Security boost for Apec

Security boost for Apec

Protest groups seek permission to rally

Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha welcomes young delegates from Apec countries under the 2022 Apec Voices of the Future programme at Government House on Monday. (Photo: Chanat Katanyu)
Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha welcomes young delegates from Apec countries under the 2022 Apec Voices of the Future programme at Government House on Monday. (Photo: Chanat Katanyu)

More than 35,000 police officers will be deployed to ensure security during the 29th Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (Apec) summit in Bangkok on Friday and Saturday, according to Pol Gen Damrongsak Kittiprapas, chief of the national police.

Deputy Prime Minister Prawit Wongsuwon on Monday chaired a meeting with security officials to discuss management during the Apec summit, where they agreed to set up a joint command centre to monitor security operations.

Speaking after the meeting, Pol Gen Damrongsak said the joint command will hold a daily meeting to monitor the summit.

He said Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha has declared certain areas off-limit to demonstrators until Sunday, including the roads around the Queen Sirikit National Convention Center (QSNCC) -- the summit's venue, 19 hotels where Apec delegates stay and the Royal Thai Navy's Convention Hall -- where a gala dinner will be held for Apec leaders on Thursday.

"While people have the right to assemble, demonstrations must not affect national security and public safety or infringe on the rights of others," he said. "Those who break the law will face legal action and severe punishment. We cannot afford to let anyone cause damage to the country."

"The Foreign Ministry will arrange a location for anyone who wants to file complaints during the summit," he added. "Those who want to organise demonstrations must inform the authorities in advance."

He said that more than 35,000 officers from across the country would be mobilised to ensure security at the summit's venue, delegates' hotels and gala dinner, as well as routes for Apec leaders' motorcades.

The Royal Thai Police's special task forces have also been assigned to deal with potential disturbances during the meeting.

Security checkpoints have been set up at 29 locations in Bangkok as security agencies are watching out for protest groups and those with outstanding arrest warrants.

Road closures will take effect around the clock from tomorrow to Saturday along Ratchadaphisek Road, between the Asok Montri and Rama IV-Klong Toey intersections, Pol Gen Damrongsak said.

Shuttle buses will be available for people living and working around the area, he said.

The MRT station at the QSNCC will be closed from tomorrow to Saturday, and Bangkok will be a no-fly zone for drones.

The government has declared tomorrow to Friday to be public holidays in Bangkok, Nonthaburi and Samut Prakan during the Apec meeting.

Meanwhile, Bangkok governor Chadchart Sittipunt admitted that he was concerned about planned demonstrations during the summit.

He said police had asked the Bangkok Metropolitan Administration (BMA) to set aside an area for demonstrators for security and traffic management reasons.

"The BMA will make the Lan Khon Muang square available for any political gatherings during the Apec summit," Mr Chadchart said.

The governor said the Ratsadon and Tha Lu Fa protest groups have sought permission to hold demonstrations until Friday, adding they have been asked to limit their activities to the designated site.

In other news, young delegates from Apec countries under the 2022 Apec Voices of the Future programme met Gen Prayut at Government House, government spokesman Anucha Burapachaisri said.

They also issued a declaration on the importance of having access to education, in line with Apec's theme of "Open. Connect. Balance."

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