Yingluck joins campaign over Friday trade

Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra has joined a campaign to bolster sagging confidence among traders in the deep South and stop businesses closing on Friday under threats by insurgents.

The prime minister has set up a hotline - telephone number 1890 - for vendors and businessmen who need help and protection while trading on Friday, government spokesman Sansanee Nakpong said on Thursday.

Officials in Narathiwat, Pattani, Yala and Songkhla provinces on Thursday launched activities to convince traders and vendors to shrug off the threats.

In Pattani, the Southern Border Provinces Administrative Centre, the provincial governor and other officials visited markets in the main town and distributed leaflets issued by the Chularatchamontree which explain that working on Friday is not against Islamic principles.

The governors of neighbouring Narathiwat and Yala held talks with security authorities to ensure safety and encourage traders to continue working on Friday.
The Advisory Council for Peace Building in the Southern Border Provinces discussed the issue with the Internal Security Operations Command and other agencies in Songkhla.

Aziz Benhawan, chairman of the council, said the meeting was to prepare measures to protect businesses when they open on Friday.

In Bangkok, Army chief Gen Prayuth Chan-ocha urged soldiers and other authorities in the southern provinces to work harder to bring confidence back to southern residents.

He urged business operators to leave behind their fears and open their doors as usual instead of being intimidated by the insurgents.

The move came after most shops and fresh markets in the three provinces and four Muslim-dominated districts of Songkhla closed last Friday for fear of attacks by insurgents.

A vendor at the Pattani fresh market reads a leaflet to resume business on Friday. (Photo by Parez Lohasant)

But the campaigns cannot spur confidence for all traders in the restive region.

Rattanawadi Den-udom, a fruit vendor at the wet market in Muang district, Pattani, said she had no confidence in doing business on Friday and called for better security measures from officials to guarantee their safety.

She said she did not mind halting trade on Fridays until she felt confidence about her safety.

Sunee Kong-eiang, a vegetable retailer in Thepha district in Songkhla, said she preferred working on Friday but it would not be possible if wholesalers suspended their trading and she could not get produce.

Hameda Benrahim, the owner of Cat Fashion in Narathiwat, decided to keep her shop closed until she regained full confidence that her business is safe.

"I still don't know how the government will solve this problem and help us," she said.

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