HD Research Institute
Bi-weekly Thailand Review 20 November – 4 December 2013December 4, 2013 | By EK | Category: HD Research Institute
In politics, Suthep Thaugsuban continues to rile up protestors in a push to rid Thailand of what he calls “the Thaksin regime”, despite PM Yingluck Shinawatra’s proposal to resign and dissolve the House to stop the ongoing protests. Academics and foreign media have voiced concern over Suthep’s intention to set up a people’s council, made up of “decent people”, to run the country and push through his own reform agenda, which runs contrary to His Majesty The King’s advice.
In economy, consumer and investor confidence has been affected by the protests and airplane carriers have reported a decreased cabin factor from ASEAN countries and China. Several countries issued travel warnings after the outbreak of violence on Bangkok’s streets.
In security, after the ruling on Preah Vihear, Cambodia and Thailand still need to discuss the size of the area covered by the ruling. Peace talks with Barisan Revolusi Nasional but their demand for a “special administration area” has been rejected and will not be raised in the next round of talks. Alleged Runda Kumpulan Kecil militant group members were nabbed in Narathiwat. Bomb attacks and shooting continue in the South, wounding and killing a number of rangers, policemen, defense volunteers and civilians.
Suthep Thaugsuban, a former Democrat MP who resigned from Parliament to lead the street protests, continued his push to rid Thailand of what he and his supporters call “the Thaksin regime” even after successfully defeating the Pheu Thai’s attempt to press through a controversial amnesty bill. Protesters started to occupy government offices as a symbolic gesture denying the government’s legitimacy to run the country creating a split in the Democrat Party as leaders such as Abhisit Vejjajiva, Chuan Leekpai, and Korn Chatikavanij disagreeing with the occupation of state offices. Foreign media, initially supporting Suthep’s protests to prevent the amnesty bill, became increasingly wary once Suthep slowly started to lay out his anti-democratic vision of the future for Thailand with the Time magazine headlining its article “Thailand’s Democrat Party is Hilariously Misnamed”. On Tuesday, 3 December 2013, Suthep announced his plan at the occupied government complex on Chaeng Watthana Road to invoke Section 7 of the constitution, which leads to a royally appointed Prime Minister. This invocation should be done by a people’s council made up of “representatives from various professions chosen by people from all walks of life”. The people’s council would then subsequently select “decent people” with no affiliations to any political party to act as interim Prime Minister and Ministers. This legislative body would then amend laws and push through a reform agenda “to change Thailand for the better”, according to Suthep. Once the reform is complete the people’s council would be abolished and general elections held.
The idea of a royally appointed Prime Minister had already been criticized in 2006 by academics as a move that would destroy democracy and in a speech on 26 April 2006, his Majesty the King of Thailand in a speech to the Administrative and Supreme Courts’ judges during a separate Royal audience at Klai Kangwol Palace in Prachuap Khiri Khan said “But asking for a Royally appointed prime minister is undemocratic. It is, pardon me, a mess. It is irrational.”
The anti-government protest had reached its peak on the weekend of 30 November with clashes between protesters and the police as well as between protesters and red-shirts. According to the Public Health Ministry a total of 221 people were injured and three killed in the unrests over the weekend. Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra, who had easily survived a no-confidence vote initiated by the Democrat Party days before, then announced that she would be willing to resign and dissolve the House for the protests to stop. Protest leader Suthep Thaugsuban instantly rejected the idea, stating, well knowing that future elections would very likely be won by Pheu Thai again, that dissolving the House would not be enough to defeat the “Thaksin regime”.
