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General news >> Wednesday June 20, 2007

Cabinet approves security bill


The cabinet yesterday approved a draft national security bill which would give sweeping powers to the Internal Security Operations Command (Isoc) to handle ''new forms of threats'' to the country, a cabinet meeting source said. The bill is aimed at enabling Isoc to more efficiently handle acts of sabotage, transnational crime and propaganda.

Article 6 provides for the setting up of a national security committee to be headed by the prime minister, the source said.

The bill also empowers the Isoc chief to implement security measures such as searches without seeking approval from the prime minister.

Proposed by the National Security Council (NSC), the bill is also aimed at accommodating the planned restructuring of Isoc.

The Isoc revamp, to be modelled on the US Department of Homeland Security, is seen by many observers as a move to pave the way for Council for National Security chairman Gen Sonthi Boonyaratkalin to head the restructured agency after he retires as army chief in September.

Gen Sonthi, as the Isoc chief, also attended the cabinet meeting yesterday.

The bill, when enacted, would provide an alternative to the Executive Decree on Public Administration in Emergency Situations, which is seen by critics as being too harsh, the source said.

It will go to the Council of State, the government's legal advisory arm, for fine-tuning before being forwarded to the National Legislative Assembly for deliberation.

NSC secretary-general Prakit Prachonpachanuk said the provisions of the security bill do not overlap the existing emergency decree.

The Office of the Attorney-General, the Council of State and the Justice Ministry jointly drafted the bill, Mr Prakit said.

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