Citing Fear of 'Unrest', Govt Enacts Security Laws Ahead of Protest

Official checking the scene of small fire at Government House

(2 August) Bangkok is
back on the edge as the date of new major anti-government protest approaches and the government has
enacted emergency laws granting it sweeping power to contain the protest, amid the usual rumours of
potential unrest or even a coup d?etat.

The Centre for the Administration of Peace and Order
(CAPO) has been formed following the invocation of 2007 Internal Security Act. The laws has been
enacted in 3 Districts of Bangkok. covering the locations of the Government House and the House
Parliament, around where the protesters are scheduled to rally on 4 August – 7
August.

Sparing no time in exercising the security law powers, the Centre has announced via
TV broadcast that 12 roads and streets in the 3 affected Districts would be sealed off from the
general public. Only those bearing permission from the Centre are allowed to enter these areas,
the statement reads.

The government has previously voiced its fear that the protests might be
infiltrated with potential troublemakers intent on causing unrest and casualties in order to inflame
the situation.

Meanwhile, the rumour of a possible military coup has again returned to the
ever-anxious Thailand. According to the rumour, the military might decide to use the unrest as
pretext to depose the elected government of Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra.

In the televised address,
Pol.Gen.Adul Saengsingkaew, the director of CAPO, said peaceful gathering is certainly permitted
under Thai laws, and warned that the protesters must not enter the areas restricted by the security
bills.

He said he believed the protest would be attended by at least 4,000
protesters, although other officials have put the figure as high as
10,000.

Pol.Maj.Gen.Parinya Chansuriya claimed that enactment of the Internal Security Act is
aimed toward preserving peace in the society. The police, he said, will adopt patience and tolerance
to prevent any chaos, and will only resort to using force when orders have been given.

Despite the security laws, Pol.Maj.Gen. Piya Uthayo, spokesman of the Metropolitan Police,
said he believed that the situation in Bangkok would continue as normal, but added that if anyone
notices any suspicious, they are urged to contact the police by dialing 191 and 1599
immediately.

The ant-government activists have vowed to overthrow the government of Ms.
Yingluck, saying it is a legacy of her brother former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra accused of
corruption and tyranny. They are also opposed to the amnesty bill which would be debated by the
Parliament on 7 August.

The bill would give amnesty to Redshirts protesters imprisoned for
their alleged crimes during the violent protests in 2010 against the government of then-Prime
Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva.

Many Thais are reminded by the upcoming protest of the chaos in
2008 when the Yellowshirts launched a campaign to overthrow the government at the time, which was
allied with Mr. Thaksin.

That campaign saw occupation of the Government House and Bangkok′s
2 airports by the protesters, clashes on street between rival protesters, and concluded in the
collapse of the government after the court disbanded the ruling People Power Party.

A slight
chaos appeared to engulf the Government House even before the new wave of protests, though. Last
night, a fire broke out in the compound and was quickly extinguished afterwards.

Officials
dismissed report of sabotage, explaining that the fire was started when a careless individual threw
a burning cigarette end from the restroom′s windows into a pile of garbage just outside the
building.

Additionally, an anti-government activist managed to slip past the heavy presence
of security forces into the Government House by simply cycling his way through the checkpoints. The
intruder, identified later as
Mr. Yuthana Somapir, 41, even reached Thai Khoo Fah building in the heart of the
compound before he was detained.

Pol.Maj.Gen.Thawat said Mr.
Yuthana, who works as a garbage seller in the nearby Thevet Market,
was hiding Guy Fawkes
Mask – a symbol adopted by anti-government movements – on his back as he eluded the
police.

“The security guards mistook the man for an officer”
said Pol.Maj.Gen.Thawat. He criticised the police in the area for letting the intruder slip through
without questioning him properly, but added that the security guards around the Government House are
now encouraged to be more vigilant.