5 in 6 Emergency Decrees were put to sudden end once emergencies resolved

5 in 6 Emergency Decrees were put to sudden end once emergencies resolved

เมื่อ 22 พ.ค. 2563
On 24 March 2020 when Thailand recorded 827 infections with 4 deaths of COVID-19 Pandemic, General Prayuth Chan-O-cha, the Prime Minister of Thailand – under the approval of Council of Ministers – declared Emergency Decree on Public Administration in Emergency Situation, B.E. 2548 in effective from 26 March to 30 April, 2020. Later on 28 April 2020, the cabinet agreed to extend the Emergency Decree to 31 May 2020.
The Emergency Decree served as a special law providing authority to the executive while dismissing unlawful misconduct of authorities. Thus, the decree should be effective under the “shortest” period of time; merely as a response to sudden challenge and shall be put to an end once the situation is resolved.

In the light of positive development, general laws should be applied. iLaw invited readers to revisit history on the declaration of state of emergency during previous political unrest in Bangkok and other areas to see how long it remained effective and how the situation was when it was revoked.
However, this article will not include the Deep South emergency decree which was first proclaimed in 2005 and continuously extended to present (May 2020).

1.Samak Administration used to control the demonstrations after UDD-PAD Clashes, later revoked to prevent overall economic impacts
The 2005 Emergency Decree was first declared to manage Bangkok political unrest occurred under Samak Sundaravej administration on 2 September 2008, following clashes between the United Front for Democracy against Dictatorship (UDD) and People's Alliance for Democracy (PAD) at Rajadamnern Road resulting in deaths and injured.
The prolong PAD protest against Samak's administration began in May 2008 before they occupied an area inside the Government House in August 2008. Nevertheless, the administration was yet to declare the decree until the morning of 2nd September 2008, claiming that some groups of people intentionally caused disruption which affected public safety, national security, and democratic development.
On the same day, Samak issued Prime Minister’s Order 194/2008 – appointing Gen.Anupong Paojinda, then Army Commander in Chief, to manage the emergency situation. Moreover, Samak also excercise power under section of 9 of Emergency Decree issued regulation to prohibit certain activities including banning the gathering of 5 people and above in Bangkok, prohibiting or attaching conditions to certain transportation routes, and censoring news that could lead to public fear or misunderstandings.
Although a public gathering of 5 people and above had been prohibited, PAD continued their occupation of the Government House. On 9 September 2008, the Constitutional Court ordered Samak Sundaravej to be dismissed from the Prime Minister position over his Cooking Show. Later, on 14 September 2008, when the Emergency Decree had been enforced in Bangkok for 12 days, then acting Prime Minister – Somchai Wongsawat revoked the decree. 
Somchai claimed that the declaration of state of Emergency since the 2nd September was aimed to manage political unrest in Bangkok. However, since the situations have been tamed down to the degree that people’s lives wouldn’t be affected and the maintenance of Emergency Decree could negatively impact overall economy; the Emergency Decree was revoked. Nevertheless, to monitor and evaluate the situations, administrative division would be in place with army commander in chief as a director to coordinate with police and officers.
Nonetheless, it should be noted that when the Emergency Decree was revoked, PAD demonstrations at the Government House was still going on.

Total Duration of State of Emergency: 13 Days
2.Emergency Decree were declared over specific area after the PAD occupied International Airport, it was revoked 7 days after protests were called off 
In November 2008, Prime Minister Somchai Wongsawat attended the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit in Lima, Peru and scheduled to arrive Thailand on 25 November 2008 at 12.30 p.m. The PAD protestors whose occupied areas in Bangkok including the Government House, announced to mobilize some of its protestors to Suvanabhumi Airport in order to put more pressure on Somchai and force him to step down. PAD Announcement no. 26/ 2007 mentioned the airport occupation as follows:
“The People’s Alliance for Democracy announced this mass gatherings to stop the tyranny-puppet Government and Thaksin-enslaved Parliament. Since 2 p.m. of 23 November 2008 until now, it has been 50 hours that we had join together with the PAD to pressure and to end the reign of this tyranny-puppet government using peaceful means with respect to Ahimsa principles.

We moved forward with two bare hands to various locations including the Government House, Ministry of Finance, Metropolitan Police Headquarter, and Temporary Government House at Don Mueng Airport. However, the tyranny-puppet Government still not realize their mistake and remain in their power as well as tried to amend the Constitution to benefit their own interest.

