Oct 182014
 

http://wikileaks.org/cable/2006/11/06KUALALUMPUR2159.html#
Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
06KUALALUMPUR2159
2006-11-22 09:17
2011-08-30 01:44
CONFIDENTIAL
Embassy Kuala Lumpur

VZCZCXRO6157
PP RUEHCHI RUEHDT RUEHHM
DE RUEHKL #2159/01 3260917
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
P 220917Z NOV 06
FM AMEMBASSY KUALA LUMPUR
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 7999
INFO RUEHZS/ASSOCIATION OF SOUTHEAST ASIAN NATIONS PRIORITY
RUEHBY/AMEMBASSY CANBERRA PRIORITY 2230
RHHMUNA/USCINCPAC HONOLULU HI PRIORITY
RUEKJCS/SECDEF WASHDC PRIORITY
C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 KUALA LUMPUR 002159

SIPDIS

SIPDIS

DEPT FOR EAP

E.O. 12958: DECL: 11/22/2016
TAGS: PREL PINR PTER MOPS EAID KISL RP TH MY
SUBJECT: MALAYSIA MFA ON MILF TALKS, THAI UNREST

REF: A. KUALA LUMPUR 1976 – SURAYUD VISITS MALAYSIA

¶B. KUALA LUMPUR 1812 – DEADLOCK IN MILF TALKS

Classified By: POLITICAL SECTION CHIEF MARK D. CLARK, REASON 1.4 (B AND
D).

Summary
——-

¶1. (C) A senior Malaysian Foreign Ministry official charged
with Southeast Asia told us November 21 that the next round
of GRP-MILF talks would take place in December with
Malaysia’s Othman Abdul Razak remaining the facilitator. The
GRP reportedly had readied a partial compromise on
territorial issues following President Arroyo’s meeting with
Prime Minister Abdullah in China. Malaysia envisioned
substantial palm oil investments in Mindanao. On southern
Thailand, the official said Malaysia would boost development
projects along the common border and would not forcibly
repatriate ethnic Malays who cross over. The GOM valued
stability in the region in order to enhance investment
opportunities and prevent problems from spilling over into
Malaysia. End Summary.

Philippines and MILF Talks
————————–

¶2. (C) We called on Ambassador Kamarudin Mustafa, Under
Secretary, Southeast Asia and Pacific Division (I), at

SIPDIS
Malaysia’s Foreign Ministry on November 21 in order to
discuss Malaysia’s current views of the Moro Islamic
Liberation Front (MILF) peace process and southern Thailand.
On the Philippines, Kamarudin stated that the October 30
meeting in Nanning, China, between Prime Minister Abdullah
and GRP President Arroyo took place at the latter’s request.
Kamarudin believed Abdullah encouraged Arroyo to compromise
further in the MILF negotiations. The GOM, whether at the
head of state level or below, also had indicated to the GRP
that Malaysia would not continue its role in Mindanao
indefinitely absent some progress in the talks, although
Kamarudin described this in terms of sentiment rather an
ultimatum. He noted that Malaysia currently provided 52
members for the International Monitoring Team (IMT) in
Mindanao.

¶3. (C) Kamarudin affirmed that the next round of GRP-MILF
talks would take place in December, but he did not know if
the dates had been finalized. Malaysia’s Othman Abdul Razak
would continue in his role as facilitator for the December
round. (Comment: Othman operates out of the Prime
Minister’s Office, rather than the Foreign Ministry. End
Comment.) Kamarudin understood that the GRP would present a
partial compromise on the ancestral domain/territorial issue.
Although the GRP had not yet shared its offer, this
apparently would focus on areas of mixed Muslim and Christian
populations and provide for land swaps. Out of the just
concluded APEC summit, Kamarudin also had heard rumors of
Philippines officials using the term “self-determination” and
he was interested in finding out if these were true and of
any importance.

¶4. (C) Malaysia viewed economic development as key to peace
in Mindanao and welcomed increased international donor
attention from Japan, the EU and Australia. Malaysian
companies would like to make major investments in palm oil
plantations in the southern Philippines, Kamarudin said, and
Malaysian planners had included Mindanao in their long-term
palm oil bio-fuel investment strategy. Previous Malaysian
investments in palm oil had foundered on the issue of
uncertain land ownership. Kamarudin noted increased
transportation links between Mindanao and Malaysia’s Sabah
state, including twice weekly flights between Zamboanga City
and Sabah along with new ferry routes. We reminded Kamarudin
of the U.S. focus on development and our own substantial
USAID peace-building program in Mindanao.

