Pol General Aek Angsananont and Pol General Somyot Poompanmoung, both deputy chiefs at the Royal Thai Police, appear to be running head to head for the top post - the winner of which will be announced today. An unnamed national police inspector-general is
Under new selection criteria set up by the ruling National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO), acting police chief Pol General Watcharapol Prasarnrajkit will be the one nominating his successor – unlike before the coup, when the national police chief was chosen by a Police Commission.
This time though, outgoing Watcharapol will nominate one candidate from the three and hand the name over to the junta-installed Police Policy Board, which is comprised of NCPO chief General Prayuth Chan-ocha and five other members, including a Defence Ministry permanent secretary.
The selection venue is also different this time, with the meeting being held at the Royal Thai Army headquarters instead of Government House, where the now-defunct Police Commission, in a meeting chaired by prime minister, used to select the national police chief.
Given his public statements and interviews, Watcharapol is not expected to stick to the seniority principle when it comes to selecting his successor.
In other words, Aek might lose out to Somyot despite his seniority.
Seniority also did not apply when Pol General Adul Saengsingkaew was named national police chief in October 2012 even though the other contender – now retired deputy police chief Pol General Pansiri Praphasawat – was his senior.
Should Watcharapol decide to come to a compromise, he might choose Somyot – who retires in 2015 – to run national police for a year before Aek takes over for another year before he retires in 2016.
However, Somyot has an advantage over Aek in terms of ties with the military – he is close to the now-retired former police chief Pol General Patcharawat Wongsuwan, brother of former Army chief and defence minister General Pravit Wongsuwan.
Also, Aek began his police career with a bachelor’s degree in law, while Somyot graduated from the Royal Police Cadet Academy and before that he came from the Armed Forces Academies Preparatory School’s Class 15, with NCPO member and assistant Army commander General Paiboon Khumchaya as his classmate.
Both Aek and Somyot oversee crime suppression and internal security, and they have both made a name for themselves cracking high-profile criminal and political cases as well as the suppression of narcotics and auto theft.