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Critics Blast 'Political' Command Centre Plan
Source: http://www.bangkokpost.com/news/local/305699/critics-blast-political-command-centre-plan
Source Date: Friday, August 03, 2012
Focus: Institution and HR Management
Country: Thailand
Created: Aug 02, 2012

Critics have slammed Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra's plan to establish a new permanent command centre to quell violence in the deep South.

They claim that the proposed set-up of the centre is for nothing more than political gain.

The plan, which was announced on Tuesday, the same day a powerful car bomb struck near the CS Pattani Hotel in Muang district, is facing a barrage of criticism from university academics, Muslim leaders and members of the opposition Democrat Party.

The new centre, comprising all the related security agencies, will be established in Bangkok. The Internal Security Operation Command will serve as a key unit in the centre. Deputy Prime Minister Yutthasak Sasiprapa, who will oversee the centre with two other deputies, Chalerm Yubamrung and Yongyuth Wichaidit, will next Wednesday meet with the security agencies to discuss the centre's structure and its framework.

Srisompob Jitpiromsri, director of the Centre of Conflict Studies and Cultural Diversity at Prince of Songkla University, Pattani campus, told the Bangkok Post that he did not see a need to set up the centre because the country has existing security agencies to deal with the southern problem and they function well.

Mr Srisompob believed the prime minister and the Pheu Thai-led government are pushing the matter to make it appear to the public that they are paying close attention to the problem.

"In terms of politics it [the plan] is necessary as it is a tool for politicians to seek political gain," he said.

Instead of establishing the centre, he said, the prime minister should travel to the deep South to obtain first-hand information from both local residents and state agents to improve her understanding of the problems and help guide state officials to solve them.

Yutthaporn Isarachai, a political sciences lecturer at Sukhothai Thammathirat University, said there would be overlapping responsibilities between the new centre in Bangkok and the Southern Border Provinces Administration Centre (SBPAC) in the southern region.

Mr Yutthaporn said the new centre in Bangkok will centralise power into the hands of one man meaning that local officials will find it more difficult to solve the southern problems.

Mr Yutthaporn suggested the government pay more attention to civic institutions and help them set up a culture council to deal with the violence in the Muslim-dominated provinces of Narathiwat, Pattani and Yala.

Waedueramae Mamingji, chairman of the Pattani Provincial Islamic Committee, also disagreed with the proposed command centre describing it as an unsustainable waste of taxpayers' money.

He said state agencies from the police force, the military and the local administration in the area have performed their duties well, though sometimes they lacked unity.

"Will the unrest in the deep South lessen if the new centre is established? Who will guarantee that?" Mr Waedueramae said.

Nakhon Si Thammarat Democrat MP Thepthai Senpong said the SBPAC works well with southern residents, so the government should not set up the centre to overlap with the SBPAC's work.
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