Published on September 11, 2007
Prime Minister Surayud Chulanont has cancelled his order to appoint national police chief Kowit Watana as a C11-level adviser, in a move apparently designed to end
a pending legal battle at the Supreme Administrative Court.
The cancellation means Kowit can stay on as national police chief, without challenge, until his retirement later this month.
During the past several months, Kowit has retained his top police post under an injunction issued by the Administrative Court.
Kowit had in fact served as the premier's adviser since early February on a secondment. Then, on April 22, Surayud issued an order appointing Kowit as a permanent C11-level adviser to the premier.
Had this order been effective, Kowit would have been the former national police chief.
However, he has fought against it and lodged a complaint with the Administrative Court against Surayud, citing that the order was illegal.
The Administrative Court accepted the complaint and allowed the parties to submit documents by today.
The Supreme Administrative Court had been preparing to rule on the case after the Central Administrative Court ruled the order was illegal. Ahead of giving a final ruling on the case, the lower court issued an injunction barring the removal of Kowit from his top police post.
An informed source said Surayud had signed an order to cancel the controversial order on August 28.
The following day, an appointed public prosecutor immediately went to the Administrative Court to ask that the pending case be removed.
According to legal experts, Surayud would likely face criminal charges if the Supreme Administrative Court had ruled that his order was illegal.
However, Surayud yesterday explained that his decision to cancel the order was based on a proposal from officials and out of respect for the Central Administrative Court's ruling that it was illegal.
Asked about Kowit's current status, Surayud said he remained national police chief but was serving as an adviser on secondment.
He said Police General Seripisut Temiyavej, in his capacity as acting national police chief, was fully in charge of police work.
Seripisut will become the national police chief on October 1 after Kowit reaches the mandatory retirement age.
Kowit's lawyer Narin Wongthai vowed to pursue criminal and civil actions against Surayud over the illegal order.
"The order has caused damage to Kowit's reputation by making others think that he must have done something wrong and was therefore transferred," Narin said.