Abhisit: Get serious about the far South

Opposition leader Abhisit Vejjajiva said after visiting Pattani on Monday that the government needed to be more serious about tackling the continuing violence in the far South.

Democrat Party leader Abhisit Vejjajiva inspects a damaged building in Pattani on Aug 6, 2012. (From Abhisit's Facebook)

Mr Abhisit said he met police and villagers in the region and took note of their problems.

He said the police told him that they did not have enough personnel and equipment and they could not proceed with many cases because people were scared to be witnesses. 

The villagers, meanwhile, complained about drugs spreading in their communities, he said.

"The government's policy is unclear and is confusing for the officers responsible for operations," the Democrat Party leader said.

He said the local people did not see acting police chief Adul Sangsingkaew's idea of downsizing the Southern Border Provinces Administrative Centre (SBPAC) and merging it with the Internal Security Operations Command (Isoc) as a new scheme. Pol Gen Adul's idea would put things back to where they were four years ago.

The former premier called on Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra to clearly delegate security-related tasks if she did not want to take on this responsibility.

"Ms Yingluck has to clearly assign a deputy prime minister to oversee the issue and she cannot let all three of her deputies be in charge because it will result in confusion," Mr Abhisit said.

AFP Photo

Meanwhile, the government's SBPAC is giving out 7,000 boxes of dates to people suffering as a result of the unrest in the far South.

SBPAC deputy secretary general Pramuk Lamun said the fruit is being given out to both Muslims and Buddhists in the far South to raise their morale. 

About 7,000 people in the three southern border provinces of Narathiwat, Pattani and Yala and four districts of Songkhla who have registered with the SBPAC can collect their box of dates at district offices, relief centres and from village heads, he said. 

Boxes of dates will also be distributed to prisoners in southern prisons on Tuesday, he added.

Last month, 85 violent incidents were recorded in the far South, leaving 42 people dead and 96 others injured, according to Deep South Watch, an independent organisation monitoring the conflict.

More than 5,000 people have been killed and over 9,000 hurt in more than 11,000 incidents, or about 3.5 a day, in the three southernmost provinces and the four districts of Songkhla since the violence erupted afresh in January 2004, according to Deep South Watch.

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