Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Thailand Bombs and a state of emergency

It could be hard work for police to catch the culprits behind a series of bombs in Bangkok this month. But the government cannot afford to let the situation continue like it is at present. Small bomb blasts have occurred every few days.

A government security source suggested that people who organised the blasts were killing two birds with one stone. The masterminds did not want reconciliation efforts to materialise and also wanted to discredit the government. The source said the masterminds were the government's rivals.

An analysis by security agencies is as follows:

Masterminds behind the bombs could be "Men in Black" or hardcore red-shirt protesters who wanted to create a disturbance, either for revenge, or to discredit the government. The bombs showed the government had failed to control security, and this would affect investments and tourism. If the country returned to normalcy or no bomb attacks, international observers would be confident the government could bring the country back to stability.

The series of bombs in the capital were designed to be a slap on the government's face, as they could cut support from some Bangkokians due to the failure to prevent explosions in the capital, the source said.

Another possible motive behind the bombs could be an attempt to block efforts aimed at reconciliation. Those who might benefit from disturbances did not want reconciliation to occur. The political conflict in the country did not only involve yellow shirts and red-shirt demonstrators or the red shirts and the government.

Different groups in circles of power were also involved in a struggle for benefit.

Men in uniform, namely the military and the police, were not happy with the annual reshuffle.

However, the government's accusation that red shirts or 'Men in Black' are involved - without any concrete evidence - could backfire on them, as there have been suspicions that the government or the military planted the bombs to give them an excuse to maintain the state of emergency. The blasts have coincided with public debate on whether to lift the emergency decree or not. The accusation is that the government may have motives to want to maintain the state of emergency.

In this case, if the government decided to maintain the state of emergency in Bangkok, people would understand this was necessary for some further period. But it's likely that the capital will be under a state of emergency for a long period.
The emergency decree is due to expire next week on October 7. Seven provinces still under the state of emergency are Bangkok, Nonthaburi, Samut Prakan, Pathum Thani, Udon Thani, Khon Kaen, and Nakhon Ratchasima. Interior Ministry is set to propose that the state of emergency be lifted in the three Northeast provinces.

Thawil Pliensri, secretary general of the National Security Council, said yesterday that the state of emergency in Bangkok may have to be extended until the end of the year or some time next year to cope with ongoing bomb attacks.

He said the NSC agreed with an assessment by the Department of Special Investigation that bomb blasts would continue to rock Bangkok until the year-end.

However, such decisions may backfire on the government, as Bangkokians may not be so patient. But if no suspects are arrested and there are more bomb blasts, it could make the ruling Democrat Party lose popularity. The Nation, Bangkok

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