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Sat, January 20, 2007 : Last updated 20:45 pm (Thai local time)

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Home > Headlines > We'll go back to two-way radios, says CNS chief

We'll go back to two-way radios, says CNS chief

Mobile phones are no longer safe and the military will switch back to traditional walkie-talkies to avoid any spying by Singapore, Army chief General Sonthi Boonyaratglin said yesterday.

"We will use more radio communications. We already have the equipment, so we'll just go back to our old tools," he said.

Sonthi, the Army commander and chairman of the Council for National Security (CNS), on Wed-nesday dropped a bombshell by saying that mobile-phone conversations were being picked up and relayed to Singapore. He suggested the city-state could be spying on Thailand.

In a related development, Infor-mation and Communications Tech-nology Minister Sitthichai Pookai-yaudom yesterday suggested that phone users should use a machine called a voice scrambler to make their calls less prone to wire-tapping.

He said every phone communication was prone to wire-tapping, and the president of the United States used such a scrambling device.

Chuan Leekpai, a former prime minister who is now chief adviser to the Democrat Party, yesterday said the problem of wiretapping had been around for at least five years.

He said the opposition had raised alarms about the problem, but was ignored by the government of that time. "Wiretapping in the past could be done by [Thailand's local mobile-phone operator]. But we're surprised to hear that now even Singapore could pick up communications from Thailand," Chuan said.

Meanwhile, Advanced Info Ser-vice (AIS) chief executive Sompra-song Boonyachai said yesterday the company's network was safe from wire-tapping and that it had never imported wire-tapping equipment.

He added that AIS shareholders had never ordered the company to conduct wire-tapping.

"We have good governance. Even if the shareholders told us to do so, the executives would not do it," Somprasong said at a conference yesterday, held to ensure the public of its secure cellular network.

Somprasong said it was too early to tell whether the remark by the CNS had prompted concern over wire-tapping among AIS customers.

AIS has about 19 million customers. It is the flagship of Shin Corp, founded by the family of ousted prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra.

AIS president Wichian Mektrakarn said that three years ago the Office of the Narcotics Control Board and the Anti-Money Laundering Office had asked all telecom operators to connect their networks with them as part of their crime suppression. However, AIS refused to comply.

He added that one state agency had also asked AIS to do the same three years ago, and again the company refused.

Somkiat Tangkitvanich, research director of the Thailand Development Research Institute, said that to prevent wire-tapping, there were many better ways than withdrawing the satellite concession from a private company.

Rather, the satellite service provider could block specific cellular frequencies used by the military with a password.

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