Say insurgents' fight against Friday trading is hurting far South
A campaign by insurgents to stop trading on Fridays in the mainly Muslim region would severely hurt the economy and life of people in the far South, business chambers in the region said yesterday. They urged the government to quickly solve the problem.
Shops and business activities have increasingly stopped on each Friday after threats made against entrepreneurs by the secretive movement.
To stop operations for one day a week may not harm big companies greatly but small and mid-sized enterprises were seriously damaged as their incomes were sharply reduced, an adviser to Narathiwat Chamber of Commerce, Panya Aungsakul said.
Insurgents spread a threatening rumour recently that they would attack any shops in the region that stay open on Fridays. Friday is considered a holy day for Muslims, when they must concentrate on religious activities rather than business, according to anecdotal accounts spreading locally.
Noppong Theeravorn, chairman of Yala Chamber of Commerce, said authorities should step up security measures to protect traders in the region as they were now doing business in a climate of fear.
“The government should not just simply urge them to operate as usual on Friday without any measure to protect them,” he said. “No trader would have confidence in the situation if they trade on Friday. The economy is now seriously affected by this threat.”
Authorities have struggled to maintain peace in the deep South since a spate of violence erupted in early 2004, claiming more than 5000 lives. An attack occurred on Saturday when suspected insurgents launched M-79 grenades into a trade fair in Narathiwat’s Bajoh district, injuring some 23 people. The fair, which ends today, was quiet yesterday as traders and customers feared trouble. Many people preferred to leave the fair early.
In neighbouring Yala province, a woman, Chadarat In-iem, aged 27, was injured in a gun attack while riding a motorbike back from a market in Than To district.
Apan Bunrak, 42, and Suriya Aree, 30, were also injured in an another gun attack in Bannang Sata.
In Raman district there was an explosion at a Dtac phone tower. The blast did not damage the tower but two Malaysian national flags were found hanging there.
In Krong Pinang in Yala, Yaowaman Sukakern, 49, and her daughter Pattaya, 29, were injured after an attack by an unknown gunman as they rode a motorbike back from a funeral in another district nearby.