Chalerm appoints advisory team to help resolve insurgency

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BANGKOK, Feb 19 – Deputy Prime Minister Chalerm Yubamrung signed an order appointing a new team of advisers to help him quell violence in the southern border region, effective today.

The team comprises nine members of the Wadah group of Muslim politicians in the strife-torn region including former deputy prime minister, interior minister and nine-time MP Wan Muhammad Nor Matha. He was an MP under the now-disbanded Thai Rak Thai party.

The others are Den Tomeena, Areepen Uttarasin, Sukarno Matha, Najmuddin Umar, Phetdao Tomeena, Abdulrohman Absulsamad, Suthipan Sriwikanont and Sudin Phuyuthanont.

Under the order, the team of advisers are tasked to give advice, analysis and suggestions on any given assignments in connection with the southern problems.

Mr Chalerm explained that the newly-appointed panel of advisers are capable figures who understand the problems well as they are natives in the area. He was confident that the government is moving on the right track with the planned use of Article 21 of the Internal Security Act in an attempt to restore peace through talks. He added that 25 leading insurgents have contacted the authorities to enter the negotiation process.

As head of the Centre for the Implementation of Policies and Strategies for Solving Southern Problems, Mr Chalerm said he would meet next week with the team and their opinions would be presented at the next meeting of the centre.

Meanwhile, Thavorn Senneam, deputy leader of the opposition Democrat Party, welcomed the move to use the ISA, echoing Mr Chalerm’s statement that the government is on the right path. He also suggested that the government should amend Article 21 of the law to bypass the judicial procedures so that the insurgents could directly turn themselves in to the local administrative officials instead of going through lengthy judicial procedures.

The Democrat MP for Songkhla also urged the government to listen to advice from the advisory council on the administration and development of the southern border provinces as well.