The effort to restart the formal contacts between the government and Barisan Revolusi Nasional (BRN) continues. It is a rather cringe-worthy back and forth, reflecting the obvious failure of the two parties to communicate over the past seven months. The BRN has tried artlessly to back away from its promise never to negotiate again until the Thai team gives in to its mostly unacceptable "demands" of April. Lt Gen Paradorn Pattanatabut and his team have tried to gloss over the obvious failure of negotiations with many weeks of public promises that progress lies just ahead.
With the two sides talking past each other while trying to shore up their own propaganda claims, an important third party has now looked in. The Internal Security Operations Command (Isoc), probably the most influential group involved in fighting in the deep South, has criticised the Thai side and effectively supported the BRN's recent claims. The Isoc has written to Lt Gen Paradorn and urged him to answer the five demands of the BRN. These demands have crept near the centre of the attempts of Thailand and the Malaysian negotiators to resume talks.
The demands came to epitomise the BRN's attitude towards both Thailand and Lt Gen Paradorn's peace talks team. They were made last May, on the eve of a peace talks session. No notice was given to the Thai side when BRN negotiator Hassan Taib issued the demands in a YouTube video appearance. From the moment they were made, Mr Hassan and his team have insisted there is no room for negotiation. Thailand must accept all five demands as the condition for more talks. To say the least, these are unusual methods to introduce topics to a process supposedly devoted to negotiating an end to violence.
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