ID :
Thu, 08/14/2008 - 20:26


PATTANI (Southern Thailand), Aug 14 (Bernama) -- Excessive media reports on the conflict in Pattani had caused tourist arrivals, escpecially from Malaysia to the province to drop, said its governor, Phanu Uthairat.

He also claimed that most Malaysians had been influenced by media reports which relished reporting every terrorism-linked incident in the province to theextent it was driving the tourists away.

"The real incidents are actually not that bad. You can see for yourself the tranquility in Pattani and the harmony of the multi-racial people living in Patani," he told Bernama in an exclusive interview at the Prince of SongkhlaUniversity (PSU), here Thursday.

For instance, he said, the Pattani cultural festival which is currently being organised across the province, was joined by all the people, regardless ofrace and religion.

"They are happy and so will tourists be when they come and visit Pattani.

We will continue to show the harmonious environment. You can see it foryourself, Pattani is a friendly land," he said.

Uthairat said Pattani, with its 600,000 population where 80 per cent are Muslims, is a special province, and the conflict should not scare the touristsaway.

He said the fact that no Malaysian was ever hurt or died in the terrorism incidents in Pattani clearly indicated that the province is safe fortourists.

According to him, the conflict pertaining race and religion should not be exposed excessively, and the Pattani administration would strive in preservingthe harmony.

He also admitted that the Malaysian tourist arrivals to the historical province, especially to the Kersik Mosque and old fort in Yarang, haddeclined.

Prior to this, several terrorism incidents including bomb explosions had occurred in Pattani, with the last incident yesterday which caused injuriesto 18 people including police and forensic officials.

Uthairat also expressed the hope that cross-border cooperation be strengthen between Pattani and Malaysian states so that they could see the clear picture onthe situation in the province.

At the same time, he said he was happy with the presence of Malaysian delegation under the Malaysia-Thailand Regional Border Committee's (RBC) programme in Pattani since Wednesday and hoped that such programme willcontinue.

During the programme, a futsal match between Alor Star City Council and PSUwas also held to nurture the spirit of friendship at the border.

Earlier, Uthairat received a courtesy call from the Border Development Division officers of the Malaysian Security Council, led by its SecurityCoordination chief, Lt Col Che Bakar Mohd Ariffin.