With Thawil about to take the helm, what’s the future of peace talks?
A big question was raised in the aftermath of the Supreme Administrative Court’s ruling for the reinstatement of Mr Thawil Pliensri as the secretary-general of National Security Council retroactively as of September 2011 about whether a government can or cannot order the transfer of any government officials?
But before answering the question, it is advisable that those in doubt about the government’s authority in transferring officials should know the background of this case regarding Mr Thawil’s transfer for better understanding of the issue in question.
Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra signed an order, 152,2554, dated September 7, 2011 transferring then NSC chief Thawil Pliensri to the Prime Minister’s Office to become an advisor to the prime minister on temporary basis. Then on September 30, another order was issued from the PM’s Office removing Mr Thawil as the NSC secretary-general to assume an advisory post at the PM’s Office as a permanent official.
The two orders were intended to pave the way for Pol Gen Wichien Potephosri, then the National Police Office chief, to replace Mr Thawil at the NSC. Mr Thawil then took the case to the Central Administrative Court claiming he was unjustly transferred.
On May 31, 2013, the Central Administrative Court ordered the reinstatement of Mr Thawil as the NSC chief, citing that his transfer was unethical. However, the ruling was appealed to the Supreme Administrative Court by the prime minister.
On March 7 this year, the Supreme Administrative Court upheld the lower court’s ruling and ordered that Mr Thawil be reinstated in 45 days and that his reinstatement would be retroactively effective as of September 30, 2011.
It should be noted that the transfers of both Mr Thawil and Pol Gen Wichien Potephosri were not meant for the benefits of government administration as claimed by the government because throughout the past two years and six months Mr Thawil, while serving as an advisor in the PM’s Office, has never been given a single assignment.
As a matter of fact, the transfers were designed to pave the way for Pol Gen Priewphan Damapong, then deputy national police chief and elder brother of Khunying Potjamarn na Pompetch, ex-wife of fugitive former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra, to be appointed the national police chief to serve in the office for a year before his mandatory retirement.
To sum up, Mr Thawil was transferred to pave the way for Pol Gen Wichien who agreed to give up his post as the national police chief for Pol Gen Priewphan.
So, the answer to the above question is that the government can still transfer any officials as it feels fit but there must be justification for such transfer. In this case however, it is not only Mr Thawil who has become a victim of unjust political interference, it seems that the incumbent NSC chief Lt-Gen Paradorn Pattanathabutr can be considered as another victim as well because he will have to relinquish his post to Mr Thawil within 45 days.
So what will be the impacts from Lt-Gen Paradorn’s imminent removal as the NSC chief?
For the Pheu Thai government, it will indeed be frustrating for an opponent like Mr Thawil to sit at the NSC. Mr Thawil, on various occasions, appeared on the protest stages of the People’s Democratic Reform Committee to criticize the government.
Regarding the southern unrest problem, MrThawil’s priority task is to draw up a new three-year strategic plan for the restive region to replace the current plan which is due to expire this year. So far, there has been on progress about the drafting of the new plan as the NSC has been busy dealing with the protests in Bangkok. Mr Thawil, too, cannot start working until he actually assumes the office in the next 45 days.
Regarding the peace talks with the Barisan Revolusi Nasionale which has bogged down after three rounds of talks in Kuala Lumpur brokered by Malaysia, Mr Thawil has made known his opposition to open talks and his preference for close-door talks.
However, there may be a problem regarding the peace talks as Lt-Gen Paradorn has insisted that he was specially assigned by the prime minister to head the peace talks with the BRN and this had nothing to do with his post as the NSC chief.
It remains to be seen who will head the peace talks in the future – if the talks are to be revived.
Caption : Mr Thawil Pliensri