Prayut insists popular Chiang Rai governor will be transferred

Prime Minister Gen Prayut Chan-o-cha this afternoon reaffirmed the order to transfer the hugely popular Chiang Rai Governor Narongsak Osotthanakorn to nearby Phayao province.

He described Narongsak, who has become the face of the search and rescue operation to find the 12 missing young footballers and their coach over the past 10 days, as a good and well-intentioned bureaucrat. “Such a good and well-intentioned person can work anywhere,” he told a news conference after the weekly Cabinet meeting

He said Phayao is a province that needs more development and Narongsak is a good choice as its governor. “He has been told to do development work there,” he said, adding that the transfer is part of the annual bureaucratic reshuffle that takes place in September.

The prime minister said the order to transfer Narongsak was issued long before the boys went missing. Interior Minister Gen Anupong Phaochinda said Monday that Narongsak had problems working with other governmental units but didn’t elaborate. But critics see the transfer as a downgrade for the governor as Chiang Rai is a much bigger province in terms of sizes and economy.