Published: Tuesday December 8, 2009 MYT 8:20:00 PM
Blast not stopping Najib from visiting southern Thailand
BANGKOK: Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak is not worried about visiting southern Thailand Wednesday, despite Monday's bomb blast in Narathiwat.
“Yes, I am going. God Willing, I don’t think the Thai Government will allow it to happen because as a host country, they have to ensure the security and safety of leaders visiting the country.
“If they think it is not safe, then they will not allow the visit to take place,” the Prime Minister told Malaysian media after holding annual consultations with Thai Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjiva here Tuesday.
Two people were killed and 11 others wounded when a bomb, hidden in a motorcycle, blew off at a busy market in the main town in Narathiwat, one of three mainly Muslim provinces where more than 3,700 people have been killed in nearly six years of violence. The attacks came two days ahead of a planned joint visit by Najib and Abhisit.
Najib is scheduled to visit several places in Narathiwat before flying home.
At a dinner hosted by Abhisit, Najib said he wanted to have a first hand account of the situation in southern Thailand.
Najib is the first Malaysian Prime Minister to visit the area.
“I had made clear of our readiness to assist Thailand in whatever possible and acceptable ways to help resolve the problem,” he added.
In NARATHIWAT, it is business as usual for the locals as they they await the arrival of the leaders.
Traders are pinning their hopes that the visit would bolster business confidence.
Businessman Hamad Awang, 45, said business had been bad everytime violence or murder occurs in the province.
"I do not know how long I can maintain the losses. I am hoping that the visit by both prime ministers will bring peace and stability here,” said Hamad who runs a hardware shop.
Another businessman, Ismail Mohammad, 34, expressed his scepticism of such a visit but hoped that a solution could be reached to restore the elusive economic prosperity.
"I really do not know who or what is causing the instability. I cannot see any peace accord being worked out here because I believe the authorities have no inkling who is behind this,” Ismail said.
Narathiwat Chamber of Commerce chairman Kukiat Buraphaphong said Najib’s visit would benefit the province by boosting international investor confidence.
Security in Narathiwat has been tightened with intensive ground and air patrols.
Bomb disposal squads have been combing areas where the two prime ministers will pass through.
Abhisit and Najib will officiate the opening of a bridge over the Sungai Golok linking Ban Buketa in Waeng district to Kelantan.