Thaksin’s so-called “Cheap Criminals”
“There are no organized terrorists, they are only only cheap criminals.” – Thaksin Shinawatra
Civil unrest began in the three southern provinces after the Thaksin government abolished the Southern Border Provinces Administration Centre, and replaced it with a special command center which combined the police task-force and the army for provision of the region. This decision made the Thai southerners feel disconnected and irrelevant from the sovereignty of their land, which led to groups of unknown men instigating attacks on civilians and government officials from that moment onwards.
A lot of war-grade armaments were stolen in a series of attacks and raids during 2002 after the dedicated organization that dealt with the situation in the 3 southernmost provinces shut down and were forced to hand over the peacekeeping missions from the task force to the local police authorities.
“The terrorist organization in the south has no more than 30 high-ranking individuals. These low-life criminals will be eradicated within 3 months and the government guarantees that peace will return to the 3 border provinces.” Thaksin Shinawatra
These so-called unskillful criminals burned down 18 schools in Narathiwat province as a decoy to divert the state’s attention and emergency response units away, while another team stole armaments from the army garrison in the area. 4 soldiers were killed on the scene and “the cheap criminals” looted more than 314 firearms. This situation led to the famous quote “If you have a whole battalion down there and you still can’t defend yourself, then you deserve to die”.
There are no signs that the violence in the border provinces are going to die down anytime soon, and unrest continues to persist in the region until today.
On 28 April 2004, A firefight broke out at a major Musjid in Pattani province, 108 assailants were killed on the scene, 30 were killed inside the Musjid. On 25 October of the same year, 7 protesters were killed during the demonstration demanding the local self-defending unit be released from captivity, another 78 protesters lost their lives during the trip to the hospital. Deep South Watch organization has reported that there has been more than 20,029 situations, 6,871 deaths, and more than 13,460 wounded.
The underlying problem amid this violent crisis stems from having a leader who did not want to promote equality and fairness, shifting significant investments on development towards their political territories while regions backing their opposition were left frail.
Had such catastrophes risen in other particular regions, perhaps the government at the time would have taken the situation less lightly and solved the problem sustainably.
If we were to choose a new leader, the person should be someone who promotes equality and does not discriminate the allocation of funds based on who supported them. At the end of the day whether they are winners are losers, both sides equate to one common reality and that is we are all Thai. We are stronger together, always.