Updated: Yingluck, Prayuth and the south

2 04 2012

PPT happened to be going through editions of the Bangkok Post from a week ago, and came across this article, which may be considered to carry some import for events in the south. We post some parts of the article but we don’t comment as we don’t know the south:

Army chief Prayuth Chan-ocha and Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra seem to be getting along with each other very well on the surface with no conflicts that could possibly derail efforts toward reconciliation. But that does not necessarily mean the two see eye to eye on everything.

The reality is that the army commander is not happy with Ms Yingluck and her government in their new effort to end the violence in the far South.

Gen Prayuth has never shied away from voicing his opposition to the idea of setting up a special administrative zone called Pattani Maha Nakhon in the three southernmost provinces which was promised by the Pheu Thai Party during its election campaign.

Deputy Prime Minister Yutthasak Sasiprapa also tabled it in talks with the National Security Council (NSC).

The army chief strongly objected to the move, saying the proposal was sensitive and it did not serve the needs of southerners. His preference is clear that he wants to use existing mechanisms to solve the problem.

Another issue which annoys Gen Prayuth is the prime minister giving Thawee Sodsong, secretary-general of the Southern Border Provinces Administrative Centre (SBPAC) sole responsibility to hold informal talks with separatist leaders….

In the eyes of the army chief, the plan [for a special administrative zone] could be a desire by Thaksin [Shinawatra] to find a new way to solve the problem as the army has made no progress over the past eight years….

[But] there is no guarantee that peace and stability will be restored if the special administrative zone is set up because Pol Col Thawee contacted only the Barisan Revolusi Nasional (BRN). In reality there are more factions in the border region including the BRN Coordinate.

The point which upset Gen Prayuth the most was the government bypassing him by putting Pol Col Thawee in charge of the initiative, despite the fact that the army is the main force in tackling the southern problem….

Pol Col Thawee had also crossed the border to talk with Malaysian agencies. A team of police and his staff also talked to Thai workers at Thai restaurants in Malaysia using a secret budget to gain information. That led to the next step of starting talks with key insurgent figures who demanded the special administrative zone, the source said. “That’s why the government tried to push this issue. But the army opposed it,” the source added….

“The army will not surrender an inch of Thai soil in the three southern provinces,” the source said.

What the government is doing raises questions over Thaksin’s motive in the three southernmost provinces.

And it could underline Gen Prayuth’s suspicions about the sincerity of Thaksin, the Pheu Thai-led government and the prime minister, as the army leader is not sure what the government will do with the army and the country….

Update: And there is more worth considering in a more recent report:

Army chief Prayuth Chan-ocha believes entering dialogue with only certain militant groups might have been the reason behind the devastating bomb blasts in Yala and Songkhla on Saturday.

Gen Prayuth did not rule out the possibility of informal talks with insurgents, but said leaving any out of the loop would intensify the violence.

“[Informal] talks are not wrong, but if you do not talk with all of [the insurgents], violence will happen,” he said.

“Each insurgent faction is vying to become the core faction of the southern insurgents by instigating violence to show their capabilities and their leadership and to attract other groups to join them.”

Gen Prayuth has told Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra there are several insurgent factions, including drug trafficking gangs and contraband gangs. Even separatists have several factions….



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