Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Regional autonomy for the deep south?

Map showing the deep south provincesThe Nation just had a report on the idea of new Interior Minister Chalerm Yoobamrung to deal with the ongoing insurgency in the three Muslim provinces Pattani, Narathiwat and Yala by establishing a special administrative area (เขตปกครองพิเศษ).
Earlier the day, Chalerm said support for the establishment of a special administrative zone..

He said all government agencies concerned would have to help him study which should be the best model of special administrative zone for Yala, Pattani, and Narathiwat.

The zone could be modelled after China or Germany, he said.
I know of the special administrative areas in China, but these are for the economic boom areas only, and in Germany there's definitely no special administrative area. In Germany, all of the provinces (Bundesländer) have quite a lot of autonomy with an elected parliament, quite contrary to the Thai provinces which are just units of the central administration. Decentralization in Thailand is often talked about, but things like elected provincial governors never got implemented.

As in this short new report there are no details about what Chalerm means with his special zone, and also as prime minister Samak already called him not to rush with it, it will probably take quite some more time till a more concrete plan comes into public. But as the military could not solve this problem since it erupted in 2004, a new approach is IMHO a good idea.

A similar approach was already discussed last year in the 2bangkok forum, where Khun Wisarut suggested the recreation of the Monthon (circle, มณฑล) Pattani. This circle was established in 1906 and covered the area of the three provinces, at that time still divided into seven Mueang. It was abolished in 1932 and included into the Nakhon Si Thammarat circle, and one year later the circles were abolished altogether.

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