Thus, it is necessary for the PAD to intensify our actions – adding the civil disobedience measure by
closing Suvanabhumi Airport to send our final words through national and global population to Somchai Wongsawat and the government to resign immediately without condition”
Although Somchai safely arrived Thailand by changing his destinations to Chiang Mai rather than Suvanabhumi Airport, the PAD demonstration at Suvanabhumi Airport continued. On 27 November 2008, the cabinet agreed to Prime Minister’s proposal in declaring State of Emergency over specific locations including Don Meung International Airport and Suvanabhumi International Airports.
Somchai appointed Pol.Gen.Kowit Wattana, Minister of Interior, to manage overall situations while appointed Pol.Lt.Gen.Soochaad Mueankaew, Metropolitan Police Commissioner as a person in charge of Don Mueng Airport together with the Air Force while Pol.Lt.Gen.Chalong Somjai, Commissioner of Provincial Police Region 1 was appointed as a person in charge if Suvanabhumi International Airport together with the Navy with supports from the Army in case of urgent requests from Police. Although the declaration of State of Emergency was resulted from the closure of international airport, Army’s roles was interestingly limited only as supporters and can only step in only if police call upon them.
Two days later, additional regulations were issued under provision of Emergency Decree. In case of Suvanabhumi International  Airport, Pol.Lt.Gen.Chalong announced additional measures to resolve situations on 29 November 2008 by banning public gatherings in Lat Krabang District, Bangkok as well as Bang Plee and Bang Saotong district, Samut Prakarn and prohibiting those who had no duty at the Airport to roam in surrounding area or entering buildings without permissions.
Later, Order 2/2008 was issued to authorize officials’ rights to arrest or summon individuals to report themselves and seize concerning objects that could be used to support causes of emergencies.  On 1 December 2008, additional order was issued to set evacuation deadline of people in Airport area between 1 -2 December 2008 and forbid re-entrance. Nevertheless, the protests continued.
On 2 December 2008, Constitutional Court ordered to dissolve People Power Party, Chart Thai Party, and Neutral Democratic Party while as well revoke the Parties’ Executive Committee’s political rights which forced Somchai out of his Premiership as he became disqualified. The next morning, PAD’s leaders declared victory call of the occupation. 
On 9 December 2008, Chavarat Charnvirakul, Deputy Prime Minister as Acting Prime Minister revoked the state of emergency in Don Mueng International Airport and Suvanabhumi International Airports areas. Thus, it could be said that the Emergency Decree was revoked 7 days after protests in both places were called off on 3rd December.

Total Duration of State of Emergency: 13 Days
3.Handling with demonstrators in Pattaya, revoked at night of the same day
In April 2009, Thailand was scheduled to chair ASEAN Summit at Royal Cliff Beach Resort Pattaya, Chon Buri during 10 -11 April which coincided with domestic political turmoil after the UDD prolong their protests in Bangkok since 26 March 2009.
On 10 Aril 2009, Arisman Pongruangrong – one of the UDD core leaders leaded thousands of protestors to Pattaya, intentionally to deliver letters to ASEAN leaders asking for the cancelation of the summit, reasoned that Abhisit Vejjajiva wasn’t democratically elected as Prime Minister.

In their point of view, the rise of Abhisit and Democrat Party were due to the dissolution of People Power Party. Numbers of former People Power Party’s MPs especially ones who have close relations with Newin Chidchob shifted their support to Democrat Party and chose Abhisit as Prime Minister.

The protestors started the gathering at Big C Department store in Northern Pattaya area, they later marched through security lines to the entrance of Khao Phra Tamnak which the Royal Cliff Beach Resort, venue of the summit was located. The protestors and officers had no confrontation, however, chaos occurred as groups of Blue-shirts put up their banners calling for peace and asking the people of Chon Buri to come out and protect their homeland; causing quarrel between both sides. 

Later, the situation was cool down when ASEAN leaders sent their representatives to accept letters. UDD protestors then went back to Big C Department store and agreed to revisit on the next day for the follow up. In the next day, the protestors went back to the summit venue where they encountered groups of blue-shirt men with stick-weapons await for them on the way. Both side started off with quarrel then around 9 a.m. the situation escalated to physical confrontations with gunshots and Ping-pong explosion noise.
UDD urges the government to find the person or group who responsible for the violence or they will advance their retaliations. In the afternoon, groups of UDD protestors rushed into the hotel causing the Deputy Secretary of the Prime Minister announced to indefinitely postpone the summit.

