New National Police Chief Selection Underway

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Prime Minister’s Role in the Appointment

As the formation of a new government coalition continues, the appointment of a new national police chief is set to be finalized by the end of the month. Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha is expected to oversee the appointment in his capacity as chairman of the Police Commission. According to Section 78(1) of the National Police Act, the Prime Minister can appoint a police chief based on seniority, calibre, and experience in investigation or suppression from a list of deputy candidates. The appointment then goes to the Police Commission for endorsement, followed by submission for royal approval.

This process aims to prevent politicians from interfering with the police force, as the Police Commission gives the final stamp of approval. Previously, the outgoing national police chief was responsible for making the nomination to the Royal Thai Police (RTP) board.

Contenders in the Running

Four deputy national police chiefs are currently in line for nomination. They are Pol Gen Roy Ingkapairote, Pol Gen Torsak Sukvimol, Pol Gen Kittirat Phanphet, and Pol Gen Surachate Hakparn.

Both Pol Gen Roy and Pol Gen Torsak are set to retire next year, while Pol Gen Kittirat is due to retire in 2026 and Pol Gen Surachate in 2031. Among these contenders, Pol Gen Torsak and Pol Gen Surachate are considered strong candidates due to their work experience and high-profile status.

Pol Gen Torsak Sukvimol

Pol Gen Torsak is a former commissioner of the Central Investigation Bureau and has held various positions, including commander of the Police Royal Guards 904 Division and deputy chief of the CIB. Widely praised for his knowledge of Buddhism and King Bhumibol Adulyadej The Great’s philosophy, Pol Gen Torsak is also involved in charity work. He has stated that he has no ambition to be the head of the police force.

Pol Gen Surachate Hakparn

Pol Gen Surachate, also known as “Big Joke,” was chief of the tourist police and led the Immigration Bureau before being promoted to assistant police chief and deputy police chief. He has been involved in high-profile cases and has recently opened a center at the Police Club on Vibhavadi-Rangsit Road to receive complaints from the general public. If appointed this year, he would likely become the longest-serving national police chief after Pol Gen Chakthip Chaijinda. However, with eight years before his retirement, Pol Gen Surachate says he is not in a hurry.

Appointment Process and Possibilities

Former deputy national police chief Pol Gen Ake Angsananont revealed on Facebook that the process to appoint a new police chief is underway. High-ranking officers’ appointments must be completed this month, while middle-ranking officers must be finalized in November. The Prime Minister can select the national police chief from eligible candidates holding a police inspector-general or deputy police chief post.

The outgoing prime minister has the option to wait for a new premier to appoint the police chief. In the meantime, one of the deputy chiefs can be appointed as acting police chief when the post is vacant.

With political interference historically plaguing the police force, the prospects of the other two deputy chiefs cannot be ruled out.