The Bangkok Post’s Wassana Nanuam has an op-ed trying to make sense of the reshuffle dispute between Defence Minister Sukumpol Suwanatat, defence permanent secretary Sathian Phoemthongin and Chatree Thatti, generals all three.
What interested PPT was the claim that Generals Sathian and Chatree ran like scolded children into the arms of the ever-interfering General Prem Tinsulanonda, President of the Privy Council and self-appointed approver of military transfers, appointments and promotions.
The two baby generals submitted their complaints to the grandfather generals Prem and the other privy councilor General Surayud Chulanont. Now they have also petitioned the Administrative Court.
General Sathian blubbered that he “hoped that Gen Prem would ‘screen’ the reshuffle list before it is submitted to … the King for approval.”
If the Administrative Court refuses to accept the complaint, it is feared the case will set a precedent and this means a defence minister has the power to transfer a general, or even an army commander from his post.
Interestingly, the article notes that:
the Judge Advocate General’s Department scrutinise[d] all legal aspects of his move, especially Section 24 of the Defence Act which gives him the power to remove the defence secretary-general. Besides, intervention in military reshuffles, as alleged by Gen Sathian, is not unprecedented. Gen Surayud did it before when he was interim prime minister after the 2006 coup d’etat.
Equally interestingly, the top brass seems not to be complaining.