In recent weeks there has been considerable alarm expressed about Thailand’s moves towards a national security state. Concerns have focussed on the Internal Security Bill which according to the Bangkok Post “would give sweeping powers to the Internal Security Operations Command (ISOC) to handle ‘new forms of threats’ to the country.” New Mandala is pleased to provide this translation of the bill, prepared by historian and political commentator Chris Baker:
Chris also provides these brief comments on the bill:
1. The bill appears to create an institution or revive an old one (ISOC). That’s an illusion. What it does is give lots of extra powers to the army, especially to the army chief. In the past, the head of ISOC was a separate post with its own secretariat and organization. In this bill, the army chief becomes head of ISOC, his chief of staff heads the secretariat, the regional army chiefs head the branches. The whole point of the bill is to give more powers to the army and especially the army chief.
2 The power are considerable. Look especially at Sections 25 and 26. Section 25 is a subset of the State of Emergency Decree, cut-and-pasted in here. These powers are supposed to be used only in something like an emergency. Section 26 does not have even that condition. These powers can be used all the time. Most need no warrant, and no reporting.
3. There is almost no check or monitor on the use of these powers. The ISOC head reports to the PM, but there is no mechanism for oversight. The regional and provincial committees are nominally given a monitoring role, but they are all appointed by the army anyway.
4. The officials using these powers are insulated from any liability or prosecution, see sections 36 and 37. Again, these clauses are scissored out of the State of Emergency Decree.