NSC sees poll win boosting peace talks

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Thai authorities expect the victory of Prime Minister Najib Razak’s National Front coalition in Malaysia’s general election on Sunday to benefit their peace talks with rebels from the deep South.

National Security Council secretary-general Lt Gen Paradorn Pattanatabut said Monday the election result in Malaysia should help the peace dialogue, as the ruling Malaysian party which facilitated the peace talks had emerged victorious.

He also noted that Mr Najib’s government helped Thai authorities by tracking down southern insurgents who fled to Malaysia.

Lt Gen Paradorn, who heads the Thai delegation in the peace talks, said he will ask the re-elected Malaysian government to officially reconfirm its support for the dialogue process.

Defence Minister Sukumpol Suwanatat said the result was certainly promising for the peace negotiations because the Malaysian government had initiated the talks during Mr Najib’s first term and the process was likely to continue.

Opposition leader Abhisit Vejjajiva said the victory of the ruling Malaysian party should maintain the Malaysian government’s policy in favour of the peace talks.

However, Mr Abhisit pointed out that the negotiations had continued for three months but there had been no sign of an improvement in the situation in the far South.

Noppadon Pattama, legal adviser to former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra, wrote on his Facebook page Monday that Thaksin had phoned Mr Najib to congratulate him on his poll victory and also asked him to continue to facilitate the peace talks.

Mr Noppadon also said Thaksin and Mr Najib enjoyed close ties.

Thitinan Pongsudhirak, director of the Institute of Security and International Studies at Chulalongkorn University’s faculty of political science, said the poll result was unlikely to affect the peace process in the far South.

However, the government should change its position in some areas to strengthen the dialogue with its main peace talks partner, the Barisan Revolusi Nasional (BRN) insurgency movement.

“The government should not think it has taken the right side [with Mr Najib]. It should also befriend all political groups, especially the opposition parties like the PAS (Islamic Party of Malaysia) in Kelantan state,” Mr Thitinan said.

Although Malaysia’s role is crucial in the process, it may not be an effective facilitator in the long run, and Thailand might instead need to involve Indonesia in the process, he said.

Malaysia might be too deeply involved in coordinating the negotiations, he said.

Srisompob Jitpiromsri, director of Deep South Watch at Prince of Songkla University, said the poll outcome is a good omen for the peace process because there will be continuity.

The process would be different if the opposition party had won the election, he said. “The Malaysian government might feel more pressure to push the BRN to accept the dialogue with Thailand. I believe Malaysia has a road map to resolve the southern problems of Thailand based on the political relationship with the Thai government,” Mr Srisompob said.

From: http://www.bangkokpost.com/news/local/348704/thai-peace-talks-officials-cheer-najib-victory


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