Thawil wins reinstatement, new hot potato for premier

national March 08, 2014 00:00

By The Nation

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Govt ordered to reappoint him as NSC sec-general; Paradorn not ready to budge

The government must comply with the Supreme Administrative Court’s verdict to reinstate Thawil Pliensri to the position of National Security Council (NSC) secretary-general within 45 days, PM’s secretary general Suranand Vejjajiva said yesterday.

The ruling issued yesterday was yet another hot potato for caretaker Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra to handle as the Supreme Administrative Court upheld the Central Administrative Court’s judgement that her order to have Thawil removed from the NSC was illegal.

Thawil was forced into a game of musical chairs in September 2011, when he was transferred from his post as NSC chief to become an adviser to the PM’s Office and make way for then-police chief General Wichean Potephosree.

Wichean had to vacate the national police chief’s chair for General Priewpan Damapong – who is the older brother of Khunying Potjaman na Pombejra, the former wife of ex-prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra, who is Yingluck’s older brother. 

Lt-General Paradorn Pattanatabut was put in the post of NSC chief on October 1, 2012, to replace Wichean, who was made Transport Ministry permanent secretary.
Suranand said the court judgement inconvenienced the government because Paradorn was a favourite for the top post at NSC as he was very capable and had held the post of NSC deputy secretary-general before he was transferred to the PM’s Office by Abhisit Vejjajiva’s government. 
Paradorn, meanwhile, said his roles at the NSC and the Centre for Maintaining Peace and Order were in Yingluck’s hands, though he pointed out that he could only be removed from the NSC with a royal endorsement. 
It is still unclear how Yingluck plans to reinstate Thawil at NSC, with Paradorn still there. The PM returned from Sakon Nakhon to attend a meeting with top brass yesterday afternoon, but was not available for comment as of press time. 
Thawil had filed a lawsuit with the Central Administrative Court on April 30, 2012, against the September 6, 2011, Cabinet resolution that removed him from the top post at NSC. 
It is believed that his removal was politically motivated. 
Thawil, together with then-deputy prime minister Suthep Thaugsuban, had taken tough action against the red-shirt protesters in 2010. These days, he has been seen speaking to anti-government protesters onstage several times. 
However, this is not the first time that officials have been moved around just because they are seen as supporters of the opposition. 
For instance, when Democrat Party leader Abhisit was prime minister, he moved Piraphon Tritasawit from the position of the Interior Ministry permanent secretary to become an adviser to the PM’s Office in 2009. 
Though the Administrative Court decided that this transfer was illegal and instructed the government of the day to reinstate him, Abhisit did not comply with the ruling before Piraphon had to retire. 
Thawil, who is scheduled to retire by the end of September this year, said he was ready to return to his old post and was also considering whether he should file a complaint with the National Anti-Corruption Commission against Yingluck for misconduct. 
“Not now, but tomorrow I may [sue her],” he said.
“Indeed, I don’t want to return to the position, but after having fought for two and a half years for justice, I should. Many people in the bureaucratic system share the same fate as me,” he said.
Politicians often use the patronage system to overrule merit in the bureaucracy for their own benefit, and thus damage the entire system, he said. 
When asked what he would do if the government refused to comply, Thawil said it would become a problem between the court and the government. 

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