Prem disagrees with proposed use of Malay as official language
Pattani — President of the Privy Council General Prem Tinsulanonda Sunday said he disagreed with a suggestion made by the now defunct National Reconciliation Commission (NRC) to have Malay as an additional working language in the deep South.
"We cannot accept that [proposal] as we are Thai. The country is Thai and the language is Thai. So we have to make efforts to learn Thai and [everyone should have a uniform] command with the rest of the Kingdom," he said.
Prem who was the architects of a anti-violent policy in the South during his term as prime minister from 1980 to 1988, was in Pattani Sunday to meet religious and community leaders as well as Muslim youths as part of a programme to bring peace to the area.
"We have to be proud to be Thai and have the Thai language as the sole national language," Prem told locals at the gathering.
The NRC, chaired by former prime minister Anand Panyarachun, had proposed in its final report that was submitted to government on June 5 that using Malay as a working language could help to reconcile people in the region, the majority of whom are ethnic Malay.
The commission also proposed that the army to install an "unarmed unit" to use peaceful methods to contain violence and pursue "dialogue" with militants that had sparked a wave of violence since the start of 2004.
Thaksin Shinawatra's government vowed to adopt many of the NRC proposals but has not yet move to seriously implement any so far.
Violence has erupted in the restive South almost on daily basis and more than 1,200 people have perished over the past two years and a half.
Fresh outbreaks in Narathiwat's Bacho district Sunday saw a bomb explode at a roadside.
The attack was aiming at striking a group of six marines on motorcycle patrol.
The blast missed its target as it went off 100 meters away away from the marines.
Meanwhile, intelligence units in Yala circulated a warning to security officials about a possible bomb attack this week at Narathiwat's airport and at Hat Yai, the financial centre of the South.