a. A briefly explain about Thailand and the southern parts.
Thailand which is located in Southeast Asia region shared the same border with Laos and Cambodia to the east, Malaysia to the south and the Andaman Sea to the west. The Southern Thailand known as Changwat Chaidean Paak Tai consist of Pattani, Yala, Narathiwat, and Satun. 70 per cent of Thailand Muslim reside this area and the area which is affected by the violence consists of the three southern provinces which are Pattani, Yala, and Narathiwat (Deep South). Majority of the people are Malay ethnic and speak in Malay and their religion is Islam. They are clearly different from the Thai Buddhist majority, in terms of language, ethnicity, religion and customs.
b. The agreement between British and Thailand (previously Siam) about the authority of southern states.
ANGLO- SIAMESE TREATY OF 1909
The opposition to the Thai government has begun since Patani was colonized by Siam in 1786. This opposition culminated in 1902 after Siam had abolished Sultan of Patani that was pioneered by the Orang Melayu Islam Patani (OMIP) and Siam also broke the Patani region to two areas, the first area known as the Teluban River Region comprising Saiburi, Legeh and Kelaba. The second area is known as Patani Region consisting of Patani, Nongchik, Reman and Yala. Subsequently the region is re-summarized into five provinces namely Patani, Yala, Narathiwat, Satun and part of Senggora or Songkhla. In fact, the people of Patani know that the policy is aimed at undermining the Malay politics of Patani. As a result, there has been an upsurge in opposition to the policy so as to create the desire to liberate Patani state (Che Mohd Aziz bin Yaacob, 2009). The agreement between the British and Siam or known as ‘Anglo-Siamese Treaty’ on March 10, 1909 is to ratification the territories. The agreement states that, Kedah, Kelantan, Perlis, Terengganu, were handed over to the British administration, while Patani’s territory will be controlled by the Siamese government and this treaty had griped Patani (Paget ; Varoprakar).
c. The separatist violence that has attract global attention.
THE UPRISING SEPARATISM
Bermulanya perjanjian Anglo-Siam 1909, kerajaan Siam telah melaksanakan pelbagai dasar bagi menyatukan seluruh rakyatnya dengan merelisasikan konsep ‘One Thai’. Antara dasar tersebut adalah
1. Sekolah pondok
These policies created by Thai government have raised the anger of the Patani’s people and create the opposition towards Thai government. This opposition is also a reaction to Thailand’s policy after the government try to break the purity of Islam practiced by the Malays. Their reactions are aimed at defending the sanctity of Islam when the Thai government tries to abolish the law of sharia which is replaced by civil law. This conflict has a history of over a century. The Thai government has been dealing with the conflict of the Deep South as a domestic and security problem for a long time. By the late 1990s, however, it was believed that the conflict was on the decline (Aphornsuvan, 2004).
Current violence seems different from the old separatist movement, which was motivated by ethno-nationalism. There are uncertain which actors that are involved and their respective aims. For instance, some people suspect the involvement of international terrorist organizations. Thai government had started the reconciliation process since 2005 but the situation has not improved. It is a serious potential threat to not only Thailand but also to the broader region of South-East Asia. Since 2004, almost 7,000 people have been killed and more than 13,000 injured in this violence linked to separatism in Southern Thailand (Summary of Incidents in Southern Thailand, 2018).
a. History of the separatist action.
(1) What is the cause of the chaos and violence, who are involve and what are their motives?
The Southern Thailand conflict is actually an issue of insurgency by separatist groups in areas such as Pattani, Yala and Narathiwat. Even after the joining of Southern Thailand since 1909, this separatist movement has emerged little by little since the last six decades. However, this movement is not so prominent and only act once in a while in a small scale. Despite the long-standing violence of the separatist groups in the southern region of the country, but the violence has become more serious in 2004. On 4th January, 2004, Thailand was shocked after the rebels launched a raid on the Narabiwas Rajanagarindra Kromluang military camp in Cho Airong district in Narathiwat. This raid is considered as a trigger to the rebellion by a new generation of extremist militants. The attack had killed 4 soldiers, and the rebels hijacked 413 firearms (mostly M-16 rifle) and explosives from the military camp. Since then the hijacked weapons have been used in further attacks in the Southern Thailand.
