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ASEAN ANALYSIS  10 September 2010

Thai-funded insurgency?

By David Swartzentruber
AseanAffairs   10 September 2010

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A report in today’s AseanAffairs News Update may bring a new twist to the ongoing separatist insurgency in the Thai provinces adjacent to the Malaysian border.

The latest flare-up of the insurgency started six years ago and has taken more than 4,000 lives. There have been previous episodes of an insurgent flare-up based on the cultural and religious disconnect in those provinces.

The majority of the population there is Muslim and do not speak Thai. They speak the local Malaysian dialect. The minority there, including government and educational personnel , are Buddhist and speak Thai. The Thai army has imposed a state of emergency in the region but seems baffled about who the leaders of the insurgency are and the funding of the insurgency.

News reports state that Thai consul general Surapon Petch-Vra, who is based in Kelantan state, said Thai workers have been sending back money to groups involved in the violence in the country's south.

The consul said about 200,000 Thais from the south's Narathiwat, Yala, Pattani, Songkhla and Satun provinces were working in Malaysia, in various sectors including the construction industry, but most were not sending back funds to insurgents.

If the consul’s statement is correct, this would be a new revelation in the ongoing southern insurrection that the Thai army seems unable to resolve.

With the list of fatalities now exceeding 4,000 in the conflict, Thailand certainly could use some help in this most difficult situation. The latest ignominious act was the killing of a teacher and his wife in a drive-by shooting on Narathiwat-anyongmas road at Kaemae village in Narathiwat’s Rangae district on Tuesday morning.

The consul’s statement should have repercussions in Malaysia as well as in Thailand. This is a story to follow.

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