Prayut, Najib vow to put an end to violence
Thailand and Malaysia have confirmed a joint commitment to put an end to violence and security threats to both nations in the deep South.
The cooperation against extremism in the far South of Thailand and the border areas was announced by Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha and Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak during a news conference following the 6th Malaysia-Thailand Annual Cooperation at Government House on Friday.
"It is very important for us to work on confidence-building measures in the South," Mr Najib said, adding that the dialogue process is at the initial stage of forming mutual trust and confidence.
"We will continue to work closely together to combat the threat of global terrorism, human trafficking and transnational crime, including violent extremism.
"These are very very important matters for us to work on closely together because some of the perpetrators, they move between our two countries."
Mr Najib put issues related to the deep South insurgency at the top of yesterday's agenda, while three pacts on rubber products from Thailand, education for Muslim students in the restive South, and the halal food industry were signed between government agencies and private sectors of the two countries.
The Malaysian leader also stood firm on his commitment as a facilitator for the peace process between the Thai government and extremists believed to be behind the unrest in both the South and the upper South of Thailand.
Both leaders strongly condemned the violence carried out by ill-intentioned groups against innocent civilians.
Mr Najib said security remained "a very important matter" for both countries and that there was an agreement to increase intelligence gathering and sharing to stamp out cross-border terrorism.
Gen Prayut said: "We both face security issues including the fight against terrorism, human trafficking and illegal smuggling.
"That is why we need to address these issues seriously."
As many insurgents have taken refuge in Malaysia, Mr Najib has also promised to strengthen efforts to address issues regarding dual citizenship.
This issue had previously been raised before from the Thai side.
Mr Najib said he agreed with the Thai side that immediate, effective and comprehensive data based on biometrics is needed as people who have dual citizenship usually have different names.
Gen Prayut and his counterpart, also discussed a crackdown on smuggling of drugs and weapons, marine security cooperation and cyber security.
While Mr Najib put more weight on issues related to human trafficking on land as well as by sea smuggling between the two nations saying, both Malaysia and Thailand are subjected to the international review.
"We need to take positive action to prosecute those involved in human trafficking," he pledged.
At the same time, both premiers reaffirmed a bilateral trade target of US$30 billion (one trillion baht) by 2018.
"To achieve the high target, there is a lot of work to do, but we believe that we can push the trade figure to a higher level," Mr Najib said.
Thailand is Malaysia's fifth-biggest trading partner in the world and second largest in the Asean bloc.
In terms of infrastructure, both sides were planning to build a wall along their shared 640-kilometre-long border in order to address the flow of drugs, weapons, illegal petrol and human trafficking between the two countries, but the process was still under consideration.
Mr Najib said both sides had discussed the construction and extension of a wall with details to be worked out.
"The matter is under consideration but we need to determine the physical dimensions of the wall or fence as well as the sharing of the costs," he said.
Furthermore, Gen Prayut and Mr Najib also agreed to kick off the construction of two bridges across the Golok River connecting Narathiwat province and Malaysia's Kelantan State by next year, while working progress of the Custom, Immigration and Quarantine facilities at Sadao-Bukit Kayu Hitam is likely to be upgraded.
The leaders also agreed to study possibility of rail connectivity between Hat Yai and Padang Besar and Padang Besar and Ipoh and also a high-speed rail link from Bangkok to Kuala Lumpur.
Meanwhile, Mr Najib said, Malaysia will continue to help in terms of vocation training for young people in the South.
As Thailand and Malaysia are going to celebrate the 60th anniversary of diplomatic ties, Mr Najib described the relations between two countries as "two brothers drinking from the same well".