At the same time, the Prime Minister declared state of emergency in Pattaya and Chon Buri province while appointed Suthep Thuagsuban, Deputy Prime Minister on Security, as the person in charge. However, there were no additional details on which measures have been added in this Emergency Decree. Abhisit announced to revoke the decree in Pattaya and Chon Buri at around 7.30 p.m. of the same day. He mentioned that the main purpose of the decree was to take care of leaders who attended the summit. Once the mission was completed, the decree maintenance was no longer necessary.
Total Duration of State of Emergency: 1 Day
4th: Crackdown the Red-Shirts in “Bloody April”, revoked 10 days after the incident
The UDD protest in Pattaya resulted to the indefinitely postponed of the Asean Summit. After the postponement had been Announced Red Shirt who mobilized to Pattaya returned to Bangkok. While the situation in Pattaya was back to normal and Emergency Decree had been lifted in the same day, the prolong protest of the UDD in Bangkok is continue and Prime Minister had prepared to step up security measures.
On 12 April 2009, a day after incident in Pattaya, Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva decided to declare State of Emergency in Bangkok, Nonthaburi, and certain areas of Samut Prakan, Pathumthani, Nakhon Pathom, and Ayutthaya to manage a prolong protests of the UDD which took place since 26 March 2009. The government claimed that certain groups of people provoke chaos and violate national laws – closing Government House and ASEAN Summit venue as well defame the monarchy.
In the same day, Abhisit also appointed Deputy Prime Minister on security, Suthep Thaugsuban as the person in charge. Additional measures were announced including the ban on gatherings of 5 peoples and above in Bangkok, the prohibition on actions that could lead to chaos, media censorship on news that could cause misunderstandings, ban on the use of routes as well as order to evacuate people out of designated areas.
Later, on 13 Aril 2009, Abhisit announced to established Centre for the Resolution of the Emergency Situation (CRES) to integrate the operation and later the military were deployed to crackdown the protest. Suthachai Yimprasoet, a former academician of History Department, Faculty of Arts, Chulalongkorn University noted the 13 -14 April situations as follows:
“In the morning of 13 April, violence occurred at DinDaeng intersections when military and police rushed to crackdown the red-shirts demonstrations. Deaths were reported but the military claimed that they were merely shooting in air. Human Rights Organization, on the other hand, assured that the military were shooting at protestors. Yet, there has been no report of apparent deaths or injured. Some of the Gas-engine cars were parked at Din Daeng government housing, leading to the accusation that Red-shirts protestors were planning for violence. 
UDD retaliated by seizing public buses to block various routes leading to the confrontation between public and protestors around Nang Lerng Market resulted in 2 deaths. Around 10 a.m. of 14th April, UDD core leaders leading by Veera (Veerakarn Musikapong, a former chairman of the UDD) called off the protest to prevent further losses of life and surrender himself up to the authorities. 
His actions lead to backlash as some accused him for going ‘Cold Turkey”. Several UDD core leaders expressed their dissatisfaction especially Jakrapob Penkair who decided to leave the country.”

After the UDD leaders called off the protest as a result of demonstration crackdown on 14th April 2009, Abhisit revoked the State of Emergency on 24 April 2009 effective from noon onwards. A day later on 25 April 2009, Somyot Prueksakasemsuk the second batch UDD leaders arranged the gatherings at Sanam Luang. He announced that the UDD will held protest in several provinces then in May 2009 they will organize a gathering in Bangkok to commorate the Black May 1992 incident. 

Total Duration of State of Emergency: 13 Days
5.Khok Wua – Ratchaprasong crackdown 2010
The UDD started their prolong protest on 12 March 2010 to demand for the dissolution of the Parliament and to organize fresh election. The protestors started off by occupied areas around Phan Fha Bridge and Rajdamnern Klang Road. Later, on 27 March 2010 they started another occupation site at Ratchaprasong intersection.
Abhisit declared State of Emergency as well as enforced Internal Security Act in several overlapping areas, deadline was not designated for Emergency Decree while Internal Security Act was scheduled to be effective from 8 to 20 April 2010. On the same day, Abhisit also issued regulation under section 9 of Emergency Decree to ban the gatherings of 5 peoples and above, censor news and advertisement that could led to misunderstandings, and announced to evacuate people out of designate area or to prohibit the entrance of designate area.
Additional measures under section 11 of Emergency Decree including the authorization of authorities to arrest suspected individuals who participate in or support chaos, to summon individuals or documents related to the emergencies, and to inspect media or prohibit communication to prevent causes of violence were also active.

