PM orders officials to develop southern projects speedily

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NARATHIWAT, Dec 27 –Prime Minister Gen Prayut Chan-o-cha has ordered officials and agencies responsible for implementing development projects in the South to accelerating them without delay and severe punishment would be imposed if any projects were found to receive no progress.

Speaking to officials in the southern province of Narathiwat on Friday, Gen Prayut said he had ordered concerned government agencies handling development projects to report to the Committee to Mobilise Policy and Strategy to Solve Problems in the Southern Border Provinces so that the government could allocate budget and jobs could be created in 2015.

Every agency must cooperate with each other and work as a team to enable every project to move forward, he said, adding that his government could exercise special powers in administration.

There should not be any obstacles to hinder projects from moving forward, said Gen Prayut, adding that projects must advance from now on and if no progress is made, the agency and officials responsible would be “punished for violating orders.”

Gen Prayut, making his first visit to the South on Friday since becoming prime minister in September, said further that his government would use politics instead of military force in solving bloody violence which has been persistent in the deep South for almost 11 years.

He said the ongoing situation in the area is “not a war” and it is only difference in ideology between troublemakers and the state.

The name of their groups should not be called like with the previous government and “foreigners shouldn’t be allowed to get involved or interfere.”

Gen Prayut said the problem is an internal affair and could be solved and Thailand “doesn’t have any conflict with any country or any group,” therefore, it has to position itself in an appropriate way.”

In the evening, Gen Prayut, accompanied by Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Affairs Minister Gen Tanasak Patimapragorn and senior officers of the United Nations, attended a ceremony commemorating the 10 year-old  tsunami disaster in Phang-nga’s Takua Pa district.

Thailand saw 5,395 people killed by the disaster — half of them foreign holidaymakers.

Gen Prayut said in his speech that many Thais and foreigners had lost their lives as homes were destroyed exactly 10 years ago in the massive tsunami.

Assistance was offered from every corner of the world following the catastrophe, he said, adding that people would use this occasion to cope with natural disasters in order to protect themselves and to reduce risk of  property damage.

Gen Prayut later joined in a candle-lit ceremony amid the somber atmosphere and heavy rain persisted throughout the event.