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IdentifierCreatedClassificationOrigin
09BANGKOK3171 2009-12-16 10:36:00 SECRET Embassy Bangkok
Cable title:  

THAILAND: HDC-FACILITATED DIALOGUE WITH SOUTHERN

Tags:   PREL PGOV TH 
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1. (S) Summary: At the same time the Thai government hosted
the visit of Malaysian PM Najib to southern Thailand December
9 (ref A), in what is generally seen as a positive step
forward in both countries, southern separatist insurgents
leaders based in Malaysia and involved in unpublicized secret
negotiations facilitated by the Henri Dunant Centre (HDC)
have been complaining about official Malaysian pressure and
asked Royal Thai Government (RTG) representatives to "do
something about it," HDC facilitator Michael Vatikiotis and
ruling Democrat Party representative to the talks Kraisak
Choonhavan recently told us separately. Vatikiotis and
Kraisak traveled to Malaysia the first week in December in an
attempt to engage aides to Najib, particularly Othman Razak,
but it remains unclear whether Abhisit took the opportunity
to raise the secret talks privately with Najib during Najib's
December 8-9 visit to Thailand. End Summary.

More insider views about resumption of dialogue


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2. (S) Ref B offered the take of Mark Tamthai, the titular
lead Thai representative in HDC-facilitated talks with
separatist leaders from PULO and BRN-C, on the resumption of
talks in Manila in November. HDC facilitator Michael
Vatikiotis and ruling Democrat Party representative Kraisak
Choonhavan recently offered their own separate takes on the
resumption of talks and the aftermath, elaborating in
particular on the Malaysian angle that Tamthai had
highlighted.



3. (S) A key development occurred November 2, when Abhisit
convened the first full session of the working group focused
on the south, including Army Commander Anupong. Kraisak used
the session to challenge Anupong on a whole series of issues,
from lack of fo|QlAIQQcv to agree that the HDC-facilitated talks could
proceed, the meeting did not authorize inclusion of a
military representative in the Thai delegation, as Vatikiotis
had previously told us he hoped would happen (ref C).

Manila talks, take two: Insurgents' lament, offer


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4. (S) Kraisak and Vatikiotis separately told us that the
PULO and BRN-C separatist leaders participating in the Manila
talks in November were less concerned about the ongoing lack
of accountability for the June 8 mosque massacre -- which
they previously had said needed to be addressed if talks were
to resume -- and much more focused on pressure they claimed
the Malaysian authorities, specifically the external
intelligence organization, which answers to the PM, were
placing on them.



5. (S) Kraisak claimed the insurgents alleged that MEIO
wanted to "take over" the two groups, placing individuals
loyal to KL in charge. Vatikiotis elaborated further:
factions within PULO and BRN-C loyal to MEIO had fared badly
in recent elections within each organization, and MEIO
subsequently placed additional pressure on Malaysia-based
leaders, particularly harassing BRN-C. The insurgents
demanded that the Thai team engage the Malaysian government
directly, reveal the ongoing secret talks with the RTG
facilitated by HDC, and demand that KL/MEIO back off in its
pressure. Vatikiotis confirmed that he'd moved this latest
round of talks from the usual Jakarta location to Manila in
part to reduce potential Malaysian suspicions of any
Indonesian role in the talks.



6. (S) Overall, Kraisak expressed satisfaction with the

BANGKOK 00003171 002.2 OF 002


resumption of the talks in Manila, highlighting an insurgent
offer to initiate a temporary cease fire of actions against
state officials in two of three of the southernmost
provinces. There was no way to cut all violence, he noted,
while expressing regret that the movement's actual insurgent
fighting units on the ground, usually referred to by the
initials RKK (Runda Kumpulan Kecil), continued to opt out of
participation in the process.

Secret trip to Malaysia, catty comment by Wirajuda


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7. (S) To meet the insurgents' chief demand, Kraisak agreed
in Manila to travel to Malaysia in advance of PM Najib's
December 8-9 visit to Thailand to raise associated issues
with a variety of Malaysian officials, both those close to
Najib and opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim. Vatikiotis told
us he had accompanied Kraisak to Malaysia and facilitated
some meetings but had not participated in them. Kraisak had
passed the message, but was told in turn to have Abhisit
brief Najib in person if the Thai wanted the problem "fixed."
Kraisak subsequently briefed Abhisit on the Malaysian
suggestion, and Abhisit then convened his top two southern
experts on the NSC, NSC SecGen Thawin and Southern unit chief
Somkiat Boonchoo, on the way forward, said Vatikiotis.



8. (S) Vatikiotis alleged that the Malaysians had
persistently undermined efforts to resolve the conflict in
the south, playing the spoiler's role. He suggested the
local intel services treated the situation as a cash cow,
justifying personnel and budgets; in addition to MEIO running
a PULO cell and a BRN-C cell, they had supported Chavalit's
"Nakorn Pattani" gambit via Hassan Thayob, a former BRN-C
executive committee member. BRN-C leaders involved in the
HDC-facilitated process felt uncomfortable, given Thayob's
seniority. Others shared the same perspective, he claimed;
former Indonesian Foreign Minister Hassan Wirajuda recently
told him after leaving office that KL did not want to see
conflicts in the southern Philippines and southern Thailand
resolved once and for all, because it kept Malaysia's
neighbors distracted and off-balance.
JOHN