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Thailand: MP Wants Southern MP In Cabinet

BANGKOK, THAILAND: The new Thai Cabinet under Prime Minister Somchai Wongsawat is likely to end up without any representatives from the restive southern provinces like in the previous administration, a prominent law maker from Narathiwat said Friday (19 Sept).

Dr Wan Mahdee Wan Daud said that despite the ongoing intense lobbying among politicians and the six parties in the coalition government to secure posts in Somchai's Cabinet, the 12 members of Parliament (MP) from Narathiwat, Pattani and Yala were lacking the necessary clout to bargain.

"We have the talents and capability but our voices are not strong enough to bargain for seats. The lobbying is very strong among all the six parties, so only those with seniority and power have real chance to be considered," he said in an interview here.

Dr Wan Mahdee, a Puea Pandin party MP from Narathiwat, said it would a big loss for the southern people if they were again excluded from the highest decision-making body, citing the previous Cabinet under prime minister Samak Sundaravej which did not have a single representative from the region.

"We have voiced out our intention to have representatives from the south. But unless the old selection procedures are changed, we don't see any chance of seeing our MPs in the Cabinet," he added.

Somchai Wongsawat, who succeeded Samak after the latter was disqualified by the Constitution Court last week, said today that the Cabinet would be finalised within two or three days as all the six parties kept up their pressure and lobbying to secure posts.

Dr Wan Mahdee said that if representatives from the southern provinces were included in the Cabinet, it would help the dovernment in addressing the conflict and bring the administration closer to the Muslim-majority population.

Since armed militants attacked an army camp in Narathiwat in January, 2004, to resume their struggle for independence, more than 3,300 people have died in daily violence.

Dr Wan Mahdee said that although the Samak government allocated a big budget for the three restive provinces, it did not really benefit the people as a large sum went to the military for security aspects.

"The people want to see more funds for development. At least if there are Cabinet members from the affected areas, we can have better strategy and planning with local output," he said. (Bernama)

MySinchew 2008.09.19


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