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8 May 2009

Thailand considers invoking draconian security law during summit

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The Thai government is pondering an implementation of the Internal Security Act during the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) summit with its six dialogue partners scheduled in the southern Thai resort island of Phuket next month, Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva was quoted by state news agency TNA as saying Thursday.

Abhisit said the special measures, if imposed in Phuket, will be an essential tool for the government in running the summit smoothly.

However, he said he needed to study details and conditions of the Internal Security Act and the government will have to explain to the public if it is to be imposed during the summit.

The summit of 10-member Asean and its six dialogue partners -- China, Japan, South Korea, India, Australia and New Zealand -- was originally scheduled to be held in Pattaya in Chonburi  province during April 10-12, but was forced to cancel on April 11 by Abhisit  after anti-government protesters stormed the hotel hosting the meeting.

The prime minister imposed the state of emergency on April 12 in Bangkok and five neighbouring provinces as the protesters held a massive rally in the capital. The protest was contained by government forces on April 13. That state of emergency was lifted on April 24.

“Government leaders of countries participating at the summit aren’t worried about rigid security measures during the previous summit but they’re concerned on how the (Thai) government would deal with protesters. I think new security measures, to be supported by law, could easily create confidence for them,” Abhisit asserted.

Riot-control police from the Region 8 along with mostly military personnel will be responsible for the upcoming summit while the Defence Ministry will map out security measures.

Abhisit said positive responses have been received from governments whose leaders are to attend the Phuket summit, except India which is now holding a general election with a new government to be formed next month.


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