Thai authorities expect the victory of Prime Minister Najib Razak's National Front coalition in Malaysia's general election on Sunday to benefit their peace talks with rebels from the deep South.
Prime Minister Najib Razak was sworn into office Monday after the closest election in the 56-year domination of the ruling coalition in Malaysia. Thai authorities said the peace talks should benefit. (AFP photo)
National Security Council secretary-general Lt Gen Paradorn Pattanatabut said Monday that the election result in Malaysia should help the peace dialogue, since the ruling Malaysian party which facilitated the peace talks had emerged victorious.
He also noted that Mr Najib's government helped Thai authorities by tracking down southern insurgents who fled to Malaysia.
Lt Gen Paradorn, who heads the Thai delegation in the peace talks, said he will ask the re-elected Malaysian government to officially reconfirm its support for the dialogue process.
Defence Minister Sukumpol Suwanatat said the result was certainly promising for the peace negotiations because the Malaysian government had initiated the talks during Mr Najib's first term and the process was likely to continue.
Opposition leader Abhisit Vejjajiva said the victory of the ruling party should mean that the Malaysian government's support for the peace talks is maintained.
However, Mr Abhisit pointed out that the negotiations had continued for three months with no sign of an improvement in the situation in the far South.
Noppadon Pattama, legal adviser to former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra, wrote on his Facebook page Monday that Thaksin had phoned Mr Najib to congratulate him on his victory and also asked him to continue to facilitate the peace talks.
Mr Noppadon said Thaksin and Mr Najib enjoyed close ties.
Thitinan Pongsudhirak, director of the Institute of Security and International Studies at Chulalongkorn University's faculty of political science, said the poll result was unlikely to affect the peace process in the far South.
He claimed the government should change its position on some issues to strengthen dialogue with its main peace talks partner, the Barisan Revolusi Nasional (BRN) insurgency movement.
"The government should not think it has taken the right side [with Mr Najib]. It should also befriend all political groups, especially the opposition parties like the PAS (Islamic Party of Malaysia) in Kelantan state," Mr Thitinan said.
Although Malaysia's role is crucial in the peace talks, it may not be an effective facilitator in the long run, and Thailand might instead need to involve Indonesia in the process, he said.
Malaysia might be too deeply involved in coordinating the negotiations, he added.
Srisompob Jitpiromsri, director of Deep South Watch at the Prince of Songkla University, said the election outcome is a good omen for the peace process, because it will provide continuity for the talks.
The process would be different if the opposition party had won the election, he said. "The Malaysian government might feel more pressure to push the BRN to accept the dialogue with Thailand. I believe Malaysia has a road map to resolve the southern problems of Thailand based on the political relationship with the Thai government," Mr Srisompob said.
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Writer: Wassana Nanuam & Thanida Tansubhapol