What is national security? I am quite naïve about this word. If it is territorial integrity, then these days, with the tight and complicated economic ties with the neighbouring countries, it is hard to imagine a country sending troops to seize another, because it is just not worth it.
Or if it is said that the national security is threatened by the southern unrest that might lead to secession, what exactly is the root cause is still beyond us.
Of course, there must be a group or groups of people, but where and how do they come about? If they truly are separatists, why do they want to separate if not driven by the injustice inflicted upon them by state mechanisms?
So what is the threat to the national security? How will the state suppress its own suppressive deeds that cause the threat to the national security? How will the security agencies solve the security problems that are probably caused by them? The laws that give sweeping powers to these agencies are the threat themselves, aren't they?
That's why I said I didn't understand the meaning of the ‘national security'.
So far it has been very broadly defined. You know why those NGOs are opposed in unison to the security bill; because all NGOs can be and are likely to be threats to national security.
If you are against development projects, you might be a threat to the national security. You might be charged with receiving funds from abroad, or conspiring with foreigners.
The artist who painted the ‘Crow-like Monks' painting that derides the monks might also be regarded as a threat. Not to mention other works that touch other delicate issues or higher institutions.
The ouster of the Thaksin government is another example of a political conflict portrayed as a security threat.
The imposition of martial law and the insistence on maintaining it is for the sake of security. The setting up of Internal Security Operations Command (ISOC) mechanisms at the village level in the past year to prevent the old power clique is also a security issue. All in all, whose security is it anyway?
ISOC has been in place for decades with its relevant laws. Why does it need to have a new law?
Frankly, it is because of the desire for power of the military rulers in a time when military rule becomes irrelevant.
The latest version of the security bill gives authority to the Prime Minister instead of the Army Chief in a bid to lessen the pressure. If read carefully, it is just a trick of the drafters to fool the public, because the next prime minister of a weak coalition under the current constitution will be the highest authority in name only.
Explanations abound from those pushing for the law, and even you might be convinced that ‘good people will have no trouble, so no need to worry', just as coup leader Gen Sonthi Bunyaratkalin said when he did not give in to the pressure to lift martial law.
This kind of reasoning is definitive. No need to argue. And no need for laws or a constitution. Common sense would suffice to rule; ‘good people will have no trouble, so no need to worry'.
The fact that Field Marshal Sarit Thanarat used Article 17 of his charter to order death sentences without judicial process would trouble no good people, because those who were killed were not good people.
For me, what is the threat to security? There they are the laws on lèse majesté, computer crimes, printing, etc. We talk with reason, and we are being watched. We disagree with the coup d'état, and then we are insecure.
Let's consider it through the examples above. As soon as the security bill appeared, insecurity has already emerged, hasn't it?
The national security is ultimately the people's rights and freedoms, not the security of the powers or interests of any soldiers or powers that be.