A nation divided

More on Troubles in the South and Nationalism and Right-wing Politics
From the Thai-language press: A nation divided - translation and summary from Manager Daily, February 8, 2005
[Manager Daily's analysis of TRT's loss in the deep south with many details not found in the English-language press.]


The causes of Thai Rak Thai being defeated in the three southern provinces - by Siang Sao Long (pen name of Khun Sonthi Limthongkul - the owner of Manager Group) and further comment by Prachachon
Thai Rak Thai had an overwhelming victory in almost all the country, except for one area. Even though Thaksin and TRT made a strong decision to win in the South, they were totally defeated there.
This is despite TRT fielded an old cast of characters which is the Wadah group and four ex-Democrat Party candidates who defected to join TRT. The TRT faced destiny and were obviously judged by the people. This means people do not agree with the way that government is solving problems in the three provinces.

Three causes for the loss

The cause may be three points as follows:
First, the political election tactic to not use all elements to support the election campaign in the south, but instead rely on money. The candidates know the tendency of the voters and using lots of money alone is useless.
Next, TRT also tried to explained that there was a group that tried to destroy the TRT candidates and that group may have good relationship with the Democrat Party. This is only a way to hide the problem temporarily.
And third, the destiny of Wadah group may be that they are not useful for TRT to get back the seats in the South.
Wadah group or the Muslim reform [Wadah group is a group of Muslim politicians who have influence in the south] is now compared to one standing between buffalo horns which are closing in from left and right. The police and military believe that the Wadah group is involved with the Muslim separatists so they keep an eye on Den Tohmina and Areephen Uttrarasin. Some Muslim groups think that is the wrong way because people will think "they work with the government, but they let the Muslims be suppressed." Although Wadah have a seat in the government--Wan Muhamadnormata--and others, they cannot seem to help solve Muslim problems in the south. The Wadah politicians may not be accepted when they visit people in areas of the South.
People have different reactions to these politicians. There is some group or people who feel glad to see a Muslim representative in the government and these Muslims have become Minister, Deputy Minister and Chairperson of the House of Representatives. But in our natural election system, which is called 'Democratic Patronage,' all of them face the election trap involving the 'gray way,' benefits, and networks like other politicians all the country. The one thing they know is that when they are part of the government, they have to listen to government and they get patronage from the government also.

Reasons for problems in the South

For the problems in the South, there is not only the old problem of land separatism, but also the conservative Islamic religion which is a new problem that arose especially after Thailand sent solders to Iraq, arrested Hambali in Thailand, and charged that community leaders were J.I. It also did not help that Muslim lawyer Somchai Nilapaijit was kidnapped and disappeared. Some problems could be solved by Muslim reformers, but we do not know when we will have the new Muslim reform group that will be accepted be able to participate in the center of government power. [Some people think wish to see a new Muslim reform instead of Wadah.] The phenomenon that Thaksin has no winning candidate in three provinces makes it harder to solve the problem.

Exit polls were completely wrong

Another big problem is the exit poll done by Mr. Sukhum Chaloeisap from Suan Dusit Poll. The team of Mr. Sukhum from Suan dusit poll make the poll and spread out the result showing TRT get seats in The south, but the truth is different totally.
This shows how their work is not professional--especially the results from the three southern provinces. They should do it carefully and professional standard and not favor a certain party. The poll result and election result in many constituencies was conclusive and obvious--especially in the three southern provinces. If the pollsters survey an area using international standards, they would not be completely wrong.
Considering in superficial, it is just an individual nonstandard poll made favorable to TRT.
If we consider more deeply, we have to ask why AIS hired Suan Dusit Poll, why the TV pool cooperated with Suan Dusit Poll, why the Election Commission turned a blind eye to this and why Thai Rak Thai hired Suan Dusit Poll. Are these questions related or linked together? [The accusation here is that TRT manipulates poll results so people in the South would think that TRT was popular before the election.]
This is a question of academic ethics that no one has been able to answer.

Comment by Prachachon in response Siang Sao Long's article
Solving the southern problem cannot be done in a short time no matter using the way of 'politics lead military' or 'military leads politics,' because the situation is just in the beginning and the government still uses violence to suppress.
Solving problems may not be regular work for government officials because there is no more political pressure. [Before the election, government officers had to work hard on solving the problem. After the election, the pressure is off because the next election is not for not less than 3 years.]
The terrorists may continue operating, but it will be not easy as it was. Aceh--where both people and arms were being hidden--was destroyed in the Tsunami. Malaysia also has to be careful if it provide them the place to hide. [While in English issues of other countries supporting the southern rebels is denied, in Thai it is reported matter-of-factly.]
At the moment, the world has vigorous leaders and has the policy to resist Muslims. These are leaders such as Bush, Ms Rice (the new Secretary of State is a hard person), and Tony Blair. The opposition to Blair, Michael Howard, is like Bunyat--a person whom English people do not accept. Although many do not like Mr. Blair, the people have no other choices.
There will probably be bombs and conflict the South for some time like in Iraq where people still live, have an election, life is sacrificed by bombs, and America will not leave until they are tired. [The writer compares the US in Iraq to Thailand in the South.]

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