The events in Southern Thailand should not be a plight that Malaysia turns a blind eye to. This conflict involves those beyond the region.
Southern Thailand is home to one of Asia’s most serious insurgencies with more than 7000 lives sacrificed to date since 2004. The ethnoreligious conflict is primarily one between Malay-Muslim insurgents of the country’s southern border provinces, and the Thai state. To date, attempts by successive Bangkok governments to address the conflict through a mixture of repressive security measures and ill-conceived socioeconomic development projects have yielded little result.
There is more at stake, however, than just the lives lost and disrupted in this forgotten conflict of Southern Thailand. In recent years, Thailand has seen a resurgence of ethno-regionalist tensions across the country, most recently in the North and Northeast. Addressing the root causes of the southern insurgency would be crucial in turning back the tide of regional resentments. Potentially it will grant Thais everywhere more political space to manage their own affairs without constant interference from Bangkok. It is critical that the Deep South not become a model for a larger nationwide civil conflict.
Peace-talk efforts started as early as 2006 after the Tak Bai incident in 2004. The Langkawi Peace Talks was facilitated by Tun Dr Mahathir, involving the Director of the Thai Intelligence Agency, National Revolutionary Front (BRN), Patani United Liberation Organization (PULO), Patani Islamic Liberation Front (BIPP) and Patani Islamic Mujahideen Movement (GMIP). The Joint Peace and Development Plan for Southern Thailand was created from the initiative but failed due the Thaksin’s hardlines approach to the conflict. Subsequent effort was in the 2007, initiated by Tun Abdullah Ahmad Badawi and General Surayud Chulanont and again it was not successful. In 2013 another attempt was made by the Malaysian Government and a facilitator, Datuk Seri Ahmad Zamzamin Hashim was tasked to lead the exercise. A breakthrough was made that led to the establishment of The Patani Consultative Council (MARA) in 2015. However little advancement was made and in 2018, Tan Sri Abdul Rahim Nor was made the new facilitator. No progress has been made since the pandemic of COVID-19 started.
On the 29th of April, Bait al-Amanah in collaboration with Nahel Endowment for Peace and Peoples College brings you a webinar titled “Southern Thailand: Prospect for Peace for the Forgotten Conflict”
Join us as we uncover the conflict in Southern Thailand, discuss the possibility of peace, and envision the means of sustaining peace
Register now at: https://tinyurl.com/souththailandwebinar