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Sweep it under the carpet and no one will notice

There is no political will to bring an end to the southern insurgency because our leaders see it as localised and manageable, despite daily deaths

For a man who seems reluctant to go to the deep South, Deputy Prime Minister Chalerm Yoobamrung always succeeds in getting himself associated with developments in the restive region. Chalerm shoots himself in the foot with some off-the-wall statements about how the conflict could be resolved and how others have got it all wrong.

Often, while trying to calm the media and the public in his capacity as the government's security boss, Chalerm seems to be unaware of certain security matters, nationally and internationally. The fact that he is one of Thailand's top security chiefs makes this a point of concern.

Chalerm has a response to everything, even on how the conflict in the Malay-speaking South should be reported. In fact, if he had it his way, it wouldn't be reported at all - at least not accurately, anyway.

With regard to the conflict in the Muslim-majority deep South, Chalerm last month said something along the lines that if the media stopped presenting news about the insurgent violence, the situation would improve.

While it may be true that conflict and insurgency are "communicative actions" and that insurgents may rely on the media to propagate "information warfare", the trouble in Thailand's deep South is nowhere near that point. The theatre of violence remains in the three southernmost provinces, and much of the violence appears to be tit-for-tat between the security forces and the insurgents.

And because the conflict remains localised, Thai policy-makers and national leaders remain half-hearted about formulating a bold and meaningful policy to change the situation for fear that it will cost them political capital.

One can also say that the Malay-Muslim insurgents have failed to demonstrate to the Thai state that its national security is at stake. This explains why policy-makers continue to treat it as a regional matter.

But let's not bark up the wrong tree. We should look at the problem for what it is.

Just recently Chalerm announced that he would be visiting Malaysia and Indonesia to seek their assistance in resolving the conflict in the South. Let's hope he doesn't come up with promises that he or the country cannot keep.

Chalerm has also picked on a recently released report by the Institute for Economics and Peace (IEP) that ranked Thailand eighth in a global peace index of 158 countries affected by terrorism.

Chalerm immediately assumed that the IEP didn't know the difference between ongoing political protests and the conflict in the Malay-speaking South, and that the report may have combined the two problems to come up with an exaggerated figure and global ranking.

With regard to reports in the Western media quoting Western intelligence agencies linking a stockpile of chemicals discovered in Thailand in January 2012 to Hezbollah, Chalerm dismissed any suggestion that Thailand might be a hub for terrorists, or even just a place visited by members of international terrorist organisations. He spoke as if the country is not part of this world, geographically anyway. His explanation was that Thailand is a Buddhist country and we don't take sides because we're friends with everybody.

Remember how the Thaksin Shinawatra government said the same thing over and over in 2003, and then all of a sudden Riduan Issamudin - also known as "Hambali", the mastermind behind the 2002 Bali bombing - was arrested in Ayutthaya? It was also revealed later that Hambali and his associates made their way to Bangkok, where they cooked up the plan for the Bali attack.

Chalerm doesn't have to look too far back to learn from the past to understand what happened.

Sadly, what is lacking from him and others is the political will and courage to call a spade a spade. And so they think they can get away with insulting the intelligence of the general public - the very people who put their trust in them to look after our national security.

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Tuesday 31 October 2017

Eight people have been killed and at least 11 injured in an "act of terror" after a man drove a pick-up truck onto a path for cyclists in New York city.

The 29-year-old driver of the truck was shot by police in the abdomen and taken into custody after he crashed the truck into a school bus and fled his vehicle, according to New York City Police Commissioner James O'Neill.

Speaking at a press conference, New York Mayor Bill de Blasio said the attack was "a particularly cowardly act of terror". 

The mayor said: "It's a very painful day in our city. Horrible tragedy on the West Side.

"Let me be clear, based on the information we have at this moment, this was an act of terror and a particularly cowardly act of terror. Aimed at innocent civilians, aimed at people going about their lives who had no idea what was about to hit them.

"We at this moment based on the information we have, we know of eight innocent people who have lost their lives. And over a dozen more injured."

Mr O'Neill said the driver was armed with a paintball gun and a pellet gun.

The driver hit a school bus, injuring two children and two adults on board before exiting the pick-up truck.

The man was shot in the abdomen by a uniformed officer before being taken into custody.

The commissioner said a statement made by the suspect when he exited the vehicle was "consistent" with a terrorist attack.

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo said there was no evidence to suggest a wider plot or wider scheme.

US President Donald Trump said the attacker was "very sick" and a "deranged person".

British Prime Minister Theresa May tweeted: "Appalled by this cowardly attack, my thoughts are with all affected. Together we will defeat the evil of terrorism. UK stands with #NYC."

A police spokesman posted a photo showing a white pick-up truck on the bike path with its front end mangled and the hood crumpled.

The rented truck had logos of the Home Depot hardware store chain.

Mangled and flattened bicycles littered the bike path, which runs parallel to the West Side Highway on the western edge of Manhattan along the Hudson River.

One witness told reporters at the scene that he heard about five gunshots before seeing a large man being taken into custody.

"He seemed very calm," the witness said. "He was not putting up a fight."

A witness told ABC Channel 7 that he saw a white pick-up truck drive south on the bike path at full speed and hit several people.

A video apparently filmed at the scene and circulated online showed scattered bikes on the bike path and at least two people lying on the ground.

Tell us what you think

Let's see what unfolds in seems it's only just beginning here but who knows the truth? Watch this space.

Posted by Ronit on 2013-01-10 04:33:05 GMT