Thursday, August 18, 2005

Plan to lure insurgents through Premier League

Residents of Thailand's restive southern provinces are stunned by a central government plan to install free cable televisions in local tea shops and use English Premier League football matches to lure potential insurgents from taking up arms against the state.

Interior Minister ACM Kongsak Wantana - the fourth person in the post in less than two years - reportedly this week tried to push through a plan to give away 500-1,000 cable televisions in the three Muslim-majority provinces.

Kongsak said he believed that showing English Premiership football would help attract young men away from insurgency and put them in front of the television screen. "Most children love watching sports on TV, but they can't afford them at home. So we are giving them what they love, hoping it can solve the problem."

Rawseedee Lertariyapongkul, an adviser to the Young Muslim Association of Thailand, said the initiative did not address the root cause of the problem. Instead, it could end up creating more problems, such as gambling and other forms of vice. He said officials had more important tasks at hand, such as resolving the ongoing problem of missing persons and preventing more killings and bomb attacks.

Democrat Party spokesman Sathit Pithuthecha, said a survey of the region showed that almost every household already had a TV set. He also suspected whether the aim of this initiative was for the well-being of the local residents or the benefit for a "certain private cable company".

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