New Pattani governor outlines his priorities
Newly-appointed Pattani Governor Thira Minthrasak, alias Governor Dae, is no stranger to the Deep South nor the unrest problem which has beset the region for several decades.
A Pattani native by birth, Mr Thira joined the government service in 1976 after his graduation from Thammasat University’s faculty of political science. In the course of his long service in the Interior Ministry, he spent most of the time of his career working in the southern region.
He served as deputy district chief in several districts in Pattani, his hometown until in 1998 he was appointed director of security coordination department of the Southern Border Provinces Administration Centre (sor-or-por-tor). He also served in several other capacities as follows: district chief of Ra-nage district of Narathiwat, district chief of Betong district of Yala, deputy governor of Narathiwat and Pattani, governor of Yala and Nakhon Si Thammarat before he was posted back to his hometown in Pattani as the governor as of October 1 this year.
Governor Thira admitted that his case was unusual. He said he should have been made Pattani governor before he was transferred to the other provinces. Instead he was appointed Pattani governor with just one year left before his mandatory retirement next year.
The Isra news desk recently had a chance to interview Governor Dae. The followings are excerpts of the interview:
Governor Dae said it had always been his intention to retire from the service in his hometown in order to serve the land of his birth which is Pattani. Even though he has only about ten months left before his retirement, he said he was happy to be at home.
Being no stranger to the region and its deeply-entrenched unrest problem, Governor Dae said he didn’t have to get himself acquainted with the terrain, the local people or the problem and, therefore, could start working immediately.
One of the first things that he intended to do is to meet with the local administration and religious leaders such as village heads, kamnans and imams to brief them of the government’s policies especially the royally-initiated strategies to promote unity and understanding among people of different religious faiths and also the sufficiency economy philosophy.
Governor Dae said he was fully supportive of the so-called Pattani peace outreach strategy aimed to promote better understanding among different groups in the province and to reduce mutual mistrust among them.
"The government’s sector must try to understand the people’s sector whereas different groups in the people’s sector must also try to promote understanding among them," said the governor, adding that he had published a booklet, titled "Islam….the Truth that Must Be Told" to be distributed to the public.
The publication will tell who have distorted Islam and about jihad among other issues that need to be told to the public. Governor Dae said that the only things that most Thai Buddhists knew about Islam is that the Muslims do not eat pork and must pray at least five times a day. This is only partially right and there are more to learn about Islam, he added.
He attached importance to the need to reduce mutual mistrust between the Thai Buddhists and Malay Muslims and to ensure justice for all regardless of different religious faiths.
As for the halal food production project which has been left in the limbo for years, Governor Dae admitted that security problem has been a key factor in holding back the project. Nevertheless he promised to look into the project and to try to revive it.
He however dismissed the suggestion that narcotics problem might have contributed to the unrest problem in the Deep South by pointing out at the Northeast of Thailand which is beset with widespread illicit drug problem yet there have been no bombings or gun attacks on officials and civilians.
1 Flag of Pattani province
2 Thira Minthrasak