BANGKOK — Departing army chief Apirat Kongsompong was placed in charge of a key position in the Royal Household Bureau by His Majesty the King on Tuesday.
Gen. Apirat, who is due to retire at the end of September, was appointed as the deputy secretary of the Royal Palace, according to the order published on the Royal Government Gazette website. The chief of the Corrections Department, Naras Savestanan, was also given the same position.
The Royal Household Bureau oversees the day-to-day operations of the palace and is the formal communication channel between the monarch and the public. Under their new positions, Apirat and Naras will report to Air Chief Marshal Sathitpong Sukwimol, who serves as the agency’s secretary-general.
Their appointments will become effective on Sept. 30.
His Majesty the King has the authority under Section 15 of the Constitution to appoint or remove palace officials at his pleasure.
New Boss in Town
Media reports say Apirat is expected to be replaced by his assistant, Gen. Narongpan Jitkaewthae. The list of high-ranking officers tipped for promotion was reportedly signed by PM Prayut Chan-o-cha last Wednesday.
The military top brass roster will be considered official once His Majesty the King lends his signature.
Gen. Narongpan, or “Big Bee,” began his military career from the 2nd Infantry Division in Prachinburi province. He then served as the deputy commander of the 31st Infantry Regiment in Lopburi province, where he met Apirat, who fought side by side with him during their deployment to the restive southern border provinces in 2005.
Since then, he climbed up the ranks to the Wongthewan clique of the army, known for its loyalty and close ties to the monarch. He served in multiple key command positions, including the commander of the First Army Area, which oversees troops in Bangkok and its vicinity.
One of his most prestigious titles was the deputy commander of the King’s Royal Rachawallop 904 Special Military Task Force – an elite royal guard unit which only answers to King Vajiralongkorn.
If nothing changes, he will serve as the army commander for the next three years.