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Thailand : NPPC picks Somyot as new police chief

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  • Thailand : NPPC picks Somyot as new police chief

    NPPC picks Somyot as new police chief
    Manop Thip-Osod & Wasayos Ngamkham

    The National Police Policy Commission (NPPC) yesterday chose Somyot Pumpunmuang as the new national police chief, citing his ability to handle national security cases and work closely with the junta.

    Deputy police chief Pol Gen Somyot Pumpunmuang is caught at the centre of a press scrum after being chosen on Thursday as the new national police chief.

    He also played a prominent role in helping protect demonstrators during anti-government protests before the May 22 coup.

    The commission, chaired by National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO) head Prayuth Chan-ocha, unanimously agreed to promote Pol Gen Somyot, acting national police chief Watcharapol Prasarnratchakit said after the meeting.

    Pol Gen Somyot beat out another two national deputy chiefs, Pol Gen Ek Angsananond and Pol Gen Pongsapat Pongcharoen.

    Pol Gen Somyot's skill in leading a campaign to clamp down on illegal possession of war weapons impressed the six-member panel, Pol Gen Watcharapol said.

    He said he chose Pol Gen Somyot because he was the best candidate in light of the current security and political circumstances. Pol Gen Somyot was the right man for the job as security has become a significant issue since the coup.

    He was placed in charge of security after Gen Prayuth, who also is the army chief, seized power on May 22.

    Deputy police chief Pol Gen Somyot Pumpunmuang walks to his office at the Royal Thai Police Office. The National Police Policy Commission unanimously chose him as the new national police chief.
    (Photo by Thiti Wannamontha)

    Pol Gen Somyot is also close to former police chief Patcharawat Wongsuwan, the younger brother of former defence minister and NCPO adviser Gen Prawit Wongsuwan.

    He also had support from Gen Watcharapol and Gen Prawit for the post, another source said.

    Pol Gen Somyot was ordered by the NCPO to take care of several key security cases, including several deadly attacks on People's Democratic Reform Committee protesters during anti-government demonstrations late last year, the source said.

    His efforts led to the arrest of several suspects, he said.

    "Pol Gen Somyot had said in the past that if he was ever offered a top post by former premier Thaksin Shinawatra, he would never accept it. This was one of the reasons why he won the backing of the NCPO and other senior figures," the source said.

    After hearing of his promotion yesterday, Pol Gen Somyot said he wished to do three major things before he retires next year.

    They are to boost unity and morale within the police force, improve police welfare, and build public trust.

    "I believe I will be able to work effectively with the army," he said.

    "We will try to do what people expect us to do," Pol Gen Somyot said.

    He refused to discuss plans for a police shake-up at the commissioner and commander level, saying Pol Gen Watcharapol will remain as acting police chief until the end of September.

    Pol Gen Somyot was a classmate of Pol Gen Pongsapat in Class 31 of the Police Cadet Academy.

    He was also close to former influential politician Newin Chidchob and a close aide to the late Social Action Party leader Montri Pongpanich.

    Pol Gen Somyot was promoted to general as a police adviser (Level 10) during the Pheu Thai administration in 2011, before becoming a deputy national police chief the following year.

    Former Pheu Thai Party list-MP Cherdchai Tantisiri suggested yesterday Pol Gen Somyot's promotion was an attempt to prevent politicians from interfering in police affairs.

    The NCPO chose a man who it thought would adhere to its policies as the new police chief.
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