Parties need to seize the day on far South
BANGKOK: -- The meeting between PM and Abhisit could yield fruit if both sides drop the politics and give it a genuine shot
PM and Abhisit could yield fruit if both sides drop the politics and give it a genuine shot
After several rounds of bluffing, the government and the opposition are coming face to face this Tuesday to discuss the ongoing violence in the three southernmost provinces that has so far claimed more than 5,000 deaths since early 2004. It may be too early to call it a national effort to map out strategy for the deep South but there is no reason why such an encounter could not be a beginning of something useful.
PM Yingluck Shinwatra will come face to face with Abhhisit Vejjajiva, the leader of the Democrat Party at this session.
For the sake of the people in this restive region, it is hoped that this meeting is more than just a public relations exercise. After all, we have seen too many of such activities, along with knee-jerk reactions, forcing many people to question the sincerity of the government.
The rearranging of security agencies to give the impression that there is a civilian oversight in the day-to-day operation ended up confusing people more than instilling a sense of comfort.
It was a typical knee-jerk reaction following a series of high profile attacks, including the bombing of the population CS Pattani Hotel and the slaughter of four soldiers on two motorbikes by gunmen who fired at close range from the back of pickup trucks. The latter was carried out in front of a CCTV camera. Sources in the movement said the insurgents wanted to show the government and the authorities what they are capable of doing.
Moreover, to show that they are on the ball, the Fourth Army put on a public relations stunt last week that saw nearly 100 people who the military claimed were insurgents surrendering to the soldiers.
People in the movement were dismissive of the authorities' claim that the young men paraded in front of the media were combatants. At best these individuals were insurgent sympathisers who have not committed any major crime in the eyes of Thai law.
Their supporting role may have gotten them on somebody's blacklist and it is an open secret that authorities have used such a list for their own gain. But if they were the nasty militants that the government likes to label them, one wondered why no one really threw the law book at them? Are we to believe that the need for PR outweighs the legal requirements?
During the government of Surayud Chulanont, there was a formal acknowledgment of such a list. At the end that government said, as part of national reconciliation, exploitation of the blacklist would be cease.
For many people in the deep South, being on a blacklist is like inviting death from rogue officers or a pro-government death squad with an axe to grind. It is hoped that by now security officials have come to realise that they could no longer ignore the eye-for-eye approach because such tactics tends to produce more insurgents. You torture one imam to death and you end up creating 10 more insurgents. So where does it end?
Perhaps it was this realisation that inspired Deputy PM Yuthasak Sasriprapa to announce recently that the government would engage in talks with the separatist movement. The announcement didn't generate much excitement because it was an open secret that the military and governments, especially over the past six years, have been talking to separatist movements.
One can say that the government's back is against the wall, and that lead to the decision to come together at this meeting between Abhisit and Yingluck. But one can't overlook the significance of tomorrow's meeting and the potential that it could yield.
The idea of making the deep South a bipartisan effort should have been agreed on a long time ago but our political leaders where more concerned with their political capital.
Let's hope that from now on they will put their political concerns aside and work collectively to come up with solutions for this conflict that has cut so many lives short unnecessarily.
-- The Nation 2012-09-17
Thai Parties Need To Seize The Day On Far South
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