4th Army chief plays down BRN changes
Authorities will meet fire with fire, he says
The 4th Army commander has brushed aside concerns over the leadership change in the Barisan Revolusi Nasional (BRN) separatist movement.
Authorities were not overly worried about the situation, Lt Gen Piyawat Nakwanich said yesterday.
Lt Gen Piyawat, however, insisted action would be taken against the group if it stirred up unrest, admitting the new leader might try to prove himself by acts of violence.
The BRN appointed Doonloh Wae-mano who uses the nom du guerre Abdullah Wan Mat Noor, as Supreme Leader and secretary-general of the Dewan Pimpinan Parti (DPP) or Party Leadership Council, as its new chairman.
The BRN's leadership council unanimously voted for Doonloh-Abdullah to head the organisation, which is made up of three BRN bodies -- the BRN-Ulama, the BRN-Congress and the BRN-Coordinate -- under its umbrella.
The appointment, which took effect on Jan 17, followed the death of the DPP's former chairman Sapae-ing Basor late last year.
Abdullah is wanted for treason under a Department of Special Investigation arrest warrant.
A former headmaster of the infamous Jihad Witthaya School in Pattani, he fled to Malaysia 13 years ago after being charged with training insurgents on his school's grounds, sources said.
Authorities accuse him of training the separatists who took part in looting more than 400 assault rifles from a military camp in Cho Airong district, Narathiwat province, in 2004. That raid marked the latest upsurge in separatist attacks, now in its 14th year.
"Abdullah Wan Mat Noor [Doonloh] was appointed the DPP's Secretary in 2016, so he is as known a quantity as a shadowy insurgency that delights in the secrecy its inner workings can have," Zachary Abuza, an expert on the deep South and professor at the National War College in Washington, told Malaysia's BenarNews.
"Since September, 2016, he has been the BRN's No.2, so it seems normal that he would be appointed chairman."
In other changes, the BRN named Abdul Munir as secretary-general of political affairs, Din Wan Cik as military chief and Muhd Arsad Wansor as the group's treasurer.
Hasan Khatib, meanwhile, was chosen to head international political affairs and Bustaman Salih was named as a party consultant.
One BRN member, who only wished to be identified as Mustafa, said he was happy Abdullah was the new BRN leader as he was an able military tactician, which made up for his lack of political experience.
In Yala, a Runda Kumpulan Kecil (RKK) suspect wanted under two warrants in security-related cases was arrested in Yaha district on Monday.
Tuanpeng Tayong was apprehended in a joint operation involving about 50 police and soldiers, who surrounded and then stormed a house in Ban Cho Kaladi about 10pm.
Mr Tuanpeng is a suspected bomb maker. Authorities seized as evidence three mobile phones and a motorcycle modified to be fitted with a bomb.
According to police, Mr Tuanpeng was wanted under two warrants. The first for alleged involvement in a clash with government forces in Huyong Su-ngae, in tambon Baro of Yala's Yaha district on Sept 8 last year.
The other was in connection with the theft of firearms belonging to the Tapo village chief in tambon La-ae of Yaha district a just over a month later on Oct 21.
Mr Tuanpeng was charged with assembling arms and men in preparation for terrorist activities, bomb making, illegally possession and use of firearms, and attempted murder.
He is believed to be a member of an RKK separatist group led by Saudi Satapo that operate in Yaha, Kabang, Krongpinang and Bannang Sata districts of Yala.
Mr Tuanpeng was to be transferred for questioning at the 41st Ranger Regiment headquarters in of Raman district.