Thailand, BRN hope to restart Deep South peace talks

Most expert on the Thai deep south crisis, says the crisis have lingered for decades, because the “Bangkok Centric” government of Thailand, have always treated the Muslin majority Thais in the deep south, as second class citizen, using both “Repressive” and “Suppressive” tactics to keep the aspirations of the people there not-full-filled. While an independent country, is an objective to some people there, the majority of the Muslim Thais in the deep south, is just to have a prosperous normal life.

That means economic development, that for ages, have been mostly ignored by the Bangkok centric government, that apart from the Muslin in the deep south, also have a tendency to sees Thais from other region of Thailand as a “Lower Class” of Thais as well.

Currently, the Yingluck government is stressing a “Dual Track” of negotiating with the militants and economic development. For example, Pattani province has set strategies for provincial development from 2014 to 2017, with an emphasis on expanding its markets for halal products and services to Muslim communities at national and regional levels and to the niche market in various parts of the world.

Some analyst says however, a priority should also be on “Saving Lives” with a step-up on security operations, both defensive and offensive.

The following is from khabarsoutheastasia.com (Source)

Thailand, BRN hope to restart Deep South peace talks

Sides remain hopeful that there will be progress in spite of turmoil in Bangkok.

By Rapee Mama in Narathiwat and Somchai Huasaikul in Hat Yai for Khabar Southeast Asia

March 27, 2014

Despite seemingly insurmountable obstacles, participants in last year’s Deep South peace talks are holding out optimism they can resume and ultimately bring peace to the violence-torn region.

Paradorn Pattanatabut, Thailand’s National Security Council chief (second from left), meets with Thai officials ahead of a third round of Deep South peace talks in Kuala Lumpur on June 13th, 2013. All parties to the talks, which stalled after the third round, are hopeful they will resume. [Mohammad Rasfan/AFP]

Paradorn Pattanatabut, Thailand’s National Security Council chief (second from left), meets with Thai officials ahead of a third round of Deep South peace talks in Kuala Lumpur on June 13th, 2013. All parties to the talks, which stalled after the third round, are hopeful they will resume. [Mohammad Rasfan/AFP]

Three rounds of talk took place after Thailand’s National Security Council and the Barisan Revolusi Nasional (BRN) signed an historic dialogue deal in Kuala Lumpur in February 2013.

But talks stalled in July, as both sides accused one another of violating a Ramadan ceasefire. They took another hit in December when the government roundly rejected five demands that BRN negotiator Taib Hassan presented in a YouTube video.

Since then, political uncertainty in Bangkok puts the peace process in limbo. Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra’s caretaker administration lacks authority to schedule a fourth round of talks.

Nevertheless, on the first anniversary of the Kuala Lumpur deal, National Security Council chief Paradorn Pattanatabut affirmed support for the peace process and suggested other Deep South militant groups had agreed to join it, according to The Bangkok Post.

“We are always ready to talk. But at this moment we need to solve our internal political problems, too,” he was quoted as saying.
An offer of peace

For his part, BRN leader Abu Hafez Al-Hakim voiced a commitment to dialogue in an unprecedented video speech aired during the “Pattani Peace Media Festival” hosted by Deep South Watch on February 28th, the one-year anniversary of the talks.

“This is the first time a peace process for Pattani is considered official and well-accepted by the regional and international communities,” Al-Hakim said of the recent efforts.

“We still come to the table to seek alternative means, other than armed struggle, for a just, comprehensive and sustainable solution of the Pattani conflict. We believe that through dialogues and negotiations, violence can be reduced or even stopped entirely.”

“Islam has taught us to accept an offer for peace, even from an enemy,” he said.

Separately, former Malaysian intelligence chief Ahmad Zamzamin Hashim, who facilitated the talks, told reporters in Kota Bharu in mid-February that the talks had produced “reasonable progress, although there is still mutual mistrust” among the two sides.

Breakthroughs made during previous rounds had not been revealed to media to facilitate negotiations, Ahmad said, raising the possibility that other stakeholders might join future talks.

Even if Taib Hassan no longer serves as BRN negotiator, talks could continue with representatives of other groups, he suggested. He declined to give an exact date for when talks might resume.

“Only when both sides are ready,” he said.

Abdulrahman Waeyusoh, head of the international relations department at Yala Islamic University, said he would like to see the talks resume.
“They must, because it is the only way to find peace,” he told Khabar Southeast Asia. “I am glad to know that both sides are still committed to the process.”

The following is from thailand.prd.go.th (Source)

Strategies for Developing Pattani Province in the Deep South (15/03/2014)

Pattani province has set strategies for provincial development from 2014 to 2017, with an emphasis on expanding its markets for halal products and services to Muslim communities at national and regional levels and to the niche market in various parts of the world.

In the provincial development plan, the vision of the province is that Pattani will be developed as a source for agricultural produce and halal products of good quality.

In order to accomplish this plan, Pattani will develop and promote agro-industry and the halal industry. The province is rich in marine resources to be processed into fishery products. Pattani Bay is 116.4 kilometers long and suitable for marine fisheries and coastal aquaculture.

The Industrial Estate Authority of Thailand has launched a project to establish the Halal Industrial Estate in Panare district in Pattani, but the operations of the project have not made much progress because of unrest in the deep South. The Halal Industrial Estate still needs to further develop infrastructure and logistics system to cope with short- and long-term investments. The province has adjusted its management plan by focusing on encouraging local manufacturers to be aware of the importance of certifying halal standards. Emphasis is placed on production under Islamic principles.

About 55 percent of Pattani’s halal canned seafood and frozen processed products are sold in the country, while 45 percent are exported. Major export markets include Canada, the United States, Syria, Lebanon, Malaysia, Singapore, Indonesia, Laos, Myanmar, European countries, and Middle East nations.

Pattani is also rich in “One Tambon, One Product,” or OTOP, goods, as well. In 2011, the province earned 918.6 million baht from OTOP sales, an increase of 9.5 percent from the period between 2008 and 2010. Most of the earnings came from food products, followed by clothes and accessories, and herbs. Workers in this province are good at producing Muslim clothes, especially hijab and kofiyah.

Among the southern border provinces, Pattani is the only province that does not share a border with Malaysia. About 87.25 percent of local residents are Muslims, 12.72 percent are Buddhists, and 0.03 percent other religions.

As a multi-cultural society, Pattani boasts several interesting historical and cultural sites, such as the Yarang Ancient City, the Krue Se (Kersih) Mosque, the Pattani Central Mosque, the Limkoneaw Goddess Shrine and Wat Ratburana, or Wat Chang Hai, the temple where Venerable Luang Pu Tuad, one of Thailand’s most revered monks, used to reside.

The distinctive multi-cultural society will be used as strength to promote local tourism. The unrest in the deep South since 2004 has affected tourism in Pattani. The tourism situation is now improving and the province is hosting more visitors.

Since the southern border provinces development has received greater attention from the Government, Pattani has more opportunities for further growth in all areas.

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