Royal Aide Named as Next Police Commissioner

A file photo of Gen. Suwat Chaengyodsuk, center.
A file photo of Gen. Suwat Chaengyodsuk, center.

BANGKOK — The government on Friday approved the appointment of a former commander of a royal protection police unit as the next national police chief.

Gen. Suwat “Big Pud” Chaengyodsuk, who currently serves as the deputy police commissioner, will take the top job when Gen. Chakthip Chaijinda retires from the post at the end of September.

His appointment will be considered official once His Majesty the King lends his signature.

Born in 1961, Gen. Suwat attended the same military cadet class with the current army chief Gen. Apirat Kongsompong, and was a classmate of Chakthip when they studied at the Royal Police Cadet Academy.

After graduation, he began his career as a deputy inspector at Hua Mak Police Station in Bangkok in 1983.

Suwat climbed up the ranks throughout the following years, serving in multiple high-ranking positions, including the chief of metropolitan police, the head of the Special Branch Police, and deputy police commissioner.

The most prestigious among those titles was the commander of the Special Service Division – a police commando unit tasked with providing security to the Royal Family members and carrying out other tasks assigned by King Vajiralongkorn.

He also took charge of major criminal cases like the hunt for the Lopburi goldsmith killer and the operation to kill a soldier who went on a shooting rampage in Korat.

Suwat’s appointment coincides with reports that Air Chief Marshal Airbull Suttiwan is tipped to replace ACM Maanat Wongwat as the new commander of the Air Force.

Maanat is expected to step down in the next annual reshuffle, according to a report by Wassana Nanuam, a reporter with close connections to the military.

The alleged nomination was regarded as a “dark horse” among the air force seniors.

A file photo of ACM Airbull Suttiwan. Photo: Wing 6 RTAF / Facebook
A file photo of ACM Airbull Suttiwan. Photo: Wing 6 RTAF / Facebook

Airbull – who was named by his father after a codename of the U.S. Air Force’s training program – did not appear to hold any major commanding roles in his career. He previously worked as a C-130 transport aircraft pilot, and served as an air force attache to Germany.

The appointments for military top brass are due to be formally announced during the annual reshuffle in October.