BANGKOK: Thailand and Mara Patani said they have yet to be notified officially by Putrajaya over the appointment of former top Malaysian cop, Tan Sri Abdul Rahim Noor as the new facilitator for southern Thai peace talks.
Abdul Rahim, who served as the country’s Inspector-General of Police (IGP) from 1994 to 1999, will be replacing Datuk Ahmad Zamzamin Hashim, who held the “hot seat” for several years.
“Not yet, they (Malaysian government) have not officially informed us. It is an internal matter for Malaysia,” said head of Thailand’s National Security Council (NSC) Gen Wanlop Raksanor to Bernama when asked about the appointment.
He said it is up to Malaysia when it wants to inform Thailand about Abdul Rahim’s appointment.
Malaysia has been facilitating the latest push to bring peace to southern Thailand and has hosted several rounds of talks between Thailand’s peace negotiating panel and Mara Pattani (Majlis Syura Patani), which represents several militant groups in the deep south.
Head of the government’s peace negotiation panel Gen Aksara Kerdpol when contacted also said he had yet to be informed on the new development but noted that the decision on a new facilitator was Malaysia’s and Thailand does not have any problem with it.
“The decision to change the facilitator is a matter of the neighbouring country, we have no problems with the change,” said the former Army Chief of Staff.
Meanwhile, a spokesman for Mara Patani Abu Hafez Al-Hakim when contacted by Bernama also said his organisation has also yet to be informed about the new facilitator but claimed that they knew about the selection of Abdul Rahim through unofficial means.
Mara Patani, which consists of several militant groups, would convene an internal meeting soon to deliberate on the latest development,” he said.
Abdul Rahim, who was known as a non-nonsense police officer, was pivotal in the laying down of arms by the Communist Party of Malaya (CPM) and signing of the Hatyai Peace Agreement in 1989 with the Malaysian government, when he was the Special Branch (SB) director.
Wanlop was also asked about Aksara’s future as the government’s lead negotiator to the peace talks, over persistent media speculation about his possible ouster.
He squashed the speculation saying that the former Army Chief of Staff will carry on with his job and head Bangkok’s peace negotiating panel in the Malaysian facilitated peace talks.
“Now, head of Thai peace dialogue is still Gen Aksara, and in the future it will still be the same person,” said Wanlop.
Matters regarding southern Thai peace talks are under the direct purview of Prime Minister Gen Prayut Chan-o-cha and the country’s NSC.
Since 2004, more than 7,000 people have died as a result of armed conflict in southern Thailand’s four provinces bordering northern Malaysia, said non-government organisation, the Deep South Watch (DSW) which constantly monitors the conflict.