Opposition leader asks government to prioritise troubled South

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BANGKOK, Sept 3 – Opposition Democrat Party leader Abhisit Vejjajiva on Monday urged the government to seriously tackle problems in Thailand’s South following more than 400 cases of violence, saying that the appointment of three deputy prime ministers to simultaneously handle the southern problems would not lead to unity in the government’s operations.

Referring to violence in the trouble-plagued South, particularly naming the latest incident, the fire at a department store in Narathiwat, Mr Abhisit said southerners whom he personally met said the insurgency in the region has escalated and become a serious issue.

“Southern residents said there must be a major movement behind the violence and they did not understand why authorities could not stop it,” said the opposition leader. “They called on the government, especially Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra, to give more attention to the problem.”

Mr Abhisit insisted that it is useless to appoint three deputy premiers to jointly take charge of the southern problems since they cannot work in unity, adding that continued inspection of the South is necessary, or the people will finally refuse to cooperate with the authorities.

Referring to an invitation by Deputy Premier Chalerm Yubumrung to the opposition to jointly discuss the southern issue, the Democrat leader said the opposition is ready to work with the government but “it is important that the prime minister is present since she is empowered to command.”

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