Saturday, December 27, 2008

Why did Surayud's Policy Fail in the South?

*All Photos Copyright*
Former Prime Minister and Privy Councilor Surayud Chulanont, looking slightly annoyed at me for taking his picture, at a Peace Fair organized by SBPAC in Yala August 1st 2008.

From the Bangkok Post titled: Number of attacks drop, but not the threat

Assistant national police chief Pol Lt-Gen Adul Saengsingkaew attributed the decrease to the rebels making "adjustments to their plotting of violence'.'

Although there were fewer attacks in recent months, the degree of violence was increasing, said Pol Lt-Gen Adul, who is commander of the Police Operation Centre's Forward Command in charge of the four restive provinces of Narathiwat, Pattani, Songkhla and Yala. The office is based in Yala.

"The situation seems to be better on the surface, the insurgents still keep building confidence among themselves in the three provinces to show their power," he said.

He said one reason for the violence increasing last year was because the government of then-prime minister Surayud Chulanont launched its reconciliation policy in the far South.

Really? Policies of reconciliation caused more violence? I guess that implies that policies of securitization and war will result in Peace?

Although Prime Minister Abhisit's policy towards the South is still not clear, it is unfortunate to hear the same old tired security perspective about enforcing a negative peace.

Negative peace is simply the absence or limitation of violence because the peace is being enforced through the threat of violence.

Obviously, the southern citizen's long standing grievances have not been address but a heavy security arrangement prevents violence.

Which then raises the question; why did Surayud's policy of reconciliation fail? Two simple reasons.

At the time of the coup and the removal of Thaksin, southern insurgents had a point to make. Their fight was not simply with Thaksin but with years of physical and cultural violence committed by the Thai nation-state which enforces a strict ethno-Thai and religious-Buddhist nationalism which alienates the ethnic Malay Muslims in the south. To think they would stop fighting just because Thaksin was removed is naive because Thaksin was only a hawkish instigator, the fight is with the Thai state.

The second reason was because Surayud's 'reconciliation' was nothing more than a hollow apology. The only change offered were the kind words of Surayud which proved to be insincere as Bangkok had no intention of changing its policies on the south.

And now with Pol Lt-Gen Adul Saengsingkaew beating the war drum, it seems to be that further securitization of the southern border provinces is in order.

And, we all know that the last four years of hawkish security policies have failed to achieve nothing but a high body count.

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