Ex-deputy Army commander General Kriangkrai eyes Senate presidency

MONDAY, JULY 01, 2024

Despite being celebrated for his work in the South of Thailand, the general’s close bonds with Anutin make him a subject of speculation

The announcement of General Kriangkrai Srirak as a potential candidate for the Senate’s presidency has sparked considerable debate, particularly in military and political circles.

Known affectionately as the “Iron-Bone General” thanks to his miraculous survival after a helicopter crash in 2022, Kriangkrai stepped down from his advisory role to Interior Minister Anutin Charnvirakul to join the senatorial election under the “governance and national security” group.

Kriengkrai was previously deputy Army chief and also oversaw the 4th Army Region.

Hailing from Surat Thani, the general’s 40 years in the military were punctuated with accolades earned through combat expertise and astute leadership, particularly in the 4th Army Region.

His tenure saw operations against insurgent groups and engagements aimed at enhancing security across the South. He has also earned a name for fostering community relations and contributing significantly to peace talks aimed at quelling insurgency in the region.

However, his candidacy is also underscored by his long-standing friendship with Anutin, dating back to their time at the National Defence College (NDC 61). Their bond, evident in Anutin’s swift response during Kriengkrai’s helicopter crash in Songkhla, underscores a relationship built on mutual respect and shared goals.

Addressing speculations linking his candidacy to political alliances, Kriengkrai said laughingly, “it’s not that serious”.

When asked why he decided to join the senatorial elections, he said he wanted to continue working on national security matters, especially in the southern border provinces.

“As for the perception that I am a ‘senator allied with Anutin’ because of our close friendship, I want to say that he is just a friend. We know each other well and get along, but that’s all. I have many friends in different sectors. Friendships are friendships, and work is work. They must be separated,” he said.

“Anutin congratulated me after learning I was named senator, and there’s nothing unusual about that.”

Anutin, meanwhile, addressed questions regarding his ties with Kriangkrai after people raised suspicions that the Bhumjaithai Party was strategising to take control of the Senate.

“We got to know each other while studying at NDC 61. General Kriangkrai is a friend. As for his candidacy for the Senate presidency, I have nothing to do with it. I have many other friends too. I only learned of General Kriangkrai’s resignation from his advisory position to apply for the Senate,” he said.