Mahathir says talks a good start

TOKYO : The government's negotiations with the Barisan Revolusi Nasional (BRN) are a good start, but more action is needed to bring peace to the far South, Malaysia's former prime minister Mahathir Mohamad says.

  • Published: 25/05/2013 at 12:00 AM
  • Newspaper section: news

The separatists in the far South do not fall into a single group and they would not recognise the negotiations undertaken by other groups such as the BRN, he said, on the sidelines of the "Future of Asia" summit in Japan.

Mr Mahathir is considered Malaysia's most senior statesman.

The government's initiative to undertake the peace talk process shows a break from its stance in the past, he said.

"Last night at dinner I had the honour of sitting with Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra," Mr Mahathir said.

"She was very friendly and wants to work with Malaysia. We are also keen to work with Thailand to help resolve the problems in the South."

Mr Mahathir said the multitude of groups and interests could explain the upsurge in the violence amid the first two rounds of negotiations between the government and the BRN.

Thai authorities will hold the third official round of talks with insurgent groups, including the BRN, on June 13.

There is no reason to believe that other insurgent groups in the region will accept the terms of any deal struck with the government, he said. Some groups may respect the deal, but not all of them.

Mr Mahathir said more negotiations are needed.

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Writer: Umesh Pandey
Position: Editor for Asia Focus

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