Thaksin Promises to End Poverty in Six Years, Stop Southern Insurgency
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Thaksin Promises to End Poverty in Six Years, Stop Southern Insurgency


By Sutin Wannabovorn/AP Writer/Bangkok Wednesday, March 23, 2005


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Thailand’s recently re-elected prime minister pledged Wednesday to eradicate poverty in his country within six years and vowed to stop a separatist insurgency in the country's Muslim-dominated south.

 

In an address to Parliament outlining his second-term agenda, Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra also said he would invigorate Thailand’s economy through grass-roots policies and infrastructure projects, and raise the country’s profile through bids for high-level representation at the United Nations and other global agencies.

 

“The next four years is a period of transforming Thailand into a stable and secure country in all aspects,” Thaksin told the joint session of Parliament.

 

Thaksin’s Thai Rak Thai, or Thai Love Thai, party swept to victory in Feb 6 elections, claiming an unprecedented majority of 377 out of 500 seats in the lower house of Parliament.

 

In his speech, Thaksin acknowledged the ongoing violence in the south, which has killed more than 700 people since January last year.

 

Critics accuse his government of exacerbating the rebellion with hard-line tactics, but Thaksin on Wednesday showed little sign of relenting from those policies.

 

“The government will resolve the problem in the southern provinces by mobilizing all necessary resources,” said Thaksin, without elaborating. A new military unit was recently established in the south to quash the insurgency, blamed on Muslim separatists.

 

“Law enforcement will be strictly enforced to make it an area of peace and order for the safety of the lives and property of the people,” Thaksin added.

 

The prime minister also vowed to stamp out poverty in six years. He proposed help for the poor in turning their assets and property into funds for capital investment and said he would continue a low-cost health care plan that charges just 30 baht (78 US cents) per hospital visit.

 

Thaksin, a former telecommunications tycoon, said his government will push for free trade deals and encourage more regional cooperation in Southeast Asia.



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