Legal guru Wissanu Krea-ngam takes the helm at Bangkok Post. Ex deputy prime minister, known for guiding General Prayut Chan Ocha’s governments through legal complexities, set for a new role.

Former deputy Prime Minister Wissanu Krea-ngam who served in numerous governments since 1991 was appointed this week as Chairman of the Bangkok Post newspaper. Southern-born Mr Wissanu is well known to reporters and media in the capital for his time in government. In particular for his pivotal role in guiding the work of General Prayut Chan Ocha in his two governments. The legal expert also served in governments under former Premier Thaksin Shinawatra. He retired from public life in September 2023 when the current administration took up office.

On Wednesday, the board of Bangkok Post Plc appointed former Deputy Prime Minister Wissanu Krea-ngam as its Chairman. Mr Wissanu was formerly an independent director of the newspaper from 2010 until taking up his role in General Prayut Chan Ocha’s first government in 2014.

Former Deputy Prime Minister and legal expert Wissanu Krea-ngam has been appointed Chairman of Bangkok Post Plc, the publisher of the Bangkok Post.

His appointment was confirmed by the board of the company on Wednesday. 

73-year-old Mr Wissanu is considered one of the most eminent legal minds in Thailand. In addition, he is also one of the country’s most experienced hands in government.

In short, he worked behind the scenes and oversaw firsthand some of the kingdom’s most significant proceedings since 1991.

Bangkok Post was set up as an English-language newspaper in the immediate aftermath of World War II in 1946. Management led stock market listing in 1984

Established in the aftermath of World War II by US military officer, Major General Alexander McDonald and Mr Prasit Lulitanon, the Bangkok Post is a leading English-language newspaper. Subsequently, the title was later taken over by a German investment group. 

In 1963, the second editor, Mr Henry Frederick, took over from General McDonald. Afterwards, the paper was acquired by UK publishing baron Lord Thompson, who owned up to 150 titles worldwide. In turn, it was expanded and modernised.

However, in 1984, the Bangkok Post, led by its management team, listed the company on the Stock Exchange of Thailand (SET).

Songkhla-born Wissanu Krea-ngam is one of Thailand’s most brilliant legal minds as well as a highly experienced insider in government over the last 33 years

Hailing from southern Songkhla province, Mr Wissanu is of fourth-generation Thai-Chinese stock. He studied at Thammasat University before being admitted to the Thai bar.

Thereafter, he left Thailand to study at the University of California, Berkeley, where he obtained a Masters of Law degree in the 1960s. This was followed by a Doctorate in Juridical Science in 1976.

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Upon his return to Thailand, Mr Wissanu became a law lecturer, variously at Ramkhamhaeng, Thammasat, and Chulalongkorn universities. After that, in 1986, he was appointed law professor at Chulalongkorn University.

The then-academic expert turned to government service in 1991 as deputy secretary-general to the cabinet. By 1993, he was promoted to Secretary-general. In that role, he played a part in no less than four new governments.

Ex-Premier Thaksin Shinawatra brought Wissanu into his cabinet in 2002 where he served as deputy prime minister until the September 2006 coup d’état

Recognising Mr Wissanu’s ability, Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra asked him to become a minister in 2002. He was subsequently appointed deputy prime minister until the September 2006 coup d’état.

Thereafter, Mr Wissanu Krea-ngam took up an independent directorship at Bangkok Post Plc. It lasted for four years until he was called upon to serve again in government.

This time it was under General Prayut Chan-o-cha’s National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO) government.

Mr Wissanu took up the role in August 2014. In General Prayut’s first administration under the junta, Mr Wissanu was the legal guardian of the government, which had unprecedented powers.

Thereafter, the Deputy Prime Minister was actively involved in framing the 2017 constitution and Thailand’s return to democracy in 2019.

Wissanu Krea-ngam’s role in General Prayut Chan Ocha’s ministries was singularly important as he guided the government through legal minefields

In his role as Deputy Prime Minister of General Prayut’s second government, Mr Wissanu oversaw the Ministry of Justice and associated agencies. He was also involved in emergency measures to deal with the pandemic crisis.

The astute legal practitioner’s role was to prevent General Prayut and his government from falling into legal pitfalls. He was extraordinarily successful. In effect, it helped to give an aura of stability to the period.

Finally, even up to the handover of power to the incoming Pheu Thai government in September 2023, Mr Wissanu was a key figure.

In particular, his role in facilitating the return of Thaksin Shinawatra, his former boss, on August 22nd, 2023.

A writer of political fiction based on his time in power

During his time in power, the legal eagle of the Prayut government was known for his wit and charisma. He would often brief reporters and even go as far as to explain legal matters in simplistic terms.

On Christmas Day 2023, the former deputy prime minister returned to Government House. He was there to promote his fiction book, ‘No. 1 Phitsanulok Road.’

The events of the book were largely seen as portrayals of Mr Wissanu’s experience in General Prayut’s second government. Written in a light-hearted and ‘fun’ style, Mr Wissanu insisted it was not a documentary.

Speaking to reporters in his usual enigmatic style, Mr Wissanu described his book as Volume Two. He said Volume One was not for sale, although it had certainly received more publicity.

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