More shops open for Friday trade in Thailand’s deep South

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SONGKHLA, Oct 12 – More shops in Thailand’s restive southern border region have opened for business than on the previous two Fridays as the result of the authorities’ efficient campaign to boost public confidence despite threats of insurgent attacks.

In Yala municipality’s Pimolchai fresh market, the number of open shops and consumers shopping is much more than previous Fridays after concerned authorities created better understanding among the public to trust in their tightened security measures.

The statements of Thailand’s national Muslim spiritual leader Chula Ratchamontri were posted and distributed in public venues, stating that working on Friday is not against Islamic practices.

Combined forces of soldiers, police and administrative officials were deployed to ensure safety for the local residents, as well as cooperation from the citizens to help monitor suspicious vehicles and persons who entered the marketplaces.

Security checkpoints have also been set up to inspect cars and motorcycles to boost the confidence of the public.

In Songkhla’s Chana district, more shops opened in local markets. Shopkeepers and vendors said they have more confidence in the security measures of the authorities. They urged other shops which remained close to reopen so that more customers will come to spend their money and boost income for merchants.

Songkhla governor Kritsada Boonrach inspected the province’s four districts to restore confidence among the public.

He said the situation is likely to improve and is expected to return to normal soon.

Narathiwat deputy governor Pradit Sukonthasawat said about 80 per cent of businesses resumed operations today after he and concerned officials visited the merchants and shop vendors at a municipal fresh market to create better understanding about the matter with them.

He said the province also held a special ‘Blue Flag Market’ offering goods at reduced prices at Krom Luang Narathiwat Rajanagarind park in the provincial seat today to relieve the shortage of products while some shops remained closed.

In nearby Pattani, shops on the outskirts of the provincial seat reportedly remained closed for three consecutive Fridays, while some factories also closed their doors as some Muslim workers asked for a day off amid fears of a possible attack today. They said they would work on Sunday instead.