Foreign analysts view the conflict as the continuation of a class conflict between the old-elite and middle class Bangkokians and the growing political power of the farmers of the northeast. The New York Times quoted historian Nidhi Eoseewong saying, “What has been happening in Thailand is not about Thaksin or not even about conflicts among the elite — it’s socioeconomic change, enormous change that has taken place for the past two decades”, adding, “The old elite, including the established middle class, doesn’t want to tolerate their [peasant farmers of the northeast] participation.” Ant-government protesters also do not seem to make a secret out of their intention, with Saowanee Usanakornkul, 43, being quoted as saying “We are the middle class, we are educated and we know best. But the poor don’t know anything. They elect the people who give them money.” Red shirt leader Tida Tavonseth meanwhile argues that the oppositions wants to re-establish times when Thailand was run by a small group of elites, this time with independent organizations taking over the government. (New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, Bloomberg, Al Jazeera, BBC, The Nation, Bangkok Post, USA Today)
Economy news for the past fortnight has much like politics and security been characterised by the demonstrations in Bangkok and elsewhere. Newspapers have been reporting that investors are wary of the situation, as memories of the long-drawn protests of the past make companies postpone transfers to the country. Regular political conflicts and an instable political environment are factors that could convince foreign investors to move their funds out of the country and instead pick one of the other strong Southeast Asian economies, such as neighbouring Malaysia. The greatest foreign investor group in Thailand is Europe accounting for 52 % of total foreign investment. The second largest group is Asia, with about 30.6 % of investments. Over the most violent weekend of protests so far, 1-2 December, major shopping complexes in Bangkok’s center such as Siam Center and Siam Paragon were closed – if this pattern repeats itself further into the high season for tourists it could entail significant losses for these enterprises. Consumer confidence also dropped over the past two weeks, hitting the lower levels in almost two years. (The Nation, Bangkok Post)
The protests have already taken their toll on the tourism industry as 23 countries have already issued warnings to their citizens about travelling to the Kingdom. The US authorities warn travelers not to go near government agencies whereas Brazil cautions against visiting main attractions such as the Grand Palace. As protests have been widely mediatised, a clear slowdown can be seen in the number of hotel bookings that are being made by foreign tourists. Although European and American tourists are unlikely to decrease significantly over the festive season, a significant number are expected to skip visiting Bangkok and instead head straight for other main tourist destinations such as Pattaya, Hua Hin and Koh Samet. ASEAN tourists are the most flexible group and the president of the Tourism Council of Thailand, Ms Piyaman Tejapaibul, already confirmed that a number of travel groups have changed their destinations either to other countries in the region or to other provinces in Thailand. Chinese tourists also seem to have changed their plans because of the protests. Thai Airways reported a decreased cabin factor for November as compared to last year and expect it to continue to decrease in December. (The Nation, Bangkok Post)
Another obstacle for tourism that has been debated is a new fee for tourists who wish to visit Koh Chang National Park. Adults are to be charged 200 baht each while the fee for children is 100 baht each. The local population has reacted in anger because only 15 days’ of notice were given until the enforcement of the new fee regulation. Many boat operators and other service providers had already negotiated prices with tour businesses for the high season that cannot be changed at the last minute, meaning a portion of them will have to cover the fees themselves. Nevertheless, the peak season should lead to increased revenue for business and the Thai economy in general as airports, hotels and main holiday destinations prepare for the massive inflow of tourists over Christmas and New Year’s holidays. This year, the number of international tourist arrivals is projected to reach 28.01 million. (The Nation, Bangkok Post)
After the International Court of Justice’s ruling on the Preah Vihear, Thailand has expressed its plan of opposing the temple plan that Cambodia will submit to the World Heritage Committee (WHC). Cambodia initially submitted a temple management plan to WHC in 2011 but was later on suspended after Thailand complained about this with the fear of losing territory. Cambodia and Thailand still have to sit down and decide on the size of the area ruled by court. (Bangkok Post)
