Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak on Monday reaffirmed to visiting Thai Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra that Malaysia did not support the insurgency and opposed violence in Thailand’s southern border region, pledging to support the neighbouring country to seek long-term peaceful solution in the region.
The Malaysian premier made the statement after greeting the Thai premier on her one-day official visit. They held bilateral talks on various issues.
Speaking at a joint news conference with his Thai counterpart, Mr Najib said he hoped the Thai government would provide more economic development and opportunities for southern people.
"We both agree that this is a domestic matter for Thailand and that the people in the south must not seek a separate state,"
the Malaysian leader was quoted by the Malaysian newspaper The Star as saying at his office here.
Mr Najib also reiterated that Malaysia opposed violence in all forms—whether insurgent attacks or state suppression.
Most people in Thailand's Muslim-predominant southern border provinces of Yala, Pattani and Narathiwat share a common language, religion and culture with ethnic Malay Muslims across the border.
Thai officials in the past accused Malaysia of giving the insurgents training and other aid. Malaysia denied such charges. The eight-year insurgency has seen more than 5,000 people died since early 2004.
Eight Years of Tackling Unrest in Southern Border Provinces
The Thai Government is proceeding with its plan to create lasting peace in the southern border provinces. Eight years ago, violent incidents erupted in the southern provinces of Yala, Pattani, and Narathiwat, and the conflicts have dragged on to this day.
The Secretary-General of the Office of the National Security Council, Police General Vichean Potephosree, said that a three-year plan, 2012-2015, had been worked out by his office to ease the situation in the deep South.
He cited three major conditions as the causes of violence in the predominantly Muslim deep South.
- The first condition involves the abuse of power by some local officials who have little knowledge about human rights and the local way of life and culture.
- The second one, involving structural problems, calls for a balance of power between the central administration and local administration.
- The third condition lies in the feelings of social and economic injustice, with a desire to see more respect for and a better understanding of local traditions, way of life, and culture.
He said that security was not the only problem, as statistics on incidents of other issues, such as dark influences, illegal trade, drugs, and local crime had been found to be higher than separatism. He said that security cases in the deep South accounted for only 11 percent of all crime cases, while the rest of 89 percent involved other cases, such as drugs, dark influences, and trade in illegal items. He said that the policy of the National Security Office focused on peaceful means for dealing with the southern situation.
According to the Army, from January 2004 to November 2011, violence in the deep South killed 4,557 people.
The number of injured persons came to 8,096. During the past eight years, about 1.5 billion baht from the national budget was spent on tackling southern problems.
The Government has adopted the “politics leads the military” approach in peace-building operations in the South. It has also focused on a development-led approach in eradicating poverty, improving education, and providing greater opportunities for local people. It also considers the resolving of the southern situation one of the country’s national priorities.
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs organizes a human rights seminar each year to provide human rights education for security personnel and civilian officials in the southern border provinces. The seminar provides knowledge on human rights, especially on the country’s obligations against torture. It also highlights Thailand’s role and commitment on human rights at the international level.
The Ministry said that the seminar had proven very useful for security personnel, as they could gain awareness of the “dos” and “don’ts” regarding human rights when they were on duty.