No Hope for Peace in the Deep South
I looked at the monitor of my computer to glance through the news stories from the troubled Deep South in the past two months and found out that there were several violent incidents which caused serious loss of lives and properties.
Yet none of these incidents have raised the eyebrows of the government and senior government officials. Or they were ever mentioned by them.
It seems that the last violent incident which captured the attention of the country was the killing of Pol Sub-Lt Shane Warongpaisit, aka Dab Shane, the famous officer from the police’s explosive ordnance disposal unit, and two of his colleagues in a bomb explosion in Bacho district of Narathiwat on October 28.
But that tragic incident has not caused any concern within the government especially regarding the livelihood of the EOD officers and the lack of necessary equipments which will help save their lives or reduce the risks involved in the profession.
The only officer who is really concerned with the plight of the EOD staffers appears to be Pol Col Thawee Sodsong, secretary-general of the Southern Border Provinces Administration Centre, who regularly visits the officers and takes care of them.
The government and the parliament were at the time too busy with amending the amnesty bill to whitewash fugitive former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra of all wrongdoings and, therefore, had no time to pay attention to the problem in the Deep South.
The peace talks between the government and the Barisan Revolusi Nasional which began on February 28 have bogged down since the last meeting in Kuala Lumpur on June 13. It is unknown when it will ever be resumed.
The lack of any progress about the peace talks prompted Datuk Seri Ahmad Zamzamin Hazim in his capacity as the facilitator of the talks paid a visit to Deputy Prime Minister Pracha Promnok in November reportedly to ask whether the peace talks are still on or off. The new round of talks was scheduled in December and, again, it was postponed by Lt-Gen Paradorn Patthanathabut, the chief negotiator of the Thai side, citing internal political problem.
In early December, Hassan Taib, the chief negotiator of the BRN, issued a statement on the social media demanding that the parliament endorses its five-point demand as a national agenda. Shortly afterward, the BRN council announced it would not enter the peace talks.
Surprisingly, the BRN’s announcement did not cause any stir within the government.
Against the backdrop of the bogdown in peace talks, violence escalated. In one major incident, five crab hunters were shot dead in Nong Chik district of Pattani. It was followed by several shooting and bombing incidents which left one six-year old girl dead and one two-year old boy seriously injured.
Then on December 22, three bombs exploded in Sadao district of Songkhla, a peaceful bustling boom town which had never experienced such incident before. It was found out later that the pick-up truck used as a car bomb was stolen from the crab hunters in Pattani.
Also a car bomb was discovered and defused in Phuket before it was set to go off on August 1 – the same day that an explosion occurred beside the provincial administration organization.
The discovery of the car bomb in Phuket has raised a big question mark about the capability of the separatists to operate out of the three southernmost provinces.
The above-mentioned incidents and happenings and the government’s apathy towards them are a clear sign of the government’s indifference towards the unrest problem with the exception that the problem was occasionally capitalized for political gains. Or some agencies have benefited from the huge budgets allocated to the region.
Hence, it is not surprising why the southern unrest problem has not been resolved for over a decade to the extent that more and more people are asking whether we will lose the three southernmost provinces to the separatists in the end.
Note : This article was translated from the editorial of Isra News Center "สิ้นหวังดับไฟใต้...ไม่เคยเป็นแม้วาระแห่งชาติ" http://bit.ly/1d4P6fH
Caption : Three bombs exploded in Sadao district of Songkhla on December 22.