ASIA NEWS NETWORK
WE KNOW ASIA BETTER
20 Thai insurgents to surrender under scheme
Publication Date : 07-03-2013
About 20 leading insurgents in Thailand's deep south are expected to surrender soon under a plea-bargaining scheme.
Meanwhile, Deputy Prime Minister Chalerm Yoobamrung will meet former Malaysian prime minister Mahathir Mohamad later this month.
Chalerm said he had been informed by the governor of Satun province yesterday morning that Mahathir would meet him for a discussion in Langkawi on March 28. The ex-premier is due to deliver a speech there that day.
Chalerm said he had not visited the three southernmost provinces because he first wanted to visit Malaysia to seek cooperation from the neighbouring country in tackling the continuing unrest.
He was speaking to a group of about 100 senior government officials and local administrators from the southern border provinces, who met him at Government House.
The group's visit was led by Kwanchart Wongsuparanan, deputy governor of Pattani, and the meeting was witnessed by reporters.
Chalerm told the visiting officials that after being assigned to be in charge of efforts to end the southern violence, he consulted Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak, who had asked him not to use violence against Muslims.
He said he told the Malaysian PM that the government would allow insurgents to receive leniency under a plea-bargaining scheme falling under Article 21 of the Internal Security Act (ISA).
Chalerm said the Fourth Army Area commander was now in the process of trying to persuade some 20 leading insurgents to surrender and enter the plea-bargaining scheme. The results of the talks will be known by next week.
The deputy premier said he would focus on using negotiations to try to end the southern insurgency.
After the signing of an agreement for peace talks with the Barisan Revolusi Nasional (BRN) last month, he plans to lift the state of emergency in six districts and enforce the ISA there instead, he said.
He said he was also coordinating with the Corrections Department to try to help elderly convicted insurgents. At the very least, they would be transferred to prisons in their home provinces so that their families could visit them more easily.
Meanwhile, Lt-General Paradorn Pattanathabutr, secretary-general of the National Security Council, insisted that Hassan Taib - "chief of the BRN liaison office in Malaysia" - had the power over insurgent groups in the deep South.
Paradorn said the council was talking to the right person, as intelligence agencies of both Thailand and Malaysia had found that Taib guided the ideology of the insurgent groups in the southern border provinces.
The next meeting with the BRN official will be held on March 28, he added.
Paradorn said Taib would definitely send messages to two key insurgent leaders - Sapae-in Baso and Masae Useng.
He also said that although Muslim youths had formed the Permutor Baru group, the new group would still have to listen to the BRN.
Also yesterday, Army commander-in-chief General Prayuth Chan-ocha said he was glad that Sapae-in and Masae would join peace talks with the Thai authorities.
Prayuth said he learned that the two had planned to join the talks last month, but they were not well. He expects them to participate in the next meeting, however.
The Army chief said the next discussions should set a time frame for insurgents to observe a ceasefire for a certain period.
If it is not observed, the BRN leaders would have to step up efforts to command other groups to do so, he added.
He said it was good that Malaysia was cooperating with Thailand by not providing refuge to insurgents, and not supporting separatism.
Meanwhile, in Yala, troops interrogated three suspected bomb-makers and assailants yesterday. They admitted to making bombs for use in the insurgency, according to the authorities.
The three suspects were identified as Masaopi Domae, 26, Asuwal Kajae, 29, and Asman Kajae, 24. They were arrested on Tuesday.