Residents Of Southern Thailand Trust In Malaysia-brokered Peace Process - Deep South Watch

PATANI, Aug 24 (Bernama) -- Residents in troubled Southern Thailand are confident that Malaysia's role as facilitator for the third dialogue between the Thailand government and Majlis Amanah Rakyat Pattani (Mara Patani) in Kuala Lumpur would be fruitful.

In a survey carried out by Deep South Watch, about 80.6 percent of the residents from 302 villages were convinced with Malaysia's role in the Malaysia-brokered peace talks and 80.2 percent were convinced that the peace talks started by the Thailand in 2013 would continue.

Dr. Srisompop Jitpiromsi, Deep South Watch director said Malaysia, was committed to find a solution to the conflict in Southern Thailand.

The survey involved 2,104 residents from which 45.1 percent were women who gave their views on the topic "Pandangan Rakyat di Selatan Thailand Dalam Situasi Terkini Yang Berkaitan Dengan Pergolakan, Keadilan, Masalah Masyarakat dan Proses Damai".

The survey was carried out from June 13 to July 10, 2015 in Southern Thailand which comprises the provinces of Patani, Yala, Narathiwat and four districts in Songkhla.

Dr Srisompop said Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak had discussed the peace-talks with Thailand Prime Minister General Prayuth Chan-ocha while Malaysian facilitator Datuk Ahmad Zamzamin Hashim, a former director of Malaysia's national intelligence agency, met local residents since last year.

Based on the survey, there are positive signs to show that the dialogue process, facilitated by Malaysia, can help the peace process in Southern Thailand.

Meanwhile, former Patani Liberation Organisation (PULO) senior leader Haji Ismail Ternang feels one of the main reasons for the failure of the peace process in the past was the lack of commitment in the peace process.

"The peace process need to involve all parties, no matter small or big groups and they must sit in the discussion table," said Ismail who was released from the Yala Prison on July 17 after a royal pardon.

"If the Malays are not invited for the dialogue, there will be problems."

He said the appeal by the Patani movements to include the new peace process as a National agenda must be considered.

"If the Junta government wants the peace process to succeed, they can fulfill the appeal since the entire power is in the hands of the military," said the former PULO leader.

The insurgents had made three requests to the Thai authorities before coming for the dialogue, first to ensure Thailand recognised the Majlis Syura Patani, second to guarantee the safety of the peace negotiators and not arrest them as was the case of Ismail Ternang who was detained and the third is for the Thai government to recognise a representative from the people of Patani.

"No conflict in any part of the world can be resolved with the use of weapons but only by way of discussions," he said.

Violence in Southern Thailand for more than a decade (11 years or 139 months) has resulted in a drastic impact in the region in terms of economy, education, daily routine, relationship between the Muslims and non-Muslims.

Statistics from Deep South Watch shows that from January 2004 to July 2015, there were 15,091 incidents, 6,460 deaths and 11,730 injured.

After two previous closed door peace dialogues between the Thailand government and Mara Patani led by Prayuth Chan-oca and held in April and June in Malaysia, the third dialogue would be headed by General Aksara Kerdpol while the Mara Patani delegations is expected to be led by Matsukri Hari.

Mara Patani was formed on Oct 25, 2014 by Barisan Revolusi Nasional (BRN) and in March, opened its doors for other organisations to join and form a unified body to carry out peace talks with the Thailand government.

The Mara Patani currently has six organisations under its affiliation, namely Barisan Revolusi Nasional (BRN), three factions of the Patani Liberation Organisation (Pulo), the Gerakan Mujahideen Islam Patani (GMIP) and the Barisan Islam Pembebasan Patani (BIPP).



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