This incident had led to worsen the conflict in Southern than before. Adding to the reaction of Thai Prime Minister, Thaksin Shinawatra to Southern Thailand residents, it has stirred up the fight for several exile groups such as the Barisan Revolusi Nasional (BRN), the Pattani United Liberation Organization (PULO) and the Barisan Islamic Liberation Front. Before 2004, there are only snatched on Buddhists and no bomb attacks or even armed attacks reported. But after successfully “hijacking” hundreds of weapons from Thailand’s military armed storage in Narathiwat, the violence had gradually changed by using the weapons. It had caused many casualties in all three provinces.
(2) Where and when the violence occurs and cause the major separatist’s action towards Thai government?
Tak Bai Tragedy which occurs on 25th October 2004 is a tragedy which will not be forgotten by all Southern Thailand residents. The tragedy that killed 85 residents had raised the temper of Southern Thailand residents and at the same time caused the international criticism over how Thaksin handled the conflicts. It all started when 1,500 Southern Thailand residents protested in front of the Tak Bai Police Station and demand to release the 6 members of the villager’s volunteer that were arrested on suspicion of making false reports to the police involving a robbery of government-issued shotgun.
However, the initially controlled and calm protest then turned into chaos and subsequently became a heartbreaking tragedy as the authorities began to use force to disperse this protest. The culmination of this violence then led the worse scenario which some of the protester was reportedly shot dead with live bullets and some of them were held without talk which is believed that until now they did not return. The internationals have undoubtedly critics this violent acts of Thailand’s security forces that are so annoyed under Thaksin’s administration to overcome the problems in the Southern Thailand.
The reason that Kreu Se Mosque in Pattani become the meeting place for PULO fighters and where Islamic fighters hold their weapons had led another action of Thai government when Thai elite troops invaded the mosque at the time Muslims practiced Asar prayers. This tragedy which adds to the sorrow of Southern Thailand residents happened on 22th April, 2005 with the arrest of hundreds of the residents and many of them were killed in that tragedy.
(3) How they conduct the separatism?
b. The effects of the separatist’s action to the Thailand’s security, social, economy and politics.
Insurgents have frequently targeted the railway system, killing two people with a bomb under a train last November. Tourism also suffers. Malaysians visit from across the border but other nationalities generally steer well clear. Thailand is the world’s biggest rubber producer and the bulk of it is grown in the south. Insurgents have occasionally targeted plantation workers, beheading some, although the impact on the rubber trade has been muted (Reuters, 2013).
c. The measures taken by Thai government including government agencies and other NGO to overcome this issue.
When Yingluck Shinawatra become new Prime Minister, she has create a new dimension. Whether this approach is a political trick or to clear the name of previous leader which was his brother, Thaksin Shinawatra, but the way she handles the Southern Thailand is more acceptable to the population.
She has given some proposals even it is less popular in Bangkok but managed to grab the attention of Southern Thailand residents. The first proposal is to replace the Emergency Decree that has been enforced in three Southern provinces of Narathiwat, Yala and Pattani since 2005 to the Internal Security Act (ISA). The ISA stipulated the establishment of a special governmental agency called the Internal Security Operations Command (ISOC), the most important mission of which is to maintain the country’s internal security. The main task of the ISOC is to monitor, examine and assess potential threats to internal security and report those to the Council of Ministers for further action. This means that the ISOC is not just active temporarily in abnormal situations, but also acts as a monitoring institution in normal situations. In reality, with the activation of the ISA and through the operational structure of ISOC, the military now has power in identifying threats, and if they wish they can take action when an emergency occurs (Author, 2017).