The Thai government has rejected the Barisan Revolusi Nasional’s demand for a “special administration area” as it is a sensitive and delicate issue. It will not be discussed during the next round of peace talks. The government has previously said that agreement to the BRN’s demands should be within the provisions of the constitution. More insurgent movements are beginning to take interest in participating in the peace talks. Wan Kadir, former leader of the Bersatu separatist group, said that the government should talk with groups who play a significant role in the southern conflict as these groups understand the internal affairs in the South. While pinpointing active insurgent groups in the South may be an arduous task, more success in the peace talks will more likely be achieved. (Bangkok Post)
Security officers raided a house in Rueso district in Narathiwat upon receiving a tip-off the members of the militant group Runda Kumpulan Kecil (RKK) are hiding there. Seven alleged RKK members were arrested, two of which have previously received warrants of arrest for criminal charges. The police recovered pistols, a handgun and its cartridges, military uniforms, sleeping bags, mobile phones, a motorcycle and survival kit items. The suspects are under the custody of the police for questioning. (Bangkok Post)
Bomb attacks and shooting continue in the South. In the past two weeks, Pattani bombings have wounded three paramilitary rangers providing security for teachers and two defense volunteers securing a school. A paramilitary ranger was also slain when gunmen from a pickup truck open fired, injuring the ranger’s two younger sisters. A villager was also killed in an ambush in Sai Buri district. In Narathiwat’s Rangae district, two policemen were killed and one was hurt on their way back to the police station after escorting teachers to a school within the district. In a separate incident, another paramilitary ranger was critically injured when a bomb went off while patrolling along a road in the district. A bomb explosion wounded four soldiers in Thepha district in Songkhla while patrolling along a local road and six defense volunteers were also injured when a bomb exploded while on duty at a security checkpoint, leaving one civilian injured, too. (Bangkok Post)
HDFF Bi-Weekly Thailand Review 1 – 14 NovemberNovember 14, 2013 | By EK | Category: HD Research Institute
In politics, anti-amnesty bill protests have kept tension up in the capital over the past week with assemblies around Asoke station, Rajdamnoen road and Silom counting thousands of participants from varying sectors. Following the rejection of the bill by the Senate, several leaders of protesters stated that they would continue to urge people to come to rallies but this time to push for a change of government.
In economy, the International Monetary Fund warned Thailand that a continuation of populist policies could seriously hurt growth as neither exports nor domestic consumption have picked up at the pace expected by the government. The tourism sector is according to the September report the only sector that expands on a year-on-year basis, happy news as the high season is approaching fast.
In security, the conflict over the Preah Vihear temple area has been settled by the International Court of Justice in favour of Cambodia. Both governments have pledged to follow the ruling but Thai military personnel are still largely in place. In the Southern conflict, the anniversary of the Tak Bai incident was unexpectedly calm while founding anniversaries of two militant groups led to bombings and casualties throughout the three southern border provinces.
“The government’s latest attempt to get Thaksin Shinawatra back has united almost everyone against it”, The Economist titled its most recent report from Thailand, covering the amnesty bill protests. After the bill successfully passed the 2nd and 3rd reading with votes from the Pheu Thai Party, street protests gradually increased all over the country with a multitude of different sectors joining the demonstrations. The anti-corruption commission stated that the bill would kill over 25,000 graft cases, about 400 of these involving senior politicians. Even red-shirt leaders spoke out against the bill, the leader of the United Front for Democracy Against Dictatorship, Thida Thawornseth summed up the split among red-shirts by saying, “There are red shirts who would rather see those responsible for violence in 2010 go to jail than to bring Thaksin home.”
Despite Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra’s adamant announcements that the amnesty bill was designed to reconcile differences within the Thai society, large parts of the public still consider her statements as dishonest, hiding a simple intention to bring her brother back home a free man. The opposition Democrat Party, whose leaders Abhisit Vejjajiva and Suthep Thaugsuban would also have been acquitted of their murder charges related to the 2010 red shirt crackdown, sensed the potential to gain support and mobilized their base against the amnesty bill, joining protesters from the prestigious Chulalongkorn and Thammasat University, the private sector, and other opposition groups. According to police reports up to 50,000 people in Bangkok joined the demonstrations at their peak period leaving Pheu Thai with no other option than to retreat to de-escalate the situation. PM Yingluck met with red-shirt leaders to reconcile with their base supporters from the northeast before making the announcement that the government will respect the decision made by the Senate and not revive the bill if it is voted down by the senators. Under pressure from the public, the Senate unanimously rejected the amnesty bill.
