Abdullah should convene an all-party meeting to forge a national consensus on Malaysia’s stand on the violence and bloodshed in south Thailand to minimize domestic differences or disputes on the issue
Media Conference Statement (2)
by Lim Kit Siang
(Penang, Wednesday): The Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi, should convene an all-party meeting to forge a national consensus on Malaysia’s stand on the violence and bloodshed in south Thailand, especially as Malaysia has been asked “to send preachers to the troubled south to spread a more moderate brand of Islam among Thai Muslims”.
The Malaysian government should be very careful as to the country’s stand on the violence and bloodshed in south Thailand and should do what it could to minimize domestic differences or disputes on the issue.
This is because South Thailand has become a cauldron in the past five months, as apart from the 113 people killed in the April 28 bloodshed (108 machete-wielding Muslim militants and five security forces), a further 119 people -- mostly soldiers, police or government officials -- have died since a wave of unrest started with a raid on a military base on January 4.
The situation has become even more combustible with reinforcements pouring into the restive region in the biggest Thai military deployment in over a decade, the United States offer to set up a military base in Thailand to help “solve regional security problems amid increased fears about the involvement of international terrorists” and the high Thai government alert over impending suicide bombing attack on government institutions in Bangkok in the next few days in retaliation for the killing of the 108 Islamic militants.
While the Thai Cabinet is to be commended for its decision yesterday to set up an independent committee to investigate into the April 28 bloodshed, following criticisms that the army used excessive force, there should be regional and international observers to ensure that the investigations are truly professional and independent.
The six-member committee to investigate the Krue Se Mosque killings would include four prominent Muslims and has been given one month, which could be extended if necessary, to complete its work and throw light on the latest turmoil in Thailand's three southernmost and Muslim provinces, which have a centuries-long history of conflict with Bangkok.
The Malaysian government should ensure that Malaysians know what the country is getting into when it makes a commitment with regard to the violence and bloodshed in south Thailand, especially with a historically nationalist separatist struggle in Pattani taking on an increasingly religious dimension.
* Lim Kit Siang, DAP National Chairman & Member of Parliament for Ipoh Timor