PHUKET, Jan 17 — Malaysia has done well in its role as the facilitator to the peace talks in ending the armed conflict in south Thailand, says chief negotiator of the Thai side General Wanlop Rugsanaoh.
“For the past two years, I have been working as the head of Peace Dialogue Panel, I see Malaysia being the facilitator has done a very good job…also in an impartial way,” he said in a special interview with Bernama on Saturday.
When asked on a suggestion by another group from South Thailand – Patani United Liberation Organisation (PULO) – that Malaysia’s role upgraded from facilitator to mediator in the peace talks, Wanlop said it is up to the panel and BRN to decide.
Prior to the interview with Bernama, Wanlop had held a press conference regarding the face-to-face two-day peace talks in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia from Jan 11, held for the first time after being deferred for almost two years due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Wanlop and the most influential armed group in south Thailand, the National Revolution Front (BRN) headed by Anas Abdulrahman, attended the two-day talks in Kuala Lumpur.
The talks provide a ray of hope in ending the bloodshed in Pattani, Yala, Narathiwat, and Songkhla, where the Muslims make up the majority. More than 7,000 people were killed in the armed conflict in southern Thailand that began in 2004.
Meanwhile, Wanlop also expressed hope that former inspector general of police Tan Sri Abdul Rahim Mohd Noor who represented the Malaysian government in the talks would continue as the facilitator.
Abdul Rahim has good knowledge of the complexity of the issues in the southern border provinces and is determined to see the conflict in south Thailand resolved in the near future, he said.
“I think if he continues to act as a facilitator, we will have more progress,” he said adding that Abdul Rahim has tried his best to push forward the peace talks through online meetings and various channels, including in the latest face-to-face meeting in Kuala Lumpur.
“He was of great importance in ensuring that the meetings of the two sides took place,” he said.
Wanlop reiterated Thailand is committed to finding peaceful resolutions via discussions and meetings to end the armed conflict in a sustainable way
He added the panel hoped to reduce violence as well as have more discussions and consultations with the locals to achieve positive outcomes.