The new Malaysian facilitator for peace talks in southern Thailand said today he sees the possibility of an agreement to end the violence that has plagued the Thai region for years if the dialogue can proceed in positive manner.
Tan Sri Abdul Rahim Noor, a former police inspector general, has been appointed by the Mahathir government to replace Ahmad Zamzamin Hashim whose tenure as facilitator has ended, according to the New Straits Times.
“The peace talks have been going on for quite some time and the goal is to help the Thai government achieve peace with separatists,” he said.
“Previously several series of talks were conducted but it has yet to reach a stage where an agreement can be sealed, if the talks can proceed in a positive manner, an agreement can possibly be reached,” he added.
His appointment, however, has been strongly opposed by Nurul Izzah Anwar, a prominent Malaysian MP and daughter of former deputy prime minister Anwar Ibrahim. Nurul Izzah expressed her displeasure over Abdul Rahim’s new role, labelling him a “being” that “lied to the whole world” on her father’s whereabouts and wel-lbeing.
The PKR vice-president was referring to the incident in 1998 in which Abdul Rahim had assaulted Anwar while the former deputy prime minister was in police custody.
Abdul Rahim appears unmoved by Nurul Izzah’s opposition, stressing that he will carry out his duties in mediating the peace talks as entrusted upon him by the government.
“For me, the opposition shown by Nurul Izzah is her opinion as the daughter of Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim and I do not take it as a serious matter.
“I will however continue to carry out this trust given by the government to me in mediating the peace talks between the Thai government and the Islamic organisations in southern Thailand,” he said, adding that what happened with Anwar was in the past and he already received his punishment for what transpired.
The former police inspector general was eventually charged for the assault and received a two-month jail sentence. He later on apologised to Anwar and his family for what happened.
“What happened is in the past and I do not wish to elaborate more on this and my focus is to carry out my duties,” he said.
Meanwhile, Defence Minister Mohamad Sabu has welcomed the appointment Abdul Rahim as the peace talks facilitator, saying he possessed wide experience with regard to the areas on Thai-Malaysian border.
Abdul Rahim said he believed that he was chosen for the role because of his experience in helping with the negotiations between the Malaysian government and members of the Communist Party of Malaya in 1989 that eventually led to the disbanding of the communist movement.