Thai peace talks: Malaysia ever ready to facilitate further dialogue

Former IGP Abdul Rahim Noor. (Bernama pic)

KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysia today said it was prepared to facilitate a dialogue between Majlis Syura Patani (Mara Patani) and the Thai government if there are calls to do so.

Former inspector-general of police Abdul Rahim Noor, who is the facilitator in the southern Thailand peace talks, said Putrajaya was in a “wait-and-see” phase for developments following the decision of the Mara Patani dialogue panel to suspend talks with the Thai government.

“This is a domestic issue. When one side makes an inquiry or seeks anything from the other side, we will facilitate. We will adopt a ‘wait-and-see’ approach for now.

“There must be a request from either side for negotiations (to be held). We cannot arrange anything unless there is a request.

“We just facilitate,” he told Bernama when asked to comment on the decision of the Mara Patani dialogue panel.

Mara Patani represents several groups in southern Thailand.

The head of the Mara Patani dialogue panel, Shukri Hari, was reported to have suspended talks until after the conclusion of Thailand’s general election in March.

This followed the group’s disappointment that the head of the Thailand peace panel, Gen Udomchai Thammasarorat, would not be attending a meeting.

Shukri said Mara Patani and the Thailand dialogue teams had arrived in Kuala Lumpur on Saturday for the introductory meeting yesterday after it had been arranged by Rahim.

Mara Patani was disappointed when informed that Udomchai would not be attending the meeting but would only be meeting Shukri personally later.

Mara Patani called on the Thai government to replace Udomchai in order to find a solution to the long-running conflict in southern Thailand.

The conflict, which erupted in 2004 in the four southern Thailand provinces of Pattani, Yala, Narathiwat and Songkhla, has claimed more than 6,500 lives.