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PM says govt ready to cooperate with the OIC

Posted by pakin On January - 13 - 2016 ADD COMMENTS

PRIME MINISTER Prayut Chan-o-cha told Iyad Ameen Madani, secretary-general of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation, yesterday that his government was willing to cooperate with the OIC on all matters with the exception of violence in the deep South.

Thailand has expertise in various fields such as healthcare, agriculture, food security and the halal industry, Government Spokesman Weerachon Sukhonthapatipak quoted Prayut as telling the OIC chief after the meeting.

Meanwhile, Madani praised the government for its efforts to solve the conflicts in the predominantly Muslim Southern region via political means and dialogue.

Prayut told Madani that his government had a dual-track strategy to promote development in the area as well as promote peace talks with the insurgents.

The peace process has three phases: building trust, creating a code of conduct to cut down on confrontations, and building a consensus around the road map to peace, Weerachon said.

Prayut told reporters before meeting the OIC chief that he was not aware that the Mara Patani group had met with Madani in Malaysia to discuss peace solutions for the deep South. The Mara Patani group surfaced to explore possibilities of peace negotiations with the government recently.

Thai authorities are struggling to contain violence in the deep South that flared up in 2004, claiming more than 5,000 lives since. The OIC has occasionally criticised previous Thai governments for their treatment of the Muslim minority in the South.

“I’ve already had principles in my head. Don’t talk to me if you don’t have any principles. We can’t manage the issue on our own,” Prayut said. “How many lives have been lost [because of the insurgency]? No amount of money is worth their lives.”

The two sides also discussed the issue of Rohingya people who have been trafficked to Thailand frequently over the past years. The government promised to tackle the problem at its root cause and will take human rights into account, Weerachon said.

Energy Minister Anantaporn Kanjanarat also told reporters yesterday that the government had talked with Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen during his recent visit to Thailand about cooperating to develop petroleum deposits in the two countries’ overlapping area in the Gulf of Thailand

An agreement could be reached by next year.

Twarath Sutabutr, director-general of the Energy Policy and Planning Office, said the National Energy Policy Council had recently agreed for the ministry to draw up a plan to purchase LNG from the spot market as long as it is cheaper than domestic gas.

Areepong Bhoocha-Oom, permanent secretary of the ministry, said that because LNG spot prices had fallen below the contractual prices of natural gas in some domestic fields, PTT should reduce its purchases from domestic sources and import LNG.

“This is in line with our strategy to prolong depleting domestic gas reserves,” he said.

At the current LNG spot price of US$7.8 per million British thermal units, some domestic fields such as the Platong block operated by Chevron in the Gulf of Thailand are selling gas at a higher rate, he said.

Out of about 4 billion cubic feet per day of gas purchased from domestic sources, about 1 billion is more expensive than LNG. However, up to 500 million cubic feet per day (mmcfd) of supply could be cut, he said.

Natural gas piped in from Myanmar is also costlier than LNG spot prices, but has a higher minimum volume of purchases, and reducing the purchases won’t help preserve domestic gas reserves, he said.

Veerasak Pungrassamee, director-general of the Mineral Fuels Department, said PTT had already started to cut gas purchases from domestic sources. However, considering the minimum contractual obligations, the maximum reduction of domestic gas supply could be only 300mmcfd.

Also, cutting all that amount could lead to an increase in the price of natural gas for vehicles (NGV) and the electricity tariff, as the specifications for LNG are different than for domestic gas.

The maximum domestic gas volume that can be cut without affecting NGV and electricity costs is about 60-80mmcfd, he said.

THE NATIONAL Reform Steering Assembly (NRSA) yesterday briefed 74 Thailand-based foreign diplomats and the heads of six international organisations about its reconciliation and reform efforts.

“We explained to them that reconciliation can’t simply be done by having two sides negotiating with each other,” said Kamnoon Sidhisamarn, the NRSA spokesperson.

“We have to reform in order to eliminate [social] inequality, which is the root of crises [in the country].”

Some of the diplomats asked how reconciliation would be carried out by the “Five Rivers” of power, which comprises the NRSA, the Constitution Drafting Commission (CDC), the National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO), the Cabinet and the National Legislative Assembly (NLA).

Initially, the NRSA’s committee on political affairs would propose a framework for reconciliation within 30 days, Kamnoon said. They agreed that it was one of the most important agendas that needed to be accomplished during the NRSA’s 18-month timeframe. The joint committee of the NRSA, the Cabinet and the NLA would also decide if amnesty was appropriate and how reconciliation should be achieved.

Initially, the NRSA’s committee on political affairs would propose a framework for reconciliation within 30 days, Kamnoon said. They agreed that it was one of the most important agendas that needed to be accomplished during the NRSA’s 18-month timeframe. The joint committee of the NRSA, the Cabinet and the NLA would also decide if amnesty was appropriate and how reconciliation should be achieved.

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