Puea Thai Party chairman Chavalit Yongchaiyudh is proposing the establishment of a special administrative area comprising the three troubled provinces of Pattani, Yala and Narathiwat.When this idea was first picked up by a leading politician in January 2008, it was quickly denied. Interestingly in June this year prime Minister Abhisit himself proposed some kind of autonomy without going into any details, but now the idea was brought up by the opposition he has to deny it.
The former prime minister said he would put forward the idea at meetings with local leaders during his trip to the far South, which begins tomorrow.
He was proposing the three provinces form a self-administration area. As in other special administrative areas, legislation would have to be passed to enable it, he said.
Bangkok Post, November 2 2009, Chavalit pushing special zone for South
However as usual the articles around this issue fail to deliver to tell what is actualy meant by this "autonomy", which responsibilities of the central administration should be transferred to the newly created body. It somehow seems that since some of the articles call about a "Pattani city" it means something modeled after the central administrative zone Bangkok, where the elected administration has many of the responsibilities otherwise in the hands of the centrally appointed provincial administration. A small quote from another article indicates that Chavalit thinks about more decentralization
On Tuesday, Gen Chavalit defended his "Pattani City" model, saying that all he meant was a form of local government not an independent Pattani state, as it was being interpreted by the government. (Bangkok Post, November 4)I don't know whether the decentralization of the second half of the 1990s with the creation of the TAO, new tasks for the PAO, upgrade of the sanitary districts to municipalities did fulfill the expectations, but continuing the decentralization at province level only in the deep south does not make sense for me, why shouldn't the other parts of the country not deserve elected province governors or a really powerful provincial parliament instead of the weak PAO.
The central point of the very recommended book Tearing apart the land : Islam and legitimacy in Southern Thailand by Duncan McCargo is that the insurgency is mostly caused by a lack of legitimacy of the administration, so a decentralization may help. But why the previous steps of decentralization did not prevent the violence to erupt after many years of relative peace.