Thailand is upset with the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation’s (OIC) resolution that the kingdom has made little progress in addressing unrest in the deep South.
The country’s position was stated publicly yesterday by Vice Foreign Minister Jullapong Nonsrichai, who attended the OIC foreign ministers’ meeting in Djibouti on Nov 15-17 as an observer.
He said Thailand felt disappointed with the OIC secretary office’s use of the word “meagre” to describe the lack of progress in the Thai government’s efforts to resolve the southern conflict.
Foreign Minister Surapong Tovichakchaikul will send a letter to OIC Secretary-General Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu to reaffirm the country’s intentions to cooperate with the OIC in seeking a lasting peace in the southern provinces.
The letter will be presented by deputy permanent secretary Vijavat Isarabhakdi today to Mr Ihsanoglu during the secretary-general’s stopover at Suvarnabhumi airport on his way to Brunei. The vice foreign minister suggested the language used by the OIC could affect the kingdom’s ability to work with the Islamic organisation.
“If the OIC wants to continue cooperating with Thailand, it should realise the fact that Thailand has made a lot of progress in the South. Otherwise we might not cooperate with it in the future,” said Mr Jullapong.
The OIC resolution said Thailand has made little progress in solving the southern problem since the organisation and the kingdom issued a joint statement expressing the intention to cooperate on the issue five years ago.
The OIC also expressed its disapproval of the continued use of the emergency decree in the restive South and the limited progress in introducing the local Malayu language to classrooms in southern schools.
The organisation said the continued extensive military presence throughout the southern border provinces is having a negative impact on the population’s everyday life. It expressed concern that the government’s increasing reliance on “undisciplined” paramilitary personnel could aggravate the ongoing conflict in the region.
The OIC called on the Thai government to hold talks with Muslim leaders to find a solution that guarantees the legitimate rights of the Islamic communities of southern Thailand.
Mr Jullapong said the Thai government was ready to lift the emergency decree in some southern areas if the situation improved, he said.
Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra will today chair a security cabinet meeting to discuss the proposed extension of the Internal Security Act (ISA) in four districts of Songkhla and Mae Lan district in Pattani as the enforcement of the ISA in these areas is due to end today.
The ISA is seen as a less draconian act than the emergency decree, which permits the military or police to hold suspects without charge in locations other than prisons for up to 30 days.
The districts of Na Thawee, Saba Yoi, Thepha and Chana and Mae Lan in Pattani are under the ISA; the rest of the troubled region is under the emergency decree.
Meanwhile, Defence Minister Sukumpol Suwanatat yesterday said the prime minister had signed an order on Wednesday appointing him to oversee security affairs in the South.
The Confederation of Teachers of Southern Border Provinces announced yesterday that all 332 schools in Pattani that had been shuttered by the group due to security concerns are likely to reopen next week.
The move came after authorities and the confederation came to an agreement on proposed security measures for teachers.
The schools were shut after the fatal shooting of the director of Tha Kam Sam School in Nong Chik district on Nov 22.
Meanwhile, a building at Bang Maruat School in Panare district of Pattani province was burned down early yesterday morning, causing the loss of 20 desktop computers, 80 new tablet computers and other teaching equipment.
Eight classrooms, a computer room and an administration office were destroyed.
It was the third time the school’s building has been torched. Previous attacks caused only partial damage.