The latest military reshuffle announced the change for Rear Adm Winai Klom-in, a move proposed by navy chief Adm Narong Pipattanasai as punishment for his alleged political interference by condoning the use of SEALs as security forces for Suthep Thaugsuban's People's Democratic Reform Committee (PDRC).
The mid-year military reshuffle list of 203 general-rank officers, which received royal endorsement on Monday and will take effect April 1, revealed Rear Adm Winai Klom-in was transferred to become adviser to the navy commander and was not promoted to the rank of vice admiral like other officers.
Rear Adm Thanee Phudpad, Training Fleet Commander, will replace him.
“Mai pen rai [never mind], I must accept my commander’s decision. It shows he has seen me doing things incorrectly. Mai pen rai, I may have bad karma. Mai pen rai, ahosi kharma [I forgive] everyone,” Rear Adm Winai said.
“I insist I won’t resign. I will keep on working as this [new] position still has something to do. I still fight on and not feel discouraged because I know there are people cheering on me.”
He said Rear Adm Thanee was one of the “younger brothers” with whom he had a good working relationship, and could ask him to take care of his subordinates. He described the new SEAL commander as a compromising person.
The rumoured transfer of the Seal boss was hot on social media since early this month. Rear Adm Winai has been in the spotlight following his frequent comments about anti-government rallies, fuelling criticism he was taking sides with the PDRC group.
The arrest of several active and former SEAL officers mingling with the protesters over the past few months has also raised public queries over Rear Adm Winai's allegiance. The arrested SEALs were suspected of working as protest guards, but Rear Adm Winai has repeatedly denied having any involvement with the PDRC.
The navy chief proposed the transfer of Rear Adm Winai as a show of responsibility given the officer’s recent political indiscretions and to end speculation over the SEAL chief's relationship with the PDRC