Accessibility links

Malaysia Vows to Take Action Against Thai Insurgents - 2004-05-28

Malaysia on Friday vowed to take action against any insurgents crossing the border from Thailand, which has been wracked by months of violence in mostly Muslim southern provinces.

Malaysian Defense Minister Najib Razak met his Thai counterpart, General Chettha Thanajaro, on Friday. Mr. Razak told reporters Malaysia would not tolerate insurgents using its territory as a base.

For months, the Muslim-majority provinces in southern Thailand have been shaken with violence, attributed to separatist insurgents. More than 200 people have died, including officials, police, civilians and Buddhist monks.

Thai officials claim the insurgents hide in Malaysia, whose populace is mostly Muslim. Thailand has a Buddhist majority. They say dual citizenship allows the insurgents to slip between the two countries to avoid Thai authorities.

Thai government spokesman Jakrapob Penkair says Malaysia is pledging to end dual citizenship for Malaysians within three years.

"The Malaysian side is well aware of the situation in the south of Thailand, and pledged to do everything it can to resolve the problems of dual citizenship," he said.

The two officials also agreed on measures for increasing security, including joint border patrols.

The talks come as Thai officials prepare to meet Wan Abdul Kadir Che Man next week. He is the leader of the separatist Bersatu group, which represents several insurgent groups.

Thai officials say the meeting is meant as a discussion opportunity, not a negotiation regarding territorial issues or autonomy for the southern provinces.