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Internal Security Act now in force in Phuket



PHUKET CITY: The controversial Internal Security Act to ensure there is no disruption at the upcoming 42nd Asean Ministers Meeting is now in force, but very few locals will have noticed any difference.

Military hardware, much of it on flatbed trucks, rolled onto the island yesterday afternoon.

Defense Minister Prawit Wongsuwan, who is in charge of security during the meetings, said no street demonstrations would be allowed during the meetings, which would include the 16th Asean Regional Forum (ARF) and Post Ministerial Conferences.

“Phuket must have no protests whatsoever,” he said.

“No areas will be designated for demonstrations, there will be no road blockages, and there will be no protest letters submitted.

“Not even a peaceful gathering is allowed.”

General Prawit asked prospective protest groups, including the red shirts and local and foreign non-government organizations, to comply with the regulations.

He said international standards would be applied in providing security for the leaders of the 28 countries due to attend.

The Internal Security Act will remain in force in Phuket for two weeks, until July 24.

Gen Prawit said he did not think the extra security would affect local businesses and said he was confident the meetings would run smoothly.

Deputy government spokesman Supachai Jaisamut said Cabinet had ordered relevant authorities to cooperate with officials from the Internal Security Operations Command, who are empowered to designate certain buildings or places off-limits.

Unauthorized people are not allowed to carry weapons outside their residences and the Isoc director has the power to ban the use of electronic devices in certain areas.

The Isoc chief can also impose restrictions on the use of certain roads or vehicles, the spokesman said.

Suthep Thaugsuban, Deputy Prime Minister in charge of security affairs, said local residents would be told about any restrictions.

Gatherings will not be allowed at the airport or on roads to and from the airport, or in areas around the hotels where the delegates will stay, the spokesman said.

Phuket Provincial Police have also been busy gearing up for the event.

On Wednesday morning, hundreds of policemen in full riot gear practiced their crowd control techniques outside Phuket City Police station.

The exercise involved using shields to form phalanxes to drive off protesters.

A band of volunteer motorcycle taxi drivers who acted as ‘protesters’ relished the opportunity to hurl plastic bottles of water and other missiles at the police.

— TNA & Gazette


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