On 23 February 2023, Asia Centre and 4 other Southern Thailand academic institutions – Fatoni University, Thaksin University, Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences, Prince of Songkla University (Pattani Campus), Faculty of Law, Prince of Songkla University – each signed a Memorandum of Cooperation (MoC) with the National Human Rights Commission of Thailand (NHRCT).
Held at the Science Park, Prince of Songkla University and coordinated by NHRCT’s southern region office, the joint signing ceremony was witnessed by Assistant Professor Suchart Setthamalinee, National Human Rights Commissioner of Thailand and Professor Sirirurg Songsivilai, Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Higher Education, Science Research and Innovation.
The event was attended by key stakeholders in the southern of Thailand such as students, faculty members, media, Internal Security Operations Command (ISOC) and the Southern Border Provinces Administrative Centre (SBPAC).
Asia Centre was represented by its regional director Dr. James Gomez, Centre Manager Patcharee Rattanarong, who was a witness to the MoC signing and Researcher Korbusol Neelapaichit who interpreted and coordinated the Centre’s participation at the event. All signatories, including Asia Centre, hosted a booth that showcased their work.
After the signing ceremony and to kick-off the MoC implementation, a panel discussion was held with all the signatories to brainstorm possible ways of collaboration. All panellists agreed to utilise their strengths and capacities to drive the collaboration on promoting human rights works.
Speaking for Asia Centre, Dr. James Gomez said the Centre can use its Southeast Asian expertise and networks to provide a regional perspective to addressing issues both in Southern Thailand and the country in general. Dr. Gomez, additionally announced that the Centre will be prepared to sign bilateral agreements with the other signatories to further strengthen cooperation in Southern Thailand.
The MoC was signed following several years of prior collaboration between Asia Centre and NHRCT. In 2021, Asia Centre’s representatives participated in “The Official Launch of the Regional Center for Human Rights Study and Coordination” at the Faculty of Political Science, Ubon Ratchathani University. As a follow up, Dr. Gomez paid a courtesy call on Ms Prakayrat Tonteerawong, the National Human Rights Commissioner to exchange views on possible collaborations. As part of Asia Centre-NHRCT continued engagement, Ms. Pornprapai Ganjanarintr, Chairperson of the National Human Rights Commission of Thailand spoke at the Centre’s report launch of “Infodemic and SDGs: Internet Freedoms in Southeast Asia”. In October 2022, Asia Centre held a consultation session with the Office of NHRCT Southern Region office to understand the key human rights issues affecting Southern Thailand.
These activities led to the signing of the MoC between Asia Centre and NHRCT. Given the strong interest, it is expected that the Centre will also sign further MoUs with other partners in Southern Thailand.
A video of the signing ceremony is available on Asia Centre’s Facebook Page.
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