Govt defends imposition of security law

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Govt defends imposition of security law

Writer: BangkokPost.com

Published: 26/08/2009 at 03:37 PM

The government will enforce the Internal Security Act during the red-shirt demonstration this weekend to ensure law and order and prevent a third party from causing unrest, Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva said on Wednesday.

The United Front for Democracy against Dictatorship (UDD) is planning a mass demonstration in Bangkok's Dusit district on Sunday afternoon to pressure the government to dissolve the House of Representatives.

The government was not trying to prevent the anti-government rally from happening, and would not obstruct people from taking part in it, Mr Abhisit said.

Deputy Prime Minister Suthep Thaugsuban, who is in charge of security affairs, said people who were not involved in the red-shirt rally on Sunday were unlikely to be affected.

He said the government will enforce the security law in Dusit district for four days, from Aug 29 to Sept 1.

"The government will try to prevent the law from troubling the general public as much as possible, and it would like to apologise to the public for the inconvenience," he said.

People were free to join the demonstration but they must not infringe on the rights of others, he said.

UDD prominent figure Veera Musikhpong insisted Sunday's demonstration would not be protracted, despite government fears to the contrary.

The red-shirts would gather at Royal Plaza about 1pm and then march to Government House in the late afternoon. The rally would be peaceful, without weapons and after submitting a letter calling for a House dissolution and a general they would peacefully disperse, he said.

Association of Thai Travel Agents (ATTA) chairman Apichart Sangka-aree said the use of the Internal Security Act would certainly lower the confidence of foreign tourists.

Use of the security law’ showed that the government was uncertain about the situation, Mr Apichart said.

“Apart from the desire to visit beautiful places in Thailand, foreign tourists are also concerned about their safety and convenience during their stay,” the ATTA chairman said.

The government should provide more facts about the political situation. The information provided by several ministers that the situation had returned to normal had not done much to restore the confidence of foreign tourists and investors.

Mr Apichart said his association will keep its projection for foreign visitors this year unchanged at 10 million, as the political uncertainty remains a key factor for traveling decision making.

The government’s target of 14 to 16 million foreign tourists this year was unlikely to be met, he said.

A survey by Suan Dusit poll revealed that most respondents supported the government’s decision to invoke the Internal Security Act to ensure law and order during the anti-government rally on Sunday.

The opinion poll on Aug 25 and 26 involved 1,078 people in Bangkok.

Pollsters said 76.39 per cent backed the enactment of security law to avoid any unrest, saying the situation was unpredictable.

But 14.58 said given that there might be no violence the government should not be too worried. Slightly more than nine per cent opposed the decision, saying people have the right of assembly and imposition of the security act could trigger dissatisfaction and increase political tension.

Asked what they would do to prevent the rally from becoming violent if they were prime minister, 32.05 per cent said they would refrain from the use of force in dealing with demonstrators.

Some 28.21 per cent of them would hold talks to come up with ways out acceptable by both sides, and 23.07 per cent said they would fairly and justly enforce the law.

Nearly nine per cent said the will give police a free hand to deal with the protesters, and 7.71 per cent would give demonstrators freedom, in line with the law.

http://bangkokpost.com/news/politics/152718/govt-defends-imposition-of-security-law

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