Embattled Chaiwat Limlikhitaksorn to oversee Thailand’s national parks
The Chief of the Protected Areas Regional Office 9, Chaiwat Limlikhitaksorn, has been appointed director of the Office of National Parks in the Department of National Parks, Wildlife and Plant Conservation in a minor reshuffle approved by Jatuporn Buruspat, the permanent secretary of natural resources and environment.
Reacting to the surprise appointment, Chaiwat told Thai PBS that he was thrilled to be given the chance to oversee and manage the country’s national parks, a responsibility which encompasses protection against encroachers and the collection of revenues from tourists visiting the parks.
He said that, throughout his career in government service, his main responsibilities have been related to the protection of forests and wildlife against illegal encroachers and loggers.
Chaiwat disclosed that he received a call from Jatuporn yesterday (Friday), informing him of his new appointment, with a suggestion that he tries to restore the image of the Department of National Parks, Wildlife and Plant Conservation.
He said he thanked the permanent secretary for trusting him. He also thanked the department head, Atthaphon Charoenchansa, and vowed to do his best to protect the national parks and to prevent corruption.
He is expected to begin his new role on March 1st. He is scheduled to retire next year.
Chaiwat played a key role in the downfall of Rutchada Suriyakul Na Ayutya, the former director-general of the Department of National Parks, Wildlife and Plant Conservation, when he collaborated with officials from the National Anti-Corruption Commission and the Public Sector Anti-Corruption Commission in the arrest of Rutchada in his office in the act of accepting a 98,000 baht bribe on December 27th last year.
Former chief of Kaeng Krachan National Park in Phetchaburi Province, Chaiwat was accused of torching the houses of ethnic Karen tribesmen in the Ban Bang Kloi in park area. He and four of his subordinates were also accused of the forced disappearance of Karen activist Porlajee Rakchongcharoen in April 2014.
In March 2019, he was dismissed by the civil service commission over the Ban Bang Kloi incident but, last year, the Phetchaburi Administrative Court issued an injunction suspending his dismissal and reinstating him as chief of the Protected Areas Regional Office 9.