Isoc brass return fire following criticism of unit
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Isoc brass return fire following criticism of unit

Winthai: 'Vital to national security'
Winthai: 'Vital to national security'

Internal Security Operations Command (Isoc) on Saturday insisted on the importance of its role in solving the Deep South conflicts and national security.

Maj Gen Winthai Suvaree, Isoc's spokesman, on Saturday led a press conference regarding the Move Forward Party's (MFP) bill seeking to dissolve Isoc and "misconceptions" about the job it does.

He said Isoc is a special government agency directly under the Prime Minister. It focuses on national security by assessing the intensity of any situation that might affect the stability of the kingdom.

Isoc work aims at raising public awareness of the need to protect the three main institutions -- the nation, religion and monarchy -- while keeping the country in harmony, said Maj Gen Winthai who added Isoc's duties do not overlap with other security agencies.

"Without Isoc, the government would lack an important link with other agencies on national security work, especially the unrest in the Deep South," he said. The Deep South refers to the three border provinces including Yala, Pattani and Narathiwat.

If Isoc was to close while security problems in the Deep South persist, the country would feel it, he said.

Regarding the rumour that a seven-billion-baht Isoc fund existed in a secret budget, Maj Gen Winthai said spending was included in the cabinet's annual budget like all other agencies.

"There is no secrete budget for Isoc to spend on missions," he said.

Gen Nopphanan Chanpradab, former Isoc Office of Security Policy and Strategy Director, said at least five billion baht out of the six billion baht allocated for Isoc's work in the Deep South was to pay officers stationed in Isoc Command Region 4.

"The spending is audited, and Isoc will not attempt to evade any investigation," he said.

He said Isoc's management was standardised and followed every typical for Thailand's public agencies.

Dissolving Isoc might do more harm than good, he said, adding the action might worsen the situation in the Deep South and lead to a lack of tools for security work.

"Isoc comes under a civilian-led National Security Council and has civilians like the Prime Minister as commissioner," said Gen Nopphanan.

Meanwhile, political activist Somchai Srisutthiyakorn asked on Facebook on Saturday the need to keep Isoc, focusing on its huge budget compared to outcomes, and the high wage bill of officers who work for the agency.

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