The prime minister takes charge of the deep south
Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra will take charge of overseeing unrest situation and development projects in the trouble-plague deep South under a new restructured organization officially named the Operational Centre for the Implementation of Policy and Strategy to Resolve Problems of Southern Border Provinces.
Originally, the operational centre was headed by Deputy Prime Minister Yutthasak Sasiprapa by virtue of the Cabinet’s decision on last May 1. But since General Yutthasak was dropped from the Cabinet in the latest Cabinet reshuffle, the centre was restructured with Prime Minister Yingluck taking the charge with the help of four Cabinet ministers designated to oversee three key affairs.
Defence Minister Sukumpol Suwantat is in charge of security affairs. Deputy Prime Minister Chalerm Yubamrung and Interior Minister Charupong Ruangsuwan are in charge of development whereas Deputy Prime Minister and Education Minister Pongthep Thepkanchana are in charge of legal and justice affairs.
The operational centre’s key role is to serve as the centre to coordinate the works between 17 ministries and 66 governmental agencies on the one hand with the two field units namely the forward command of the Internal Security Operations Centre and the Southern Border Provinces Administration Centre (SBPAC) in the implementation of policy and strategy to resolve problems in the restive deep south.
Critics however pointed out that the SBPAC Act which was promulgated by the Democrat-led government might pose an obstacle to the new operational centre as the law empowered the SBPAC as the leading organization to resolve problems in the far south.
The operational centre led by the prime minister but is yet to be supported by a law may be deemed a violation of the SBPAC Act, said the critics.
Under the new restructure, there are five key tasks namely security which is to be undertaken by Isoc; development to be undertaken by SBPAC; legal and justice affairs to be undertaken by the Justice Ministry and related agencies; promotion of better understanding to be undertaken by the Foreign Ministry and coordination to be undertaken by the National Security Council.
Justice deputy permanent secretary Charnchao Chaiyanukit told Isra news agency that the new organizational structure represents a new approach by the government will would hopefully solve the coordination problem.
In the meantime, the mini Cabinet headed by the prime minister resolved on November 30 to extend the enforcement of Internal Security Act for another year in Jana, Thepa, Sabayoi and Na Thawee districts of Songkhla and Mae Larn district of Pattani.
Defence Minister Sukumpol said that emergency decree would remain unchanged despite calls from the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation and civic groups for its lifting.
Army Commander-in-Chief General Prayuth Chan-ocha said that it was easy to lift the emergency decree but it was difficult to reintroduce the law. He said that the law is still necessary as it help facilitate the work of the police in their investigation of security-related cases.
However, he indicated that once the situation has shown sign of improvement, emergency decree might be lifted and replaced by the ISA.