Malay Broadcasts in the Deep South of Thailand
Minister to the Prime Minister’s Office Niwattumrong Boonsongpaisan, who supervises media policy, said that the program content would focus on news and information about the southern border provinces and beyond.
He believed that the broadcasting programs would help improve the quality of life of local residents and help solve problems in the deep South, which has faced unrest since 2004. A number of programs in Malay have already been produced and broadcast by the National Broadcasting Services of Thailand (NBT), operated by the Government Public Relations Department. Listeners and viewers will be able to have them on a full scale in January 2013 and onwards.
The Secretary-General of the Southern Border Provinces Administrative Center, Police Colonel Tawee Sodsong, explained that the southern border provinces of Thailand constitute a multicultural society. Most local people in the three southernmost provinces, namely Pattani, Yala, and Narathiwat, are Muslim and they speak the Malay language. The Government has approved a policy to allow state schools in the South to teach Malay together with the Thai language, and it has also launched a project for public relations in the Malay language to help ease problems in the South.
As part of the project, he said, radio programs in Malay had already been broadcast, and television broadcasting in Malay would be launched by NBT (Television Channel 11), in Yala.
Police Colonel Tawee said that the Southern Border Provinces Administrative Center had invited local residents to participate in the Malay programming and had sounded out public opinion on various forms of the programs.
He stated that Malay broadcasting is also being prepared to help bring about the realization of the ASEAN Community in 2015, because the southern border provinces are considered an important gateway to ASEAN. It would also promote better understanding and communication among the people.
He said that the Southern Border Provinces Administrative Center attached great importance to education and communication in Malay, since a large number of ASEAN citizens, especially those in Brunei Darussalam, Indonesia, and Malaysia, are Muslim. Thailand might establish a Malay language center in the future, as well.
Meanwhile, Minister to the Prime Minister’s Office Nalinee Thaveesin stressed the need to develop language skills among the people in order to achieve ASEAN integration in 2015. Apart from English, which is the working language of ASEAN, Malay is spoken by more than 300 million people in ASEAN and should receive greater attention. She said that the Government intends to enhance proficiency in the Malay language, especially in production and labor sectors, in order to provide more opportunities for the people.