The cabinet on Tuesday approved the use of the Internal Security Act in Dusit district of Bangkok from Aug 29 to Sept 1 to ensure law and order during the anti-government rally of the United Front for Democracy against Dictatorship (UDD) on Sunday.
Supachai Jaisamut, a deputy government spokesman, said Deputy Prime Minister Suthep Thaugsuban was assigned to oversee use of the security law.
Mr Suthep said earlier in the day that the government may copnsider extending the imposition of the act to some other areas if the red-shirt protesters prolong the rally or mobilise at other venues.
Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva said after the announcement that use of the the act was aimed at preventing unrest. The government had received information that the UDD may prolong the rally.
“Although the UDD leaders assured us that the rally will not cause a repeat of the troubles in April, intelligence reports suggest the government should be alert as there could be a third party stirring up unrest,” Mr Abhisit said.
“So the government decided to impose the Internal Security Act to prevent chaos.”
A peaceful rally at Sanam Luang was perfectly all right, but demonstrators must not obstruct government officials going to work at Government House, he said.
The government would announce the imposition of the Internal Security Act in a national TV broadcast on Tuesday night, he said.
Finance Minister Korn Chatikavanij said he was optimistic the use of the security act would help create public confidence that the anti-government rally would not escalate into violence.
“The business sector and the general public will have more confidence that the government is in a position to keep the situation under control and that a Songkran riots-like situation will not occur again,” Mr Korn said.
“Without a law giving the government special authority to maintain peace and order, there would not be such confidence,” he added.
Bangkok Post, 25/08/2009
ANTI-GOVT RALLY : Tough measures await red shirts
Internal Security Act invoked to pre-empt violence: PM
Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva plans to impose stringent measures under the Internal Security Act from Saturday to Tuesday in order to safeguard se-curity within Bangkok following |the red-shirt protesters’ threat to stage a rally to bring down the government.
Abhisit said he would appoint Deputy Prime Minister Suthep Thaugsuban to be in charge of the enforcement of the internal-security law.
The core leaders of the red shirts have vowed to stage an anti-government rally on Sunday at the Royal Plaza. The government has estimated several tens of thousands will likely participate.
Abhisit said unlike an emer-|gency decree, the enforcement of |the Internal Security Act was aimed at pre-empting any violence. An emergency decree is normally invoked after violence has taken place.
The enforcement of this law, in which the police and the military authorities as well as top policy-makers from the government will work as a team, will be limited to Dusit district, where the rally is expected to take place.
“Although the protesters have said the rally will not be violent like during Songkran, we cannot remain complacent. A ‘third party’ might step in to take advantage of the situation. Accidents can happen,” said Abhisit.
He insisted the government respected the right to stage a demonstration, but it also had a duty to ensure law and order.
Abhisit is afraid the red shirts’ rally, staged in support of ex-prime minister Shinawatra Thaksin and his return to Thailand, might damage confidence at a time when the economy is improving and expected to register positive growth in the fourth quarter.
PM’s Office Minister Satit Wongnongtaey said the rally was aimed at creating political turmoil leading to a sudden change in government.
“Some members of the red shirts do not want the same kind of violence as in April to happen again. But other members would like to resort to violence to bring about a sudden change in government,” he said.
Satit said while the red shirts had the right to stage a demonstration and exercise free speech, if they were to shut down traffic or create violence, that would be a different matter.
“They [some elements of the |anti-government movement] want to create violence and then lay the blame on the government, so that |it loses its legitimacy to continue to run the country,” said Panithan Wattanayagorn, acting government spokesman.
During yesterday’s Cabinet |discussion of the Internal Security Act, Chumpol Silapa-archa, the tourism and sports minister, asked the prime minister whether en-|forcing this tough law would af-|fect confidence in the tourism industry.
“I don’t know, because I do not belong to the red-shirt group. But if there is a threat of an unusual situation, we must step in to manage things,” Abhisit replied.
Chumpol also asked whether the government planned to invoke the Internal Security Act but not actually enforce it.
Abhisit replied: “Once we have declared the Internal Security Act, we have to implement it.”
The Nation, Published on August 26