BY: Michelle Liew
Malaysia has played a great role as a facilitator in the peace talks to end the armed conflict in southern Thailand, said the chief negotiator of the peace talk in southern Thailand, General Wanlop Rugsanaoh.
“For the past two years, I have been the head of the Peace Dialogue Panel. I have seen Malaysia perform its duties as a facilitator very well… without taking sides,” he stated.
When asked about the Pattani United Liberation Organization’s (PULO) group from southern Thailand’s proposal for the Peace Dialogue Panel to upgrade Malaysia’s role from facilitator to mediator, General Wanlop said it was up to the panel members and the National Revolutionary Front (BRN).
Last week, General Wanlop held a press conference in conjunction with the face-to-face peace talks which lasted for two days starting January 11 in Kuala Lumpur, after it being delayed for almost two years due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The meeting gave hope to end the bloodshed in Pattani, Yala, Narathiwat and Songkhla, where the majority of the population is Muslim.
More than 7,000 people have been killed in armed conflict in southern Thailand since 2004.
Meanwhile, General Wanlop also expressed his hope that the former national police chief, Tan Sri Abdul Rahim Mohd Noor, who represented the Malaysian government, would continue to act as a facilitator.
He said Abdul Rahim had a good knowledge of the complexity of the issues in the province and was determined to see the conflict in southern Thailand resolved in the near future.
“I think if he continues to act as a facilitator, we will see more progress,” he adds.
General Wanlop added that Mohd Rahim had tried his best to continue the peace talks as a facilitator of online meetings as well as various other channels including the recent face-to-face meeting in Kuala Lumpur.
“He plays an important role in ensuring that the two sides meet,” he said.
General Wanlop stressed that Thailand is committed to seeking a peaceful resolution through discussions and meetings to end the armed conflict in a sustainable manner.
He added that the panel session is expected to reduce violence as well as hold more discussions and negotiations with locals to achieve positive results.