Governor backed for top job in the South

BANGKOK: Powerful forces appear to be lobbying for Phuket Provincial Governor Pongpayome Vasaputi to be promoted to Director of the Southern Border Administrative Center (SBAC), a senior position with the Ministry of Interior. The previous holder of the post, Palakorn Suwannarat, resigned in mid-July amid criticism of his handling of a recent spate of bombings in the South of Thailand, perpetrated by organizations claiming to be Muslim separatists. Interior Minister Purachai Piemsomboon was initially thought to favor Banyat Jansena, a Deputy Permanent Secretary in the Ministry, to replace Palakorn. However, a report posted on the website of the Mass Communication Organization of Thailand (MCOT), which comes under the Interior Ministry, said that Muslim leaders and teachers in the South were not happy with the possibility of Banyat being appointed. They said he had been unable to solve local problems when he was Governor of Songkhla. The report added that Sanoh Tienthong, a former Interior Minister who is now an adviser to Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra and the Thai Rak Thai Party, supports Gov Pongpayome for the post. The main stumbling block to Gov Pongpayome’s appointment is that his current civil service rank is too low. Before being eligible for the post, he would first have to serve as a deputy permanent secretary. Gov Pongpayome, who was Governor of Narathiwat Province before coming to Phuket, told reporters, “I would like to thank the people of the South who are supporting me for this post. “But,” he added modestly, “it is up to the Cabinet to make the decision; I am a government officer and I can work anywhere the government wants. “As for K. Banyat, if he were to be appointed the director of the SBAC, I think he would do a good job, because he knows the problems of the south very well.” The appointment was expected to be considered by the Ministry’s Civil Service Panel today, and by the Cabinet tomorrow.

Phuket News
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