Another proposal is to create an opening for the dialogue with the separatists to get the solution to stop the violence. This had led the opening for peace talks between Thai government and the separatists. The attack in Southern Thailand also had decreased and softened and the first meeting held on 28 February 2013 at the Police Training Center (PULAPOL) in Jalan Semarak, Kuala Lumpur, as the location for signing a joint agreement to open a dialogue door for the peace process in Southern Thailand between Thai government and Barisan Revolusi Nasional (Kumpulan Bertindak BRN). Later that, the meeting continue with the involvement of others group which known as MARA Patani.
PATANI CONSULTATIVE COUNCIL (PCC) or in Malay, Majlis Syura Patani (MARA Patani) is established on 25th October, 2014. MARA Patani consist of six groups which are Barisan Revolusi Nasional (Kumpulan Bertindak BRN), Barisan Islam Pembebasan Patani (BIPP), Pertubuhan Persatuan Pembebasan Patani (PULO-P4), Pertubuhan Pembebasan Patani Bersatu ( PULO-dspp), Pertubuhan Pembebasan Patani Bersatu ( PULO-mkp) and Gerakan Mujahidin Islam Patani (GMIP) (Al-Hakim, 2015). The motive of MARA Patani is to make a peace agreement with Thai Government.
This dialogues are expected to continue the discussions on the establishment of “Safety Zones” where several districts in the affected areas will be placed under a cease-fire and development project. It was aimed to improve the living standards of the local population. Security House which in this Safety Zone is an office where representatives of each group, Thai government officials and local civil society will work together to address local residents to hear their views on what a Safety Zone should be (Pathan, 2018).
d. The impact on the border security of Malaysia, economy and ideology influence.
Thailand government had often suspected Malaysia to provide assistance to the Pattani separatist movement because of the similar race and religious of Malay in Malaysia due to this issue. Malaysia had been accused of being a part in supporting the separatist movement in Southern Thailand. However, Malaysia has use the diplomatic channels to explain Malaysia’s position and role in addressing the conflict. This allegation has been denied by Malaysia’s foreign policy where Malaysia will keep and maintain the security, harmony, economic prosperity and other national interests. In addition, Malaysia also holds the objective of the establishment of ASEAN which is to encourage peace and stability by adhering and respecting the justice and law of its member and complying the principles of the United Nations (UN) (Azman Sharif, 2012).
Penulis melihat perkembangan yang berlaku di Thailand ini mampu menjalar ke negara tetangga melalui pemikiran dan ideologi gerakan. Ini kerana, sebagai negara serantau, secara tidak langsung sesebuah gerakan itu akan saling mempengaruhi dan bersifat transnasional sebagai contoh gerakan pelajar di Malaysia 1974 yang terpengaruh dengan gerakan pelajar dari Indonesia dan juga penggulingan Suharto di Indonesia dari tampuk kuasa mempengaruhi gerakan reformasi di negara kita pada tahun 1998. Sekalipun pengaruh seperti ini tidak banyak tetapi barang diingat, dunia hari ini bukan lagi seperti tahun 1990-an atau 1970-an yang mana pada ketika itu akses dunia siber tidak secanggih sekarang. Segala apa sahaja maklumat atau peristiwa yang berlaku di luar negara akan dapat dicapai dalam masa kurang 1 saat, dan bersandarkan perkara ini, penulis berpandangan bahawa gerakan-gerakan di negara jiran mampu disebarkan kalaupun tidak melalui fizikal, ia boleh disebarkan melalui pemikiran, ideologi dan dakyah melalui medium siber. Justeru, krisis politik di Thailand sememangnya menjadi tanggungjawab rakyat dan pemerintah di negara tesebut dalam mencari jalan penyelesaian tanpa dicampuri urusannya oleh negara-negara luar termasuklah negara jiran seperti Malaysia, tetapi sebagai negara jiran dan juga negara anggota dalam pertubuhan kerjasama