KUALA LUMPUR (Bernama): Malaysia is ready to facilitate fresh dialogues between Majlis Syura Patani (Mara Patani) and the government of Thailand in the effort to bring peace to restive southern Thailand.
Malaysia's facilitator, former Inspector-General of Police Tan Sri Abdul Rahim Noor, said Kuala Lumpur was in a “wait and see” phase following the decision of the Mara Patani dialogue panel to suspend all talks with the Thai government.
“This is a domestic issue. When one side makes an inquiry or seeks development from the other side, we will facilitate. If not, we will be silent, wait and see if there is any development.
“There must be a request from one side or the other 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 panel, Shukri Hari, reportedly said that the decision to suspend talks until after the conclusion of Thailand’s general election in March followed the group’s disappointment with the attitude of the head of the Thailand peace panel, Gen Udomchai Thammasarorat.
He said Mara Patani and the Thailand dialogue teams arrived in Kuala Lumpur on Feb 2 for the introductory meeting but Mara Patani was informed that Gen Udomchai would not attend the event.
He said Mara Patani also called on the Thai government to replace Gen Udomchai in order to find a solution to the long-running conflict in southern Thailand.
The introductory meeting, which was to have been held on Sunday (Feb 3), was arranged by Abdul Rahim who was appointed as facilitator by Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad.
Since it erupted in 2004, the conflict in the four southern Thailand provinces of Pattani, Yala, Narathiwat and Songkhla has claimed more than 6,500 lives. - Bernama