The media hype in Bangkok surrounding Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra's recent meeting with Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak in Putrajaya sounded as if peace was at hand in Thailand's restive southernmost border provinces where a deadly Malay-Muslim insurgency has festered for almost a decade.
As an ongoing effort to consolidate elected power after 18 months in office, Ms Yingluck and her team are eager to show progress on the spiralling violence in the south. Her counterpart in Malaysia appears equally keen to shore up leadership and stature ahead of polls where his ruling party is expected to continue its downward slide in popularity.
But the hype and expectations the top-level meeting raised for stakeholders in Thailand were misplaced and misguided. Unless the Malay-Muslim ethno-nationalist violence subsides dramatically in the coming days, the Thai prime minister may well have talked to the wrong partners in the wrong place at the wrong time and in the wrong fashion. While cheers and sighs of relief will abound if peace suddenly breaks out, the dynamics on the ground in the deep South suggest otherwise. Peacemaking of this scale typically does not transpire overnight, especially not for an insurgency of this virulence and deadliness where more than 5,300 lives have been lost since the insurgent violence flared up again from January 2004.
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