The new commander of the army said that if pro-military parties did not win the 2019 elections the military might stage another government takeover. Officially this would be done “to maintain order”. The implication being that any political parties considered anti-military were a threat to order, especially if they won national elections. A problem like that could only be handled by the restoration of military rule. The implication was that the military would not allow any government that intended to curb the power of the military and subordinate it to civilian authority. In the meantime, anti-military political parties are not allowed to operate in the open.
Solving The Southern Stalemate
Today the leaders of Malaysia and Thailand met in the capital to discuss how to get the peace talks (with the separatist group leaders of the southern three Moslem provinces) moving again. The peace talks have been stalled for over a year. The newly elected Malaysian leader is seeking a way to get the peace talks going, if only because those three provinces are becoming a sanctuary for Malaysian Islamic terrorists. The Malaysian terrorists are fairly secure in those three Thai provinces as long as they stay out of sight and cause no trouble. But from their Thai hideouts, they can organize fatal mayhem in Malaysia.
What has the Thai peace talks, which began in 2014, stalled is the separatists refusing to make a deal until there is an elected government in Thailand. Another stumbling block is that the largest separatist group, BRN, has refused to negotiate unless there are international mediators. The Thai government refuses to allow foreigners to play a role. An elected government is expected to have the same attitude. Because of all that, and the fact that the new Malaysian leaders is a 93 year old reformer, the visit is believed to be mainly for some positive publicity.
Meanwhile, the violence in the south continues to decline. In 2017 there were 140 violent (often non-fatal) incidents in the three Moslem provinces. That’s a 90 percent reduction from the peak year (2007) and the decline continues into 2018. While the violence continues to fade it shows no signs of going away completely. The violence has waned mainly because the government (elected or military) sent more troops and more economic development cash to the south. That, plus the fact that most southerners lose faith in the violence after a few years. There are still diehard separatists down south, as well as a criminal underground (mainly smugglers) to sustain the separatists.
The Moslem south has other problems to deal with. For example, Yala province has experienced a measles epidemic since June, with over 500 cases. Most of these patients are children and six have died so far. The source of this outbreak is a number of local Islamic radicals who have persuaded (or intimidated) many parents to not have their children vaccinated because of rumors that the vaccine was actually a plot by non-Moslems (most Thais are Buddhists) to poison Moslem children or pollute them because vaccines are believed to contain material from pigs (which are considered haram, or unclean, for Moslems). It’s not just measles vaccine that gets denounced but other vaccines as well.
October 17, 2018: The Navy revealed that in September it had hired BMT, a British firm specializing in supervising naval construction projects, to supervise the design of the Thai navy’s new midget submarine and complete their work by early 2019. Last July the navy decided to spend $5.7 million to design a midget submarine of up to 300 tons. At the time it was believed the prototype would cost $30 million. These subs will have a crew of ten and a range of about 500 kilometers. It was feared these subs might never be built because the design phase for such a project usually takes several years and building the prototype another year or two. By contracting out supervision and management of the design work to a firm that specialized in this sort of thing the process can be speeded up considerably and perhaps even completed before the current military government loses power to an elected government in 2019. The military government has already modified the constitution to make it more difficult for an elected government to curb military power and now the head of the army (and key member of the current military government) is making it clear that any such efforts to curb military power would not be allowed.
October 8, 2018: In the south (Songkhla province, just north of the three Moslem provinces and also bordering Malaysia) police caught up with three wanted Islamic terrorists, killing one and arresting the other two. Most recently the three had spent most of their time carrying out robberies to raise cash.
October 4, 2018: In the south (Pattani province) a Buddhist woman and her son were shot dead in the tea shop they operated. Local Islamic terrorists are suspected.