A file photo of Maj. Gen. Sompong Chingduang

BANGKOK — A former border police commander has been named head of the immigration bureau, replacing ex-cop Surachate Hakparn whose downfall remains a topic of speculation.

Maj. Gen. Sompong “Big Oud” Chingduang’s appointment was announced by deputy junta chairman Prawit Wongsuwan after a meeting with other police officials that lasted about 45 minutes. Sompong is currently in charge of the Border Patrol Police.

The appointment came after Surachate was abruptly removed from all positions in the police force earlier this month without any explanation. A meeting to appoint his successor was initially scheduled for April 9, but was postponed at the last minute.

The removal order did not mention if Surachate fan afoul of any laws or regulations. Gen. Prawit said today there won’t be a disciplinary inquiry into Surachate’s tenure.

“There won’t be any,” Prawit, who oversees police affairs, said in response to reporters’ questions. “It’s over.”

Once one of the most visible faces of the police force, Surachate has rarely been seen in public since he was transferred to civilian roles on April 6. His public Facebook profile has also been taken down. Latest media reports say the 49-year-old is “on vacation” in the U.S.

Sompong Chingduang talks to Khaosod about his favorite amulets in 2018.

Speaking to reporters today, Prawit again refused to say why Surachate was ousted from the force.

“I don’t know. If you want to know so much, go ask him yourself,” the general said. Attempts to reach Surachate were unsuccessful.

The new chief of the immigration bureau did not speak to reporters today.

Born to a military family in Lopburi province, Sompong joined the police after graduating from the Armed Forces Preparatory School.

Sompong rose to fame in a command in the southern border region, where he was credited with capturing many secessionist militants active in the area.

He was later appointed deputy head of the Crime Suppression Division, where he oversaw a number of high-profile murder cases. His other postings include the riot police, the criminal investigation unit, and – most recently – the border police.

Note: Some details were omitted from this story due to legal concerns.