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Thai PM meets with local religious leaders in deep South

Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra on Sunday pledged to bring the peace to Thailand’s troubled southern region and instructed security-related agencies to work in a more integrated direction in tackling the problems.

Boris Sullivan

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Thailand’s three southern-most provinces

Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra on Sunday pledged to bring the peace to Thailand’s troubled southern region and instructed security-related agencies to work in a more integrated direction in tackling the problems.

While meeting with local religious leaders from the five southern border provinces and community leaders during Sunday’s trip to the southern province of Pattani, Ms Yingluck said that the visit was aimed at following up the situation in the region and delivering policies to resolve the ongoing disturbances.

The prime minister also affirmed to bring peace to the southern border provinces, adding that the government would step up security measures as well as support and give importance to all regions equally.

Thailand’s three southern-most provinces

Thailand’s three southern-most provinces are host to a non-international armed conflict, based on the intensity and duration of hostilities there, as well as the existence of organized groups of insurgents.

Meanwhile, the local religious leaders asked the premier to visit the far South continually and to not neglect southern border residents.

After being briefed about the ongoing situation in the violence-plagued provinces by local security agencies, Ms Yingluck said that the government needed cooperation from all relevant parties and local religious leaders.

To tackle regional unrest, the premier stressed that the government would follow the security-related strategy delivered to the Parliament which focused on understanding, access, and development, along with the sufficiency economy principles, as well as equality.

As there are 66 agencies under 17 ministries working on the southern violence, Ms Yingluck admitted that work of the agencies lacked coordination.

The country is home to about eight million Muslims, out of the population of more than 60 million.

However, the premier pledged to urge concerned officials to work in a more integrated manner for unity in resolving the problems, adding that a strategic committee, supervised by deputy premier Gen Yuthasak Sasiprapa, would be set up to address the problems.

To ensure safety for residents in the restive southern provinces, more checkpoints would be set up, Ms Yingluck said, adding that the government would support if the budgets or security forces were not sufficient.

Regarding possible lifting of the emergency decree enforced in the three southern border provinces of Yala, Pattani and Narathiwat, a discussion was necessary regarding whether or not the decree should be revoked, the premier explained.

via PM vows to bring peace to deep South.

Local Religious Leaders Encouraged to Help Ease Unrest in the Deep South

Local religious leaders in the southern border provinces have been urged to help ease unrest and tackle problems in the deep South.Secretary-General of the Southern Border Provinces Administrative Center, Police Colonel Tawee Sodsong, stressed the important role of spiritual leaders in creating better understanding between local residents and officials in the South.
He recently met 200 Muslim leaders, teachers, and school administrators in a brainstorming session to deal with southern problems. In the meeting, the Secretary-General cited misunderstanding between officials and local people as one of the root causes of the southern unrest. Better understanding about the local way of life and culture must be promoted.

Muslims of Malay descent are concentrated in the southernmost provinces of Pattani, Yala, Narathiwat, Satun, and some districts of Songkhla.

For this reason, the religious dimension should be emphasized in handling the southern situation.
In this regard, more forums would be held for religious leaders to meet and seek ways to ease the unrest and develop the southern region.Police Colonel Tawee stated that the Government has a policy to create lasting peace in the southern border provinces, and it gives priority to ensuring the safety of local residents. In particular, it supports the Hajj pilgrimage and provides pilgrims with various services during the Hajj observance in Mecca, Saudi Arabia, each year.

Islam is the second-largest faith in Thailand.

Muslim Thais enjoy full state support and are free to teach and practice their religion. The Government has provided financial assistance to Islamic education institutions and the construction of some larger mosques. The funding of pilgrimages by Muslim Thais to Mecca is also included in the links between the government and the Muslim community. The Thai government in 2009 established a Hajj affairs section at the Royal Thai Consulate-General in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, to facilitate the travel of Muslim Thais to Mecca for the Hajj pilgrimage.

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