Bangkok, the 24th of July 2010: Following concerns raised regarding the new military unit, Prime Minister Abhisit reiterated that he had little knowledge of plans to construct a 7th Infantry Division in Chiang Mai, stating that the plans must have been proposed prior to the current political situation.
Chiang Mai is the birthplace and hometown of former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra, ousted in a bloodless coup in 2006. He still garners significant support in the North, increasing speculation that the new military proposal has been propositioned to stifle government resentment in the region.
In a bid to appease, the public, premier Abhisit confirmed that he would study the proposition carefully and consult previous Thai Cabinet decisions on the very sensitive issue.
Various local media in the region have reported that Army Chief General Anupong Paochinda ordered the 3rd Army Region, currently responsible for security affairs in the North, to study the proposal for possible establishment of a 7th Infantry Division in Chiang Mai.
Should the plan go ahead, the development is expected to cost an estimated Bt10 billion over the course of five years, starting in 2011.
Meanwhile, calls for the lifting of the Emergency Decree, enacted in 16 provinces including the capital, have intensified last week. Academics, professionals and various non-government agencies have called for the lifting of the decree, citing breaches of human rights laws.
Prime Minister Abhisit acknowledged the concerns of all detractors by stating that the government was currently investigating statements that the decree affected human rights.
He revealed the main concern was that the decree allows authorities to imprison those who violate the act. The premier highlighted that it does not give authorities the power to permanently imprison people without significant reason in line with laws outside of the emergency decree.