Sunday, March 16, 2008

Malaysia election, Thailand, and the southern insurgency

A Jotman reader based in Kuala Lumpur responds to my previous post:
. . . since I'm "in country" and have been following these elections more closely than anything I would back home -I thought I'd correct the Bangkok Post.

The Federal government remains unchanged. Despite the upset, Barisan Nasional (BN) still won by a very comfortable majority and Putrajaya is still very much in control. This also includes those states under opposition parties where the Federal issues of international policy and border control are concerned. The state of Perlis is still under the control of BN and has not "changed hands". Satun does not border Kedah at all.

The state of Perak was won primarily by a Chinese led coalition with the Democratic Action Party (DAP) winning most of the seats. PAS won a couple. There is some controversy surrounding the appointment of a Senior State Minister (Mentri Besar) from the PAS but this is to all extents and purposes a Chinese run state politically and socially with a vast number of ethnic Chinese. Kelantan remains the PAS heartland and is unchanged.

The Bangkok Post article seems to suggest that Islamic radicals are encircling Thailand. Two of the 5 states that are held by opposition parties are no-where near Thailand and are Chinese led and not Islamic at all.

PAS is just one of many opposition parties and it is the only hardline Islamic party. The others represent moderate Islam, Chinese and Indian interests. PAS is a very small party and its influence and support has been exaggerated. There is far more support for the Chinese run DAP and Anwar Ibrahims' KEADILAN amongst the opposition parties and their supporters.

. . . There may well be some small groups in Malaysia that are supporting the insurgency as I believe every movement has some sympathizers in every country of the world but I am sure there is no governmental support. No government representative or department has ever suggested it even when their guard is dropped.

Thailand may well criticise Malaysia for providing a "safe heaven" to suspected terrorists but the Thais have got full control of their side of the border....haven't they?

I agree wholeheartedly with your last statement. As you say, they do need to look in the mirror. Malaysia (which despite being Islamic, I consider to be far more moderate than the inward-looking, flag waving, fanatical, nationalistic and xenophobic Thailand) doesn't really enjoy cordial relations with its Northern neighbour. Malaysia has never actually forgiven them for colluding with the invading forces of Imperial Japan and for providing passage through Thailand and safe refuge for communist soldiers during the long fought struggle of the "emergency".

Interestingly, the British PM and Defence Minister at that time, considered invading Southern Thailand to deal with the problem. It was discussed in some detail. Of course, it was never pursued but what would the geo-political map of that area look like now if that had occurred...?
Map: from Sweet Second Home

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