Farewell To The Army

The unrest in the three southern border provinces has become a matter of concern, affecting the morale of local people. The Southern Border Provinces Peace-Building Command (SBPPC) has been set up to stop the unrest in the South and bring about security through unified and integrated efforts by the military, the police, civil servants, and the general public.

Arrival of General Sirichai Tunyasiri, director of SBPPC in March 2005/Welcoming lunch

Picture with Piyamit villagers/Surrounded by the media

Since last year, a lot of army units have been sent to the different provincial districts in the Southern region to dispel the insurgency and safeguard security of the region. Sometimes, the full armed soldiers around may create tension atmosphere in the locality and to the tourists. In fact, many of those officials and soldiers posted did not have the experience in dealing with unrest situation. They themselves were tense and nervous too and thus sometimes result in misunderstandings with the local people as they carried out their duties. Besides, there were also misunderstandings and problems as well as personality and policy clashes due to the lack of proper coordination and integration among the various security agencies such as civic sector, police and army.

I must say that the Mayor of Betong has done a good job in promoting better integration, coordination and cooperation among the relevant agencies. For example, regular and contingent meetings will be arranged so that officers posted here and those relevant agencies such as immigration and police officers etc. will understand more about one another’s duties, responsibilities, authority and jurisdiction, enabling them to join hands in the security matter. Visits and “meet with the people” events will also be arranged to exchange views constantly with the community leaders or local religious leaders and people to create better understanding.

The Mayor also works closely with the army to bridge the gap between army and local people and also to ease the tension atmosphere in Betong, so as not to scare off tourists. As Betong is a relatively safe place, sometimes the soldiers would assist in community service such as repairing of football fields, assist in training camps, involve in arrangement of community events and so on. The move was in line with the royal words of “understanding, accessibility, and development” as well as the proposed guidelines of SBPPC in tackling the deep South problems with local participation.

Assist in training camps

Get along well with the people

Last Saturday, I went to see off an army officer posted here and the army in a suburb camp. Half of the army were going back to the HQ in Bangkok. Being the frontliners in case of any insurgency, I salute them for their courage and contribution to the country. If not for the unrest situation in Southern Thailand, many of them would not be here. I believe they had had a valuable and fruitful experience and wish that the many soldiers need not be back here again…

Farewell to the army

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