Professor Suchit: There is hope in the deep South
Decentralization and empowerment of local communities can help ease – if not resolve – the unrest problem in the deep South, said Professor Dr Suchit Boonbongkarn, a wellknown poltical scientist and chair of the Political Development Council, said in his special lecture at a recent seminar held at Ratchabhat University in Yala province.
He believes that decentralization must be done in parallel with the empowerment of local communities to make them stronger and the two-pronged approach may help resolve the southern conflicts.
In theory at least, the professor said that local administrative bodies such as Or Bor Tor (Tambon Administrative Organisation) and Or Bor Jor (Provincial Administrative Organisation) will be more accommodating to the wishes and aspirations of the local people whereas, on the other hand, the people will have greater access to these local bodies.
However in reality, he noted that the officials working at Or Bor Tor or Or Bor Jor might not be close to the people or might not satisfactorily respond to their wishes. He suggested that this problem has to be rectified.
The professor believes that the local people are well aware of the problems they are facing and, therefore, they should be a part of problems solving which means their voices must be heard and heeded.
As for decentralization, Professor Suchit noted that efforts in the past 30-40 years to implement decentralization in the restive deep South have encountered several problems and not been successful.
But this must not mean that the concept of decentralization must be dumped, he said and suggested that local administrative organizations must be overhauled to make them more efficient, transparent and accountable. These things can happen only with public participation so that they have a role in solving their local problems, he added.
He believes the local people are capable of checking the performance of the local administrative organizations than the other people because they are right there in the hot spots and are familiar with the problems.
The professor also suggested better cooperation and coordination among the central, regional and local administrative organizations for the benefits of the local people in the deep South.
Besides decentralization and empowerment of the local people, Professor Suchit also pointed out another important issue – that is to instill public awareness among the local people to resist patronage system and exploitation by politicians.
“I don’t want to see members of the Or Bor Jor or Or Bor Tor to behave like the MPs. That is once they were elected into the offices, they will just disappear and never show up to meet the people and to tend to their problems. Therefore, the people must help themselves. If there is a sense of awareness that they are the owners of the communities and the citizens of the country, the people from the government sector and the provincial sector will come to see the people,” said the professor.
The unrest in the deep South is not a hopeless case, he said, citing especially the women’s movements which have been quite strong.
Thanks : The photo from internet