The Network of Private Islamic Schools in the Four Districts of Songkhla (Chana, Na Thawi, Thepha and Saba Yoi)
Under the Private Islamic Schools Association of Songkhla Province (PISA)
13 ถนนสุขาภิบาล1 หมู่ที่2 ตำบลบ้านนา อำเภอจะนะ จังหวัดสงขลา
13 Sukkapibal ,M.2 Banna ,Chana ,Songkhla,Thailand.90130
Supporting corruption inquiry, though it has to be conducted with transparency and non–discrimination
Civilian authorities should take the lead, attempts should be made to minimize biases and negative image.
On 28 May 2018, between 9:07-13:40, a group of 15-20 Military Officers visited the Anusorn Triem Panya School in Tamon Tha Muang, Thepa District, Songkhla. The group was led by First Lt. Chaiyan Amphandaeng (Intelligence Officer, Pattani Taskforce) included Pol Maj. Col. Pithak Chaisamuth (Deputy Chief of the Taskforce) and other officers dressed in black uniforms with the word CSI embroidered on it.
At the time of their visit, many students (mostly preschool students and 12th graders) were present in the school. Most of the teaching staff who were present were women with only four male teachers amongst them.
Upon their arrival, the military officers were invited by the School Director, Mr. Abdullah Maerah, to a meeting room. After a welcome address, the leader of the security team said that they had come to search the school and explained their reasons for doing so.
Mr. Abdullah Maerah asked to see a warrant of search, but the officers explained that the search warrant had not yet been signed by their superior officers.
The officer further said, that they had come across a receipt which showed that the school had made a purchase from Jae Ku Fatohni shop. Mr. Abdullah Maerah responded that he had never been to the shop and had not heard of it before.
The staff of the school asked to see the receipt as claimed by the officers. They wanted to know about the kind of items that had been purchased by the school from Jae Ku Fatohni shop and the cost of such items. However, the officers said that they did not have the receipt. They further claimed, that Mr. Abdullah Maerah was a partner in the shop. Mr. Abdullah Maerah refuted the allegations that he was a partner.
The officers then asked to see all the documents relating to the School including its financial records, documents concerning free lunch program for students and others.
The search of the school in such an unlawful manner has made it and its personnel become suspects. The students’ parents have started to lose confidence in the school. Since then, the school has received many enquiries from parents regarding the search operations.
Given that there have been no established facts about the allegation, the school has no information to give and dispel any enquires of the parents. The officers who came here could not produce any evidence including the warrant.
The military operation conducting the search has only tarnished the image of the school. Meanwhile, both the teachers and students are terrified and depressed while the male teachers are worried about their safety.
The present search and the previous search of Bakong Wittaya School and Prasan Wittaya School in Pattani as reported by Thai and foreign media, have been allegedly conducted by invoking Section 44 of the Interim Constitution and the Head of the National Council for Peace and Order no.3/2558 dated 1 April 2015. The authorities have claimed that the searches were necessary for exploring/seizing, forfeiting documents concerning school corruption as part of an attempt to address insurgencies in the Deep South.
The Network of Private Islamic Schools in the Four Districts of Songkhla (Chana, Na Thawi, Thepha and Saba Yoi) under the Private Islamic Schools Association of Songkhla Province (PISA) would like to make the following observations and recommendations;
- We affirm our stand against corruption and believe that education management for children and youth plays an important role in terms of enhancing their quality of life. Corruption results in ineffective use of resources and is illegal.
- We have questions about whether the search of Triam Panya Kindergarten School had been sanctioned by a written warrant or not. The officers’ operation affects the School and it could be an administrative act that has led to an excessive use of power and violation of principles of proportionality. Therefore, responsible agencies should publicly show their responsibility and the responsible officers should face an inquiry and disciplinary and criminal action. All of the important documents seized from the schools must be immediately returned.
- The Invocation of Section 44 of the Interim Constitution and the Head of the National Council for Peace and Order no.3/2558 dated 1 April 2015 or even the Order no. 35/2561 of the Pattani Taskforce per the order of ISOC no. 236/2561 has much ramification on the administration of schools. These laws have been invoked exclusively against private Islamic schools. Military personnel have raided schools and asked to see documents in a manner similar to an offensive operation with the use of a large force. Such operation has compromised the schools’ image making our personnel and students terrified. It also affected our teaching and learning procedure and could be tantamount to a violation of human rights.
- Corruption investigation in schools and educational institutes has always been subjected to the duties and roles of civilian authorities. By having military forces to raid schools would simply compel them to concede to any demand and it is an unnecessary act since civilian agencies have more understanding of the education management. The use of military force in civilian affairs including to address conflicts in the Southern Border Provinces has resulted in protracted situations.
- On one hand, the Network is willing to cooperate with the authorities and welcomes any investigation to demonstrate our sincerity and transparency and to uphold good governance practice. On the other, it is expected that the authorities shall also uphold the rule of law and avoid discrimination based on reasons of race and religion. The Network pledges to do anything to protect its entitlements being part of Thai citizen.
1. The offices in charge of investigation should first explore and compile evidence and if culpable information could be established, it should be followed up by an inquiry committee led by civilian authorities.
2. Such inquiry should be conducted in a transparent manner and not exclusively on only private Islamic schools. Inquiries conducted by military agencies have often been made without checks and balances from other concerned agencies and have often been made an internal or secret procedure. But military operations do affect the image of schools and impact teachers, parents and students as well as communities as a whole. Military operations have often been conducted without transparency and with discrimination. Local people may find the operations led by military and ISOC discriminate against them and it would have devastated their confidence in such investigations.
3. The state should carry out an inquiry into all subsidy programs in all kinds of schools since all the disbursement of funds has been made through one single system regulated by all government agencies involved with such school subsidization.
4. A special committee should be set up review the management of curriculum on religious and basic education, recruitment of personnel in religious schools and basic schools, and review subsidy programs based on the factual information and appropriate to the unique characteristics of schools in order to address any problems, de jure and de facto.
5. The enforcement of special laws including Martial Law should be made only in an extremely necessary situation. Even in areas under Martial Law, the law should be invoked to solve all the problems. For school corruption, normal laws are fine since it does not directly concern national security. And to ensure legal compliance, the officers are urged to produce warrants or search before the search and to change their attitude and behavior which are now considered intimidating.
6. A Council of Education for the Southern Border Provinces should be set up based on cooperation from all parties concerned to help mobilize education reform appropriate to the area and in compliance with international standards.
Signed Network of Private Islamic Schools in the Four Districts of Songkhla (Chana, Na Thawi, Thepha and Saba Yoi)
(Under the Private Islamic Schools Association of Songkhla Province (PISA)
28 Tamadan Hijrah 1439
13 June 2018