New Straits Times - - Opinion -

The ques­tion that begs an an­swer is where do they go wrong or are they talk­ing and ne­go­ti­at­ing with the right group to end this con­flict.

I served in south­ern Thai­land in the early 1970s as a Spe­cial Branch op­er­a­tive un­der the then Re­gional Bor­der Com­mit­tee Of­fice fight­ing the Com­mu­nist Party of Malaya threat.

At that time, there was al­ready a con­flict be­tween the so-called Pulo mem­bers and Barisan Revo­lusi Na­sional (BRN), which was fight­ing for sepa­ra­tion from the king­dom of Thai­land.

There were skir­mishes and en­coun­ters of fire­power be­tween the sep­a­ratists and gov­ern­ment forces. There were killings of in­no­cent lives then, but not as great as what is hap­pen­ing now with the bomb­ings in fac­to­ries, build­ings, schools and even the district po­lice head­quar­ters and air­port in Hat Yai.

The lead­ers of Pulo or BRN are now old and in their twi­light years; and most have fled over­seas. These lead­ers, in my opin­ion, do not com­mand the un­der­lings of the cur­rent breed of fight­ers.

The cur­rent breed is young and trained in Pak­istan, Syria or else­where. In light of the cur­rent sce­nario, are we talk­ing and ne­go­ti­at­ing with the right per­sons/lead­ers to end this con­flict in south­ern Thai­land ?

If we are talk­ing to the right per­sons in the peace process, I strongly be­lieve that at the very least, the bomb­ings and killings should have scaled down, but, sadly, it is not to be.

The peace roadmap should be re-eval­u­ated. Iden­tify the right per­sons for the next round­table talk. A peace­ful south­ern Thai­land will surely ben­e­fit the peo­ples of both sides of the bor­der.

DATUK WEE BENG GEE Pe­tal­ing Jaya, Se­lan­gor

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