New Malaysian mediator appointed for Thai peace talks

Photo courtesy of Thai PBS World

The Malaysian government has appointed a new mediator for the peace process in southern Thailand. This comes amid urgent calls for a reassessment of the peace roadmap following a surge in violence that has shattered public confidence.

A devastating car bomb exploded outside a police flat in Yala on June 30, claiming the life of a school teacher and injuring over 20 others. The incident underscored the pressing need for a renewed focus on ending the bloodshed.

A senior Thai security official, closely involved in the peace negotiations between the Thai government and the Barisan Revolusi Nasional (BRN), the primary insurgent group, stated that the top priority should be about ending or mitigating the violence.

Last Friday, July 5, Malaysia announced the appointment of Mohd Rabin Basir, a former National Security Council Director-General, as the new peace talks facilitator. He succeeds former military chief Zulkifli Zainal Abidin, who held the role for just 18 months.

An insider revealed that Abidin was displeased with a parallel peace track facilitated by the Centre for Humanitarian Dialogue, a Geneva-based non-profit involved in the conflict resolution efforts. Despite his discontent, both the BRN and segments of the Thai peace delegation acknowledged the centre’s contributions to advancing the dialogue. This informal approach has been instrumental in shaping the Joint Comprehensive Plan toward Peace, the cornerstone of the ongoing talks.

“Abidin wanted the peace talks he facilitated to be the sole forum for the peace process. His stance frustrated both the BRN and the Centre, prompting them to raise the issue with Prime Minister Anwar.”

A senior Thai official criticised Abidin for his inflexibility and slow follow-up on critical issues, although he commended his dedication to achieving a peace agreement. In a recent interview, Abidin expressed optimism.

“There is light at the end of the tunnel.”

The Anwar administration’s statement expressed confidence in Basir’s ability to make a “positive and significant impact” on the peace process.

“It is also hoped that Basir will play a more effective and constructive role in accelerating efforts towards a peaceful environment in southern Thailand.”

Despite the optimism, Thai security sources have tempered expectations of a peace agreement being signed by year’s end, with the next round of technical meetings between the Thai government and BRN set for next month, reported Thai PBS World.

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Puntid Tantivangphaisal

Originally from Hong Kong, Puntid moved to Bangkok in 2020 to pursue further studies in translation. She holds a Bachelor's degree in Comparative Literature from the University of Hong Kong. Puntid spent 8 years living in Manchester, UK. Before joining The Thaiger, Puntid has been a freelance translator for 2 years. In her free time, she enjoys swimming and listening to music, as well as writing short fiction and poetry.

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