Thai defence minister asks for patience in talks with southern insurgents


BANGKOK, March 20 – Thailand’s Defence Minister Sukumpol Suwanatat  said today that only a few rounds of dialogue with Muslim insurgent groups will not solve the continuing violence in the country’s far South.

Resolution will take time, he said, but the talks will lead us to know more about various militant groups and improve the situation.

The first round of talks between a 15-member Thai government delegation and a Barisan Revolusi Nasional (BRN) Muslim militant group is scheduled to take place in Kuala Lumpur next Thursday. Malaysian officials will join the meeting.

The opposition Democrat Party earlier voiced criticism that the National Security Council chose to talk with the BRN, when the attacks in southern Thailand were launched by a BRN splinter group, the RKK (Ronda Kumpulan Kecil).

The defence minister said that as the RKK is an armed wing of the BRN-Coordinate and they could possibly communicate. BRN-Coordinate is a faction of BRN.

“If dialogues fail to improve the situation, we may have to call them off in the future. However, it’s better than doing nothing,” he said. “Solving southern problems must be done gradually.”

Former prime minister Chavalit Yongchaiyuth said the Yingluck government is on the right and peaceful path in holding talks with the BRN.

He said he has never proposed the establishment of a Pattani State but suggested a “Pattani Metropolitan Administration” to encourage public opinion on self-administration.

Regarding widespread criticisms against a ‘Pattani City State’, Gen Chavalit said the correct concept was a “Pattani Metropolitan Administration” which enables local people to share their ideas and bring back the great history of Pattani State for peace in the region.

“The Pattani State is an old school ideology, aimed at separating (the region from Thailand). It’s a misunderstanding,” he said.