Monday, August 29, 2011

How the PM replaces the Police Chief is a tricky move

Every new prime minister wants his own national police chief. So, nobody should be surprised if Police Gen Vichien Pojphosr, the current National Police Chief,somehow has to move sideways in favour of his deputy, Police Gen Priewpan Damapong, who happens to be brother of Khunying Pojaman, Thaksin's ex-wife.

It's not a question of whether. It's when. And how.

Transfers of senior policemen, especially the No 1 police officer, have to be approved by a Police Commission. Although it's headed by the prime minister ex-officio, the commission comprises several other senior officials and "outside experts." The current police chief may not be politically the most favoured person for the post. But he hasn't done anything seriously wrong that could be "punished" with a sudden ouster.

PM Yingluck could "second" him to a Government House's post, citing his "valuable experience." But Vichien would still be officially holding the title of police chief. The PM could then appoint Police Gen Priewpan "acting police chief" until his retirement in one year.

The last time, Gen Surayudh Chulanond, as PM, tried to do this with Police Gen Kovit Watana (who is now deputy premier), he went to the Administrative Court and won the case against his "secondment."

Now,the only way to do it smoothly is for Police Gen Vichien himself to ask to be transferred or to quit voluntarily. That isn't going to happen too soon. Police Gen Vichien himself has insisted, even up to today, that he hasn't given any thought to giving up his post just yet.

He has to go somehow. But how and when and at what political cost are the main questions.

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