Who is Chalerm Yoobamrung?

Mind your ears! – by Arun, Krungtepturakit, March 19, 2009
Next to the plunger, it says: Censure debate
Chalerm, who is leading the censure motion, says: I’m going to push the button. Mind your ears.
[The five faces represent the Democrat-led government’s ministers facing censure debate: Foreign Minister Kasit Piromya, Finance Minister Mr. Korn Jatikavanij, Deputy Finance Minister Pradit Phataraprasit, Interior Minister Chavarat Charnvirakul and his deputy Boonjong Wongtrairat.]

When we implement a policy that may bring 3,000 to 4,000 bodies, we will do it…
Chalerm Yoobamrung, February 2008, praising the Thaksin policy of extra-judicial killings of drug dealers

In the Thai-language world there was dismay and resignation at the elevation of Chalerm to key positions in the new government. It verifies that the government is playing hardball by posting controversial political figures to top posts.

He is at once the Thai J. Edgar Hoover–one who uses secrets to his benefit–and a skilled orator who breaks Thai conventions of politeness to make his point. In a system where suppressed men are often cowed under these conventions of politeness in the name of unity, Chalrem’s braggadocio gains a certain amount of admiration (as did the late Samak’s).

His sons’ antics at one point seemed to doom Chalerm’s political future, but the continuing political chaos in the wake of the 2006 allowed him to once again build his brand and dream of a premiership in service of Thaksin.

Below are a selection of news items over the year relating to Chalerm and his family:

"Chalerm’s Angles"Krungtepturakit, February 13, 2008
Chalerm’s Angles: Special Edition "The birth of Ongkuleemarn"
Left: We are back.
Middle: Returning bigger than the past.
Right: Do you know who my father is? [During confrontations, the Yoobamrung brothers where reported to threaten people by saying "Do you know who my father is?" Their father is powerful and outspoken politician Chalerm Yoobamrung.]
[In the Thai-language world, the attempt to appoint the rambunctious and sometimes violent Yoobamrung brothers to ministerial aide roles in the new government (in the People Power Government in 2008) is being defended with a comparison to Ongkuleemarn. Ongkuleemarn is a bad man in Buddhist lore who was told he could again immortality by cutting off the fingers of 100 people and wearing them as a necklace (the finger necklaces can be seen in the cartoon). The last finger to be cut off was from the Buddha himself. When it came time to cut the Buddha’s finger, the Buddha prayed for the man and instructed him. This changed the man’s heart and he reformed. So the comparison is that Wan Yoobamrung should be considered a reformed man despite his checked past.
Not sure the significance of "Angles" instead of "Angels." Perhaps it is just a misspelling.]

Putting pub brawls behind to become a ministerial aideThe Nation, February 9, 2008
Public Health Minister Chaiya Sasomsap Chaovarat Chanweerakul on Monday defended a decision to appoint a bully son of the Interior Minister as an aide in his ministry.
…”In the past, society saw this boy in a scary way but I see him as a well-mannered and polite boy,” Chaiya said…

Cabinet puts on hold controversial candidates for ministerial jobThe Nation, February 11, 2008
…"About half of candidates nominated by the People Power Party are deemed inappropriate for the job," he said, though evading to comment on the qualifications of Wan Yoobamrung, son of Interior Minister Chalerm…

Don’t always use a majority viewpoint to judge things! – translated and summarized from Thai Rath, February 23, 2008 
Several Members of Parliament from the Democrat Party have expressed disapproval after Chalerm Yoobamrung – the Minister of the Interior – recently answered media questions about his policy to eliminate drug abuse. Chalerm announced that he would reapply the strict measures that were formerly used during the Thaksin administration, even if it leads to the deaths of 4,000 people.
These strict measures that Chalerm is proposing to employ again, were not carried out with regard to normal legal procedures during the Thaksin era. Statistics released by the Royal Thai Police show that in the case of 2,596 people who died during the previous implementation of these measures, only 1,164 were known to have been involved in the illegal drugs trade – while another 1,432 had no known connection to the trade.
A policy to eliminate illegal drug use is a good thing, and deserves admiration. The measures must be strictly implemented according to the letter of the law, however.

From Manager, April 25, 2008
It reads: I was lucky that Ai Pued only had a small gun. [Chalerm’s son Duang polishes a cannon in front of the Defense Ministry. In 2001, Sergeant Suwichai Rodwimut was shot dead in a pub. Once Duang Yoobamrung turned himself in, his father, Chalerm, claimed a person named Ai Pued actually shot and killed the policeman. Here, the ghost of the policeman thinks it is fortunate he was not shot with the big cannon.]

