Chalerm asks Islamic leader to seek peace

Deputy Prime Minister Chalerm Yubamrung yesterday met Islamic spiritual leader Chularatchamontri Aziz Phitakkumpon to discuss ongoing violence in the South.

Speaking after the 30-minute meeting, Mr Chalerm, who has been assigned by the government to bring an end to the southern violence, said he had asked Mr Aziz to help relay the government's message regarding solutions to the southern conflict to people in the far South in Yawi _ the Malay dialect spoken by Muslims in the region.

The message will be taped and broadcast on the television channel run by the Southern Border Provinces Administration Centre (SBPAC).

Mr Chalerm said the government wants a peaceful end to the southern strife and to find ways to improve local livelihoods.

He said he will travel to Malaysia to seek Kuala Lumpur's help in dealing with a number of southern issues.

He will negotiate with Malaysia to arrange work permits for southerners, as a way for them to improve their lives and avoid getting roped into militant activities.

SBPAC director Pol Col Tawee Sodsong yesterday commented on the launch of the agency's television station, TV Malayu, a satellite television station financially supported by the state, which operates in Yala province to broadcast news in Malay.

Communicating with local residents in the local dialect is key to creating a better understanding between the state and residents, he said.

The station will serve as a public media source for locals in the far South, offering a wide range of news and information in Malay on education, religion, social issues and economics.

Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra said yesterday the government is taking steps to find solutions to the southern violence. She said ending the strife is a national priority.

She will assign agencies to consider what actions should be taken.

Gen Udomdej Sitabutr, army chief of staff and secretary-general of the Internal Security Operations Command (Isoc), said the army had not conveyed any messages on issues facing the South to Malaysia through Mr Chalerm.

The military would not interfere with the government's work, Gen Udomdej said.

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