MALAYSIA - Deputy Democrat Party leader Thavorn Senniam yesterday accused Malaysia of scheming to benefit from its role as facilitator in the ongoing peace negotiations between Thai authorities and the insurgent group Barisan Revolusi Nasional (BRN).
Thavorn claimed that Malaysia intended to profit from the economies of Thailand's three southern-most provinces, if the region was ever granted half- or full-autonomy as a special administrative zone by the Thai government once it had struck a peace deal with insurgents.
In a speech made at Democrat Party headquarters, Thavorn spoke about "his suspicions" that Yala, Pattani and Narathiwat, and the business district of Sadao in Songkhla, would also be used as a buffer zone by Malaysia, once the region was consolidated as a special administrative area, a precondition of the BRN.
"I am afraid that Thailand is going to lose these three provinces while this government runs the country, because there are secret talks between them," he said.
Thavorn did not clarify what he meant by "buffer zone" or who was the "them" he referred to in the "secret talks". He added that Malaysia, which is the facilitator of the peace dialogue, had proposed that Sadao be included with the three provinces - as was demanded by the BRN in its set of preconditions. However, he did not make any further claims on Malaysia's proposal for Sadao.
Meanwhile, four policemen were killed and seven others wounded in Narathiwat yesterday, after their speeding pickup truck carrying 11 special operations police, ran over spikes placed on the road by insurgents and turned over. Two officers died instantly at the scene and four others were wounded.
Two more officers were later pronounced dead at a hospital, and three others were reported wounded from the impact. The occupants were on their way to relieve a 15-member Explosives Ordnance Disposal (EOD) unit, which was ambushed by a team of insurgents on its return trip to its base, after helping out an Army team, who had escaped a roadside bomb earlier in the day.
The bomb attack, which occurred in the Rue Soh district at around 9.30am, narrowly missed an Army patrol escorting teachers to work. However, the 15-member EOD unit, which was departing the scene, came under attack, and three policemen in this team were wounded. Police later said the well-coordinated ambush had deliberately targeted the EOD unit. The policemen in the speeding car were on their way to relieve the EOD team, before their vehicle turned over.
Security sources said the bomb attack and the ambush were likely the work of two groups of insurgents - the first based in Yi Ngor district belonging to slain leader Jantharawadee Marohso, and the other from Ba Cho district, led by a man identified only as "Chalee".