NEW YEAR BOMBINGS
PM denies police chief Kowit will be sacked
Surayud considers new laws to prevent more terror strikes
Prime Minister Surayud Chulanont yesterday dismissed speculation that his government might sack national police chief General Kowit Watana over a lack of progress in solving the New Year's Eve bombings case in Bangkok.
"There will be no sacking, and I want every law-enforcement officer to do his job instead of worrying about other things," Surayud said.
He said he had not set any deadline for police to finalise their report.
He also revealed that Council for National Security chairman General Sonthi Boonyaratglin had reported some progress in uncovering evidence in the eight bomb blasts.
Surayud yesterday held a meeting with legal experts, including King Prajadhipok's Institute secretary-general Borwornsak Uwanno and Council of State secretary-general Porntip Jala. The PM consulted them about the possible issue of new laws to prevent further violence in the country in the wake of the New Year's Eve bombings.
A source said Borwornsak suggested the emergency decree currently in effect could be used in case of violence, but Surayud asked whether there might be a need for more legislation.
In regard to his warning for the public to brace for political violence in the next two months, Surayud said he wanted everyone to remain vigilant.
"It's better to stay alert and take precautions rather than experience a repeat of the terror attacks," he said.
For their part, authorities will increase preventive security measures as a way to restore public confidence, he said.
Defence Minister Boonrawd Somtas said yesterday that investigators were pursuing every lead, even though they strongly suspected the bomb attacks were politically motivated.
"From the available evidence, the blasts were masterminded by vested interests losing out in the political struggle - this has a 90-per-cent chance of accuracy," he said.
He said the probability of involve-ment by southern insurgents was less than 10 per cent and that of foreign terrorists successfully staging such attacks was less than 1 per cent.
Due to the careful planning of the bomb attacks, police might eventually identify the individuals who planted the bombs, but the possibility of naming the culprits who assembled the bombs and the masterminds behind the attacks was remote, he said.
Because of political turbulence, it is expected that attempts to discredit the government might intensify, he said.
"There are many ways to subvert the government, such as public demoralisation and the instigation of a mass opposition movement," he said.
The eruption of political violence coupled with subversive activities would coincide with legal proceedings against ousted government leaders and the charter, he warned.