Prawit-led centre likely to handle situation

Prawit-led centre likely to handle situation

Soldiers deployed, forum for public opinions promised

A three-fingered salute sticker, a symbol of Khana Ratsadon protesters, is seen on a gate at Government House after the declaration of the serious state of emergency and a subsequent crackdown on its rally there on Thursday morning. (Photo by Nutthawat Wichieanbut)
A three-fingered salute sticker, a symbol of Khana Ratsadon protesters, is seen on a gate at Government House after the declaration of the serious state of emergency and a subsequent crackdown on its rally there on Thursday morning. (Photo by Nutthawat Wichieanbut)

A state of emergency centre led by the police chief and supervised by Deputy Prime Minister Gen Prawit Wongsuwon will likely be set up after the “serious” state of emergency was declared for Bangkok at 4am on Thursday.

Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha will likely call a special cabinet meeting on Friday to endorse the serious state of emergency and orders issued under it, according to sources.

Under the state of emergency decree, the declaration must be approved by the cabinet in three days after it is announced.

Meanwhile, government sources said hundreds of soldiers from Kanchanburi province were sent to Parliament. Although Parliament is in recess, its committees on several fields still meet. The House will formally meet again on Nov 1.

Around 300 troops from the same province were also sent to guard Government House by the power granted under the state of emergency, which allows soldiers to help police handle a dire situation.

Government spokesman Anucha Burapachasri said on Thursday the serious state of emergency was necessary to maintain order in Bangkok and the country, and to prevent violence.

He admitted the decision was prompted by an incident that hurt the feelings of many Thais — the interference with the royal motorcade and violations of the high institution on the previous day.

Since seditious speeches were used, the government was forced to take action as it did not want confrontation of Thais with different opinions. Quite a few Thais have made clear they don’t want to see the institution violated again, he said.

He added the planned rally at the Ratchaprasong intersection on Thursday by the Khana Ratsadon also came under the orders, meaning it was entirely banned.

He also warned people who disseminate news in social media might face legal action.

The designation of areas, transport routes and types vehicles aimed to prevent such confrontation.

He urged everyone to respect the rights and freedom of others. Besides, the risk of Covid-19 spreading remained a concern.

Without order, he continued, the economic stimulus measures could not bear fruit.

He added the government was ready to open a forum to hear opinions from all sides within the legal framework.

Under the 2005 state of emergency decree, the “serious” state of emergency may be declared by the government when the following is involved — terrorism; use of force threatening lives and properties, when there is ground to believe violent acts are committed affecting national security or safety to life or properties of the state or of individuals; or when it is necessary to speed up solving certain problems.    

In addition to the provisions applicable under the state of emergency already in effect for half a year due to the Covid-19 situation, the declaration on Thursday effectively brought Thailand back to the period after the 2014 military coup. Assembly of more than five is prohibited. Officials may detain anyone without charges for up to seven days, extendable by seven days each round for up to 30 days in total. And soldiers may be deployed to help police.

Like the post-coup days, detention places must not be police stations or prisons. It is therefore likely military bases will be used to question detainees like in the post-coup period. Back then, 421 people were charged with illegal assembly, according to Internet Law Reform Dialogue (iLaw), which has kept track of the records.

The only difference is the seven-day detention under the serious state of emergency requires a court-approved warrant before an arrest can be made.

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