Sunday, October 07, 2012,Â Songkhla, ThailandÂ -Â Separatist violence has occurred for decades in the three southernmost provinces of Thailand, and the campaign escalated in January 2004. In addition to the legal and operational control mechanism and regional cooperation through intelligence information exchange, efforts such as cultural and religious approaches should be an area of focus, along with promoting good governance followed by a balanced national development.
UEF-Thailand took a step forward to peace in the region with an International Leadership Conference for Peace on the topic Â “Good Governance and Interreligious Cooperation for Lasting Peace”. The Conference was held October 5 to 7 in Songkhla province, the gateway to the three southernmost provinces of Thailand near the border with Malaysia.
The proceedings, held at the BP Samila Beach Hotel and Resort in Songkhla, brought together 350 participants from 21 nations including Buddhist, Christian, Muslim, Hindu, and Sikh religious leaders, scholars of religion, diplomats, and political and community leaders.
Together with UEF, the official co-hosts for the conference were UNESCO, the National Assembly of Thailand, King Prajadhipokâ€™s Institute of the Parliament of Thailand, the Southern Border Provinces Administration Center, the Government of Songkhla, the Songkhla Provincial Administrative Organization, and the Songkhla Municipality. Moreover, the Royal Thai Police and the governmentâ€™s Internal Security Operations Command of Region 4 sent security officers to help with security during the conference. The conference also received financial support from private organizations such as T. Krungthai Industries Public, Ltd., and Wongphanit Suvarnabhumi Recycle Station.
Gen. Charan Kullavanijaya,Â President of the Assembly of Buddhist Organizations of Thailand, President of the Foundation of the Think Tank of the National Defense College and and former Secretary-General of the Thailand National Security Council,Â was invited to give the keynote address. Gen. Charan spoke about Thai views on good governance which requires at least six points:Â 1) Legitimacy,Â 2) Transparency,Â 3) Participation,Â 4) Accountability, 5) Effectiveness, andÂ 6) Righteousness
“Education for clear understanding and good cooperation among people through religious virtues should be strengthened. That will help promote peace in all societies. It is my belief that all religions teach virtues to people. The most important thing is then to promote clear knowledge of those religious virtues and their application,” Gen. Charan said.
The conference was composed of five plenary sessions: 1) The Role of Leaders in Good Governance for Peace, 2) The Role of Interreligious Cooperation in Peace Building, 3) The Situation in Southern Thailand: Problems and Solutions, 4) Innovative Approaches to Peace, and 5) How to Strengthen Families as Foundation for Peace.
Most of the participants, especially the more than 200 Thai participants who were mainly Buddhists and Muslims, were moved and inspired by the UEF presentations. Since speakers in each session were high-level figures in their fields: ministers, Members of Parliament, religious leaders, government officers, etc., especially Hon. Ek Nath Dhakal, who became the Minister of Cooperatives and Poverty Alleviation, they also gave very interesting and useful presentations that attracted participants who filled the hall almost every session.
UEF’s conference in Songkhla was the first international conference in the region with a large number of participants that addressed the problems of the three southernmost provinces of Thailand and proposed peaceful solutions. Mr. Peera Tantiseranee,Â Mayor of Songkhla,Â was inspired by this initiative and international cooperation of UEF. At the end of the first day of the conference, the Songkhla Municipality sponsored the welcoming banquet and presented gifts to all participants.