Unrest in Southern Thailand
—————————

¶5. (C) Kamarudin reconfirmed that Thailand had not offered
any role to the GOM in brokering talks with ethnic Malays in
the violence-prone south. Thailand was wary of involving
Malaysia and did not necessarily trust Malaysia’s intentions.
Instead, Thailand was considering an approach to a northern
European organization or country. For its part, Malaysia was
not lobbying for a role and fully respected Thailand’s
sovereignty in the matter. Malaysia would focus its efforts
on bolstering activities under the integrated development

KUALA LUMP 00002159 002 OF 002

strategy for the border area with the intention of improving
economic conditions for Malays on both sides. Kamarudin
noted a major cross-border bridge being built in the border
state of Kelantan, a project jointly funded by the two
countries.

¶6. (C) Former Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir had carried
out two rounds of talks in late 2005 and early 2006 in
Langkawi with southern Thai figures, Kamaruidin recounted.
Mahathir did so with the Thai King’s apparent blessing, and
the GOM’s knowledge, but Kuala Lumpur did not specifically
approve or encourage Mahathir in this role. Mahathir
achieved little because his ethnic Malay interlocutors from
Thailand had little relevance to the current violence.
Kamarudin admitted that the GOM could not accurately identify
the persons behind the current violence, but recognized that
criminal gangs and rivalries among Thai security forces could
play a part. The GOM had picked up rumors of former Prime
Minister Thaksin’s hand in fomenting violence, but had no
basis to judge these reports. The GOM saw no sign yet of
“outside elements” (such as Muslim extremists from the
region) joining in the violence, but recognized the risk if
the unrest continued.

¶7. (C) In recent discussions between Malaysia and Thailand,
Kamarudin explained, Malaysian officials urged the Thai to
use the term “Thai Malays” rather than “Thai Muslims” to
refer to the ethnic Malays in the south. The unrest
fundamentally has an ethnic basis, rather than a religious
one. Malaysian officials told visiting interim Prime
Minister Surayud and others that the Thai Malays wanted
“autonomy,” but the Thai reacted negatively and equated this
with independence. Malaysian diplomats were now referring to
Bangkok’s special administrative status as a possible example
for the south.

¶8. (C) Malaysia would not forcibly return Thai Malays to
Thailand absent specific guarantees for their safety,
Kamarudin stated. In earlier years, Malaysia had returned
some Thai Malays whom Thai security forces subsequently had
abducted and killed. He cited three cases in the 1990’s.
The Thai and the GOM recently had reapproached the 130 or so
Thai Malays quartered in Terengganu, but none were willing to
return to Thailand. Thai officials had not identified any
more individuals among this group as security risks. At some
point, involvement of the International Committee of the Red
Cross in monitoring returnees’ safety might help address
Malaysia’s concerns.

Regional Stability and Self Interest
————————————

¶9. (C) After surveying Malaysia’s contributions to conflict
resolution in Aceh and East Timor as well as Mindanao,
Kamarudin said Malaysia pursued a policy of promoting
regional stability in Southeast Asia, and described this in
terms of national self interest. Malaysia sought new areas
of investment in the sub-region to maintain its growth,
including in Indonesia, the southern Philippines and southern
Thailand. Resolving conflicts in the neighborhood would open
up new investment opportunities. In addition, Malaysia
wished to avoid spill-over effects from conflicts close to
its borders, including refugee flows. Kamarudin noted
ASEAN’s first-ever meeting of defense ministers, planned for
2007, as an incremental step in ASEAN’s willingness to engage
on regional security issues.

Comment
——-

¶10. (C) Malaysia’s Foreign Ministry is not in the driver’s
seat in terms of the country’s involvement in the MILF peace
talks. Kamarudin’s comments are interesting nonetheless in
reflecting Malaysia’s continued willingness to play the
facilitator role and remain engaged despite disappointment
over lack of recent progress. Kamarudin focused more on
Malaysia’s economic interest in Mindanao than most officials
we have encountered. His description of Malaysia’s view of
southern Thailand tracks with comments from other contacts.
Malaysia does not anticipate Thailand offering it a
peacemaking role, and does not intend to lobby actively for
one. The GOM will readily reiterate its respect for
Thailand’s sovereignty in the matter while not putting undue
pressure on Thai Malays in the border area.
LAFLEUR

   

 

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