‘Secretary Tu’ – translated and summarized from Matichon, June 28, 2008
[Actually this sort of land encroachment scandal is common to every strata of Thai “big man” from MP to Privy Council members. Even when it is clear that the opposition will come after them on the issue, there is some sort of psychology that assumes that their connections and status will protect them. A good example of this was post-coup PM General Surayud and the encroachment scandal at Yaithiang Mountain.]
Interior Minister Pol. Captain Chalerm Yoobamrung has recently been criticized over his alleged intervention in the acquisition of a 48-rai plot of land by one of his supporters on Racha Yai Island (City District, Phuket Province). These allegations were made by Suthep Theugsuban, the self-styled Shadow Interior Minister, during a recent ‘Vote of No Confidence’ debate against the Samak government in Parliament.
An investigatory committee, into incursions on government land, recently ordered the Ministry of Interior to revoke the Nor Sor 3 Kor document of the disputed land plot because of insufficient evidence that it was eligible for private ownership. It was then proposed that the current Interior Minister should make a judgment over the issue.
Chalerm has tried to explain the matter to both Parliament and the media, saying that he knows the man involved in the disputed ownership – Khun Suthichart (AKA Tu) – but disputing any notion that the person named was ever his ‘personal secretary’.
It is a fact that ‘Tu’ is a key supporter of Minister Chalerm, and that they are quite close to each other. ‘Tu’ is known to most officials in the MOI as ‘Secretary Tu’ – even though it is thought he has never been officially employed in that capacity.
‘Secretary Tu’ is not a servant in any normal sense of that word. He is actually a successful businessman who owns many hotels. He is the Managing Director of the Racha Yai Island Company and the Racha Yai Estate. His family runs many real estate businesses in Phuket Province.
’Tu’ is said to regularly hang around the MOI’s main administrative building in Bangkok, always at the ready to involve that ministry in his plans. It is also said that he has his own room in the building, and that he frequently attends meetings there.

From Nation Weekend, October, 2009
The headline reads: Por-Yai-So-Tai and the blunt man of Dubai
The blue ribbon on Chawalit’s shoulder reads “Pheu Thai Party”
["Por-Yai-So-Tai" is a name in the local northeastern dialect. Recently Chalerm Yubamrung used the name “Bak-See-So-Tai" as his political nickname. Normally it refers to a man who will do whatever he can to fight or to survive the situation as he has nothing to lose any longer. The name in the headline creates a similar name for Chavalit – substituting "Por-Yai" ("elderly") for "Bak-See" that is used for the younger Chalerm. "The blunt man of Dubai” refers to Thaksin who is known to control the Pheu Thai Party from exile in Dubai.]

[Note from 2011: Fair-weather Thaksin friend Chavalit below must kicking himself. He has time and again associated himself with Thaksin only to pull away when the going got tough. First in early 2007 after the New Year’s bombings. Next in 2008 when he resigned from his People Power Party post after the government’s deadly raid on PAD supporters at parliament, and finally earlier this year as a protest against Reds who were criticizing the monarchy.]

(Source: Truth Today, February 5-8, 2010)

Chalerm threatens not to join censure Bangkok Post, February 17, 2010
[Chalerm, the master censure debater, will not join the no-confidence debate unless he is put forward as alternative prime minister. Chalerm has been positioning himself in Red publications as a future prime minister.
This is another bind for Thaksin. Appointing an unpopular old-style politician like Chalerm would be seen as politics as usual. Chalerm’s feud with Sudarat and continual calls for the Red Shirts not to protest shows he is playing his position to the hilt in an effort to emerge as real head of Pheu Thai, if not a future government.]

(Source: Manager, August 23, 2010)

Dreams – from Manager, August 23, 2010
At the top of the chair: Prime Minister
The caption at the bottom reads: The dream of Lerm [Chalerm Yubamrung] begins to face an obstacle

[Chalerm Yubamrung dreams of being prime minister at the helm of the Pheu Thai Party. Coming into frame is former prime minister Gen Chawalit Yongjaiyuth. Chalerm and Chawalit are both political enemies both vying for leadership of the Pheu Thai Party.
Chalerm is seen as taking the party out of Thaksin’s orbit, but as one of the most reviled and Machiavellian political figures, accepting him into the political equation would be a bitter pill to swallow even for Thaksin’s foes.
Chawalit has shown himself to be willing to act as a Thaksin proxy, but has been skittish when the going gets rough, first dropping out of sight after the 2006 New Year’s bombings and then quitting the People Power Party after Samak’s raid on PAD protesters in mid-2008.]

From Manager, March 20, 2011
Chalerm’s sons say: Noum… what’s happening to Dad… he keeps watching the telephone for 3 days and 3 nights?
Noum says: He’s waiting for Thaksin to call to console him.
[This is related to Chalerm Yubamrung’s disappointment of not being chosen as the Pheu Thai PM candidate by Thaksin and his resignation from party list MP. The joke being as Thaksin will clearly choose another candidate, no call is likely to come.]

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