Speaking about efforts to deal with the southern situation, Head of the NCPO General Prayuth Chan-ocha stated that Malaysia would remain the facilitator for the peace dialogues. Case studies from foreign countries would also be considered.
He affirmed that improvements would be made on the handling of the southern situation, which would be approved by all parties concerned and depend on their cooperation. While Malaysia is applying the “win hearts and minds” approach, he said, Thailand still focuses on the adoption of His Majesty the King’s advice to “understand, reach out, and develop” as the central strategy to tackle problems in the southern border provinces.
According to General Prayuth, the NCPO has introduced organizational restructuring at three levels, so that all agencies involved will work in a more integrated manner. On the policy level, the NCPO Head serves as Director of the Internal Security Operations Command (ISOC) and the highest-level official. The Office of the National Security Council will offer advice on issues relating to existing policies and policy-making in the future.
At the policy implementation level, the NCPO has formed a committee to mobilize efforts to solve problems in the southern border provinces. The committee, chaired by the Deputy Commander-in-Chief of the Royal Thai Army, will integrate work with relevant agencies and existing mechanisms and management systems, such as the Southern Border Provinces Development Strategy Committee, the Committee on the Mobilization of Southern Border Provinces Policy and Strategies, ISOC, and the Southern Border Provinces Administrative Center (SBPAC).
At the operational level, the Fourth Army Area Command will be the agency responsible for translating policies into action. It will also oversee the operations of local agencies and police and military forces to ensure the integration and consistency of relevant plans and projects and to respond to the needs of local people.
General Prayuth explained that the establishment of the committee to mobilize efforts to solve problems in the southern border provinces is merely to ensure the efficient integration of the plans and budget of various ministries, the SBPAC, and ISOC. Each agency remains independent in its operations, except in terms of policy.
He said that the NCPO wanted to continue the “politics leads the military” approach and give the top priority to the needs of local people. This will ensure that budget allocations truly reach the people.