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Extracted from the Bangko Post: Bangkok Post




Tough powers available under martial law will be exercised if the security environment warrants it, Council for National Security (CNS) chief Gen Sonthi Boonyaratkalin said yesterday. There was no need to enact a special law to deal specifically with the rising political and security tension following the New Year's Eve multiple bombings in Bangkok and adjoining Nonthaburi, Gen Sonthi said.


The CNS already has martial law at its disposal, although it had not invoked the full extent of it, he said.


''Martial law affords us a vast amount of power, but we haven't used it,'' the army chief said.


''We will keep tabs on the situation. If it gets more violent, we will be compelled to apply martial law as we are positioned to exercise it. We have power over all issues, but we haven't used it on a single one.''


How martial law would be applied would depend on the gravity of the situation. The CNS would decide on a case-by-case basis, he said.


Gen Sonthi's remark follows Prime Minister Surayud Chulanont's warning last week that there could be increasingly violent attacks over the next few months.


Although the cabinet decided in November to lift martial law in 41 provinces, including Bangkok, the law is still technically in effect as its revocation has yet to receive royal endorsement.


There are 35 provinces where martial law is still in effect, mostly northern and northeastern provinces where the Thai Rak Thai party had strong support and is believed to remain a dominant political player.


A source said Gen Sonthi told the CNS yesterday it was time to go on the offensive and end its perceived indecisiveness.


The CNS may need to administer a ''strong dose of medication'' to see the problems through, the source added.


CNS spokesman Col Sansern Kaewkamnerd said state officials seen to be in ''neutral gear'' and unresponsive to government policies would be transferred over the next several months.


A major reshuffle of officials will be announced, probably in April, ''to usher in a new administrative order'', the spokesman said. The CNS and the government would collaborate in adjusting policies to make them more proactive in handling security issues.


Gen Anupong Paochinda, assistant army chief and assistant secretary-general of the CNS, said intelligence reports predicted more violence and unrest, with political activities reaching boiling point in the next two or three months.

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