The National Council for Peace and Order on Wednesday transferred three senior government officials to inactive posts at the Prime Minister's Office.
They included House of Representatives secretary-general Suwichag Nakwatcharachai, Attorney-General Attaphol Yaisawang and Information and Communications Technology Ministry’s permanent secretary Surachai Srisaracam.
House of Representatives secretary-general Suwichag Nakwatcharachai, who was transferred to the PM’s Office Ministry yesterday is not a stranger to controversy.
He was promoted over a more senior person to assume the post by the then-House Speaker Somsak Kiatsura-nont, who is from the Pheu Thai Party.
There appear to be two reasons behind the transfer. First, when the Senate ended up in conflict with the Yingluck Shinawatra administration as to whether the Senate could convene a special meeting, Suwichag called a meeting of legal experts of the lower House.
They concluded that the Senate could not convene as there was no Senate president. The finding was adopted by the Secretariat of the Cabinet. The second possible reason for Suwichag’s transfer is the corruption allegations in the use of the lower House’s budget.
The most controversial of these was the decision by the House to purchase 200 clocks worth more than Bt62,000 each. It also extended the installation of an air-conditioner in the garbage collection room and there were various refurbishments of Parliament.
Succeeding Suwichag in a caretaker capacity is Chare Phanprueng, the second senior-most person after him. He is known as a legal hand in Parliament although he kept a rather low profile. Chare has good connections at the King Prajadhipok Institute and with many academics and lawyers.
This should come in handy at a time when both the Reform and National Legislative assemblies are set up.
Information and Communication Technology (ICT) Ministry permanent secretary Surachai Srisaracam is recognised as the IT brain who developed the 13-digit national ID number for Thais. His project was awarded the Computer World Smithsonian Award 1990 in the category of government and non-profit organisations.
The Computer World Smithsonian Award is given out annually to individuals who have used technology to make beneficial changes in society.
He had been working with the Thai registration system at the Registration Office, Department of Provincial Administration, for a decade. At that time, he initiated several distinguished projects relating to the Thai registration system, which integrated the tax payee number and social security insurance number with a 13-digit ID number. This saved people the hassle of carrying several cards, instead of just one ID card. He also initiated several online services related to the use of the 13-digit national ID number and system. For example, he facilitated all Registration Offices to get connected and online, which made possible speedy registration services for people throughout the country. He also initiated the smart ID card scheme.
Then he was moved as Kanchanaburi province’s permanent secretary.
He was also deputy governor of many provinces until he was appointed governor of Nakhon Nayok, the last position he held before becoming the ICT Ministry’s permanent secretary.
On May 28, when Thais could not access Facebook for a short time, Surachai reportedly said the NCPO had ordered the blocking. However, both he and the NCPO denied it later.
Meanwhile, the ministry’s perceived slow action against people who posted lese majeste messages has been seen by some as the reason behind Surachai’s transfer.
The chief of the Office of the Attorney-General, Attaphol Yaisawang, was transferred and reassigned to the PM’s Office. He will be succeeded by Trakool Winitnaiphak, his first deputy, for the time being.
Attaphol’s performance has been closely watched since he assumed the post in October 2013 after he was unanimously approved by the Senate, which was deeply divided during the term of the Yingluck Shinawatra administration.
Attaphol approved the prosecution of both former PM Abhisit Vejjajiva and former deputy PM Suthep Thaugsuban for their alleged roles in the deadly crackdown on anti-government red shirts in 2010.
This action may have been seen as partisan, particularly when no progress was made in cases involving fugitive former premier Thaksin Shinawatra.