PM orders action against activists seeking Muslim Pattani State referendum

Photo by Bangkok Post.

The National Security Council (NSC) of Thailand has been instructed by outgoing Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha to investigate a group of activists who called for a public referendum on the establishment of an independent MuslimPattani State‘ separate from Thailand.

The demand for a referendum was made during a seminar titled “Self-determination,” which introduced the “National Student Movement” or “Pelajar Bangsa” from the four southern border provinces. The seminar, held at the Prince of Songkla University (PSU), Pattani campus, encouraged residents to vote for the proposed move, Bangkok Post reported.

Supoj Malaniyom, the NSC secretary-general, stated on Friday that the NSC informed the prime minister about the issue and subsequently ordered an investigation into the individuals involved. There are concerns that the call for a public referendum could lead to disunity. A meeting to discuss the matter will be held by the NSC next Monday.

“The call for a public referendum on independence is illegal and doesn’t benefit anyone,” said Supoj Malaniyom.

“The security law must be imposed in the South in an attempt to prevent damages to properties and danger to people. Moreover, there is also the mechanism of peaceful dialogue which widens the chances of academics and representatives from many sectors participating in a discussion without activities that lead to societal disharmony.”

Somchai Sawaengkan, chairman of the Senate Committee on Human Rights, Freedom, and Consumer Protection, urged the Internal Security Operations Command and security agencies to investigate the matter, as he believed a political party might be orchestrating the situation.

Somchai also called on the Election Commission to scrutinise certain politicians and elected MPs who attended the event, claiming to have a video clip of them.

“I believe that these students had no idea their move was illegal as there must have been adults behind this. We can respect freedom of expression, but a whole separatist movement will cause too much commotion,” he said.

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Mitch Connor

Mitch is a Bangkok resident, having relocated from Southern California, via Florida in 2022. He studied journalism before dropping out of college to teach English in South America. After returning to the US, he spent 4 years working for various online publishers before moving to Thailand.