Powers urged to offer olive branch

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 27 June, 2006, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 27 June, 2006, 12:00am

The landmark 74-page report by the National Reconciliation Commission offers no shortage of long-term solutions to restore order to Thailand's troubled south.

The question is whether Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra and his senior officials are prepared to listen as they pursue a 'military solution'.

Headed by former prime minister and businessman Anand Panyarachun, the commission was created to produce the report. It represented the most intense effort presented so far, bringing together dozens of informed and knowledgable players on all sides of the debate.

While stopping short of autonomy, the body offers prescriptions that are detailed and broad, promoting reforms across education, justice and economic development that are acceptable to the traditional Muslim majority in the south, and acknowledging their full rights as Thai citizens.

Presented earlier this month, the report calls for the use of the Malay dialect, Yawi, in local schools, the creation of reconciliation bodies to pass down power to locals and a concerted crackdown on incompetent civil servants, and police and soldiers who take the law into their own hands.

Several senior officials have admitted they have yet to read the report in full. Mr Thaksin has yet to comment on it in detail.