A total budget of 145 billion baht has been allocated by five governments to solve the problems in the southern border provinces since 2004. Security authorities claim that the overall situation there has improved, while some locals question the spending of the budget. Krungthep Thurakij newspaper presents some statistics on the 7 years of the unrest.
The government budget for each year is as follows: 13,450 million baht (2004), 13,674 (2005), 14,207 (2006), 17,526 (2007), 22,988 (2008), 27,547 (2009), 16,507 (2010) and 19,102 (2011).
These budgets are, however, for government programmes, and do not include the salaries of government officials, compensation for those affected by the unrest, the current government’s Thai Khem Kaeng programme, and arms procurement by the army through special procedures.
According to the Southern Border Provinces Police Bureau, during the 7 years, a total of 11,523 violent incidents occurred in Pattani (3,783), Yala (3,152), Narathiwat (4,010) and Chana, Thepa, Sabayoi and Nathawee districts of Songkhla (567). These include 6,171 shooting incidents, 1,964 bombings and 1,470 arson attacks.
4,370 people were killed including 1,540 in Narathiwat, 1,433 in Pattani, 1,167 in Yala, and 224 in Songkhla’s four districts. They include 3,825 civilians, 291 soldiers and 254 policemen.
7,136 people were injured, according to the Emergency Call Centre of the Joint Civilian-Police-Military Command.
The number of children made orphans, as of the third quarter of 2010, was 5,111 including 1,463 in Narathiwat, 2,033 in Yala, 1,471 in Pattani, and 144 in Songkhla, and the number of widows was 2,188, including 575 in Narathiwat, 770 in Yala, 770 in Pattani and 73 in Songkhla.
Of the total of 77,865 criminal cases in the southern border provinces during the 7 years, 7,680 or 9.86% were considered security cases by the Southern Border Provinces Police Bureau and among these, the culprits remain unknown in 5,872 cases. The culprits in 1,264 cases were arrested, while those in 544 are still at large.
Lt Gen Udomchai Thammasarorat, Commander of the 4th Army and Director of Internal Security Operations Command Region 4, told Krungthep Thurakij that the situation had started to improve, as violent incidents had become less frequent, because the authorities were able to make the people better understand that the problems came from a small group of people who were discontented with the government. Officers from all agencies also adhere to the law and human rights principles, so the people cooperate with them and provide information which results in many insurgent arrests.
He believes that in 2011, the insurgents will adopt less violent means, partly because police and military forces, which are deployed as planned, can access all areas of the southern border provinces, and that has made it more difficult for the insurgents, while some of their allies feel tired and want to fight through other means such as contesting local elections.
‘Everyone realizes that acts of violence so far have gravely deteriorated the local education system and economy, so to fight in a lawful way is another option for the insurgents,’ Lt Gen Udomchai said.
Pol Gen Adul Sangsingkaew, Deputy National Police Chief in charge of the southern unrest, said that there were 1,164 violent incidents in 2010, decreasing from 1,348 in the previous year, compared to the peak of 2,475 incidents in 2007. The number of casualties in 2010 was 606, decreasing from 693 the previous year.
‘The situation in the south is like a tsunami which has been 20 years in the making, and it erupted on 4 Jan 2004. The number of violent incidents has declined from the peak in 2007, showing the success of government policy and the security authorities’ law enforcement, resulting in many arrests and convictions,’ Pol Gen Adul said.
Ahmadsomboon Bualuang, an academic studying non-violence and a former member of the independent National Reconciliation Commission, said that very little of the immense budget had reached the people. Government procurement schemes were plagued with transparency problems and many were aimed at serving the political interests of the government, rather than solving problems.
He wants the government to set up an independent body to evaluate budget expenditure and to keep it informed about how money is spent wastefully and corruptly. Budget proposals always serve the needs of state agencies, rather than the people.
He said that security laws, such as the Emergency Decree in particular, should be lifted in all districts, as these 7 years had proved that these laws did not work.
Suenit Nawae, Chair of Rata Panyang Tambon Administrative Organization in Yaring District of Pattani, said that government budgets, either regular or through the Thai Khem Kaeng scheme, had hardly reached the people, and in some areas local people had projects imposed on them that served the interests of government officials.