Internal Security Act Rolled Out in Thailand
Anticipating trouble in the wake of the upcoming anti government mass protest marches by the left wing Red Shirts, the government of Thailand has implemented the Internal Security Act (ISA) in Thailand and seven nearby areas. The act empowers the Internal Security Operations Command with the following powers:
- state officials to take any step to curtail illegal activities.
- Protect the life and property of people by ensuring that no malicious actions are carried out with explosive related electronic equipment.
- Sealing of any locality or building during its operational hours, with the exception of permission from a designated official.
- Curtailing the carrying of weapons outside dwelling places.
- Enforcing curfew orders by restricting exit from dwelling places.
- Prohibiting or providing restricted access to vehicles in certain areas.
Duration and Sites of the Protest
The protests has already started on 12 March and expected to continue till 23 March. Its covering almost 10 sites, namely Nonthaburi City Hall, the town hall of Samut Prakan province, Lumpini Park, King Taksin Memorial on Wong Wien Yai Circle, Tung Song Hong, Din Daeng, Laksi monument, two sites in Pathum Thani province’s Lamlukka district, and Bangna. The protests would move to Ratchadamnoen Road on 14 March.
The main Bangkok rally would take place on 14 March covering the area from Sanam Laung to King Rama V’s Equestrian Statue. The main stage of the rally would be at Ratchadarnnoen Klang road’s Phan Fa Leeland Bridge.
Regions Covered by ISA
As per Panithan Wattanayakorn, the spokesperson for the Prime Minister’s Office, ISA would be enforced throughout Bangkok and Nonthaburi as well as some districts of Ayutthaya, Pathum Thani, Nakhon Pathom, Samut Prakarn, Chachoengsao, and Samut Sakorn. Although, rallying would be permitted, but the police and military forces would have every right to ensure that peace is maintained and public property is not damaged.
Economic Fallout of the Scenario
Among the chief concerns is the possible closure of Bangkok’s airports by protestors. Bangkok is a hub for many international full service as well as low cost airlines with travellers vying to book cheap flights to this exciting destination and in case of such a development, the country’s economy will suffer a crippling blow. However, the Red Shirts have assured not to close any airports. Mr. Quinton Quayle, the UK ambassador to Bangkok also raised the issue with the opposition party Puea Thai, who are Red Shirts sympathisers.
Expectedly, the market sentiment is far from robust. February saw a sharp decline in indices. In fact, the central bank of Thailand released a statement that it was deliberating a rise in rates to normalise policy settings. However, the political unrest has upset the timing.