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Priewpan's bumpy journey to the top

Written By photo 7 background picture on Friday, September 2, 2011 | 7:33 PM

He's liked when Thaksin-backed regimes are in office, out of luck when they are not

Incoming national police chief Pol Gen Priewpan Damapong claims to have suffered in politics because of his association with the Shinawatra family.
Deputy Prime Minister Chalerm Yubamrung, left, visits the Border Patrol Police headquarters to introduce himself and his policies yesterday. Incoming police chief Pol Gen Priewpan Damapong, right, received him. SURAPOL PROMSAKA NA SAKOLNAKORN
He believes that when the Democrat Party is in power, he is held back from promotion.
The brother of Khunying Potjaman na Pombejra, ex-wife of ousted former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra, he is poised to take office as police chief on Tuesday, once the cabinet confirms his appointment.
Deputy Prime Minister Chalerm Yubamrung, who helped Pol Gen Priewpan land the job after persuading his Democrat-backed predecessor to step down, said yesterday Pol Gen Priewpan was finally getting the justice he deserved.
He was robbed of his chance to assume the post earlier simply because of his ties to Thaksin, he said.
Deputy police chief Pol Gen Priewpan had notched up many achievements in drug suppression, he said.
Critics, however, say he has benefited from his tie to the Shinawatras as well, most notably when governments backed by Thaksin are in office.
Under the Democrat-led coalition, he was passed over twice for the nation's top police job. Police generals who were less senior took the post instead.
Under the Thaksin government, however, he leapfrogged 17 commissioners to take the post of assistant police chief in 2002.
Pol Gen Priewpan considered quitting the force last year when the Democrat-led government promoted Pol Gen Wichean Potephosree _ his predecessor who stepped down on Thursday at Mr Chalerm's urging _ to the top post.
Instead, his supporters asked him to bide his time so he could claim his right if Pheu Thai won the general election. And now he is on the cusp of assuming the post that he was being groomed for during his brother-in-law's years in power.
Known among friends as "Aof", Pol Gen Priewpan graduated from Thammasat University's school of law and was in the same class as former senator Kaewsun Atibhodhi.
He has a master's degree in criminal justice from Eastern Kentucky University.
Thaksin became prime minister in 2001 and the following year Pol Gen Priewpan was named assistant police chief. Just 18 months later, Pol Gen Priewpan became deputy police chief.
He was promoted to the rank of full general when he assumed the post, and observers believed he was on a fast track to becoming national police chief.
But after the 2006 coup which ousted Thaksin from power, Pol Gen Priewpan was transferred to an inactive post at the PM's Office. Before the putsch, he was tipped to succeed Pol Gen Kowit Wattana as police chief.
After the now-dissolved People Power Party won the elections in 2008, he was shifted back to the police force as a deputy police chief.