Narongsak Osotthanakorn, the former Chiang Rai governor who received international acclaim for leading the expedition to rescue the “Wild Boars” football team from the Tham Luang cave in 2018, died of cancer at the age of 58.
Narongsakak, who was most recently governor of Pathum Thani, died peacefully on Wednesday at 5.40 p.m. at Siriraj Hospital in Bangkok, where he was being treated.
Narongsak, a career civil servant, was known for his rigorous and no-nonsense style, which occasionally put him in difficulty with his bosses at the Interior Ministry. During his 15 months as governor of Chiang Rai, he refused to sign off on some contentious economic stimulus projects because he suspected irregularities.
A relocation from Chiang Rai to Phayao was already in the works when fate intervened in the shape of a boys’ football team that became trapped in a flooded cave on June 23, 2018.
As the rescue attempt began to attract experts from all around the world, as well as swarms of reporters, it became evident that a steady hand would be required to organise all the moving components. Narongsak rose to the occasion, and the Interior Ministry decided to postpone his transfer until the mission to rescue the 13 people from the cave was completed.
At the start of the rescue attempt in Mae Sai Chiang Rai, Narongsak declared that any officials who were intimidated by the difficult rescue task ahead might return home.
“Anyone who cannot make enough sacrifices can go home and stay with their families,” he explained. “You may sign out and leave immediately.” I’m not going to report any of you. Those who desire to work must be prepared to start at any time. Consider them to be our own children.”
Reflecting on the mission’s accomplishment a year later, Narongsak requested that an anniversary event be organised each year to keep the memories alive.
“I’d like to see an anniversary at Tham Luang Cave every year to remember what we accomplished.” “I’d like to remember the 18 days when everyone demonstrated the power of cooperation,” he remarked.
When the Asia Society decided to honour “The Rescue Team at Tham Luang Caves” with its Asia Game Changer Award, it invited Narongsak to New York to accept it.
He expressed hope that the rescue would inspire other individuals to do good in the future.
“The mission was carried out without regard for race or nationality, and it united humanity as a whole,” he explained to his audience. “With over 10,000 people involved, we would not have been able to do it even if one function had been missing.”
“I hope the entire incident inspires everyone to begin living for others.” This minor alteration has the potential to change the world.”
Following successful terms as governor in Phayao, Lampang, and Pathum Thani, Narongsak was recently courted to explore a greater platform. The ruling Palang Pracharath Party (PPRP) was said to be interested in running him in the Bangkok governor race. He declined graciously.
“I’d rather take care of folks in the provinces,” he explained.
Narongsak is the second individual connected to the Wild Boars drama to die recently. Duangphet “Dom” Phromthep, the football team’s captain, died at the Brooke House College Football Academy in Leicester, England.