No troops to southern Thailand: Zahid

KUALA LUMPUR (Dec 13, 2012): Malaysia has no intention of sending soldiers to restive southern Thailand for its priority is to strengthen the socio-economy of the area, said Defence Minister Datuk Seri Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi.

"No request has ever been made by Thailand for our military assistance and we have no intention of doing so.

"Even if there is a request, we will not interfere in Thai political affairs," he told reporters after chairing jointly the 51st General Border Committee (GBC) with his Thai counterpart, Air Chief Marshall Sukumpol Suwanatat, here today.

Ahmad Zahid said Malaysia was helping to train nurses from southern Thailand and had agreed to send English teachers to madrasah there. He said Malaysia had proposed to Thailand to strengthen the madrasah education system, which was based solely on Islamic teachings, by incorporating it in the national curriculum.

"This will add economic value to the madrasah students' qualification in the job market," he said.

Asked whether measures used by Malaysia to resolve conflicts in Mindanao, southern Philippines can be applied in Southern Thailand, he said that it could be used but not wholly for the situation was different.

"In Mindanao, we led the International Monitoring Team, but in southern Thailand, we do not need the team," he said. Malaysia brokered to end a four-decade-long conflict in the southern Philippines on Oct 15.

Meanwhile, Sukumpol hoped bilateral relations between Malaysia and Thailand would be strengthened, particularly through security management along the border of the two countries.

"A platform will be provided to resolve common issues along the border such as human trafficking and smuggling, and through these efforts, peace and stability can be maintained in the areas of interest," he said. – Bernama