Connect with us

Opinion

Phuket Opinion: Deep South needs more than trading big stick for carrots

Legacy Phuket Gazette

Published 

 on 

Phuket Opinion: Deep South needs more than trading big stick for carrots | The Thaiger
  • follow us in feedly

PHUKET: While facing the current unrest on the streets of Bangkok this weekend, the time has also come for the Pheu Thai government of Yingluck Shinawatra to devote more effort to addressing the ever-mounting problems facing Phuket and the rest of the South – and re-examining its erratic strategy in dealing with the ongoing unrest in the Deep South.

It would have been interesting to have been a fly on the wall when US President Barack Obama was briefed on the situation in the Deep South during his recent visit to Bangkok, if such a briefing took place.

However, there is little evidence that the conflict has wider dimensions. Fortunately for Phuket, the domain of terror has been confined to Haad Yai and points south, at least so far.

According to Deep South Watch, insurgency-related incidents – including terror attacks and reprisals by state forces – have left 5,377 people dead and 9,513 injured since the violence re-ignited in January 2004.

It was then that Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra, for political purposes, shifted power away from the military and the Southern Border Provinces Administration Center (SBPAC) toward a new agency under police control.

Of all the many state agencies operating in the region, none has been the source of more suspicion and contempt among the locals than the police. This comes as little surprise, given that the three southernmost border provinces for decades served as a dumping ground for rogue officers in a force where a transfer – not dismissal or legal action – resulted from transgressions that if perpetrated by civilians would almost surely have meant jail terms.

Under PM Yingluck, the strategy has changed course dramatically: carrot is now favored over stick. A revamped SBPAC recently funded Hajj pilgrimage journeys to 8,000 Thai Muslims from the region at a cost of 160,000 baht each for the 45-day journey.

Among those receiving the all-expenses-paid Hajj trips were some 120 people enrolled under SBPAC’s re-education program, including many who have already been the recipients of multiple compensation payments of as much as 7.5 million baht for each relative lost to the ongoing violence.

While individual recipients expressed gratitude, the cumulative result of these and many other SBPAC-led initiatives have done little to stop the violence.

The unprecedented 1.28-billion-baht price tag is about half the cost of the former project to build a Phuket International Convention and Exhibition Center, an approved project now shelved with only the promise that the funds “would be put to good use”.

The main problem remains that the Government’s shifting tactics lack any coherent policy to address the root causes of the conflict, which have little to do with religion and much to do with matters of cultural self-identity and a widespread sense of social injustice among the majority Malay-speaking population in the Deep South.

Keep in contact with The Thaiger by following our Facebook page.
Never miss out on future posts by following The Thaiger.

Archiving articles from the Phuket Gazette circa 1998 - 2017. View the Phuket Gazette online archive and Digital Gazette PDF Prints.

Click to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Coronavirus Asia

Trials and tribulations 3. Returning to Thailand in the Covid era – on the home straight

The Thaiger

Published

on

Trials and tribulations 3. Returning to Thailand in the Covid era – on the home straight | The Thaiger

by David Jackson Monday morning and I’m on the home straight assuming I pass my final Covid test that I took yesterday morning. The situation hasn’t been too bad over the weekend as I was allowed outside into the hotel’s garden area for 40 minutes each day. On Saturday the threat of rain caused the nurse to request my early return to my hotel room, presumably the paranoia of any possible illness caused her some consternation; luckily the rain didn’t materialise and I stayed outside, I am a Brit… rain happens! It certainly feels good on the eyes to see […]

Continue Reading

Opinion

“Thai government refuses to acknowledge the red light economy”

The Thaiger

Published

on

“Thai government refuses to acknowledge the red light economy” | The Thaiger

OPINION Thanks to WB for sending us this response to earlier article. The views expressed by WB do not represent The Thaiger, its management or staff. Prostitution is not illegal in Thailand, although many activities associated with it are (brothels, pimping, causing a public nuisance, etc.). Nevertheless, it was estimated to be worth US$6.4 billion a year in revenue (2015), accounting for a significant portion of the national GDP – Wikipedia. Thailand faces a grim choice. It can have tourism with widespread Covid or it can stay closed up, but it can’t have tourism without Covid … there is no […]

Continue Reading

Thailand

Thai Kra Canal – numbers don’t stack up

The Thaiger

Published

on

Thai Kra Canal – numbers don’t stack up | The Thaiger

OPINION The possibility of Thailand being sliced into 2, with a canal running east to west through the middle of the Isthmus of Kra (the Thai section of the Malay Peninsula), is back on the table. There’s a lot of heated response from readers, for and against the plans. Is there an economic model to support the new canal? How much time and money would it save? Is a ‘land bridge’ a better option? How would Singapore (the biggest loser in the project) react to the project if it went ahead? We published a response to a ‘land bridge’ alternative […]

Continue Reading
Follow The Thaiger by email:

Trending