Local residents in the southern border provinces have been urged to cooperate in resolving the southern situation for lasting peace and stability.
The call was made by Mr. Aziz Pitakkumphol, Sheikhul Islam, or the Chularajamontri (State Counselor for All Islamic Affairs), who cited cooperation among local people as a key factor to help ease southern conflicts and promote local development.
Mr. Aziz said that the authorities had received good cooperation from the public and private sectors, thus enabling it to be successful in developing the South to a certain extent.
He described the predominantly Muslim deep South as an area with great potential for further development. Local people have a distinctive culture different from the culture in other parts of Thailand. Unrest in the deep South causes an obstacle to local development. He said that successive governments have mobilized resources and funds to cope with the southern situation, based on cultural conditions and local way of life.
He had talked to several groups of school administrators in the southern border provinces to share their views on southern problems, especially concerning human resource development. Workplaces and business people providing support for education in the deep South, or employing local residents, would be able to have tax deductions for their support.
Mr. Aziz earlier suggested that the government improve education in the deep South, as it is a sustainable solution to the southern conflict. Many young people have been misled because of the lack of educational opportunities.
He said that the study of the Malay language has now been promoted in southern schools. Civil society organizations have been provided with greater opportunities in seeking ways to resolve the southern situation and promote local development.
Meanwhile, the President of the Civil Society Council of the Southern Border Provinces, Mr. Prasit Meksuwan, has issued a statement, expressing support for peace dialogues to end violence in the southern border provinces. The statement came after the recent signing of the General Consensus Document on Peace Dialogue between the Secretary-General of the National Security Council of Thailand, Lieutenant General Paradorn Pattanatabut, and the representative of the Barisan Revolusi Nasional Coordinate (BRN). It also called on all sectors of Thai society to show their intention to support the peace dialogue process.
In related news, Lieutenant General Paradorn will lead a delegation to hold the first round of dialogues with BRN on 28 March 2013 in Kuala Lumpur. The talks will be an initial effort to reduce the degree of violence in the deep South. They are seen as the best way forward for peace, as it would encourage greater understanding between all parties.