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Army officers hit back at 'bias in the ranks'

By Wassana Nanuam

Officers who happened to be pre-cadet classmates of ousted prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra in Class 10 at the Armed Forces Academy Preparatory School will file a suit with the Administrative Court against their "unfair" transfers in March by the Council for National Security (CNS).

They were all moved from key positions in the armed forces to inactive positions in the off-season military reshuffle engineered last month by CNS chairman and army chief Gen Sonthi Boonyaratkalin and CNS vice chairman and air force chief ACM Chalit Pukpasuk.

They say the transfers were discriminatory because professional and outstanding officers were moved to inferior positions only because they were from Class 10.

They argue the reshuffle was aimed at giving the CNS absolute control over the armed forces as they promoted their own men to important and command positions.

The officers plan to collectively petition the Administrative Court.

"We are filing a lawsuit to seek justice from the Administrative Court because we were transferred unfairly," said one member of the group, who asked not to be named.

"If we remain silent, the CNS will continue doing this. We are aiming at justice and fair transfers for officers from every class, not only for the CNS officers."

Another Class 10 member said the CNS claimed it was protecting itself from the old power clique, but the reshuffle should have been fair instead of rewarding only officers with links to the CNS.

"Impartial and professional officers were also transferred because the CNS is not sure who they favour. This is not fair either," he said. The protesting officers say some Class 10 members had truly earned the important positions they held prior to the reshuffle.

However, the CNS claimed they had progressed because of their links to Mr Thaksin. The CNS feared these officers would side with Mr Thaksin, so they were all transferred.

This had undermined morale and caused divisions, the protesting officers said.

In the March reshuffle, air force assistant chief ACM Sukampol Suwannathat was sidelined as an air force expert and deputy chief of the joint staff Gen Pornchai Kranlert became an expert at the Supreme Command.

"Serious mistakes normally justify such transfers but we were moved only because we are friends of Mr Thaksin. Is this our fault? What do you fear?" said another Class 10 member.

"The only way we can fight this is through legal channels. We pin our hopes on the justice system," said the key Class 10 figure

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