HTTP/1.0 200 OK Content-Type: text/html New Bill Vital If Army Is To Ensure Success
Pubdate: Sun, 27 May 2001
Source: Bangkok Post (Thailand)
Copyright: The Post Publishing Public Co., Ltd. 2001
Author: Sermsuk Kasitipradit


The government's effectiveness in tackling drug trafficking could be 
greatly hampered without a new security bill, said Gen Panlop Pinmanee, 
security adviser to the prime minister.

Gen Panlop, who is acting deputy director of the Internal Security 
Operations Command (ISOC), said a new security act was indispensable if the 
government wanted soldiers to play an active role in tackling drug and 
other national security issues, stipulated under the new ISOC structure.

The ISOC had been given a direct role in tackling drug trafficking, illegal 
immigrants and ethnic minority groups.

The agency also handled border security including stabilising border 
villages, security development in remote areas and defusing conflicts in 
the southernmost Muslim-dominated region.

"Military officers assigned to tackle these problems could easily face 
lawsuits if there was no security bill to give them protection," said Gen 
Panlop, a Thai Rak Thai party list MP.

Third Army commander Lt-Gen Wattanachai Chaimuenwong said the government's 
determination to snuff out drug trafficking was unlikely to succeed unless 
the military were given legal protection.

Gen Panlop, a close associate of former Palang Dharma leader Maj-Gen 
Chamlong Srimuang, distanced Thai Rak Thai from the controversial People 
and State Security Protection Bill.

The measure, he said, was drafted by a New Aspiration party-appointed panel 
led by former defence permanent secretary Gen Prasert Sararit, and had 
nothing to do with his party.

Critics said the bill was undemocratic and unconstitutional. It gave the 
military the power to arrest anyone and search homes without a court order.

"Thai Rak Thai has nothing to do with the bill. We became aware of its 
existence only after the draft was put up at the last security council 
meeting," said Gen Panlop.

Some provisions came as a surprise, including a proposal to replace the 
ISOC with a new outfit called the People and State Security Protection Command.

"That is really weird," said Gen Panlop. He also denied the army had 
anything to do with the bill.

"We have not talked about a security bill that would give absolute power to 
the military.

"We are talking about a bill that will provide the military with legal 
protection in carrying out their tasks. Otherwise no military people would 
want to get involved-it would put them in legal trouble." Prime Minister 
Thaksin Shinawatra said he would strive for a balance between people's 
rights and freedoms and security that worked.
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