ASEAN, Malaysia seharusnya lebih peka dan berhati-hati agar konflik politik yang sedang melanda Thailand tidak menular ke negara kita. Suka penulis ingatkan bahawa kerajaan Malaysia khususnya agar mengambil pengajaran dan tindakan yang sewajarnya daripada krisis politik Thailand ini dan menghindari tindakan-tindakan yang boleh menimbulkan penentangan rakyat terhadap kerajaan sepertimana yang terjadi terhadap regim Thaksin Shinawatra bersama partinya Thai Rak Thai sehinggakan sebilangan rakyat Thailand mahu sama sekali meluputkan segala cengkaman kuasa dan pengaruh Thaksin dalam politik Thailand. Mereka seolah-olah trauma dengan nama “Shinawatra” sehinggakan kerajaan pimpinan Yingluck diberikan tekanan yang sangat hebat. Kerajaan Malaysia harus menganalisis apakah dasar-dasar yang membuatkan tentangan rakyat yang diwakili oleh puak baju kuning di Thailand begitu kuat menentang kerajaan pemerintah dan bagaimana mekanisma penyelesaian yang boleh diambil sekiranya kemungkinan penentangan sebegitu menular ke negara kita.Kerajaan juga seharusnya mengambil pendekatan berbeza dan lebih bijaksana sekiranya terdapat dasar-dasar atau tindakan-tindakan yang seakan mampu mencetuskan gelombang penentangan rakyat seperti mana yang berlaku di Thailand.Penulis berharap melalui penulisan ini dapat kita bersama-sama mengambil iktibar tentang krisis yang sedang berlaku di negara jiran itu semoganya Malaysia terus aman dan makmur tanpa adanya perkara-perkara yang boleh mengganggu gugat kesejahteraan, keharmonian dan juga kestabilan negara tercinta ini (Hisyam, 2013).
e. Malaysia’s counter measure.
(1) Malaysian Defense Policy.
When Tun Hussein Onn became the Prime Minister of Malaysia in 1976, he stated that the issue of Southern Thailand was their interior problem and Malaysia would not intervene into it even though there are similarities among the southern people of Thailand and Malaysian which share the same language, religion and linguistics. Malaysia also had acknowledged the historical fact that southern Thailand had been under Bangkok since the 18th century and by the Anglo-Thai agreement in 1909. Malaysia and Thai also had fought the common enemy of communist insurgents since the end of the Second World War. Even after the Peace Agreement between the Malaysian Government and the Communist Party of Malaya in 1989, the security cooperation between these two countries remains committed to addressing other security issues. This relationship is extended to the economic cooperation of the border area as a mechanism of strengthening the boundary security of the border area. However, the issue of southern Thailand continues to cause instability that implicates the security situation on the border of Malaysia.
(2) Government agencies involvement.
In order to prevent any separatism acts or ideology to spread out into Malaysia, the government has always been focusing on the safety of the Malaysia-Thailand border in order to stay in control by taking various approaches and measures. Malaysian government will upgrade the existing security fence and construct a new security fences at the border with focus on the use of advanced equipment such as drones, security camera and scanners to detect the movements and the items that was brought in and out of Malaysia.
The establishment of Malaysia’s Border Control Agency (AKSEM) as an initiative to enhance the control of Malaysian border which are consists of Royal Malaysian Police (PDRM), the Immigration Department of Malaysia, the Royal Malaysian Customs Department, the National Anti-Drug Agency (AADK), the National Kenaf and Tobacco Board. This agency has been established on November 2015 to control the Malaysia’s land border, to prevent and restrict the activity of smuggling or other unlawful activity on the land border of Malaysia and to ensure the security of land’s border. To ascertain the direction of AKSEM, the AKSEM Act 2017 has been approved and effective on 29th December 2017 (Zanariah Abd Mutalib, 2017).
