Chalerm appoints Wadah MPs as advisers on South
Deputy Prime Minister Chalerm Yoobamrung yesterday appointed nine advisers, aiming to solicit "fresh ideas" on how to quell the insurgency in the far South.
The advisers include Wan Muhamad Noor Matha, Areepen Utarasint and Najmuddin Uma, who are prominent Muslims from Pheu Thai Party's Wadah faction.
"These advisers are local Muslims and I have close ties with them, therefore I want to sound out their ideas," Chalerm said.
He said he would hold an informal meeting with the advisers next week. Later he might invite them to meet and talk with his panel members in charge of the strife-torn region.
The deputy prime minister said the government was on the right track with its counter-insurgency strategy.
Reacting to his appointment, Najmuddin said Chalerm offered him the job last week.
He said he would urge the government to do four things.
First, the authorities should engage in talks with the insurgents.
Second, officials in charge of administering the areas should be local people.
Third, the emergency situation should be revoked and security measures carried out under the Internal Security Act.
Fourth, enforcement of a curfew was deemed unacceptable.
Democrat MP Thaworn Senneam, meanwhile, said he blamed Chalerm for the worsening security situation.
Chalerm has neglected to visit the region and just relied on reports instead of learning the situation first-hand, he said.
He worried Chalerm had tried to politicise the issue by naming his Wadah advisers. Certain members of the Wadah faction were actually "cancerous cells" fuelling the insurgency, he said.
Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra said after a meeting with security agencies including Chalerm, Interior Minister Charupong Ruangsuwan and Defence Minister ACM Sukampol Suwannathat she urged the interior ministry to expedite development projects in the South.
National Security Council (NSC) chief Paradorn Pattanathabutr said five more districts in the South were ready for the Emergency Act to be replaced by the Internal Security Act (ISA). He did not say which districts would be included.
Nimu Magaje, a religious leader in Yala, said the idea of using Article 21 of the ISA was good, as it would give people a second chance. However, uncertainty about use of the laws could bring a reverse result if former insurgents thought they were deceived.
Meanwhile, a deputy village chief was shot dead, while another deputy village chief was shot and seriously injured, and a teacher shot in Kok Pho in Pattani.
Somsak Surasit, 44, the deputy village chief in Tambon Makrud, was shot twice in the head while riding a motorbike yesterday, as he came back from dropping his wife, a teacher, at a nearby school.
In Pattani's Mae Lan district, a deputy village chief identified as Abdulloh Salaeh, 27 was shot in the torso while riding his motorcycle to take a colleague to patrol a village. Two men riding pillion took his shotgun after shooting him. He was seriously injured.
In Kok Pho in Pattani, teacher Saman E-sor, 57, was driving his pick-up when a another pick-up overtook him and a hail of bullet was sprayed, causing his pick-up to skid off the road. Saman was seriously injured.