Cave Command Post head now much in demand

OUTGOING Chiang Rai governor Narongsak Osotthanakorn, who has been playing an outstanding role as the leader in the search and rescue mission to save 13 people trapped in Tham Luang cave since June 23, is now in demand by Thais especially Bangkokians, who proposed that he be the next Bangkok governor.

The story about this man has become a sudden drama, especially in the social media, soon after Thai people learned that the man, who has also been well known for his honesty, has been moved to become the new governor of Phayao province.

The governor’s transfer was proposed by the Interior Ministry and approved by the cabinet on April 24 but the names were endorsed by His Majesty the King, announced and published in the Royal Gazette on Wednesday.

Narongsak at work

The reason behind Mr Narongsak’s transfer was not announced when the ministry proposed the 12-name list to the cabinet.  Mr Narongsak had been Chiang Rai governor since April 2017, and it is believed by many that his transfer might stem from his brave and strait forward decisions not to approve several projects, including the 32 million baht construction of Phaya Meng Rai statue on an island in the Kok River, during his tenure.

Aside from saying the proposed statue encroached on the river and had legal problems, Mr Narongsak said in March that the budget funds for the project proposed by Chiang Rai Municipality, and other schemes suspected of corruption, should instead be spent on other necessary infrastructure improvements.


Sources say aside from the statue project, he also rejected more than 20 projects which he considered not useful and might involve corruption.

Additionally, his capability to control forest fire in his province is outstanding as during the forest fire season in the Northern provinces, especially in Chiang Mai, there is a lot of pollution, but there were none in his province, the only one in the Northern region spared, during the period.

Many including Srisuwan Janya, secretary-general of the Thai Constitution Protection Association, had called on Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha to reconsider the transfer. But the Prime Minister, who described Mr Narongsak as a good and well-intentioned bureaucrat, said: “Such a good and well-intentioned person can work anywhere.  Phayao is a province that needs more development and Narongsak is a good choice as its governor.”

The prime minister said the order to transfer Narongsak was issued long before the boys went missing. Interior Minister Gen Anupong Phaochinda told the press last week that Mr Narongsak had problems working with other governmental units but did not elaborate.


Local media and most people thought otherwise judging from the governor’s exceptionally great performance in leading and managing the cave rescue mission since June 23, saying that Mr Narongsak has come to be held up as a model official by a captivated the nation as he’s always seen on the scene, giving orders to rescue workers, comforting families of the stranded boys and meeting with the rescue team. His no-nonsense press briefings have been praised by those frustrated with hyperbolic media speculation.

The first day Mr Narongsak was put in charge of the cave rescue operation, Pat Hemasuk, one of the most followed public influencers said in his Facebook page that this was for the best interest of the country and the boys and their coach as it’s what he called putting the right man on the right job.

“His qualifications fit in well with the task as the task requires a man with multi-skills, including decisiveness, managerial skills, leadership as well as knowledge of this assignment.”

He said Mr Narongsak obtained a Master of Science (Geodetic Science and Surveying) degree from the Ohio State University in the US, and bachelor’s degrees in Civil Engineer from the Kasetsart University plus Law, Information Technology and Political Science from Sukhothai Thammathirat University.


Before being appointed Chiang Rai Governor, he used to be the inspector general of the Interior Ministry and director of the Mapping Technology and the Information Technology Bureau divisions of the Land Department.

The first day he was put in charge of the cave rescue mission, he asked the Navy to send Seals to help and later coordinated with local and foreign divers, doctors, soldiers, volunteers as well as the press. The team he oversees is now over 5,000 strong.

Mr Narongsak told the press on Sunday night the operation to free 12 boys and their coach trapped in the cave is running “smoothly”.

Four boys were brought out Sunday night by foreign diving experts as well as Thai Navy Seals and the next phase would begin on Monday morning, after relaying “all of the air tanks and all systems along the route.”

Rescuers decided to go ahead with the hazardous operation on Sunday because of fears of rising waters.

With the mission going well, aside from thanking the Thai rescue team, the Thais would like to thank all volunteers especially diving experts, doctors, engineers, member of the press and their countries for their contributions in helping the boys and their coach trapped in the cave.


Top: Mr Narongsak talking to the press about the tough operation to rescue the trapped soccer boys and their coach. Photo:

In-text: The Chiang  Rai province public relations office this morning distributed some photos of the rescue of 4 young soccer players yesterday. Photos:

By Kowit Sanandang