Thaksin mulls ‘less threatening’ security law for deep South

Updated On: May 10, 2005

Bangkok – The Thai government is working on a new security law in the troubled deep South that will have a “less threatening ring” to it than the existing martial law. According to one report, the new law will allow the Prime Minister and Defence Minister to declare an “uncommon situation”, under which security forces will be given power to stage security operations. 

     Mr Thaksin said former prime minister Anand Panyarachun, chairman of the National Reconciliation Commission, had suggested that the government stop enforcing martial law in  Narathiwat, Pattani and Yala provinces because it could project a wrong image of Thailand, since the international community was put off by the mention of martial law. 
    Martial law allows the military to arrest and detain suspects for seven days without having to seek an arrest warrant first. 
    Mr Thaksin said it was possible to replace martial law with a new one that would still empower security authorities to arrest suspects without having to seek a warrant from court first. 
    ''Even though martial law grants broad authority to officials, the fact is we only need a little of it," Mr Thaksin said on May 5. 
     His view that martial law could be lifted was not shared by Defence Minister, General Thammarak Isarangkura na Ayudhaya. The general said the military did not want to enforce the law but they had no choice because there was no other law to support the military's operations in the region. 
    According to the Bangkok Post, the new security law that is being considered will empower the Prime Minister and Defence Minister to declare an “uncommon situation'', under which security forces may carry out searches without warrants and detain suspects.
    A security source told the Post: "Under martial law, security forces can conduct searches without warrants and can also detain suspects up to seven days. The military could still carry out searches under the proposed amendment but the period of time for detention might be lessened.”  

* Martial law could go, says PM (Bangkok Post, May 6)

* Muscle could depend on PM's order (Bangkok Post, May 9)