Army chief mulls setting up new ministry to cope with emerging threats

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BANGKOK, June 8 – Army chief Gen Prayuth Chan-ocha on Wednesday said the idea of establishing a Ministry of Security is to respond to emerging threats which have become more complicated but denied the military planned to consolidate power.

Gen Prayuth said he just floated the idea at a recent meeting of the Internal Security Operations Command (ISOC) chaired by Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva. He added that the new agency should be set up in the future based on a foreign model integrating security-related agencies together under one umbrella.

He said that modern forms of security threats were more complicated and their scope is wider than in the past so the government should look beyond the future.

“The new agency could be set up withing 10 years, 20 years or never. Now we have the ISOC that integrates forces from civic groups, police and military together and can handle situation effectively, but in the future if ISOC cannot cope with the situation, the new agency may be created to replace it,” he said.

The army chief denied that such a plan was an attempt to consolidate power as the new agency would not be a military organisation but rather a government arm.

Meanwhile, Gen Prayuth said he has ordered the 4th Army Area Command to step up intelligence operations to gathering information on starting materials to produce explosive devices, in particular the purchase, transport and usage of the materials to prevent smuggling of the materials to build bombs to attack targets in southern provinces.

Regarding recent M79 grenade attacks in the South, Gen Prayuth said an investigation is under way and it was initially believed that the weapons were smuggled from foreign countries.

More checkpoints would be set up to screen for weapons and that closed-circuit television cameras would be checked to ensure they operate properly, he said. (MCOT online news)