WASSANA NANUAM ABDULLOH
Statesman and Privy Council chairman Gen Prem Tinsulanonda will
today join together with public organisations in the restive far
South to declare their intention to fight the insurgency in a
bid to bring back peace to the region. The statesman, together
with former deputy prime minister Gen Chavalit Yongchaiyudh and
Defence Minister Gen Thammarak Isarangkura na Ayudhaya and 80
public organisations in Yala, Pattani and Narathiwat provinces,
will announce their strategy to restore peace today.
ceremony will be held in Pattani, one of the main targets of the
insurgency, today and broadcast live on Channel 5.
initiative has been well received by Islamic leaders and local
people as Gen Prem is credited for his success in driving out
communism. His administration issued the so-called Prime Minister's
Office's No. 66/23, a policy putting political before military
means to end the communist threat in the 1980s. Under the order,
those who had joined the communist insurgents at the time, including
students, were pardoned and integrated back into mainstream society.
source said Gen Chavalit, who now heads the government's poverty
eradication campaign and the Internal Security Operations Command
(Isoc), is a coordinator for the ceremony.
Gen Chavalit has contacted more than 80 public organisations to
join the event.
Chavalit visited Pattani yesterday to check on preparations for
the event at the auditorium of the provincial administrative organisation
office, the venue for the ceremony. He stayed overnight in the
Chavalit, who recently emerged from political retirement to take
charge of the Isoc, wants to forge patriotism among people in
the deep South.
source said it would be the first time Gen Prem, a former army
chief, had officially visited the deep South since violence flared
up in the region on Jan 4, 2004. Over the past years, the statesman
has accompanied Her Majesty the Queen on her annual retreat at
Taksin Ratchanives Palace in Narathiwat.
Prem, the source said, is highly respected and his presence in
the region represents the monarchy. He has expressed grave concern
over the southern security tension which has continued unabated
despite government attempts to quell it.
and his working group have studied the violence and worked out
guidelines to end the problem, emphasising rebuilding peace. The
source said Gen Prem's working group comprised experienced people
who used to handle community relations work under the statesman
and Gen Chavalit.
source said the two generals had met three or four times to discuss
measures to douse the southern fire before coming up with the
idea of declaring an intention to fight the insurgency.
Gen Prem would lead a ceremony where participants would swear
an oath to help restore peace to the troubled region.
Somkwan Saengpattaranet, spokesman of the Southern Border Provinces
Peace-building Command, said he expected today's mass gathering
in Pattani to attract more than 3,000 people.
Gen Thammarak and Gen Chavalit are to oversee the final preparations
for the gathering. Gen Thammarak said he would create ''peace
villages'' along the Thai-Malaysian border to filter out any insurgent
sympathisers. The military offensive strategy against the insurgents
would also be overhauled.
Mamingji, chairman of the Pattani Islamic Committee, said Gen
Prem's role in easing the southern mayhem was long overdue. He
was a highly experienced man who had successfully fought off communism
and stopped southern separatist infiltration in the past.
gentle and unassuming and is cut out for the peace-building task.
He's also well-respected and with him leading the way, the situation
in the deep South will take a turn for the better,'' he said..