The Democrat Party, encouraged by the recent support, announced to continue its street protests and urged people to strike and take time off work to join them. Nevertheless, the party finds itself in a tricky balancing act where analysts see an opportunity of great public support that could be used to push government to call a snap election by dissolving the House although on the other hand they still need to take care not to overplay their cards. For example, the appeal to strike and take time off work has already been condemned by private sector groups that previously supported the demonstrations. Thitinan Pongsudhirak, director of the Institute of Security and International Studies at Bangkok’s Chulalongkorn University, argues that the anti-government groups will try to hold their ground until early December in an attempt to “provoke Yingluck’s government into an overreaction”.
Time will tell if Bangkok-based security and risk consultancy PSA Asia’s prediction will hold true. In their report to clients they stated that, “Should amnesty falter and Mr. Thaksin fail, it could mark the beginning of the end of the Thaksin era in Thai politics.” (Bangkok Post, Bloomberg, France24, Reuters, The Economist, The Nation, The Wall Street Journal)
The International Monetary Fund (IMF) has joined the crowd of analysts and experts warning the Thai government about the hazards of populist policies. Government policies such as the first car-buyer scheme, crop pledging and tablet computers for school children have been based on the expectation of export and domestic consumption growth. However, in a year-on-year comparison, exports have fallen 6.3 % in September 2013 compared to the previous year. The households’ consumption has also decreased by about 1.3 %. The rice-pledging scheme has thus far received the most negative attention as the uncompetitive price of Thai rice has led Thailand to lose its place as the leading rice exporter while leaving up to 17 million tonnes of rice in stockpiles. The government no longer reports the losses of the policy (2011-2012 crop year showed losses of 136 billion baht) but it has been estimated to exceed 400 billion baht for the totality of the programme. (Reuters, Financial Times, Bangkok Post)
Besides overall sluggishness in the Thai market and growth, political conflict has boiled in the capital over the past two weeks. The Federation of Thai Industries has warned that Small and Medium Enterprises are likely to suffer if the demonstrations are prolonged further due to their small margins and limited access to cash. Voices have also been raised warning that foreign investor confidence could weaken as street protests and disruptions continue, something that is shaken off as exaggerated by Khun Udom Wongviwatchai, Secretary-General of the Board of Investment (BOI), since he says that political problems have been occurring regularly in Thailand over a number of years and investors will simply wait for the problems to resolve themselves. Nevertheless, effects have already been seen on the Thai economy as the SET Index has fallen together with the baht. (The Nation, The Wall Street Journal, Bangkok Post)
Tourism however remains the stable pillar of the Thai economy as many service providers prepare for the oncoming high season. The tourism sector was the only that showed expansion in the year-on-year comparison for September that was recently released. Perhaps surprisingly in this context, a survey carried out by EF Education First of 60 countries where English is not the main mother tongue shows that Thailand ranks 6th from the bottom as regards English proficiency. In Asia, Thailand only scores better than Kazakhstan and is left far behind Malaysia and Singapore at the top of the list. (Reuters, Pattaya Mail, The Nation)
The long-held dispute surround the Preah Vihear temple has reached a judgement in the International Court of Justice (ICJ). On November 11, the entire territory of the promontory of the disputed Preah Vihear temple was awarded to Cambodia by the court, with the exception of the Pheu Makhua hill. Pheu Makhua is within the disputed 4.6 square kilometers which the ICJ was asked to rule on. Additionally, the ruling ordered Thai police and military troops to leave the area, potentially inflaming tensions between the two neighbours. At least 28 people have been killed in violent disputes since 2011 over the territory near the 900 year old Hindu temple. Although the ICJ already once ruled that the temple itself would belong to Cambodia, clarifications were requested after thousands of people were displaced since the territory around the temple still remained of unclear ownership.
