PUTRAJAYA: Malaysia and Thailand will institute joint efforts to fight terrorism and criminal activities, following the recent spate of bombings in Southern Thailand.
The measures will include tightening border checks for criminals and intensifying development in border areas to prevent unscrupulous groups from exploiting poverty to further their own interest.
The decision was arrived at during a four-eyed meeting here yesterday between Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi and his Thai counterpart Thaksin Shinawatra.
“We stand together in combating terrorists, criminals, drug peddlers and groups that are causing instability and other problems to Thailand and Malaysia.
“Both countries also agreed to exchange intelligence and information deemed useful to ensure effective co-operation to fight the problems,” Abdullah said at a joint press conference with Thaksin at his office after the meeting yesterday.
Thaksin said the important aspect was the implementation of joint development strategies for the border areas.
“We also have an overall review of our bilateral relationship to closely monitor and stimulate further momentum in our mechanism to implement our common strategy,” he added.
On the issue of dual Malaysian-Thai citizenship, Abdullah said Malaysia was firm in its policy of not recognising such a practice.
Speaking to reporters later in the evening, he said it would not be easy to identify those with dual citizenship.
“Those who hold dual citizenship are not going to reveal themselves.
“Some of those holding Malaysian citizenship are staying in Thailand and that is not a crime, unless we know that they are also holding Thai citizenship,” he said.
Abdullah added that the dual citizenship problem was of great concern to Malaysia and Thailand and they pledged to trade information to tackle the problem.
“I don’t want any criminal to think that by running away from Thailand to Malaysia they are going to be safe. Malaysia is not a safe haven for them,” he said.
He said Thaksin similarly did not want criminals from Malaysia to run to Thailand thinking that they would be safe.
The Prime Minister said Malaysia and Thailand also agreed not to blame each other for problems that arose in the border areas.
On whether Malaysia would be involved in resolving the problem of Muslim separatists in the area, Abdullah said:
“We are not going to be involved in that. We are only talking about development and security problems and not separatist group. That is Thailand’s internal problem.”
In Subang, Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak, who met Thai Defence Minister Gen Chetta Thanajaro on the sidelines of Defence Services Asia 2004 at the Asia Pacific Auction Centre yesterday, said there would be more joint border patrols between the Thai and Malaysian armed forces.
“We have agreed to step up patrols and establish better lines of communication between the armed forces of the two countries,” said Najib, who is also the Defence Minister.
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