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NEWS UPDATES Asean Affairs           15   August  2011

Teacher leader urges southern security

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The chairman of the Confederation of Teachers in the southern border provinces, Boonsom Tongsriprai, says successive governments have failed to tackle the insurgent violence in Narathiwat, Pattani and Yala.

He is angry after watching one teacher after another falling victim to the bullets of gunmen since the insurgency returned in 2004. Since then, 144 teachers have been killed and 136 injured.

They are still targets, as insurgents regard teachers as a hostile group representing Bangkok-based interests, attempting to exercise authority over the Muslim-dominated provinces.

The latest victim was Somboon Jongdoem, 57, assistant director of Kongthapbok Utis School, in Nong Chik district, Pattani. He was shot and wounded on Tuesday by a gunman on a motorcycle.

A week before, Noppadon Sasimonthon was killed in a drive-by shooting while leaving his home for Tanyongluloh School in Muang district of the same province.

What the confederation wants is simple: better protection for its members.

Mr. Boonsom has led teachers to Bangkok for many meetings with government leaders and education ministers.

The confederation has also staged peaceful rallies in Bangkok and occasionally resorted to tougher measures such as temporarily refusing to teach, to send a message to those in power.

Politicians listened to their plight, promised better protection, and paid them danger money.

But Mr. Boonsom said little had changed, or improved.

Security officials provide escorts for teachers. But the main concern for the confederation is teachers who make lone trips both during and after work.

Teachers are still an easy target for insurgents, as security authorities lack coordination, he said.

Each unit of soldiers and police has its own area, and they confine themselves to that zone.

In theory, all security forces come under the Internal Security Operations Command but in reality, their operations lack unity, he said. "Everybody is concerned about taking care of his own area. They do not coordinate with the others," he said.

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This year in Thailand-what next?

AseanAffairs   04 January 2011
By David Swartzentruber      

It is commonplace in journalism to write two types of articles at the transition point between the year that has passed and the New Year. As this writer qualifies as an “old hand” in observing Thailand with a track record dating back 14 years, it is time take a shot at what may unfold in Thailand in 2011.

The first issue that can’t be answered is the health of Thailand’s beloved King Bhumibol, who is now 83 years old. He is the world's longest reigning monarch, but elaborate birthday celebrations in December failed to mask concern over his health. More


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