Saturday September 27, 2008
Wassana Nanuam and MUHAMMAD AYUB PATHAN
Army chief Anupong Paojinda has suggested Deputy Prime Minister Chavalit Yongchaiyudh (pictured) handle national security with great care to avoid complicating matters further.
Gen Anupong said he has no idea how wide the scope of Gen Chavalit’s responsibilities will be when security is put in his hands, but his past experience and long military career would be of use.
In the new administration, Gen Chavalit, former prime minister and former army chief, will be responsible for national security, deep South violence and the border dispute with Cambodia because of his cordial relations with Cambodian leaders.
“To ensure security policy is successful, personal feelings should be put aside. To the army, any attempt to cause serious friction is out of the question,” Gen Anupong said.
To political observers, Gen Chavalit offers much hope for a resolution to the border dispute as his close ties might oil the wheels of negotiations and put an end to the stand-off.
Gen Anupong recently went to Surin province to visit the latest disputed area, Ta Kwai Hindu temple, known as Ta Krabey in Cambodia, and prepare relevant information to help the government in future talks.
Considering the current border situation, the army chief said there is no cause for alarm. Gen Anupong said he has not been informed when Prime Minister Somchai Wongsawat and Foreign Minister Sompong Amornvivat will visit the disputed area.
Asked about Cambodian media reports that he was indifferent to government policy on the dispute, he said there was nothing personal and he was doing his best to fulfil his duty.
The Cambodian press recently suggested the army chief was unresponsive towards the government policy relating to troop withdrawal from the disputed areas.
Violence in the far South continued when a grocer was shot and wounded in Yala’s Raman district on Thursday.
Police said Paozi Alee, 30, received serious gunshot wounds after two gunmen opened fire on him at his shop.