Abhisit also transfer power of related ministers provided by law such as under Special Investigation Act, Arms Control Act, Ministry of Defense Organization Act etc. To centralized in hand of the Prime Minister. Afterward, he transfers the power that just had been centralized to the newly established body Centre for Resolution of Emergency Situation (CRES) and appointed Suthep Thaugsuban – the Deputy Prime Minister on security as director while Gen.Pravith Wongsuwan – Minister of Defense as the Deputy Director. 
On 10 April 2010, 3 days after the decree was declared. The first crackdown took place. The military began their mission to “reclaim areas” by using force to crackdown protestors on Rajdamnern Avenue and Khok Wua intersection. Former protestors once mentioned that tear gas was thrown by authorities from helicopter resulting in at least 20 deaths of protestors and officers.
Reaching towards 19 May when Abhisit’s Administration decided to crackdown the protestors, security measures under the Emergency Decree had been intensified. On 13 May 2010, the decree became effective in the whole Samut Prakan, Pathumthani, Nakon Pathom, and Ayutthaya rather than just over specific areas or district.

State of Emergency was also declared over additional provinces – noticeably ‘Stronghold’ of Red-shirts protestors including Chiang Rai, Chiang Mai, and Udonthani. On 16t May 2010, Emergency Decree was declared over other Northeastern provinces including Ubon Rajthani, Roi-ed, Nhongbualamphu, Mahasarakam, and Sakolnakorn.

On 19 May 2010 when military force successfully crackdown the protesters in Bangkok area especially the main protest site at Ratchaprasong intersections. After the crackdown, Abhisit declared curfew in Bangkok as well as in other provinces that were under State of Emergency.

Curfew started from 8 p.m. of 19th May to 6 a.m. of 20th May, it was extended afterward but duration of curfew hours was consecutively in decline. From 25 to 29 May 2010 curfew lasted for 4 hours from 12 p.m. to 4 a.m. of the next day. This was last curfew order due to this State of Emergency.
Although the UDD prolong protest ended by military crackdown since 19 May 2010 with at least 94 deaths recorded from both crackdown in April and May 2010 and several UDD core leaders had surrendered themselves to the authorities yet Emergency Decree were extended for several months. On 6 July 2010, the decree has been revoked in several provinces including Kalasin, Nakhonpathom, Nakhonsawan, Nan, and Sri Saket while extended on others such as Bangkok, Chiang Mai, and Udonthani.

Later, on 20 July 2010, the decree was revoked in Roi-ed, Lampang, and Sakonakorn. Abhisit consecutively revoked the decree in several areas; leaving Bangkok, Nonthaburi, Samutprakarn, and Pathumthani for the last on 21 December 2010.

It should be noted that although State of Emergency has been maintained in Bangkok until December 2010 and the measures to ban political gatherings remained in place, huge protests still occurred at least once on 19 September 2016 when approximately 4,000 protesters gathered at Ratchaprasong intersection over the 4th anniversary of 19  September 2006 coup and to commemorate the 4 month of 19th May 2010 crackdown.

Even though enormous crowd gathered to the extent that traffic inevitably affected, the gatherings went well without obstruction by authorities.

Total Duration of State of Emergency: 259 Days

6th: Yingluck’s Administration declared Emergency Decree to control PDRC prior to 2014 General Election

During the time of Yingluck Shinawatra’s Administration, members of the parliament leading by Pheu Thai Party push forward draft Amnesty Bill. The third read of the draft was passed at the dawn of 1 November 2013. The provision of the draft bill became concern from both relatives of the victims and in a larger extend anti-Thaksin and anti-UDD groups, the first group concern that perpetrators who committed crimes against their love one may walk free while the later concern that Thaksin as well as UDD leaders maybe free from prosecution.
Frustration over the Amnesty Bill led to the protests by various groups. The smaller one was victim relatives and some former UDD protestors while the larger groups were anti-Thaksin and anti-UDD groups. Both groups take action separately. The Anti-Thaksin and anti UDD group initially the protest against the draft Amnesty Bill but their demand later advanced to outs the Yingluck’s Administration and called for “Reform before Election”. 
On 29 November 2013, Suthep Thaugsuban, Former Deputy of Prime Minister and CRES director during Abhisit's Administration who resigned to fully participated in the protest announced the establishment of the People's Democratic Reform Committee (PDRC) as core organization to protest against Yingluck’s Administration and demand for “Reform before Election”.
On 9 December 2013 while PDRC protest in various spots of Bangkok were ongoing, Yingluck decided to dissolve the House of Representative and set for another fresh election on 2 February 2014. Even though PDRC escalated their protest to “Shut Down Bangkok” – closing several governmental and business areas in Bangkok, such as Asoke intersection, Government Complex, Ratchaprasong intersection but Yingluck was not yet to declare State of Emergency. 

