The King has promoted Gen Apirat Kongsompong, the Royal Thai Army (RTA) Commander and Pol Col Naras Savestanan, Director-General of the Corrections Department, as Deputy Lord Chamberlains of the Palace after their retirement on 30 September 2020.
Pol Col Naras Savestanan (left) and Gen Apirat Kongsompong (right)
On 15 September 2020, Matichon reported an announcement of the Royal Household Bureau that the King has approved the transfer of a military and a civilian official to be palace officials. The transfer was made under Sections 6, 14 and 15 of the Royal Decree on the Royal Administration and Personnel Organisation 2017. The order is signed by ACM Satitpong Sukvimol, the Lord Chamberlain of the Royal Household and will take effect on 30 September 2020.
The order attaches a document showing that Gen Apirat will get an increase to salary to 231,020 baht, while his current salary is 149,410 baht. The salary of Pol Col Naras will also increase to 200,160 baht from his current salary of 105,800 baht.
The Royal Decree frames the structure of agencies under the personal administration and jurisdiction of the King. The Bureau of the Royal Household is one of 3 royal agencies beside the Office of the Privy Council and Royal Security Command. It has duties concerning the royal service in general, the royal secretariat service, palace management and royal ceremonies. It also oversees custody of the monarch’s property and other matters at the King’s pleasure.
The King’s power under this Royal Decree is provided by Section 15 of the Constitution which states “The appointment and removal of officials of the Royal Household shall be at the King’s pleasure. The organisation and personnel administration of the Royal Household shall be at the King’s pleasure, as provided by Royal Decree.”
The Royal Decree was made under the 2017 Royal Service Administration Act, which states the formation of the royal service under His Majesty’s control. The agencies’ budgets are directed from the state revenue.
There has been public concern over the Royal Decree that gives the King personal power to appoint and transfer personnel under his personal domain. The problematic expression in this decree is the duty of agencies to respond at the “King’s pleasure” which gives a wide room for interpretation.
This expression allows the interpretation that the Royal Security Command, which comprises the 1st and 11th Infantry Regiments, the King’s Guard, numbering around 2,000-3,000 soldiers, is the King's personal army.
At its 10 August 2020 protest, the United Front of Thammasat and Demonstration read a statement calling for the abolition of the Royal Offices. Units with a clear duty, such as the Royal Security Command, should be transferred and placed under other agencies. Unnecessary units, such as the Privy Council, should be disbanded.