Thailand, rebels open peace talks as blast kills 3


KUALA LUMPUR- Thailand Thursday held its first formal peace talks with a rebel group from its insurgency-racked south as a bombing killed three people in a stark reminder of the difficulties negotiators face.

The talks with representatives of the Barisan Revolusi Nasional (BRN) insurgent group, expected to last one day, were to focus on reducing bloodshed, said Thai National Security Council chief Paradorn Pattanatabut, warning the overall peace process would take time.

“Today’s main focus is to reduce violence. Today we will focus on building mutual trust and good relations,” Paradorn told reporters before the talks in the Malaysian capital of Kuala Lumpur.

“I am confident that they will communicate our message to their militants but because BRN is a large organisation we have to give them some time.”

Several shadowy groups are waging the insurgency in Thailand’s southernmost Muslim-majority provinces bordering Malaysia. More than 5,500 people have been killed over the past nine years.

Thailand blamed a Thursday morning bombing that killed three paramilitaries on militants seeking to sabotage the peace effort.

Five paramilitaries were wounded in the roadside bombing that targeted a security patrol in the southern province of Narathiwat.

“Violence this morning is related to the talks in Malaysia,” Thai deputy prime minister Chalerm Yubamrung said in Bangkok.

He said not all militants supported the talks, reiterating the view of many experts who warn of a generational gap between older insurgents who want to negotiate and more militant younger members.

Chalerm also cast doubt on the BRN representatives’ authority to negotiate.

“I am not confident either that they are real core leaders,” he said.

Paradorn had said Wednesday that during the talks Thailand would seek to secure a halt to attacks on civilian targets so it can determine whether the BRN envoys actually control battle-hardened militants on the ground.

There is near-daily violence in southern Thailand including bombings, ambushes and even beheadings, but little is known about the various militant groups’ identities, structures or aims.

The BRN, whose Malay name means “National Revolutionary Front”, is one of the larger groups held responsible by Thailand for the violence.

“I’d like to be more optimistic, but I’m afraid my sense is that if these talks are going to accomplish anything, it’s going to take a long time,” said Liow Chin Yong, an international studies professor at Singapore’s Nanyang Technological University.

He added: “It remains to be seen whether (BRN representative) Ustaz Hassan Taib has any clout at all over those fighting on the ground.”

But Paradorn said Thailand hoped BRN’s involvement would trigger other groups to join future talks.

“I see BRN as the largest and most influential group behind the unrest, so after the talks BRN can spread the word to their fighters and then we will see a concrete result,” he said.

BRN representatives did not make themselves available for comment.

The roots of the Thai insurgency draw on longstanding ethnic Malay antipathy to rule by Buddhist Thailand, which started when Bangkok annexed the region in 1902.

Muslim-majority Malaysia has already hosted negotiations between the Philippines and Muslim separatists in that country which resulted in a landmark agreement in October aimed at ending a decades-long insurgency there.

Get Inquirer updates while on the go, add us on these apps:

Inquirer Viber

Disclaimer: The comments uploaded on this site do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of management and owner of We reserve the right to exclude comments that we deem to be inconsistent with our editorial standards.

  • desi derata

    Who would you guess as the financier of the Thai rebels?

    Exactly, the Malaysian snakes. Just because those Thais were muslims, Malaysia has been underwriting the rebels’ arms and ‘munitions. We can expect that it will offer itself as the mediator between the peace-loving Thai and the rebels. The rebels will insist that they will have a Bangsa Moro land or join Malaysia.

    • Sebastian Archer

      If proven that Malaysia has supported those Thai’s rebels surely Thai would have attacked Malaysia nine years ago because Thai has a military advantage against Malaysia. Unlike of the same accusation that Malaysia has been aiding the Moros…where the PH does not have a military assertion to repel Malaysia due to their own shortcomings.

      Malaysia being accused by conspiracies mongers even to the Aceh’s separatists….how brazen Malaysia has been to even lift a finger to offend Indonesia who has the capability to crush Malaysia by only using a single hand of their military might.

      Come one people….think before yo accusing us every time you feel the pinch because of your own weaknesses.

      • socali177

        So you are saying the Malaysian government didn’t train MNLF rebels in the 70s and 80s?

      • kaddy

        Special British commandos not Malaysians, who cannot even run or crawl. US forces were also on hand for special tactics. Again, Malaysians have so such expertise, They only know massive bombing, artillery firing, unmindful where targets are. Definitely, no idea about jungle warfare. Know now?

      • Sebastian Archer

        Then I wonder why did they even tasked Malaysian army to set-up a school of jungle warfare at Fort Benning, Georgia if we do not have the specialty in that field?

      • kismaytami


      • Sebastian Archer

        For the Moros, we have given assistance because they were oppressed by PH. Many have left dead, children are orphaned, famine…as a neighbour we could not simply seeing this happens in front of our eyes. We’ve been helping those in Palestine and Bosnia…places thousands of kilometres away but did not lift a finger to help those in front of our doorsteps.

      • socali177

        And there u have it. Malaysia training terrorists. Malaysia trained the very people trying to take back Sabah! I fear Malaysia is like the new Afghanistan. A haven to train Islamic terrorists in SouthEast Asia

      • Sebastian Archer

        If these ungrateful people really wanted to wage war against us…who have helped them during their darkest hours…let it be. The God knows that we helped them for the sake of humanity, religion and for a lasting peace for all our immediate neighbours.

        If they really wanna fight us…let us show them how good they’re after been trained by the master. Let’s see whether they can fight their masters.

      • gikiness

        Why don’t you go to thailand and ask the locals there, straight from the horse mouth?

      • Sebastian Archer

        Did you hear from the horse mouth too?

      • gikiness

        yes, I lived in BKK for 14 months last year

      • Sebastian Archer

        The “horses” travelled to BKK?

      • gikiness

        sa row four ka kasi nakaupo kaya di mo naintindihan

      • gikiness

        I bet you’ve never been there and never heard of the expression

  • kaddy

    Thai colonialism caused Patani Malay problem, pretty much the as Philippine colonialism caused Moro Muslim problem. Very parallel as only Malaya Muslims came to aid their brethren who are victims of colonialism. What is the fuss?

    • Teresa Santos

      Is that why Malaysia and the Brits stole Sabah? To aid their Muslim brothers in the Philippines?

      • Sebastian Archer

        We helped them…yes.

  • kismaytami

    I bet if malaysia never exist, South East Asia is a peaceful region.

To subscribe to the Philippine Daily Inquirer newspaper in the Philippines, call +63 2 896-6000 for Metro Manila and Metro Cebu or email your subscription request here.

Factual errors? Contact the Philippine Daily Inquirer's day desk. Believe this article violates journalistic ethics? Contact the Inquirer's Reader's Advocate. Or write The Readers' Advocate:

c/o Philippine Daily Inquirer Chino Roces Avenue corner Yague and Mascardo Streets, Makati City,Metro Manila, Philippines Or fax nos. +63 2 8974793 to 94


editors' picks



latest videos