On 2  January 2014, Lt.Gen.Paradorn Patanathabutr, Secretary General of National Security Council (NSC), informed that Gen.Prayuth Chan-Ocha – then Army Commander in Chief expressed his disagreement in declaring State of Emergency reasoned that the rearrangement of forces under Internal Security Act that had already in place would be enough.
On 21 January 2014, acting- Prime Minister Yingluck declared State of Emergency in areas around Bangkok, Nonthaburi, Lad Lum Kaew (Pathumthani) and Bangplee (Samut Prakarn). In her statement, Yingluck indluded obstruction to Rights to Vote as one of reasons to declared State of Emergency. On the same day, Yingluck ordered to establish the Centre for Maintaining Peace and Order (CMPO) to manage the situation and appointed Pol.Capt.Chalerm Yubamrung, then Minister of Labour as director while Police Commander in Chief and Permanent Secretary Ministry of Defense were appointed as as Deputy Director.
Later, on 23 January 2014, Yingluck announced additional regulations under section 9 of Emergency Decree – ban the gatherings of 5 peoples and above, allow media censorship on news and information that could stir fear and misunderstanding among the public, prohibit the use of roadway or set up traffic blockade. The measures had been in effect for 13 days from the beginning date until 2 February 2014, the day of Election.
Although, the Emergency decree bans on the gatherings of 5 peoples and above, PDRC protests continued to the extent that they went on closing the polling station such as Sri Ayutthaya School which was the 4th polling station in Ratchathewi constituency. On 2 February 2014. Banjong Sukdee, deputy permanent secretary for the Bangkok Metropolitan Administration indicated that election in 3 constituencies in Bangkok were cancelled including Laksi, Ratchathewi, Din Daeng due to the fact the ballots and ballot boxes could not be transported from the District
Office to polling stations.
While the Emergency Decree was in effect, significant protest crackdowns occurred on 18 February 2014 when police used forces to “reclaim areas” around Phan Fa Lilat Bridge which was the main protest venue of Dharma Army and captured Somkiat Pongpaiboon, former member of Democrat Party. Thakerng Somsap, Director of Blue Sky Channel who was at the scene said that hundreds of police cornered the Dharma Army stage and sounds of tear gas used by the authorities was heard. Some were injured by rubber bullets while 6 deaths were reported.
The Emergency Decree during Yingluck’s Administration was in effect until 18 March2014 where Yingluck revoked the decree, claiming that the emergency situations have been resolved and existing laws could be used to manage the situation. Thus, the revocation was to effective from 19 March 2014 onwards.
After the revocation, PDRC continued their protests in the cities while UDD arranged their protests against the PDRC and to show support to Yingluck’s Administration on Aksa Road. Protest of both groups lasted  until 22 May 2014 that the National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO) seized power thought military coup and declared Martial Law both protest were called off.

Total Duration of State of Emergency: 58 Days
Overall, it is noticeable that the first 4 times that State of Emergency were declared under the Emergency Decree 2005 they were used as short term mechanism no longer than 2 weeks. It was later expanded to 259 days under Abhisit’s Administration in 2010 which has been the longest period (excluding the Deep South) and 58 days during Yingluck’s Administration in 2014.
The Emergency Decree used during Samak and Yingluck’s Administration were revoked even when the protests remained ongoing; while State of Emergency declared twice in 2009 under Abhisit’s Administration were revoked when the protests that caused emergency situation ended.
Nevertheless, in 2010 when Abhisit declared State of Emergency to manage the Red Shirt prolong protest, the decree was enforced in Bangkok and its outskirt until the end of 2010 even thought protest was crackdown on 19 May 2010. 
Comparing the State of Emergency declared in 2020 under Gen.Prayuth’s Administration, Emergency Decree was used to manage health emergency rather than political emergency. The decree was scheduled to remain effective until 30 April but later extended to 31 May 2020. 
However, it is not necessary for the Emergency Decree to remain effective until its deadline but it could be revoked at any time, as soon as the emergency situation was resolved and existing laws can be used to handle situation.
Nonetheless, section 5 paragraph 3 of the Emergency Decree provided that the Prime Minister could revoke the decree in three scenarios including when the emergency situations were resolved, when the Cabinet member disagree and when the deadline completed (Emergency Decree can be enforced no longer than 3 months for each time at was announced.). Thus, if COVID-19 situations are no longer as threatening that existing laws could not manage the situation, Prime Minister can revoke the decree or if the Cabinet Member disagree to deadline extension, they could vote to disapprove with the extension of deadline and Prime Minister has to revoke State of Emergency.

(Note: Translated from ประกาศพรก.ฉุกเฉิน ห้าในหกครั้ง ยกเลิกทันทีเมื่อเหตุจำเป็นสิ้นสุดแล้ว see https://ilaw.or.th/node/5653 for original text in Thai. Reference articles and document provided in the original version only)