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07BANGKOK6244 NLA PASSES CONTROVERSIAL INTERNAL SECURITY ACT ON EVE OF ELECTION

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“135363”,”12/21/2007 11:14″,”07BANGKOK6244″,

 

“Embassy Bangkok”,”CONFIDENTIAL”,

 

“07BANGKOK1754|07BANGKOK3402|07BANGKOK3502|07BANGKOK3528|07BANGKOK5802|07BANGKOK6244″,”VZCZCXRO7682

PP RUEHCHI RUEHCN RUEHDT RUEHHM

DE RUEHBK #6244/01 3551114

ZNY CCCCC ZZH

P 211114Z DEC 07

FM AMEMBASSY BANGKOK

TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 1197

INFO RUEHZS/ASSOCIATION OF SOUTHEAST ASIAN NATIONS PRIORITY

RUEHBJ/AMEMBASSY BEIJING PRIORITY 5353

RUEHBY/AMEMBASSY CANBERRA PRIORITY 8128

RUEHUL/AMEMBASSY SEOUL PRIORITY 4086

RUEHKO/AMEMBASSY TOKYO PRIORITY 0220

RHHMUNA/CDR USPACOM HONOLULU HI PRIORITY

RUEKJCS/SECDEF WASHINGTON DC PRIORITY

RUEAIIA/CIA WASHINGTON DC PRIORITY

RHEFDIA/DIA WASHDC PRIORITY

RHEHNSC/NSC WASHDC PRIORITY”,”C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 BANGKOK 006244

 

SIPDIS

 

SIPDIS

 

E.O. 12958: DECL: 12/21/2017

TAGS: PGOV, PREL, PHUM, KDEM, TH

SUBJECT: NLA PASSES CONTROVERSIAL INTERNAL SECURITY ACT ON

EVE OF ELECTION

 

REF: A. BANGKOK 5802

B. BANGKOK 3528

C. BANGKOK 3502

D. BANGKOK 3402

E. BANGKOK 1754

 

Classified By: Deputy Chief of Mission James F. Entwistle, reasons 1.4

(b) and (d).

 

1. (C) Summary. The Thai National Legislative Assembly (NLA)

December 21 approved the controversial Internal Security Act

(ISA), which cements for the military, via the Internal

Security Operations Command, a prominent role in the

maintenance of internal security. The law is an improvement

over the draft ISA bill, which had included broad powers for

the military. Despite the improvements, academics and civil

society groups had urged the NLA to not consider the law so

that democratically elected representatives could give the

law proper consideration. With the Thai general election two

days away, the law has received somewhat muted reaction from

the public and politicians. End Summary.

 

ISA BECOMES LAW

—————

 

2. (U) The National Legislative Assembly (NLA) late December

21 approved the Internal Security Act by a margin of 105

votes for, 5 against, and 2 abstentions. The ISA has been

highly controversial with numerous civil society groups

criticizing the bill. Prime Minister Surayud Chulanont,

however, had strongly lobbied for the ISA, pushing the NLA to

pass it into law before the body ceases operations after the

December 23 election. The NLA also passed two other

military-related bills, a Thai armed forces reorganization

act (to be reported septel) and a military benefits act.

 

3. (U) The NLA came under increasing criticism from civil

society groups in recent weeks as the coup-appointed

legislators hastily passed bills in the run-up to the

election. The Bangkok Post December 15 described the NLA\’s

activities as morally wrong in that an unelected body was

enacting into law proposals such as the ISA that many

considered drastic.

 

4. (C) Civil society leaders have criticized the ISA for

providing the military broad powers as described in reftel A.

The law creates the Internal Security Operations Command

(ISOC) and assigns the organization responsibility for

maintenance of internal security. XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX

XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX and member of

the NLA committee that revised the bill, told us the ISA has

been amended to address criticisms but the bill retains many

of the original articles. Among the remaining provisions

that have drawn criticism are Section 15 which provides ISOC

with the power to exclude from a designated area any

government official whose behavior is a threat to internal

security and Section 17 which grants the ISOC Director, with

approval of the Cabinet, the authority to:

 

— order government officials to implement any action or

withhold any action,

— prohibit entry and exit from a locality, building, or area,

— establish curfews,

— prohibit the use of transportation routes, and

— interfere with electronic communications.

 

5. (C) The committee did amend provisions that would have

curbed judicial process and review. These were among the

most controversial aspects of the draft bill as orders and

actions committed under the ISA would have been immune from

consideration by the Administrative Court. The committee

stipulated that a court of justice should consider acts

committed under the authority of the ISA. XXXXXXXX told

us that this provision was written into the Act in the hope

that the RTG would create a court that would have sole

responsibility to consider security matters.

 

MINOR CHANGES TO ISOC STRUCTURE

——————————-

 

6. (U) The committee altered slightly the ISOC structure from

that found in the previous draft. The ISA maintains a

 

BANGKOK 00006244 002 OF 002

 

central role for the military in maintaining internal

security; however, the committee did include language to

encourage the creation of a professional civil service staff

for ISOC. The Prime Minster will become the Director of ISOC

but the Army Commander in Chief will be the Deputy Director

and the Army Chief of Staff will assume the role of ISOC

Secretary with the responsibility for daily operations. The

 

SIPDIS

committee also succeeded in adding a civil society board that

would give advice to the ISOC board. Other language that

appears to have been inserted into the law in order to

provide for civilian role in the ISA include the creation of

an Assistant Director position that will be drawn from the

ranks of governmental officials and the designation of a

joint investigative role for police officers in operations

undertaken by ISOC officials.

 

LITTLE PUBLIC REACTION

———————-

 

7. (C) With the general election two days away, reaction to

the ISA from politicians and the public has been muted. That

the NLA passed the bill at night after protesters had

decamped from in front of parliament indicates the

sensitivity of the ISA. Nonetheless, Jon Ungpakorn, an

activist and former Senator, claimed that he would organize a

signature campaign to overturn the law. Democrat Party

leader Abhisit Vejjajiva was publicly reported to have said

that he would amend the ISA if he became the next Prime

Minister.

 

COMMENT

——-

 

8. (C) While few doubted the need for Thailand to develop a

legal framework to respond to internal security threats, the

manner in which the ISA passed has raised concerns about the

post-election influence of the military. As the law now

requires the King\’s signature before becoming official, the

ISA will come into force in approximately one month, or about

the time a new government comes into power.

BOYCE

Written by thaicables

June 24, 2011 at 1:22 pm

Posted in Confidential, ISA

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