WHILE THE FOURTH round of talks with insurgents in the far South is pending, the Malaysian facilitator has left several questions unanswered in interviews and speeches on four occasions, a Thai expert pointed out.
General Akkanit Muensawas said he wanted to ask Ahmad Zamzamin Hashim to clarify whether Hassan Taib, a senior leader of Barisan Revolusi Nasional
(BRN) separatist group, “was forced” to represent the insurgents and sign a memorandum of understanding with Thai authorities, which kicked off the ongoing dialogue.
If the BRN really represents all insurgent groups, then why has Taib reduced his role in the latest round of talks and a few other informal sessions, and why has a new representative of the insurgents not been named, Akkanit asked. Akkanit was previously a chief of the Army’s Thai-Malaysian border committee.
He also asked if it was true that the five preconditions for peace proposed on behalf of the BRN along with a 38-page document for additional terms had been created by a non-BRN team of people and later approved by Hashim without BRN’s consent.
The Army officer also pointed out that these preconditions and terms were more beneficial to Malaysian authorities and of little use to the BRN.
The five demands are:
-That BRN be recognised as liberators, acting on behalf of the Patani-Melayu people;
-That Malaysia’s role be upgraded to mediator;
-That observers from the Organisation of the Islamic Conference, Asean countries and NGOs be present in the process;
-That a special administrative platform be set up for the South under the Thai Constitution; and
-That all detained suspects and insurgents be released unconditionally.
Prior to the first anniversary of the talks late last month, Hashim met with a number of Pattani-based separatist groups in Indonesia, but without BRN.
The people attending the meeting included members of the Patani United Liberation Organisation, who do not back the BRN-led dialogue with Thai authorities.
Other participants were members of the Barisan Islam Pembebasan Pattani (BIPP), who back a directive similar to the five preconditions.
Akkanit said this suggests that the dialogue is heading in a direction that is not approved by BRN-allied factions and insurgents who are active in the far South.
Hashim made statements on four occasions – an interview with Thai media in relation to the South; an interview with Malaysian media; at a seminar in Chiang Mai and a panel discussion at Prince Songkla University in the South.
Akkanit said Hashim did not make any mention of the five points.