The other side of story about Pattani
By the News Desk
The abrupt transfer of Pol Colonel Manas Siksamat, superintendent of Pattani Muang district police, to an inactive post at the operations centre of the southern provincial police on April 27 has caused widespread criticism not just in Pattani province but also in Bangkok.
Several critics have observed that the abrupt transfer of Pol Col Manas might not just stem from a grenade attack on the Muang district police station and a subsequent car bomb explosion nearby on April 21 which left one police officer dead and more than 70 injured. There might be other reasons which prompted the transfer.
The only reason cited in the transfer order issued by Pol Lt-Gen Phira Poompichet, commissioner of the operations centre of the southern provincial police bureau, was that the victim had failed in his performance of duty by allowing the police station to be attacked four times in the past two years.
The first bomb attack occurred on May 17, 2008, when suspected militants detonated a motorcycle rigged with explosives in front the Pattani Muang district police station. One police officer was killed and five other policemen and civilians were wounded.
The second incident took place on July 15 of the same year when explosive device stuffed in a trash bin near the entrance to the car park of the police station exploded. Four police officers and a civilian were injured.
The third incident occurred on September 29 of the same year when a motorcycle bomb was detonated at a car park next to the police station. Three police officers were injured, including the supprerssion inspector.
The latest bomb attack occurred on April 21 this year when a suspected militant, riding on the pillion of a motorcycle, lobbed a hand grenade into a group of policemen as they were gathering on the station’s courtyard for the 8 a.m. flag hoisting ceremony. Two hours afterward, a car bomb went off less than 100 metres from the police station.
Given the record of bomb attacks against the police station in question, critics have pointed out that Pol Col Manas should have been transferred in 2008 following three bomb attacks in the year had the latest bombing incidents been the real reason for his abrupt removal. It should be noted that on March 15, 2008, a huge car bomb exploded in front of the CS Hotel in Pattani killing and wounding several people. Surprisingly, he was spared the axe.
Could it be possible that the transfer has something to do with the working relationship between Pol Col Manas and the incumbent provincial police chief, Pol Maj-Gen Pichet Pitisetthapan, who has assumed the current post since last September.
In the past 7-8 months, Pattani has emerged as the most violence-prone province of the three southernmost provinces. Of the 47 violent incidents recorded in March this year throughout the three provinces plus four districts of Songkhla province, 22 took place in Pattani, including seven in Muang district alone. Also during October-November last year, 26 out of a total of 37 violent cases were in Pattani.
It is an open secret that in Pattani, the police tend to operate independently and without coordinating with the military. This is completely different from the police in Yala and Narathiwat where joint operations between the police and the military in dealing with suspected militants have always been the norm. This may explain why there has been a sudden surge of violent incidents in Pattani.
Despite the violence, Pattani especially Muang district boasts the most promising economic potential: it has a university, the Pattani campus of Prince of Songkhla university, the biggest port plus an educational-cum-hotel complex which is now under construction.
Unknown to most outsiders, Pattani also boasts a busy night life complete with pubs, bars and karaoke houses and a bustling underground soccer betting business allegedly with a police officer as an operator. Thus, the sources of tea money and police bribery.
Could it be possible that the latest car bomb was actually intended to render the powers-that-be a rough wakening so that some sort of action will be taken to clean up the image of the police force in Pattani.
Caption : Car bomb attack near the Muang district police station in Pattani province on April 21 this year