Friday, December 18, 2009

Nakhon Pattani

The ISRA news site has a quite detailed analysis of the various proposals for a regional autonomy or a special administrative area for the three Muslim dominated provinces. It guess far beyond the vague proposal from Chavalit Yongchaiyudh earlier this year, and mentions concepts discussed in seminars at Chulalongkorn university in June and at Prince of Songkhla University earlier this month. Maybe the most important part of the article is the part where actual details on the suggested administrative structure are given
In essence, the proposed administrative model calls for the dissolution of all the existing provincial administrative organizations, the tambon administrative organizations and the municipalities on ground that they are duplicating one another and they have little access to the people.
Instead, it proposed the creation of three “nakhons” (cities) namely the Pattani City, Yala City and Narathiwat City, each with its own administrators to be elected by people in the three provinces. The three special zone cities will coordinate with the central government in Bangkok through the Southern Border Provinces Administrative Centre, an independent body answerable to the prime minister.
Another model, to be called “Pattani Maha Nakhon” (Greater Pattani City) which combines the three southernmost provinces plus four districts of Songkhla together under one single administrative body, has also been floated. It was further reported that a law calling for the creation of this administrative model was being drafted by Akkacha Promsoot, a member of the Political Development Assembly
Thus the first proposal is very similar to the administrative structure in Bangkok, which is well-established there, and should not pose that much legal difficulties to create it in other parts of the country as well.

The Asia Foundation survey I mentioned yesterday already suggests that further steps to decentralization are rather popular - 75% prefer to elect the provincial governor instead of having them appointed by the Ministry of Interior, 69% say more decentralization is better than keeping the current system, and even a slight majority of 48% say that further decentralization or limited autonomy can help to ease the conflict in the deep south.

However given the current political situation in Thailand with the two factions in so deep political battles I don't see any chance for steps towards more decentralization - that would give more power to the local population away from the elites and central government.

1 comment:

John Francis Lee said...

My data come from

Yala Demographic characteristics
 Total population (’000) - 415.5
 Population in Municipal Area (%) - 27.6

Narathiwat Demographic characteristics
 Total population (’000) - 662.4
 Population in Municipal Area (%) - 24.6

Pattani Demographic characteristics
 Total population (’000) - 596.0
 Population in Municipal Area (%) - 19.5

Why would 1,673,900 predominantly rural people put themselves under control of 71,000 urban people?

Sounds like the recreation of the Bangkok/Thailand regime in miniature.

The other plan is even worse.

Why not just devolve power over local affairs to the locals and elect all the present officials locally?

If the government needs to be restructured the people who live there can do so after public debate and referenda.

Certainly local control of local government is needed all over Thailand, not just in the South.

And just as certainly the godfathers in Bangkok are completely opposed to any dilution of their absolute control of the country.