Internal Security Act needed to counter Saturday’s political rally

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BANGKOK, Nov 22 – Thailand’s Nationsl Security Council (NSC) is asking the government to enforce the Internal Security Act (ISA) in response to an anti-government rally Saturday whose sponsors claim their ‘massive’ gathering will bring down the administration of Yingluck Shinawatra. 

An exercise of the ISA, earlier rejected by the authorities, signals the authorities’ nervousness regarding the scale of the political rally which they fear could be much greater than earlier expected.

The demonstration, organised by Pitak Siam leader and retired army officer Gen Boonlert Kaewprasit, will be held at the Royal Plaza but the crowd may spill over to nearby areas. The Royal Plaza is adjacent to Government House, Parliament and many state buildings.

Lt Gen Paradorn Pattanathabutr, secretary general of the National Security Council (NSC), said implementation of the law will be limited to 10 days in three vicinities: Dusit, Phra Nakhon and  Pom Prap Sattru Pha. The three districts are in Bangkok’s old town area.

The NSC proposed using the Act during a meeting of security-related officers, chaired by Deputy Prime Minister Chalerm Yubumrung.

A small-scale cabinet meeting, presided over by Chalerm, is scheduled for today. The Royal Thai Police is expected to propose an enforcement of the ISA in the meeting.

Gen Paradorn said the ISA is to facilitate the authorities in keeping public order at buildings given an intelligence report of a potentially-escalating situation and much larger crowd than earlier predicted.

Under the ISA, the national police chief will be most powerful figure in keeping public order, said Gen Paradorn, adding that the ISA will be preventive, not suppressive, in its use.

The ISA implementation will be short lived while violence and the use of weapons will be avoided, he said. He confirmed that the army did not object to the ISA.

Mr Chalerm said satellites will be additional tools to keep vigilance on the demonstrators.