Chalerm springs surprise sojourn
Deputy Prime Minister Chalerm Yubamrung, who is in charge of security operations in the deep South, yesterday made a surprise first visit to the violence-plagued region.
- Published: 12/04/2013 at 12:00 AM
- Newspaper section: news
His visit came on the heels of a series of attacks in Pattani on Wednesday night, and mounting criticism that he had not yet set foot in the far South.
Mr Chalerm said he made the trip because Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra told him to come to reassure residents the government would not deal with the insurgency with excessive force.
He was speaking before attending a briefing at the Internal Security Operations Command's (Isoc) Region 4 Office in Pattani's Yarang district yesterday afternoon.
The visit to the far South marked Mr Chalerm's first since he was appointed by the prime minister to oversee security operations in the region late last year.
"The opposition has been nagging me for five months [for not visiting]. The Democrats have no idea how much of a burden is added to the authorities any time a deputy prime minister visits the region," said Mr Chalerm, who spent the night in Pattani.
National Security Council secretary-general Lt Gen Paradorn Pattanatabut, meanwhile, insisted further peace talks with the southern insurgent groups set for April 29 would still go ahead.
Concerns have been raised over whether the talks would happen given that Malaysia's election will take place on May 5.
Attacks by insurgents in the region have carried on unabated since the government opened talks with the insurgent groups on Feb 28.
Isoc Region 4 yesterday concluded that attacks on Wednesday night, which included tyre burnings and bomb blasts, were carried out in 35 locations across eight of Pattani's 12 districts. A spray-painted sign reading: "Negotiations are just lies. Pattani will become independent" was visible on the road surface along the seaside route between Panare and Sai Buri ahead of the attacks.
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- Writer: Wassana Nanuam, Abdulloh Benjakat & Waedao Harai