11 July 2024

Pol General Roy Inkhapairote, a deputy national police chief, has been appointed the new secretary-general of the National Security Council (NSC) – the second police general to assume the post.

The previous NSC secretary-general, General Supot Malaniyom, retired at the end of September, since when his deputy, Chatchai Bangchuad, has been acting NSC chief.

The appointment of Roy, 59, was approved at an NSC meeting chaired by Prime Minister Srettha Thavisin on January 5 and is expected to be endorsed by the Cabinet on Tuesday (January 16).

Dominated by military men

The NSC’s top job has often been held by an Army general, particularly over the past decade. The last five NSC chiefs have been retired Army generals – all of them serving under the nine-year term of previous PM General Prayut Chan-o-cha.

Of the 23 chiefs of the NSC, since it was established in 1959 to replace the Kingdom’s Defense Council, 17 had military backgrounds (15 from the Army and two from the Air Force), five were civilians, and one was from the police force.

Pol General Wichien Poteposri was the first police officer to become NSC secretary-general, serving for a year between October 2011 and September 2012.

The national police chief Wichien was appointed as NSC chief after the incumbent, Thawil Pliensri, was removed from his seat. Thawil’s removal led to a case filed with the Constitutional Court against then-prime minister Yingluck Shinawatra. In early May 2014, the court found Yingluck guilty of power abuse, which resulted in her removal as the caretaker PM and defense minister.

Wichien was replaced as police chief by Pol General Priewphan Damapong, a relative of Yingluck.

Delayed appointment

Roy’s appointment as NSC chief was delayed after the previous NSC meeting to consider the matter was postponed indefinitely from November 2. PM Srettha explained that certain legal complications needed to be resolved first, but he denied there was any conflict related to the appointment.

In September, Roy failed in his bid to become the national police chief despite being the most senior of the four deputy police chiefs vying for the seat. However, PM Srettha nominated deputy police chief Pol General Torsak Sukvimol, the least senior candidate among the four, to the top job at the Royal Thai Police, and most Police Commission members voted for Torsak.

Rumors emerged at the time that Roy would be moved to become the new NSC secretary-general. He initially wanted to remain in the police force but later changed his mind – reportedly after being persuaded that the appointment was compensation for his being denied the police chief’s position.

Successor in waiting

Roy’s old post is expected to be taken by assistant police chief Pol Lt-General Prachuab Wongsuk, who reportedly enjoys close ties with the Shinawatra family.

Observers reckon that as a new deputy police chief, Prachuab will become a contender for the top police job this September, as current officeholder Torsak is due to retire in October.

Prachuab was assigned to oversee security and traffic plans for former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra on August 22 when he returned to Thailand to face imprisonment for corruption after 15 years of self-imposed exile overseas. Thaksin, who arrived at Bangkok’s Don Mueang Airport on a private jet, was taken to a nearby police station, court, and prison under escort by Prachuab.

Background in security

Born on August 6, 1964, Roy graduated from the Armed Forces Academies Preparatory School and the Royal Police Cadet Academy. He obtained a master’s degree in public administration from Ramkhamhaeng University.

Later in his police career, Roy completed a professional course of study for international law enforcement managers from the FBI National Academy in the US.

After graduating from the Royal Police Cadet Academy, Roy first joined the police force as a deputy inspector at the Crime Suppression Division. He later moved to other units in the Royal Thai Police, including the Special Branch, Forensic Science Division, Highway Police, Tourist Police, Immigration Bureau, Central Investigation Bureau, and Police Education Bureau.

As deputy police chief, Roy is in charge of security and special affairs while overseeing the Police Cyber Taskforce and the Anti-Fake News Center. He was also tasked with overseeing security during previous elections and the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (Apec) Summit in Bangkok in November 2022.

By Thai PBS World’s Political Desk