The Border Intelligence Unit or in Malay, Unit Risikan Sempadan (URS) is place under Criminal Investigation Department, Royal Malaysian Police has been lunched on June, 2014. The purpose of the establishment of this unit is to obtain the intelligence information and to collaborate with Thai authorities to exchange information between the two countries about any unlawful activity between the two countries border.
Malaysia also established a co-operation between the Royal Malaysian Police and Royal Thai Police by holding a meeting on Review of Joint Malaysia-Thailand Working Committee on Criminal Activities annually. The meeting aims at enhancing cooperation and strengthening bilateral ties between Malaysia and Thailand, particularly in terms of enforcement and prevention, in effectively combating cross-border crime. Among those discussed are security in border areas, terrorist activities, smuggling and drug trafficking activities, including sharing of intelligence information on terrorist activities at the border.
To prevent illegal activity in the sea, an annual bilateral meeting had been held between the Marine Police Force and the Royal Thai Marine Police (RTMP). This meeting is to discuss on Rendezvous (RV) activities on the west and east coast of Malaysia Peninsular, PPM Third Tactical Headquarters, Pengkalan Kubor, Kelantan with RTMP from Narathiwat, Thailand while on the beach west of PPM First Region Operation Headquarters, Langkawi with RTMP from Satun, Thailand. The relationship between these two security agencies is particularly important in addressing cross-border crimes and regional smuggling problems. They are also exchange intelligence to stave off militant activities including southern Thailand separatists.
Other non-government agency such as Community Oriented Policing Strategies (COPS) which conducting a crime awareness campaign among local communities especially on the banks of the river through the Community Policing Program which also involves RTMP and the head of the Thai border community. Their mission is to create a safer community through close cooperation and understanding among the community. This community consist of ordinary citizens, retired police officers and local people. They are also form smart partnership with the police to identify and prioritize problems of crime and social disorder through the development and the implementation of proactive problem solving strategies in identified issues. Through this program both parties will understand the need to comply with the laws of both countries thus reject any crime or violence.
(3) Law enforcement.
a. New Border Policy.
After April 2015, Malaysia operated new border policy in the boundary between Satun province (Thailand) and the state of Perlis (Malaysia). Thailand is a source, transit, and destination country for human trafficking. It is a destination-side hub of exploitation, for both sex and labor exploitation; especially Thailand is the transit of Rohingya people to go to Malaysia or Indonesia (Thairath, 2015). Satun and Perlis are the good place for them to transit or human trafficking because there have lower security more than the other border. Therefore, in 1 April 2015 Malaysia closed the border and a back to use the MOU of 24 June 1940. It means that every people who want to come and go need to use passport and border pass, there are no frontier again (Andriesse, 2008).
(4) Involvement of Malaysia in peaceful agreement.
Salah satu tuntutan BRN bagi mengadakan perbincangan rasmi dengan Thailand adalah dengan adanya orang perantaraan daripada komuniti antarabangsa. Malaysia telah bertindak sebagai orang tengah dalam usaha perdamaian dan Ahmad Zamzamin Hashim dari Malaysia telah dilantik sebagai fasilitator dalam usaha tersebut. Semasa satu siri mesyuarat, Zamzamin juga menggunakan pertemuannya dengan pemimpin BRN untuk mengatur pertemuan antara ahli kanan majlis pemerintah BRN iaitu Doonloh Wae-mano, dan ketua perunding Thailand, Jeneral Aksara Kerdpol. Pertemuan itu dijangka diadakan di Indonesia tetapi tarikhnya belum ditetapkan. Langkah membenarkan Doonloh bertemu dengan ketua perunding Thailand menunjukkan suatu “tanda muhibah” kepada Kuala Lumpur dalam kapasitinya sebagai fasilitator inisiatif damai itu (Pathan, 2018).
Pengalaman negara dalam mengatasi ancaman Parti Komunis Malaya (PKM) pada 1989 merupakan satu modul yang selalu menjadi ikutan banyak negara. Justeru tidak hairanlah andai Malaysia sentiasa menjadi rujukan andai berlaku sebarang konflik,
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