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Ministry of Foreign Affairs Gives a Briefing on the Government’s Decision to Invoke the Emergency Decree

January 27, 2014 Destination Thailand No Comments Email Email

The Permanent Secretary for Foreign Affairs, Mr. Sihasak Phuangketkeow, held a briefing for members of the diplomatic corps and international organizations on the current situation, particularly the Cabinet decision to invoke the Emergency Decree on the Public Administration in Emergency Situations B.E. 2548 (2005).

The briefing was held on 22 January 2014 in response to concerns within the diplomatic community regarding the situation, and their need to advise capitals, as well as nationals travelling through or residing in Thailand.

The Permanent Secretary explained that the Cabinet decision was based on the recommendation of the Center for the Administration of Peace and Order (CAPO) that with the recent incidents of violence, the situation could worsen especially in the lead up to the elections if steps were not taken. The Cabinet, based on CAPO’s recommendation, therefore, decided to invoke the Emergency Decree.

The Center for Maintaining Peace and Order (CMPO) had been established to replace CAPO. The Director is Minister of Labor Chalerm Ubumrung. The Deputy Directors are the Police Commissioner-General, Police General Adul Sangsingkeaw, and the Permanent Secretary for Defense, General Nipat Thonglek.

The Permanent Secretary emphasized that only powers under Article 11 had been invoked under the current Decree and not those under Article 9 (Article 9 included banning of protests, limitations on freedom of movement and the media, and the imposition of curfews. There is no plan whatsoever to disperse the protests.)

Under the Decree, the police will take the lead in ensuring enhanced security with the military providing a supporting role. The Decree is meant as a deterrent. There shall be no use of force. The Government will continue to exercise utmost in dealing with the protests.

On the necessity of invoking the Emergency Decree without invoking the powers under Article 9, the Permanent Secretary said there was concern that there could be more incidents. This was a preemptive measure so that security personnel could better deal with future situations, especially in the lead-up to the elections.

On the impact of the elections on the Emergency Decree, the Permanent Secretary said that the Government could still proceed with holding the elections, with the intention to ensure a fair election. The measure was taken in anticipation of whatever situation may arise later on.

On whether there would be any changes in the way the protests are handled, the Permanent Secretary replied that utmost restraint will continue to be exercised by the police and all security personnel involved. The use of force will be avoided at all costs.

On whether the Government would give warning if the Decree were to be strengthened in the future, the Permanent Secretary responded that the added power under the Decree would only be used as commensurate with the situation and in a judicious manner. If more powers were to be invoked in the future, it would be done within the bounds of the law.

On whether there were plans to censor the media, the Permanent Secretary said that no censorship had been contemplated. Although there was concern that some reporting seemed aimed at inciting divisiveness and propagated hate speech, only powers under Article 11 had been invoked. Censorship of the media, contained in Article 9, had not been invoked. There was no plan to censor the media at this time.

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