Forest chief abruptly transferred to PM’s Office

Royal Forest Department director-general Chonlatid Suraswadi was abruptly removed and transferred to the Prime Minister’s Office as a special advisor in a surprise decision by the cabinet on Tuesday. 

Minister of Natural Resources and Environment General  Surasak Kanchanarat who is in charge of the RFD told the media that the Office of the Permanent Secretary of the PM’s Office had asked for Mr Chonlatid to assist work at the PM’s Office and the permanent secretary of the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment did not have any objection.

The minister added that his ministry had nothing to do with Mr Chonlatid’s abrupt transfer.

Meanwhile, Mr Chonlatid himself told the Press that he was puzzled by his transfer which, he said, was sudden and without any signs from General Surasak.

On the founding day of the ministry on Monday, he said he had discussion with General Surasak about community forest and acquisition of land for the landless to make a living and, moreover, the Royal Forest Department, was commended for its achievement in claiming back over 100,000 rai of forest land from encroachers and illegal resort operators.

The RFD chief went on saying that he didn’t think his sudden transfer was politically motivated because he did not serve political interests, was not affiliated with any political groupings, nor did he have any conflict with his superiors.

He, however, assumed that his abrupt removal from the RFD might stem from his efforts to reclaim forest land from illegal resort developers.  But he admitted that he was totally in the dark about the motive of his transfer.

Mr Chonlatid was appointed RFD director-general in 2015.  Before that, he was chief of the Marine and Coastal Resources Department.