Don't make us your scapegoat: Malaysia
Minister says pointing a finger won't bring peace
Malaysian For-eign Minister Syed Hamid Albar has hit back at a claim that more than 40 explosions that rocked southern Thailand on Thursday were caused by bombs assembled in Malaysia.
He was responding to a statement by Thailand's Interior Minister Kongsak Wantana, who said that the bombs that went off in the three southernmost Malay-speaking provinces had been made in a foreign country. It was generally understood that he was referring to Malaysia.
"To overcome problems in southern Thailand, Malaysia should not be made the bogeyman," Syed told the state Bernama news agency.
"Finding a scapegoat to justify what has happened will not help in any way to ease the tension in the restive South but will only worsen the situation.
"Pointing an accusing finger at this party and that party will not help in restoring peace and security."
Kongsak's statement was undermined by Thai Deputy Prime Minister and Justice Minister Chidchai Vanasathidya, who downplayed the idea that the bombs had been assembled outside Thailand.
While the bombs may not have been assembled outside Thailand, Thai security and intelligence officials said Malaysia was not entirely out of the loop. They believe many of the insurgent and separatist leaders reside in northern Malaysia and said requests to hand over suspects had been largely ignored by Kuala Lumpur.
Analysts and international obser-vers said Malaysia did not believe the suspects would be treated fairly by the Thai judicial system and had chosen to look for another country where they could be given asylum.
Diplomatic ties went into a tailspin last year when more than 130 Thai Muslims from the South fled over the border into northern Malaysia to escape violence in the restive region.
Meanwhile, in a statement to The Nation yesterday the Europe-based Patani United Liberation Organisation (Pulo) said Thursday's bombings were in retaliation for the Thai government's refusal to deal with exiled groups on matters of reconciliation.
Kasturi Mahkota, Pulo's foreign-affairs chief, said proposals from the National Reconciliation Council had been accepted by the Thai government without input from itself.
He said: "The proposals primarily address unilateral Thai interests with no recognition of Malay rights and ethnicity and furthermore without involving the liberation movements."