Hopes of seeing calm in the predominantly Muslim region are a result of the latest talks between the authorities and the BRN, said National Security Council chief Paradorn Pattanatabutr.
Malaysian authorities said the BRN called off their plan to hold a press conference on the peace initiative in Kuala Lumpur yesterday for reasons that were unclear, but Thai authorities believe the move to reduce violence is still on, he said.
OIC secretary-general Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu yesterday welcomed the initiative between the government and the Muslim group to engage in a ceasefire during the holy month.
Ihsanoglu was briefed on the initiative and other developments in the region during his meeting with Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra on Saturday.
He encouraged both sides to abide by the principles of the “ceasefire” and expressed hope that it would lead to further peaceful developments and increased confidence-building measures towards the ultimate resolution of the conflict in the South. The OIC is ready to be a partner in the process so that peace, security, economic development and prosperity could be enjoyed by all peoples of southern Thailand, he said.
However, Paradorn said that if any violence were to occur during the period, investigation of the incidents would be conducted promptly and completed within 48 hours in order to ascertain which group was responsible.
The security measures for keeping peace and order during Ramadan will be based on the guidelines provided by of the Office of Sheikul Islam, he said.
Sheikhul Islam is known in Thai as Chularatchamontri, the holder of the office of top Islamic religious leader.
There are three small intensively operative groups in the region and the neighbouring country has nothing to do with them, Paradorn said.
Related agencies are discussing the BRN’s demands and have sent the Thai guidelines for action to the BRN via the Malaysian facilitator, he added.
However, a day ahead of Ramadan, chaos continued yesterday, as suspected insurgent sympathisers hung cloth banners accusing the Thai authorities of insincerity and calling Thailand “the colony hunter Siamese”.
Some areas also had walls vandalised with a similar message, while five hoax bombs were reported in Pattani.
The banners, written in Malayu with the Rumi script, were discovered along roads in many locations in Yala, Pattani and Narathiwat, as well as in Songkhla’s Chana, Thepha and Saba Yoi districts.
Thai authorities pulled down the banners, and tried to collect fingerprints and DNA in the hope of identifying those who had made them and put them up.
A military spokesman, Colonel Pramote Phrom-in, said the authorities needed to maintain their forces in the deep South to keep peace. Officials did not use violence in the area, but carry out their operations within the rule of law and the principles of human rights to act against those who use violence.
Yingluck, who is also defence minister, said it’s unclear at this stage if a committee would be set up for the task as it depends very much on the due process of the bureaucratic system.
“[We’re] in a mode where everything is politicised. I want people to differentiate things,” she said.
When asked if she fears the clip will affect the administration and the execution of its policies, Yingluck said it might have some effect if people continued politicising everything. She went on to urge the public to give the government some time to prove itself.
When asked if this issue had disturbed her at work, Yingluck dismissed the idea, saying she was doing her best to carry out her duties, and asked for cooperation. However, she refused to say if she had spoken to her brother Thaksin since the clip was made public.
When asked about the rumours of a possible military coup, the premier replied that Thais should look at other countries suffering military coups and see if it is truly beneficial. She added that she believes nobody would want to harm their own society.
In a related development, Air Force commander-in-chief Air Chief Marshal Prajin Jantong said the supreme commander, General Thanasak Patimapra-korn, will discuss the leaked audio clip with the Navy and Army chiefs so they can take a common stance on the matter. Prajin added that the issue discussed in the clip would not necessarily manifest into reality. He also denied reports that the top brass was colluding with the government to maintain their positions.
Asked whether he trusted the deputy defence minister, Prajin said all will be made clear and that the armed forces needed stability to continue their work. He went on to say that the clip needed to be authenticated first. As for the rude prefix Yuthasak allegedly used when referring to him in the clip, Prajin said it was all right, as the deputy defence minister was his “older brother” and boss.
When asked if the armed forces could accept Thaksin’s return to Thailand provided he quits politics, Prajin said people should look at both sides of the issue. First, he said, the people should be united and love one another, and secondly, the law would have to be upheld in the cases Thaksin faces.
Yuthasak was initially scheduled to hold an unofficial meeting with top brass to discuss the October military reshuffle, but now the meeting might get postponed to August 15.
Meanwhile, the opposition Democrat Party is calling on the authorities to have the clip independently verified by the Institute of Forensic Science and Dr Pornthip Rojanasu-nand in order to add weight to the findings.
Separately, Green Politics Group coordinator Suriyasai Katasila said most people believe the clip is real and many wonder if the government will indeed take the steps suggested in the recording. He went on to say that government interference in the appointment of top military brass will lead to the return of a social and political divide.
Suriyasai suggested that the best solution would be for the deputy defence minister to quit and not be replaced. He also warned that any attempts made by the military top brass to help Thaksin return to Thailand would destroy the integrity and honour of the armed forces. Suriyasai said the silence of many generals after the clip was leaked has led to fears that the military might be under greater control than the public is aware of.
— Phuket Gazette Editors
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