The mood has been tense on both sides of the temple. Both countries have promise to abide with the ICJ ruling but Thai troops have nevertheless been ordered by government officials to remain in the area until the Ministry of Foreign Affairs have clarified the outcome of the ruling and the necessary processes. Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen has called for restraint in order to avoid any further violence, a statement echoed by the Thai Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra who intends to use bilateral relations with the neighbour to avoid any conflict assuring that “Thailand will enter negotiations with Cambodia to put an end to the issue”. In a televised conference, she said, “I would like all Thais to be confident that the government will be at its best in protecting national interests.” Foreign Ministers from both countries, Khun Surapong Tovichakchaikul from Thailand and his Cambodian counterpart Mr. Hor Namhong, intend to set up a Thai-Cambodian Joint Commission to provide a forum for the two countries to settle the issue. (Bangkok Post, Aljazeera)
In southern Thailand, the anniversaries of the infamous Tak Bai incident as well as of the founding of South independency groups Barisan Revolusi Nasional (BRN) and Pattani United Liberation Organisation (PULO) have marked security news from Southern Thailand. For more information about the Southern Security situation, please see HDFF’s monthly Security Report.
South Thailand Security Report – September 2013October 14, 2013 | By EK | Category: HD Research Institute
Shootings are up, together with fatalities
During the past month, the number of casualties from incidents involving Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs) dropped radically (14 in September 2013 compared to a monthly average from Aug 2012-Aug 2013 of more than 38). IED attacks often lead to a large amount of injured whereas shootings are more focused and more often kill their targets. For September, the amount of injured is at the lowest point since December 2012 at 25 people. Unusually however, fatalities exceed injuries during this month – correlating with an increase in shooting incident. 29 persons were killed in September 2013.
Narathiwat’s Bacho and Rueso districts, as well as Khok Pho and Thung Yang Daeng in Pattani and Yala district in Yala were the most dangerous areas during this month. Over 64 % of this month’s casualties were caused in these five districts.
Types of attack
Shootings were the most common cause of death or injury from the conflict over the past month. Military or police personnel accounted for over 66 % of casualties with civilians as the second largest group at 22 %. The remaining casualties are classed as reported militants, academic personnel and local administration staff.
Bi-weekly Thailand Review 30 September – 14 October 2013October 14, 2013 | By EK | Category: HD Research Institute
In politics, Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra presided over the first meeting of the political reform forum and set a seven-point framework for future meetings. The Pheu Thai government meanwhile attempts to reform the Senate in order to replace the selected with publicly elected senators, which the opposition fears could result in a Senate consisting of the politicians’ family members. The leadership of the yellow-shirt People’s Alliance for Democracy (PAD) resigns, while the Democrat Party resorts to street politics.
In economy, analysts are debating about the outcome of Thailand’s economic growth for 2013, the Finance Ministry has slashed their projection from 4.5 % to 3.7 % while Bangkok Bank keeps theirs on 4% although acknowledging that the expected rebound of domestic consumption has not taken place. In other news, Chinese tourists flock to Thailand for cheap shopping while the daily minimum wage reform is making it difficult for Thai industries to operate on a competitive basis.
In security, multiple attacks occurred in the South and marked the founding anniversaries of two insurgent groups. With the next round of peace talks, the Thai delegation has prepared counter-proposals and BRN is considering making changes to their peace talks team.
