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New peace committee proposed for south Thailand

Publication Date : 11-10-2012

 

The Thai government needs a new committee and new strategies to restore peace in the restive south, a minister said yesterday.

Justice Minister Pracha Promnok said that he would propose that the Cabinet approve the establishment of a new committee for development in the south. It would aim to supplement the current multi-agency effort to restore peace in the region, where almost daily violence for the past eight years has claimed thousands of lives.

Thongthong Chantarangsu, Prime Minister's Office permanent secretary, who held the meeting with Pracha and many other concerned officials, said the new committee would be a mechanism to push forward a development strategy to win the "hearts and minds" of Muslims as well as improve living standards in the south.

The new committee would concentrate on five key areas, Thongthong said - development of living standards, building trust, reduction of violence, improvement of management efficiency and communication for better understanding among local and international communities.

Southern Border Province Administration Centre secretary Thawee Sodsong, who also attended the meeting, said the new committee would replace the panel for compensation of people affected by the situation in the south. It has functioned for the past year and has ended its term.

"The previous committee worked quite well and we agreed to have a similar one but with a wider scope to bolster existing efforts to bring peace and development to the south," Thawee said.

Meanwhile yesterday, a motorbike bomb injured nine rangers in Yala province while Narathiwat officials urged businesses to open as usual on Friday to counter the insurgents' campaign against trade on what is considered a Muslim holy day.

The bomb went off at around 1pm when the rangers were riding in a pickup truck, heading back to their base in Yaha district. The bomb was hidden in a motorbike parked on the roadside, police said.

Another roadside bomb exploded about a kilometre away when police and rangers were travelling to inspect the earlier incident. No one was hurt by the second blast.

In Narathiwat, provincial Governor Apinant Suethanuwong held a joint meeting with Adulaziz Jehmama, deputy chairman of the Narathiwat Islamic Committee. With around 700 people from the business community in attendance, the two officials explained that working on Friday was not against Islam. The meeting was in response to fliers from insurgents threatening violence on businesses that trade on Friday.

There was later a parade in downtown Narathiwat to encourage traders to do business as usual and not close tomorrow.

Deputy Prime Minister Yuthasak Sasiprapha said he expected more than half of the shops in the deep south would open tomorrow and others would resume business as usual when they were confident in the government's security measures.

In response to suggestions that Friday be made a public holiday in the South, Yuthasak said other Muslim countries in the region, including Indonesia and Malaysia, do not have Friday as a public holiday. The southernmost provinces of Thailand should observe Saturday and Sunday as days off just like the rest of the country, he said.

 

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