Malaysia hopeful of partial 2015 ceasefire in Thai peace process

Malaysia's Facilitator for Southern Thailand Peace process Ahmad Zamzamin Hashim.

MALAYSIA - Despite the impasse in peace talks between the Thai government and insurgents in the south, Malaysian facilitators are hoping that a partial ceasefire can be reached in 2015.

Ahmad Zamzamin Hashim, the facilitator of the joint working group peace dialogue process on Southern Thailand, admitted that once the impasse was settled they would move the exercise again.

"I wouldn't say shifted goalposts but we have to go back to the drawing board and look at some credible dates.

"I hope I can work on the 2015 deadline. God-willing," he said during a press briefing on the progress of the talks.

Ahmad Zamzamin said due to the impasse, which was caused by the political turmoil in Bangkok, the parties would concentrate on confidence-building measures among the people.

He said the 2015 deadline was set during the first meeting between both groups in March last year.

"The whole idea was to push for cessation of hostilities and to reduce the violence," he said adding that the whole issue was very complicated.

Malaysia's role in the dialogue process was endorsed in the general consensus accord signed by the Thai government and the Barisan Revolusi Nasional (BRN) on Feb 28 last year.

There have been four meetings in Kuala Lumpur between both sides, the last on June 13 last year.

Ahmad Zamzamin dismissed perceptions that the process had failed.

"One encouraging note was both sides were committed to the process. Both want peace. This is the most important thing, although they differed on how to go about achieving this," he said, adding that they were only in a dialogue stage, not the negotiation.

"We have to accept that Malaysia has an interest because we are just across the border. Whatever happens there will have a direct impact on Malaysia," he said.

Two weeks ago, four people, including a Buddhist monk and a boy, were killed and six others injured in an attack in Mae Lan district in Patani.

Since 2004, violence in Thailand's three southern-most provinces - Yala, Patani and Narathiwat has resulted in more than 6000 people killed and over 10,000 injured.

The provinces were once part of a Malay Muslim sultanate until they were annexed by Thailand in 1909.