Queen concerned with southern unrest and drug problem
Her Majesty the Queen has expressed grave concern over the unrest in the far South and, in particular, the attacks on Buddhist monks while they are traveling to receive alms and urged all parties concerned to try to restore peace and order in the region.
Delivering a long speech on August 11 at the Chitrladda palace ahead of her birthday anniversary, the Queen said she was shocked and felt very sad when she heard that monks were hurted while they were receiving alms from members of the public. She noted that assaulting monks as they were receiving alms was unprecedented because monks have never caused troubles in the Thai society.
Since King Rama IV who donated land for the missionaries to build churches in Thailand and who also asked them to teach him English and Latin so he would be able to truly understand the core teachings of Christianity and other religions, the Queen said that His Majesty the King too has been a patron of all religious faiths. The King, she added, presented awards to Islamic teachers and the imams each year when he visited the three southernmost provinces.
The Queen however said that she didn’t want to believe that all the assaults against monks were perpetrated by Malay Muslims because the Malay Muslims she used to know were kind.
Besides the unrest in the far South, the Queen also expressed serious concern over drug abuse problem which, she noted, has spread to every community and every corner of the streets. She accused the drug producers and peddlers as murderers who are killing Thai youth in a cold-blooded manner.
The Queen urgned the government of Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra to carry on with her royally-initiated “Mother of the Land Fund” project to address drug abuse problem at village level.
Initially, 622 villages joined the programme when it was first launched in 2004 and has since then expanded to cover 12,189 villages nation-wide. The Abhisit government has contribed about 300 million baht to the project.
Meanwhile, Lt-Gen Udomchai Thammasarorach, commander of the Fourth Army Region, told the Isra news agency that outlaw gangs involved in contraband and narcotics trafficking have been responsible for more than 80 percent of the violent incidents in the three southernmost provinces.
The gangs, he said, have hired Islamic militants to carry out violent activities such as bomb attacks in order to distract the attention of security forces from their illegal drug and contraband trafficking activities or from their trafficking routes.
The commander disclosed that authorities had seized evidences, including transactions of money transfer, implicating the drug and contraband gangs of working hands in gloves with the militants in perpetrating violence in the region.
In order to deal effectively with the drug and contraband gangs, Lt-Gen Udomchai said the Fourth Army Region would seek cooperation with the Anti-Money Laundering Office, the Department of Special Investigation, the Office of Narcotics Control Board and the Office of National Counter-Corruption Commission to try to seize the dirty money.
As for the Islamic militants who account for about 20 percent of the violent incidents, he said that the Fourth Army Region would try to convince the “misguided” militants to give themselves up by granting them with an amnesty. These defectors will however have to undergo “re-education” for a certain period of time before they are allowed back to the society.
Lt-Gen Udomchai disclosed that several militants had already surrendered to the authorities since the amnesty programme was launched. The number of militants have been declining to not more than 7,000 with their activities now being confined to 12 districts from 37 districts as were previously.