State spies out on prowl for referendum mischief

State spies out on prowl for referendum mischief

The National Security Council (NSC) says a range of state intelligence units has been deployed to monitor political movements suspected of violating the draft charter referendum law.

Gen Thaweep Netrniyom, secretary-general of the NSC, warned anyone intent on airing their opinions about the draft charter, or conducting a campaign for or against the draft, to carefully study the Referendum Act.

The Election Commission is responsible for explaining to the public the contents of the law in preparation for the early August referendum, Gen Thaweep said.

So far, intelligence units working in communities have found no signs that opponents are preparing campaigns to topple the draft charter, he said.

"However, if something suspicious is found, action will promptly be taken to prevent it from escalating into a problem," he said.

As for political movements by politicians, he said the NSC will assess if they can affect the referendum and if so, legal action will be taken against the parties behind them as well. The government has threatened to send die-hard critics to re-education camps to make them see the error of their ways.

Meanwhile, National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO) spokesman Winthai Suvaree said the NCPO had not received reports of anyone plotting to undermine the draft charter during the Songkran festival this week.

He was responding to rumours that groups opposing the draft were aiming to kick-off anti-charter activities to coincide with Songkran festivities when most people return home to celebrate Thai New Year. Some use the occasion to exchange political views among family members.

Soldiers and police confiscated more than 500 red bowls bearing a message from former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra in Surin on Saturday.

The seizure came after a tip-off from locals in tambon Tlae, in Sikhoraphum district, that the local tambon administration organisation secretary had been stockpiling the bowls ahead of Songkran. The move came a week after a similar operation by authorities uncovered almost 9,000 red bowls at the home of a former MP in Nan province.

A Pheu Thai Party source admitted that earlier last week many of the red bowls with Thaksin's message were handed out to supporters. Col Winthai said the red bowls are seen as a symbolic move by Thaksin to increase his support, while security officials find the red bowls to be a sensitive issue that may provoke further social division.

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