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Academic wants citizens to petition against security act

Signatures should be collected from across society to petition the Constitution Court to rule on the Internal Security Bill's constitutionality, Titiphan Chuaboonchai, dean of law at Chulalongkorn University, said earlier this week.

Published on November 18, 2007

"The impact of the law will not only be felt by terrorists but also honest citizens," Titiphan told a symposium and meeting at Chulalongkorn University's Faculty of Political Science on the impact of the bill recently approved in principle by the junta-appointed National Legislative Assembly (NLA).

Although the bill is claimed by its proponents to be a softer dose of draconian law than martial law, it is in fact more dictatorial and hands power to the military to decide who is causing public disturbances, he said.

The bill allows the prime minister, as chief of the Internal Security Operation Command (Isoc), and the Army chief, as its ex-officio deputy, the authority to suspend many constitutional rights, impose curfews and arrest people without court warrants while granting immunity to officers from judicial scrutiny.

Chulalongkorn political scientist Suchart Bamrungsuk said all the academics and NGO members appointed to the NLA should resign in protest against the NLA's support for the controversial bill.

"In the end, these intellectuals have become a mechanism in the [establishment of] of military bureaucratic authoritarianism (MBA)," said Suchart, who christened the society Thailand is heading to as the MBA society.

"The military will no longer have to usurp power because this is a silent coup that will put power in the hands of the military.

"All political parties should take a united position to abolish the bill. The good thing is, the military won't have to stage a coup any more because they will always have power [through the bill]. In Malaysia, those against the government are being prosecuted under a similar law both inside and outside the country. Thai society must think carefully and be alert."

Suchart said those who supported the coup are like Aladdin with the magic lamp who released the genie, which is the junta. Now the genie wants to arm itself with a baton, which is akin to the Internal Security Act, and no longer wishes to return back to the lamp. "[The genie] also wanted to hit Aladdin's head with a baton," he added.

Suchart, one of the 100 academics who signed a petition opposing the law, said the NLA's approval of the bill has sent Thai democracy back to the dark ages before the October 14, 1973, popular revolt which overthrew the military dictatorship. The law will led to the creation of a de facto Ministry of Internal Security where officials from other ministries can be transferred to work under this new super ministry, he added.

Pravit Rojanaphruk

 The Nation

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