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05BANGKOK2665 ANTI-TERRORIST MEASURE — RTG REQUIRES ID FOR TELEPHONE CARD PURCHASES

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This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.

UNCLAS BANGKOK 002665

 

SIPDIS

 

SENSITIVE

 

E.O. 12958: N/A

TAGS: PGOV PTER TH

SUBJECT: ANTI-TERRORIST MEASURE — RTG REQUIRES ID FOR

TELEPHONE CARD PURCHASES

 

REF: BANGKOK 2441

 

¶1. (U) Summary: In an effort to thwart or identify and

arrest separatist bombers, the RTG intends to require that

buyers of mobile phone SIM cards show their national ID cards

to register the purchase. Following the bombings in Hat Yai

and other locations in the south recently, the RTG is eager

to show its determination to track down the perpetrators.

Critics question the effectiveness of the measures. End

summary.

 

SUSPECTED USE OF MOBILE PHONES BY BOMBERS LEADS TO

RESTRICTIONS BY RTG

 

¶2. (SBU) The RTG announced on April 17 that buyers of

mobile telephone SIMs cards will have to produce either a

national identification card or a passport at the time of

purchase. In addition, according to press reports, all 21.5

million existing prepaid Thai and foreign mobile phone system

users in the country will be required to report their citizen

identification or their passport numbers to their phone

operators within six months. Phone services will be canceled

by the government if users do not meet the registration

deadline. The decision to regulate the use of SIM cards for

prepaid mobile phones was reportedly made in response to

Prime Minister Thaksin’s instructions at the April 12 cabinet

meeting following the April 3 Hat Yai Airport bombing, in

which Thai authorities believe separatists detonated an

improvised explosive device using a mobile telephone.

 

¶3. (SBU) The new requirements were reportedly reached on

April 17 at a meeting chaired by Deputy Prime Minister and

Interior Minister Police General Chidchai Vanasatidya and

attended by top security officials such as Defense Minister

Thammarak Issarangkura, National Security Council Secretary

General General Winai Phattiyakul, National Intelligence

Director Jumpol Manmai and Police Commissioner-General Kovit

Wattana, as well as officials from the Information and

Communications Technology Ministry (ICT).

 

THAKSIN SAYS NEW REQUIREMENTS STRICTLY SECURITY-RELATED

 

¶4. (U) Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra told reporters

that the campaign to trace SIMs card users is intended to

follow and locate bombers quickly but must not undermine the

users’ privacy. An ICT Ministry official told reporters that

the RTG is actively seeking the cooperation of service

providers nationwide in the registration effort. This will

theoretically prevent potential saboteurs from buying cards

in peaceful areas of the country to use in the troubled

provinces. With Cabinet endorsement, the ICT Ministry is

expected to draw up the requirements as ministerial

regulations which will then be signed by the ICT Minister and

published in the Government Gazette.

 

HOW EFFECTIVE?

 

¶5. (SBU) Comment: In the wake of the bombings at Hat Yai

airport and several other locations in the south earlier this

month (reftel), the RTG is eager to show that it is taking

measures to track down the perpetrators. It is hard to see

how this effort will have an impact on the use of bombs in

the south. Already critics are being heard. National

Reconciliation Commission (NRC) member and Muslim scholar

Asmadsomboon Bualuang complains that the measure does nothing

to resolve the overall situation in the south. Bangkok

Senator Seri Suwananond reacted to the measure by saying that

forged documents (and Bangkok is the center of an

international document forgery industry) will simply be used

by separatist bombers to purchase phone cards for use in

detonating improvised explosive devices. With virtually all

of these unknown persons who have set off bombs in the

southern border provinces over the past year still at large,

we expect the bombings to continue.

 

BOYCE

Written by thaicables

August 28, 2011 at 6:01 am

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