BANGKOK, Feb 10 ― Malaysian Prime Minister Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim has acknowledged the importance of political will to resolve the conflict in Southern Thailand.
He said in the bilateral meeting with his Thai counterpart, Prayuth Chan o-cha, there were positive signs on the efforts being taken to help establish peace in the region.
“The Malaysian and Thai governments have done what is necessary to create lasting peace in Southern Thailand.
“They (Thai government) are willing to collaborate and resolve the conflict. They invited us as facilitators and opened discussions with us. It is a positive sign,” he told Malaysian reporters here today at the end of his two-day visit to Thailand.
Malaysia is a facilitator for the peace dialogue process in ending decades of conflict in Southern Thailand.
Former chief of defence force Tan Sri Zulkifli Zainal Abidin was appointed as the new Malaysian chief facilitator for the peace dialogue process effective Jan 1, 2023.
To a question, Anwar said Thailand and Malaysia had agreed that the latter should play a role as a 'facilitator' in the peace talks.
“The important thing is that we must have political determination to resolve it (the conflict in the south),” he said.
However, Anwar also acknowledged that the peace talks will take time and that the issues cannot be resolved through one or two meetings only.
“There needs to be various discussions at the army, police and intelligence and non-governmental organisations levels.
“If we can expedite the negotiations, (it will) show our seriousness (in resolving the issues in Southern Thailand).
Discussions were held between the government and insurgent groups since 2013 but the talks came to a grinding halt when the army took control in Thailand a year later.
Talks resumed without the involvement of the main parties, including Barisan Revolusi Nasional (BRN).
General Wanlop Rugsanoah is heading the panel for the peace dialogue in the Southernmost provinces in Thailand (PEDP).
Meanwhile, Anwar said he was satisfied with the outcome of his official visit to Thailand, which included talks on the economy and investments.
During the two-day visit, Anwar held discussions and meetings with his counterpart Prayuth Chan-o-cha, conglomerates, businessmen and the Muslim community.
He said economic issues, investments and bilateral cooperation were also discussed.
“From next week there will be delegations heading over to Malaysia to invest,” Anwar said. ― Bernama