PUTRAJAYA: The Thai government recognises Malaysia’s role as the facilitator for peace efforts in southern Thailand, said Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak.
The Prime Minister said his counterpart, Gen Prayut Chan-o-Cha, had also stated categorically that Malaysia was the only country that the Thai government would work with in the effort.
“He gave a firm assurance that the Thai government will continue and be committed to the peace process.
“Our facilitator, Datuk Seri Ahmad Zamzamin Hashim, has also been recognised and accepted by the Thai government to continue his role,” he told reporters after hosting an official luncheon in honour of Gen Prayut at Seri Perdana here yesterday.
Gen Prayut, who was here for a half-day visit, had earlier held a four-eyed meeting with Najib, followed by a delegation meeting.
Najib said they agreed that the peace efforts should be based on basic principles.
“First, there must be a period of respect for the law and no violence. If the parties in the south respect the law, then they have nothing to fear.
“Prayut went to the extent of saying that the army could reduce its presence in the south if violence was discontinued,” he said.
Najib said the second principle was inclusivity, where all parties must be represented in the process.
“We will, through Datuk (Seri Ahmad) Zamzamin, talk to all parties and try to work towards including all parties in the south, not just one or two groups.
“Thirdly, we agreed that it is important that all the demands will be collated and put up as one united demand.
“In other words, all the parties must agree to a list of demands or requests that they should put forward to the Thai government and that would be the basis of starting the actual substantive negotiations with the Thai government,” he said.
It was reported that the Joint Working Group-Southern Thai Peace Process secretariat had held several talks on the efforts but it came to a stop when there was a change of government in Bangkok in May after a coup that saw Gen Prayut, who was army chief, serving as the de facto Prime Minister.
The peace process started in February when the Thai government, which was then under Yingluck Shinawatra, signed an agreement to hold talks with Barisan Revolusi Nasional, comprising Pattani United Liberation Organisation and Barisan Islam Pembebasan Pattani.
Najib added that there was no time-frame set for the peace process to reach a conclusion.
“It is difficult, you know, when you sit down to discuss such a complex matter. It will take time but the important thing is that we have given them a fresh impetus based on the three principles.
“We now need to put them together. We need to reinvigorate the peace process and since Prime Minister Prayut has given his full, unequivocal commitment to the peace process, we will re-start our efforts towards the direction based on the three principles,” he said.