Despite the opposition’s call on Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra to delay sending the charter amendment bill for royal approval as it was pending a judicial review by the Constitutional Court, the PM went ahead and submitted the bill. The bill, designed to change the makeup of the Senate and have all senators elected democratically instead of half being appointed, previously passed the final third reading by a vote of 358 – 2 after Democrat Party MP’s boycotted the vote and walked out of Parliament. The opposition considers this transformation unconstitutional and fears the effects it will have on the power structure between the legislative, executive and judicial branches, arguing the senate would then be filled by family members of MP’s. PM Yingluck’s confidence in the bill turned out to be warranted after the Constitutional Court decided not the veto the bill. The court now has to decide on another bill, the 2014 Budget Bill, which will cut budgets for independent organisations such as the Administrative Court, the Court of Justice, and the Office of the National Anti-Corruption Commission. Meanwhile, a petition sponsored by the red-shirt Love Democracy Club will be seeking a judicial review of the Constitutional Court’s mandate. Sangiem Samranrat, a member of the red-shirt movement and political appointee attached to Government House, argues that the Court does not have the jurisdiction to launch a judicial review into the 2014 Budget Bill. (Bangkok Post, The Nation)
The Thai flood of 2013 has so far affected 33 provinces and nearly three million residents, claiming 30 lives, according to the Disaster Prevention and Mitigation Department. While all authorities remain adamant that the flood situation is far less critical than two years ago Bangkok Governor Sukhumbhand Paribatra announced that about 850 households in 25 communities in Bangkok could be affected by flooding in the upcoming weeks due to water run-off from the North as the Chao Phraya river water level is expected to rise by two meters above sea level. (Bangkok Post)
Media mogul Sondhi Limthongkul, the leader of the royalist yellow shirt movement, has been found guilty of lese majeste for repeating offensive comments made by a political opponent, Daranee Charnchoengsilpakul, who was sentenced to 15 years in prison in 2011. Sondhi Limthongkul was in turn sentenced to two years in jail. In an interview with his own media outlet, the Manager Online news website, Sondhi said that he only brought up the remarks to alert authorities and that he will appeal the case to the Supreme Court. Noppawan Tangudomsuk, nicknamed Bento, was meanwhile sentenced to five years in jail for lese majeste after she was found guilty of posting messages in 2008 on the web board of news website Prachatai that were deemed offensive to the monarchy. The ruling overturned a criminal court’s dismissal of the case in 2011 on the grounds there was insufficient evidence to show Noppawan posted the comments herself. On a more positive note, Surachai Danwattananusorn, who was sentenced to 12 years and six months in 2010 for lese majeste, received a royal pardon after serving nearly three years. (Associated Press, Reuters, Bangkok Post)
The past fortnight has seen various analysts quibbling about the growth forecast of Thailand for this year. While some claim it could reach 5 % others are confident that it will remain under 4 %. The Bangkok Bank has said that they will not revise their projection (4 %) for the coming months of the year but also acknowledged that there is no indication that domestic consumption (main driver of growth in Thailand) will rebound over the last quarter. Thailand’s Finance Ministry made a somewhat more grim estimation as they cut the economic growth projection from 4.5% to 3.7% on September 27. (Nasdaq, MENAFN.COM, National News Bureau of Thailand)
Despite a rather more lackluster economic progression than expected this year, the Finance Minister Kittiratt Na-Ranong, has adamantly insisted that there is no reason to worry about the significant spending plans laid out by the government. The 2 trillion baht infrastructure programme is, for example, being kicked off with a road show that promotes the investment. Despite the important size of the loan required by the Thai government, the Finance Minister has held fast that the public debt ratio to GDP will be held under 50 % and that Thailand is in no risk of liquidity shortage as 40 % of the funds will be raised abroad. (Bangkok Post, The Nation)
On a related topic, the spending schemes introduced by the government such as rice and cassava pledging or the first-car buyer programme have now led corn and rubber farmers to want in. Over the past month, rubber farmers have blocked roads and clashed with police seeking a minimum price for their harvest and corn farmers are now also joining the struggle. The current corn subsidy allows farmers to sell up to 25 tons for 8-10 baht/kg despite falling price levels globally. The pledging schemes are already having noticeable effects on the Thai economy as foreign investment trust has suffered and private household debt is up – a side effect of farmers calculating loan repayments on the promise of future government pledging. (Wall Street Journal, Bangkok Post, data.worldbank.org)
