Chalerm wants larger role in southern peace talks


BANGKOK, May 14 – Deputy Prime Minister Chalerm Yubamrung today deplored what he termed as ignorance regarding his role in Thailand’s ongoing peace talks with southern militant groups.

A high-level Thai delegation, led by National Security Council (NSC) chief Paradorn Pattanatabut, has twice met for peace dialogues with core leaders of the Barisan Revolusi Nasional (BRN) in the Malaysian capital of Kuala Lumpur.

But Mr Chalerm has never been invited to or formally informed of the peace talks.

He said he has told the NSC and the Thai delegation that it was good to hold peace talks with the BRN but that he should be consulted and allowed to share his opinions in his capacity as a cabinet member in charge of the southern problem.

“There has not been any progress in the first few rounds of peace talks. The NSC should tell the Malaysian government to stop allowing the presence of insurgency groups in its country.  The insurgents should be pushed out of Malaysia,” Mr Chalerm said bluntly.

He said the southern militants’ demand for a revocation of the emergency decree, which has been in force in the southern border provinces, could not be announced unless peace reigns in Thailand’s far South.

“State agencies concerned, including the army, do not object to abolishing enforcement of the emergency decree but we want to see peace first,” he said.

This was one of the three proposals made by the Thai security team in its talks with the BRN members in Kuala Lumpur, he said.

Mr Chalerm said he will travel to the South soon to meet with investigative authorities in four southern provinces following allegations by southerners that they had been mistreated by state officials.

Meanwhile, the NSC chief said security officials and teachers’ federations in the three southern provinces have cooperated in providing special safety measures to teachers as the new school term starts.   

Special task forces will be deployed at schools and along routes leading to schools to provide protection to teachers, he said.

He added that he has received a 10-point analysis of the peace talks between the Thai security team and the BRN, and would raise it for consultations with officials concerned.