Malaysia Ready To Host Dialog Between Thailand And MARA Patani
Should talks between Thailand and the Majlis Syura Patani, also known as MARA Patani, push through, Malaysia recently confirmed that it is ready to facilitate it. Malaysia's recent stance came in as part of a concerted effort in order to bring peace to the southern region of Thailand.
This statement was confirmed by Malaysia's former Inspector-General of Police Tan Sri Abdul Rahim Noor who also works as a facilitator of talks between the two parties. Mr. Noor said that Malaysia is currently in a "wait and see" phase following the decision of MARA Patani to cancel talks with the Thai government.
In a statement, Mr. Noor said, "This is a domestic issue. When one side makes an inquiry or seeks development from the other side, we will facilitate." He added that negotiation request from one party to the other should be made. He also said that they cannot arrange any talk or negotiation unless a proper request is made since they are just facilitators.
MARA Patani represents many groups that are located in the southern region of Thailand. At the head of the group is Shukri Hari, who reportedly was the one who decided on the suspension of talks between the group and the Thai government. The negotiations were canceled following the conclusion of Thailand's general election which was held in March.
Moreover, a representative from MARA Patani said that his group is disappointed with the attitude of General Udomchai Thammasarorat who is the head of Thailand's peace panel. He said that members of his group and Thailand's negotiation team arrived in Kuala Lumpur on Feb. 2 for the initial meeting. However, they were disappointed to learn that Gen. Udomchai will not attend the said event.
The MARA Patani said that the group has already informed the Thai government of their plea to replace the current head of the government negotiation panel. The MARA Patani group said that replacing Gen. Udomchai will help bring a solution to the long-running conflict that has ravaged part of Thailand's southern region.
The initial meeting was put together by Mr. Noor who was appointed as a facilitator of the negotiation by Prime Minister Tun Dr. Mahathir Mohamad.
The conflict in Thailand's southern region erupted in 2004. It encompasses four Thai provinces in the country's southern region. These provinces are Songkhla, Yala, Narthiwat, and Patani. The conflict has since claimed the lives of more than 6,500 people.