Thailand Health Minister confirms no enforcement of security law


BANGKOK – Deputy Prime Minister/Public Health Minister Anutin Charnvirakul today dismissed news reports that the Ministry of Public Health planned to call for the enforcement of the Security Keeping Act to ban political gatherings, and asserted that no political issue should be connected with the COVID-19 epidemic situation.

The deputy prime minister/public health minister commented that he had never considered banning political gatherings where people have rights and freedom of expression, while his statement issued yesterday, in no way mentioned the use of the Security Keeping Act. He dismissed such reports as groundless.

He said however, that the authorities were looking for measures to keep the COVID-19 outbreak under control after it was officially declared a dangerous epidemic with effect from today. He said that those who organize a public activity and those who own the venue it is held in, are to be held responsible by law. On the advice of the Committee for Epidemic Control, provincial governors may issue an order to ban such an activity.

He said the official declaration of a dangerous epidemic which was meant to protect the health of all people, might well affect the exercising of people’s rights and freedom of expression. He said doctors and public health officials who fail to follow the law pertaining to epidemic control would also be held responsible for alleged negligence of duty.