By: Ahmad Syah Ejaz Hj. Ismail
When I was a student in my University years (2002-2005), I was very amazed with Thaksin Shinawatra and his economic policy - colloquial as Thaksinomics. He was seen at that time as the right person to replace Mahathir Mohamed in the international stage carrying the voices of the poor and developing nations. But his uprising influence and his premier were later marred by the Southern Thailand ethnic problems which hampered his hope in building the new Thailand through the incorporated policy (administering Thailand using CEO style) of inculcating Capitalism via crash course among the Thais.
To my understanding later, Thaksin doesn’t truly comprehend the socio-political situation in the Southern Thai region. This were made worse by the think tank group which he founded to advise him on how to fight drugs problems in the region by attacking certain groups which erroneously execute the extrajudicial killing policy to achieve quick result. His administrative policy of assimilation turns ugly when Thaksin government abolishes the Southern Border Provinces Administrative Centre (SBPAC) and Civil-Police-Military joint Command (CPM 43) and puts the Police to be in charge of the Southern region security in 2002[i].
This new introduced policies by the Thaksin government later created the political sphere for militant movement which made worse by filling the vacuum activities of the deprived economic background of the Southern Malay ethnic which resided in the area. This worsen situation concluded on the legitimacy issues of the Bangkok Buddhist to governed the ethnic Malays which doesn’t share the same norms, values and the governing consent of both parties[ii].
Thaksin was trying to democratize the security situation in the Southern region in 2002 when he placed the police to be in charge of law and order. This change of policy by Thaksin were seen as a self defeating when particularly in the Southern region, the police were viewed as the most dishonest element of Thailand’s public sector, while the armed forces which were an active members of the SBPAC were seen by the domestic community as the honest institutions[iii].
The ethnic calamities and instability in the Southern region were not off the effect of the Global War on Terror or anything to do with the Wahhabism influences over, but merely an issue of the extension of the Bangkok political power over a majority of a reluctant Malay Muslims which believed they were no part of the larger Buddhist state. In many respects, the state of Patani was regarded by the Malays in the area as a sovereign state by the rule of the Patani Muslim Sultanate. The Malays in the area are very proud of their history and culture which distinguish their ancestry from the Menam Chao Phraya Siamese people[iv].
Even though throughout the years the Thais government had introduced numerous policies of assimilations which offered various incentives and political representation to Bangkok, the Malays inhabitants saw that violence is the most convenient way in advancing their agenda of self government[v].
The problems of the Southern Thailand region can only be solved by bequeathing the Malay Muslim an autonomic power for self rule under the auspices of the Bangkok Monarch. The current trend of the Thai government in administering the southern region can be seen as the Roman Conquerors administering Jerusalem in the 1st Century and it will only end with the same results of endless violence and uprising. Bangkok must learn and know that Patani deserved to be different from the rest of the Thailand due to its history and social background.