicly known to have close ties with Prem.

The three new appointees are recognised as defenders of the state, anti-corruption enforcers, suppressers of political turmoil and protectors of the monarchy institution. 

Paiboon, 61, played a major role in hunting down alleged lese majeste offenders overseas. He has also pushed for the continued investigation of Phra Dhammachayo, the controversial abbot of Dhammakaya Temple, who was allegedly involved in fraud involving in millions of baht. The minister also took aggressive action against drug trafficking including collaboration with neighbouring countries and the international community. 

Teerachai, 61, who is also the former secretary of the NCPO, played an essential role in the country’s latest coup. Dapong, 63, is also a high-profile figure known for his former role with the committee of the Centre for the Resolution of the Emergency Situation, which cracked down the red-shirt protest in Bangkok during the administration of former prime minister Abhisit Vejjajiva in 2010. 

Deputy Prime Minister General Prawit Wongsuwan said the Cabinet would be reshuffled after Paiboon and Dapong were appointed to the Privy Council. Prime Minister General Prayut Chan-o-cha would make the final decision on the reshuffle, he added. 

“It is good that His Majesty the King trusts [the two ministers to work in the Privy Council],” he said.

Paiboon said yesterday he had resigned from his Cabinet portfolio and was scheduled to take an oath today in front of the King. He refused to give details about the future work of the Justice Ministry, including the ongoing attempt to arrest Phra Dhammachayo.

“Now, my duty as a minister is finished,” he said at Government House before meeting with the prime minister.

Teerachai said he was grateful for the King’s kindness in appointing him as an adviser. “I will do my best as the privy councillor in fulfil the King’s trust in me,” he said.

Among 11 members of council, five are generals and one is an air chief marshal. Those include General Prem, General Paiboon, General Teerachai, General Dapong, General Surayud Chulanont and Air Chief Marshal Chalit Pukbhasuk. 

The five civilians are Kasem Watanachai, Palakorn Suwanrath, Atthaniti Disatha-amnarj, Chanchai Likhitjitta and Supachai Poo-ngam, the last three being former presidents of the Supreme Court.

Palakorn is the former secretary of the Southern Border Provinces Administrative Centre, who has worked to solve issues related to the southern insurgency.

The three new Privy Council members yesterday resigned from all official offices that were not connect to royal endorsements to assume their new positions today, Deputy Prime Minister Wissanu Krea-ngam said yesterday.

The charter stipulates that Privy Council members must not be MPs, senators, top officials of independent organisations, civil servants, state enterprise officers, political party members or other government officials.

While the charter does not specify whether members of the ruling junta are also barred from the post, Wissanu said the three appointed Privy Councillors needed to resign from all offices including those associated with the junta.

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