Srettha stands firm against ISOC disbandment

Prime Minister Srettha Thavisin has announced that the Internal Security Operations Command (ISOC) will not be dissolved, arguing that its assistance is needed for development missions. The Move Forward Party (MFP) has called for its dissolution.

On 31 October 2023, the PM held his first meeting with the ISOC to discuss missions assigned to the organisation.

Srettha told the press that in addition to protecting the monarchy, he wants ISOC to help create a better future for the nation, adding that at present, national security is linked to the well-being of the people.

In discussions, he reportedly tasked ISOC with mitigating the impacts of drought and floods by mobilising military resources to support the people.

He also asked for military assistance in solving poverty and land issues, utilising surplus military lands for the benefit of the public, both by making it available for agricultural use and by establishing learning centres to generate income and economic opportunities.  According to Srettha, the armed forces agreed to provide 9,276 rai of its land to the public. The lands are scheduled to be handed over on 1 December.

The PM also requested ISOC assistance in addressing the PM 2.5 issue and called on government agencies to cooperate.

When asked about the dissolution of ISOC, Srettha said that this was not being planned.  Instead, rather than countering communism, their current focus would be on development and reducing misunderstandings between the military and the public.

He added that his discussions with ISOC did not involve political matters.  He also said that those who want ISOC to be dissolved would have to push the issue through the parliament on their own.

In the Cold war era, the ISOC was an agency with an important role in countering communism. When the Communist Party collapsed, ISOC continued to operate to help the armed forces spread its influence and legitimacy. In recent years, ISOC has been accused of conducting intelligence operations against citizens.

Responding to the PM’s stance on 1 November, MP Ramadon Panjor from the MFP said that his party’s call to dissolve ISOC was designed to reform the military and promote democracy by keeping the military out of politics. It also aimed to promote peace in the southern border provinces by ensuring that security matters involve the public, not just the military.

He added that the draft sought to address allegations that ISOC budget allocations were not transparent.

As the draft proposed by the MFP is considered a financial bill, it needs the PM’s endorsement to be sent to parliament. Despite the PM’s opposition, the hope is that the issue will still be discussed in the parliament.

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