Things seem to be heading for the worse close to home.
A few days ago, a few Buddhists were killed as revenge to the unnecessary death of roughly 80 Muslims in southern Thailand. I don’t see the problem subsiding as everyday since the trouble was aggravated has been marred with death related to the issue.
Some in Malaysia have voiced outrage over this. There were a few protests here and there and the most notable was recently held in front of the Thai embassy in Kuala Lumpur. No unwanted incident happened there but it does reveal that part of Malaysians, the Malay Muslims at least, are quite concerned with the development there. And it is not just Malaysia. Practically, every other Muslim nations have somewhat voiced their regret on Thailand’s mishandling of the issue. Even the United States expressed concerns.
What bothers me the most is not the mishandling per se but rather, I am worried with the nearness of the conflict to the Malaysian border and history. So far, most of regional conflicts have occurred well off Malaysian soil. Even when a conflict spilt into Malaysia as what had happened in Sabah a few years ago, it happens at a place where the population density is very low and the effect on Malaysia is negligible. If it gets worse, the worst thing that could happen is a diplomatic row, of which is kind of fun to participate in whenever it concerns Singapore. And whenever all that occur, I may only care for an issue without the fear of knowing Malaysia might become too entangled in it. To say the least, all the diplomatic issues that had risen in the past were much less of an issue when compared to the outbreak of the recent avian flu or the infamous Coxsackie virus.
But the resurfacing issue in southern Thailand brings a different kind of feeling to me. This is simply because the southern Thai states are more culturally similar to Malaysia than to Thailand. And in many ways, the issue affects Malaysia.
Mahathir on the other day suggested autonomy power being granted to the troubled states. It is a sensible option but the administration in Thailand quickly brushed the idea off the table and accused Mahathir of interfering with Thailand’s internal problem.
This is no doubt part of Thailand’s internal issue but it does concern Malaysia. It is similar to the situation when Russia had to drop its paratroopers into Belgrade during the NATO bombing in order to help the people that shared a trait of Russian culture. Malaysia can’t stand quiet while the undercurrent occurs. Malaysia must actively participate in this issue.
At the same time, with the mercury rising in southern Thailand. It is only comprehensible to expect the tension between the Muslims and the Buddhists there to be rather high. Muslims in Malaysia have expressed their opinion but the Malaysian Buddhists haven’t but I in no way expect the Buddhists to stay quiet if the Muslims overreact. However, I trust rationality will overcome any discomfort between Malaysian Muslims and Buddhists. But this possible misunderstanding in Malaysia provides the more reason for Malaysia to lend Thailand a hand.
Of course, Thailand will be outraged by this notion but Thailand must understand that the world is a continuous system. Something that happened somewhere, will affect something else somewhere else, regardless of the magnitude. Whatever Thailand chooses to do, Malaysia will be affected. Furthermore, local trade in the vicinity of the Malaysian and Thai border will hurt if things get worse. Without trade, development along the border will suffer. Local trade must flourish for the benefit of both Malaysians and Thais and for healthy trade to occur, cooperation towards peace is a must. Therefore, it is only acceptable for Thailand to allow a Malaysian intervention. Thailand cannot deny that.
In the near past, Malaysia has acted as a mediator in the region. Malaysia was the one that brokered a ceasefire between the Mindanao rebel and the Philippines government. Malaysia has also been of a help in Aceh and Myanmar. It would be uncharacteristic of Malaysia to not assist Thailand in this issue.
p/s – Totti is an arse.