The ongoing insurgency in the region has claimed more than 3,400 lives since January 2004, and the end to the violence is nowhere in sight.
For the Army, it was an opportunity to explain the Internal Security Act. For the non-government representatives, it was an opportunity to grill the men in uniform about the merits of the ISA, its roots and rationale.
The ISA came into being during the military-appointed government of Surayud Chulanont. The official reason was that the old anti-communist law was outdated and therefore a new law was needed to cover security issues in the region. Some analysts said the act was designed to cement the Army's place in Thai politics.
Some of the top brass quietly, reluctantly admitted that the law was designed to counter former premier Thaksin Shinawatra, the man whom the Army ousted in the September 2006 coup.
The previous government passed the Act and the current administration is tasked with outlining the standard operating procedure, or SOP.
The Act breathed new life into the nearly defunct Internal Security Operation Command (Isoc), making it the engine for the Act. However, jump-starting it is still a problem. No one seems to know where to begin or is willing to predict how the division of labour is going to work out, because there are just too many government agencies, especially in the deep South.
Moreover, as was repeatedly raised at last week's seminar, what is the role of civil society in this matter? The Act stipulates that the ISA must permit civil society groups to have their say and that the Cabinet must approve measures such as the time, place and duration of the enforcement span.
But Lt General Dapong Ratanasuwan, the Army's assistant chief of staff for operations, was pretty blunt as to where he stands on the matter.
"This is a security law, not a civil law. You are going to have to sacrifice your rights," Dapong told the packed seminar, half of whom were ethnic Malays from various civic groups in the three worst-affected southernmost provinces.
Of course there are others who think the Act and its associated laws are too accommodating, as indeed are items such as Article 21, which permits plea bargaining for suspected Malay Muslim insurgents to be lifted.
For the moment, the security agencies operating in the deep South can pick and choose from various stipulations in the Martial Law, Emergency Law and the current ISA, a combination of which permit the authorities to hold suspects for more than 30 days in detention without charge, or allow them any legal assistance.
The problem in defending this is the fact that more and more released suspects have come out and talked about being tortured by their captors, usually within the first 72 hours of detention. In March 2008, a Narathiwat imam was beaten to death in front of his son. Army chief, General Anupong Paochinda, vowed to get to the bottom of the matter. He has yet to do so, and the international community believes such a culture of impunity could lead to further radicalisation of insurgents. The government consistently requires nudges for it to do something about the case.
But with a new government comes a new set of problems. Speaking to The Nation on the side of the seminar, Chulalongkorn University Associate Professor Panithan Wattanayagorn thinks the Democrat-led government would like to see civilians having a bigger say in the matter.
If such line of thinking comes to fruition, one could see the return of the Southern Border Provinces Administrative Centre (SBPAC), a civilian-led agency that was dissolved by the first Thaksin administration and brought back, but without the same clout or charisma, in 2007 by the Surayud government. The current structure, as stipulated by the ISA, gives supremacy to the military as it places the SBPAC under the Isoc.
The question is whether the Democrats will be tough enough or will be able to remain in power long enough to push something like this through - knowing that they wouldn't be where they are today if it wasn't for the military.
The armed forces' reluctance to cooperate with the two previous governments, billed as proxies of Thaksin, and so helped the Democrats return to power. For the Democrats to act against the Army's wishes now would, at the least, be a slap in the face.