Malaysian PM Anwar arrives for talks with Prayut
Malaysian Prime Minister Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim arrived in Bangkok this morning (Thursday) for a two-day visit, during which he will discuss with Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha ways to strengthen Thai-Malaysian cooperation, including Malaysia’s role in facilitating the peace dialogue in southern Thailand.
Anwar, who is making his first visit to Bangkok since becoming prime minister in November, is scheduled to meet with Prime Minister Prayut at the Government House this evening.
The Malaysian Foreign Ministry said in a statement yesterday that Anwar’s meeting with Prayut will provide an opportunity for the two leaders to discuss the way forward in strengthening multifaceted cooperation, focusing on economic cooperation, border area development and key connectivity projects across the border.
The two leaders will witness an exchange of memoranda of understanding in the fields of energy cooperation and digital economy.
“The visit reflects the close and long-standing bilateral ties between Malaysia and Thailand, built upon mutual trust and partnership,” said the statement.
Anwar, who will be accompanied by his wife Datuk Seri Dr. Wan Azizah Wan Ismail, will perform Friday prayers tomorrow evening at the Islamic Center of Thailand and meet with Malaysian diaspora in Bangkok.
Anwar’s visit comes in the wake of his recent appointment of a new facilitator for the peace dialogue in southern Thailand. Zulkifli Zainal Abidin is a former military chief, who replaces Abdul Rahim Noor in facilitating the peace talks, which are expected to resume in Kuala Lumpur later this month.
The conflicts in southern Thailand and Malaysia’s role in the peace dialogue are expected to be discussed between the two leaders.
While in the opposition, Anwar expressed keen interest in the conflicts in southern Thailand. He called on then the Najib government to do more to help Thailand resolve the conflicts.
“Malaysia must be more aggressive in sending out a clear message that we want a peaceful resolution. There seems to be contradictory and conflicting messages from Malaysia,” he said at the time.
Anwar noted that violence in southern Thailand should not be blamed on Thai military operations alone. “I am not saying the problems are perpetrated by the Thais or because of excesses by the military in the past but, sometimes, they are criminal acts using the façade of insurgency by the Pattani movement,” he said.
Anwar also urged the insurgent groups to be prepared to surrender arms, “and there must be concessions in terms of their rights, their language, culture and religion, which I believe are clearly defined in the Thai constitution and supported by most who believe in democracy and freedom in Thailand,” he said.