BANGKOK, Thailand There is no timeline set to solve the southern Thai conflict as effort to come up with solution to the problem could take some time, Prime Minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad said yesterdeay.

He said this was because the conflict involved many parties and groups.

We cannot say about the timeline because we don’t know the response as the response is not just from one group. There are several groups, sometimes you get one agreement, but the others may not agree. So it (the solution) takes time, he told the Malaysian media at the end of his two-day visit to Thailand here yesterday.

Dr Mahathir said the Malaysian government really wanted to help Bangkok in finding the best solution to the conflict as it was Malaysia’s turn to help the neighbouring country after Thailand helped Malaysia in solving the terrorism issue not too long ago.

He said the newly-appointed facilitator for the southern Thai peace talks, Abdul Rahim Noor, was also someone with vast experience in handling communist insurgency.

What needs to be done by the former Inspector-General of Police is to meet with the separatist group, he said.

On the separatist demands for a level of autonomy from Thailand, Dr Mahathir said all quarters should learn what exactly the autonomy meant by the separatist group.

We don’t exactly know what autonomy they wanted, he said.

Malaysia is the facilitator for the southern Thai peace talks and had organised several series of discussions between the Thai government and MARA Patani, an umbrella body representing militant groups in southern Thailand.

During the press conference, Dr Mahathir was also asked about Malaysia’s non-aligned foreign policy and its impact to Rohingya refugee crisis.

According to the prime minister, the policy of non-interference in domestic issues among ASEAN member countries had caused many Rohingya refugees to seek shelter in Malaysia to escape persecution at home in Myanmar.

Now, it has become a problem to Malaysia. We have to make it clear to Myanmar that they need to change the way they handle the Rohingya issue. If they (Myanmar) don’t do anything about it, the burden will fall more on the ASEAN member countries, he said.

When asked to comment on the murder of Saudi Arabian journalist Jamal Khashoggi in Turkey, Dr Mahathir said he could not make any further comment on the case based only on what were reported by the media.

Nevertheless, he called on all Muslim-majority countries to show best examples of Islam and not to commit murder.

Source: NAM News Network

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