Malaysian Parliament wants to see the alleged photographic evidence of Thai Islamic militants training grounds in Malaysia, which should be produced before the special Parliament sitting fixed for January 17 and 18
by Lim Kit Siang
(Ipoh, Thursday): Malaysian Parliament wants to see the alleged photographic evidence of Thai Islamic militants training grounds in Malaysia alleged by the Thai Prime Minister, Thaksin Shinawatra, and such photographs should be produced before the special Parliament sitting fixed for January 17 and 18, 2005 to debate and pass amendments to the Federal Constitution.
If Thaksin cannot produce the photographic evidence, he should publicly apologise for making unsubstantiated allegations that Malaysia is the training ground for South Thailand Muslim separatists and terrorists.
Thaksin had subsequently blamed the local and foreign media for distorting his comment about cross-border militant activities from Malaysia to Thailand’s violence-plagued deep South, claiming that he had not accused Malaysia of harbouring Thai Muslim insurgents.
This was not the first time Thaksin had made such an allegation, though couched under a general denial of having done so, as illustrated by the following report in the Thai daily, The Nation of April 2, 2004, under the headline “Southern Unrest – ‘Culprits finding refuge in M’sia’”, which reported:
“Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra said yesterday that culprits behind the spate of killings in the South are given sanctuary in northern Malaysia where they meet openly, and he suggested that Kuala Lumpur might be turning a blind eye to their activities.
“’Right now there are villages in northern Malaysia where the Muslim separatists responsible for all this violence have been residing,’ a frustrated Thaksin told reporters.
“’We are not accusing the Malaysian government of sheltering these militants but they know where they are,’ said Thaksin, who added that he was ‘dazed and confused’ as to which separatist groups were behind which attacks.
“’It’s so easy now. They kill Thai officials and hop over the border to the Malaysian side where they meet to talk openly about separatist activities,’ he added.
“Thaksin said he would seek co-operation from his Malaysian counterpart Abdullah Ahmad Badawi over how to curb the outbreak of violence carried out by the militants.”
Now that the Thai government claims that it has photographic evidence of Thai Islamic militant training grounds in Malaysia, they must be made available not only to the Malaysian government, but also to the Malaysian Parliament.
If the photographs do not produce satisfactory proof to back Thaksin’s allegations, as I tend to agree with the Home Affairs Minister Azmi Khalid that it is not easy to prove anything from photos, as to whether the pictures were taken in Malaysia or anywhere in the world, including Thailand, Thaksin must publicly apologise for his very serious allegations against Malaysia.
As Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak yesterday said that Malaysia has no knowledge of camps in the country used to train militants as alleged by Thaksin, the Thai Prime Minister should furnish such information to the Malaysian Government and Malaysian Parliament.
Najib said that international practice dictates that any exchange of intelligence data not be disclosed openly, but should be made through mechanisms such as the general border committee, the good relations between the two prime ministers, but such channels have been overtaken by events as Thaksin has already made it into a public issue, and the alleged photographic evidence should be made publicly available for scrutiny by Parliamentarians as well as the regional and international media.
* Lim Kit Siang, Parliamentary Opposition Leader, MP for Ipoh Timur & DAP Central Policy and Strategic Planning Commission Chairman