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In the South, a new point man, same policy [Editorial]


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In the South, a new point man, same policy

By The Nation

 

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Abdul Rahim Noor’s negotiations are doomed if the Thai government doesn’t bend on autonomy

 

Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad is coming to Thailand at the end of this month and is expected to introduce to government officials in Bangkok the recently appointed facilitator for peace talks in the Thai South.

 

The appointment of Abdul Rahim Noor, Malaysia’s former national police chief, has generated a great deal of discussion among observers of a peace process that has failed to gain traction under the military-led government. The lack of progress stems from the fact that the government has introduced no meaningful policy changes for the Malay-speaking southern border provinces, where a separatist insurgency has claimed nearly 7,000 lives since January 2004. 

 

The junta gave the National Security Council a mandate to oversee conflict resolution – and then appointed a retired Army general, Aksara Kherdphol, to head the negotiating team. Aksara got nowhere because all he was able to contrive was a “Safety Zone” concept – designated violence-free areas where foes could talk – believing it would win over the Barisan Revolusi Nasional (BRN), which controls the armed militants in the South but has refused to negotiate. 

 

Like his predecessors in uniform, Aksara knows about strategy but has little grasp on logistics and even less on the root causes of the conflict, a key aspect that the junta has never addressed. The generals see the ongoing violence in the South not as a conflict but a series of criminal acts, the perpetrators of which must be captured and prosecuted.

 

Now there is hope that Rahim Noor can convince the BRN to come to the table, but it’s a reflection of Thailand’s illiberal peace, a shallow notion that our security planners have embraced for far too long.

 

Rather, they need to understand that the BRN and other long-standing separatist groups are collectively a symptom of Thailand’s misguided policy of assimilation.

 

Assimilation is what the Malays of Patani began violently rejecting 50 years after the region came under Bangkok’s direct rule, when the border with British Malaya was redrawn. Even in the first 50 years, relations between the state and the Patani Malays were far from perfect, but the situation was at least manageable.

 

All this changed when Thai authorities began trying to impose “Thainess” on the ethnic minority populace in the far South, which has insisted on maintaining its ethno-religious identity. The guns came out in the 1960s.

 

The international community has little awareness of the southern conflict or its back-story. It hears the leaders of a predominantly Buddhist country saying the armed Muslims of Patani are interpreting Islamic scripture wrongly and are being taught false history in their schools. Not even our leaders question where the government went wrong in its policy regarding the far South.

 

Instead of relying so heavily on Mahathir and Rahim Noor, the government needs to negotiate with the insurgents in earnest and re-establish the same level of comfort everyone enjoyed prior to the ’60s, one based on dignity and mutual respect. Mahathir and Rahim Noor will be under substantial pressure to achieve what’s proved impossible all these years, but the peace process cannot be rushed. 

 

The junta spent the past four years pursuing ill-considered tactics. It had opportunities to change course and did not, instead stubbornly clinging to the same path and refusing to listen to alternative views. We hope the generals are now ready to listen to and heed good advice.

 

Source: http://www.nationmultimedia.com/detail/opinion/30356233

 
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-- © Copyright The Nation 2018-10-11
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"...In the South, a new point man, same policy..."

 

Another good article by the Nation on this subject; it is a shame that no one in the military seems to be reading them...

 

"...The generals see the ongoing violence in the South not as a conflict but a series of criminal acts, the perpetrators of which must be captured and prosecuted..."

 

The above seems to capture the Thai military's position on the issue, and it is a position that will never yield results. Simply put, if this were merely a matter of isolated criminal activity, then the HUGE military presence over the last decade plus would have achieved results. As it hasn't, one must accept that there is a political aspect to the conflict and until that political aspect is addressed, then no progress or peace will occur.

 

The Thai military seems to be trying to disprove and defy Einstein's famous quote on insanity;

 

Doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result 

 

Time for a new approach and a new policy in the South...

 

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Actually, the Thais should've cut bait during the Anglo-Siamese Treaty of 1909. 

 

The deep south remains, for better terminology, a occupied colony of today's Thailand.

Nothing has changed over 100 + years, as the contiguous Siamese/Thai governments insist on remaking and dividing a culture - and keep recycling the same old hard lined policies toward the deep south. 

 

Almost the same attempts at assimilating the variety of ethic folk [hilltribes] of the north and northeast.

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8 hours ago, Samui Bodoh said:

"...In the South, a new point man, same policy..."

 

Another good article by the Nation on this subject; it is a shame that no one in the military seems to be reading them...

 

"...The generals see the ongoing violence in the South not as a conflict but a series of criminal acts, the perpetrators of which must be captured and prosecuted..."

 

The above seems to capture the Thai military's position on the issue, and it is a position that will never yield results. Simply put, if this were merely a matter of isolated criminal activity, then the HUGE military presence over the last decade plus would have achieved results. As it hasn't, one must accept that there is a political aspect to the conflict and until that political aspect is addressed, then no progress or peace will occur.

 

The Thai military seems to be trying to disprove and defy Einstein's famous quote on insanity;

 

Doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result 

 

Time for a new approach and a new policy in the South...

 

"the perpetrators of which must be captured and prosecuted..." And the RTA have never been able to do that either or have no idea how to go about achieving that!

 

So long as your butt or mine points to the ground, Thai leaders never will recognise or try to understand something as simple as Einstein's quote!

A 'cultural problem' of big fish in a small pond? A distinct lack of lateral thinking? 🤔

 

There must be a building (or two) full of people on "inactive posts" - send them down south to sort out the problem amicably or 'you will never return from there during your natural life'! :thumbsup:

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Despite its brevity, the article is very accurate.

Any peace solution in the south requires an open-minded civilian government but even then the military has viewed itself as always the ultimate arbitrator in the matter. It will and has interfered in previous civilian peace talks, refusing any change in the Kingdom of Thailand's rigid sovereignty over the Thai Buddhist colonies in the south.

People lacking knowledge of the Muslim history in the south will shout - Muslims go home. Not understanding that their home is the south and it is the Thai Buddhists who are the ethnic and cultural trespassers.

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