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Pillion riders to be banned on motorbikes
Wassana Nanuam, Bangkok Post (24 Aug 2004)

BANGKOK, THAILAND: The Defence Ministry has agreed in principle to ban motorcyclists from carrying pillion passengers in the restive southern provinces of Pattani, Yala and Narathiwat.

Starting from today, bikes carrying passengers will be stopped and issued a warning, a source said.

This was intended to make people feel there was so much trouble riding pillion that they should give it up. It was unclear when the total ban would be introduced.

The prohibition, proposed by Defence Minister Chettha Thanajaro, was approved yesterday at a meeting in Pattani.

It is likely to make the minister very unpopular in the southern region.

Gen Chettha said earlier he had ordered Fourth Army chief Gen Pisarn Wattanawongkeeree to invoke martial law and implement the ban in the three provinces. He said most of the killing in the far South was by gunmen riding pillion on motorbikes. Barring pillion riders would reduce the violence by half.

Abdullohmal Abdul Somad, chairman of the Narathiwat Islamic Committee, said it was impractical and certain to meet resistance. Forcing people to ride separate motorcycles was also contrary to the government's fuel economy policy.

Wae-uma Waedoloh, a kamnan of tambon Tanlong Luloh in Pattani, said the ban would disrupt people's lives and hit taxi motorcyclists hardest.

Gen Chettha previously proposed a ban, but it died before it received serious consideration due to public opposition. Gen Chettha said this time he meant business.

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