Article 85

Security conflicts erupt in open

Panlop tells Chavalit to stop meddling

By Wassana Nanuam

Conflicts among key security agencies and officials in charge of tackling violence in the South are erupting into the open with Gen Panlop Pinmanee, the Internal Security Operations Command deputy director, yesterday demanding that Gen Chavalit Yongchaiyudh, the deputy prime minister and ISOC director, lay off handling the problem altogether.

Lt-Gen Pisarn Wattanawongkeeree, the fourth army region commander, also called for the dissolution of the ISOC forward command headed by Gen Chavalit, saying that it had failed to coordinate security agencies in the South.

Gen Panlop said: ''I think it's time for him (Gen Chavalit) to withdraw from any direct involvement in tackling problems down there otherwise disunity among security personnel would not be tackled.''

Gen Panlop was the man who ordered the attack on Krue Se mosque on April 28, disobeying an order from Gen Chavalit not to do so. He was ordered out of the region within 24 hours by the deputy premier, only to be asked to go back shortly afterwards. Gen Panlop, who had been in charge of security in the region, refused to go back.

Relations between the men has not improved with Gen Panlop apparently blaming Gen Chavalit, the deputy prime minister in charge of security affairs, for the confusion and disunity plaguing security agencies in the region. Gen Chavalit's attempts to patch up his differences with Gen Panlop have been in vain.

Gen Panlop said conflict and disunity among various security agencies in the Muslim-dominated southernmost provinces had widened.

''State mechanisms for tackling security issues are disorganised and in disarray. The problem down there has turned for the worse with various security agencies failing to cooperate,'' charged Gen Panlop.

Gen Panlop said Defence Minister Gen Chettha Thanajaro alone should tackle security problems in the area since Gen Chavalit was known for taking inconsistent stances which caused confusion among security staff.

''Everyone is aware of his good heart but also know that he has no clear standpoint. His inconsistency causes public confusion,'' said Gen Panlop.

The general said it seemed Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra was aware of the problem when he put Gen Chettha in charge last week. ''This could help improve the situation,'' Gen Panlop said.

Gen Panlop also called for the dissolution of the Pattani-based Southern Border Provinces Peace Building Command headed by Gen Chavalit, saying the command failed to fulfil its task of directing security work among various agencies.

Gen Chavalit had pushed for the formation of the SBPPBC _ ISOC's forward command _ in the hope the command would improve cooperation among security units which were said at the time to be far short of unity.

However, since its formation in April, SBPPBC had failed to function properly since it did not have support from senior security officials in the area including Lt-Gen Pisarn, who felt the command would cause confusion.

''The command should be dissolved since it was not given authority in tackling security problems. No one pays any attention and neither the military nor police want to come under direct command of the SBPPBC,'' said Gen Panlop.

Gen Panlop said the decision to set up a police forward command in Yala showed the conflict and disunity present in the region.

''Under present circumstances in which martial law is used to tackle problems in the area, police were supposed to come under the military but instead they made it known they wanted to be independent and set up their own command. The situation is now in a complete mess,'' said Gen Panlop.

Lt-Gen Pisarn was also known to be at odds with Pol Gen Kovit Wattana, the police chief.