In tourism, Chinese tourists are expected to exceed 4 million in this year – with many tours going to Pattaya, Phuket and Chiang Mai. The Tourism Authority of Thailand says they are especially focused on high-end markets in China and Russia that are interested in not only visiting but also shopping for cheap Thai products. Cheap produce has however been in the spotlight over the past two weeks as reports show that the increase in minimum daily wage has forced a large number of industries to close. Earlier, the system would allow regions to set their own minimum wages and rural or remote areas would therefore be cheaper and could compete with larger industries in urban areas. The new reform has erased this differentiation and migrant workers who previously stayed in the countryside are moving towards the cities. To stay competitive, reports show that some companies have simply shifted activities into the illegal sphere, operating on the same terms as before and surviving because the laborers prefer a smaller wage to being unemployed. Unemployment is very low in Thailand due to the expansive economic growth and exports, but these two factors are largely based on migrants coming to Thailand to perform menial jobs for small wages. Shrimp is for example one of the critical industries in Thailand but it is completely reliant on migrant workers as 90 % of the seafood processing industry employs migrants. The next big question for Thailand is how to continue growing with regionally uncompetitive wage levels, an increasing level of unregistered companies that could take advantage of migrants and stricter policies for incoming migrant workers. (Want China Times, Quartz – qz.com, The Asahi Shimbun)
Multiple bombings, arsons and shooting incidents occurred in Narathiwat, Yala, Pattani and Songkhla, marking the founding anniversaries of Barisan Revolusi Nasional (BRN) on October 10 and Patani United Liberation Organization (Pulo) on October 11. Most of the incidents involved ATM bombing, a technique new to the South in which Improvised Explosive Devices (IED) are placed in ATM booths. A teacher and two rangers were killed in this wave of violence. Eleven attacks were reported in five districts of Narathiwat, including ATM bombings, arson and oil tanker theft. In Yala, 11 ATM bombings were reported. There was a spate of 15 violent incidents in six districts of Pattani, mostly ATM bombings. There were three incidents of ATM arson in three districts of Songkhla. (The Nation, Bangkok Post)
Two or three counter-proposals have been prepared by the Thai delegation for the next round of talks with the BRN. The delegation emphasizes that BRN’s demands should adhere to the Thai constitution. Moreover, there will be no talks on land separation. A big concern has been placed on BRN’s demand to be acknowledged as representative of “Melayu Patani” and to the right of the people to land. There have been reports that the BRN may change its peace talk representatives. Appointing a new BRN team leader for the peace talks may indicate their sincerity in working towards peace in the south and to upgrade peace talks to formal negotiations. A team from the Southern Border Provinces Administration Center also entered into peace talks with a number of Pulo leaders in Sweden. The National Security Council is open to initiating peace talks with other rebel groups. (Bangkok Post)
South Thailand Security Report AugustSeptember 13, 2013 | By EK | Category: HD Research Institute
Casualties on the rise after Ramadan ceasefire ends
The so called “Ramadan Peace Initiative”, involving a 40-day ceasefire between the Barisan Revolusi Nasional (BRN) and the Thai government expired on August 18. Casualties in August were higher than in July but the number of killed (15) remains lower than since December 2012 (with the exception of July 2013). 52 persons were injured, leaving total casualties at 67 persons in August. Over 70% of this month’s casualties were caused by improvised explosive devices (IED), typically causing more injuries than fatalities.
Most casualties were found in Narathiwat province (30 victims) while Pattani and Yala provinces reported 18 and 19 casualties respectively. With the exception of last month, Pattani province has been more peaceful in August than since December 2012.
Incidents defy common travel advice
In travel safety advisories for Southern Thailand, it is commonly recommended to avoid travel during nighttime. Although this is sound advice, as approximately 36 % of attacks occur between 7 PM and 6 AM, the most dangerous time over the past year has actually been during the morning hours (6-12 AM). 46% of casualties were caused in the morning as many attacks are carried out while people travel to work. This holds true also for military casualties as many of those injured or killed over the past month were providing security for teachers travelling to work. Most of the casualties over the past month have been military or police personnel and defense volunteers (38 of 67). Teachers and personnel employed in local administration have also been targeted (approximately 9 % of casualties).
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