Saturday, September 5, 2009

Invoking Thailand Internal Security Act

Many surveys in fact have clearly reflected the same thing. The latest one by the Assumption University's Academic Network for Community Happiness Observation and Research shows that 61.4 per cent of respondents believe Thai society will be peaceful if former Prime Minister Thaksin Chinnawat stops his political movements. Just 38.6 per cent think otherwise. The survey was conducted among 1,292 families in 17 provinces across the country on 29 August.
Survey Findings
The survey also finds that Thais' happiness index soared to 7.18 in August, up from 5.92 in July. The findings, however, reflect that political climate and the unrest in deep South have weighed heavily in the hearts of the respondents. Up to 53.1 per cent of the respondents said they agreed a major red-shirt rally initially scheduled on 30 August should be postponed.
Approximately 36.8 per cent others disagreed. As many as 47.4 per cent of those polled said the incumbent administration should be allowed to stay on in office and work.
According to the Suan Dusit Poll, 52.48 per cent of 1,137 respondents in Bangkok and its adjacent province believe the rally postponement is just a political game. Some 27.59 per cent say the rally, even postponed, makes them worried.
About 30.27 per cent wish to see a peaceful rally, if the rally will have to take place. Up to 34.9 per cent urge the government and red-shirt folks to prioritize public order.
All the survey findings suggest that the majority of people do not agree with red-shirt folks and the Phuea Thai Party. The opposition party, in particular, has been pressuring Prime Minister Aphisit Wetchachiwa to lift the Internal Security Act saying that the imposition of such law hinders their scheduled rally. According to the Suan Dusit Poll, up to 76 per cent of Bangkok residents support Aphisit's decision to invoke in the Internal Security Act. Just nine per cent others are against the decision.
Eradicating Violence
It may sound convincing to say that invoking the Internal Security Act for the purpose of preventing or stopping violence will significantly revive the Internal Security Operations Command (ISOC). Its powerful role has otherwise been fading since the war against the Communist Party of Thailand ended. If the ISOC is once again actively powerful, so is the military.
However, one should take into account as to whether general laws, not the special one like Internal Security Act, are enough to handle the seizure of the Government House, the unlawful occupation of airports, or Songkran riots.
Do not believe in a claim that the Internal Security Act will give the government the power to ban a rally, arrest people or send them to re-education camp without a court order. Such claim is not true. Under the Internal Security Act, the government cannot ban a peaceful, unarmed rally at all. What the government can do is just to bar people from entering, leaving or occupying a specific area only. To date, the Aphisit-led government has also made it clear that there will be no ban on peaceful rallies.
Special Laws
Indeed, the Internal Security Act is the least stringent of all special laws. When Thaksin was the government leader, his administration passed the Emergency Decree on Public Administration in Emergency Situation BE 2548. This decree in fact gives officials far-reaching authority.
Armed with it, the officials can ban any gathering and arrest suspects without being held responsible for civil, criminal or disciplinary actions. The state of emergency has been imposed in the deep South for more than five consecutive years already.

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