Sadao: a booming frontier town
"Have you ever seen any small village where there are 11 7-Eleven convenience stores, one McDonald hamburger outlet, six discotheques and dozens of hotels of different sizes?" asked Charas Mudlia, kamnan of Tambon Samnak Kham, Sadao district of Songkhla.
The disgruntled local official appeared annoyed when he talked about the inclusion of Sadao district in the Ramandan ceasefire plan announced recently in Kuala Lumpur by Malaysia.
"It (Sadao’s inclusion) amounts to throwing excrement at the people of Sadao. We have been living here peacefully and have nothing to do with the unrest problem in the Deep South. Then one day we were classified as a danger zone which is very demoralizing," said Charas.
He said that Sadao district is a very important economic and tourism hub generating up to 500 billion baht revenue a year. He claimed that on any normal day between 6,000-8,000 tourists, most of them from Malaysia, visit Sadao and the number will increase to 15,000 during festive season.
A clear sign of economic prosperity is that the price of land in the district has gone skyward with a small shophouse can fetch up to 15 million baht.
With 30 years in service as a kamnan, Charas said that there has never been a single case of bombing in the district. Putting Sadao into the same status as Yala, Pattani and Narathiwat will break the tourism business in the district.
Charas’ view was shared by quite a few people in the district. A trader who declined to be identified said he suspected the inclusion of Sadao in the ceasefire plan was an attempt to undermine the profitable tourism industry.
Earlier, Army Commander-in-Chief General Prayuth Chan-ocha voiced strong objection to the inclusion of Sadao in the ceasefire plan saying that it was the unilateral announcement of the Barisan Revolusi Nasional separatist group.