Peaceful Co-Existence: Moderation and Peacemaking in Southern Thailand
Date: 2 May 2013
Venue: GMMF Office, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
The Global Movement of Moderates Foundation (GMMF) organized a seminar with the theme "Peaceful Co-Existence: Moderation and Peacemaking in Southern Thailand" at the GMMF office in Kuala Lumpur on 2 May 2013. Thanks to Dr. Tim Rackett, the Associate Professor of HELP University, for the original idea of the seminar and producing the concept paper. He is the author of the paper and retains the copyright.
With the participation of politicians, activists and scholars from diverse cultural background, the seminar seeks to critically examine the complex socio-political dynamics and nature of ethno-religious forces and actors in Southern Thailand. Through an analysis of the root cause of the conflict in Southern Thailand, the seminar provides an understanding how moderation can lead the way to an enduring and just peace.
Thailand's southern provinces have a longstanding conflict between local Islamic rebels and the Buddhist-dominated Thai security forces that now stands as one of the deadliest insurgencies in Asia. Therefore, it is vital to delineate an ethic of moderation to create a sustainable and lasting resolution to put an end to the Southern Thai skirmish caused by the misuse of religion and nationalism to generate hatred, intolerance and violence.
The seminar brought together 30 participants from the diplomatic corps, academia, governmental and non-profit organizations. Also present were Dato' Kamal Yan Yahya, Special Advisor on International Relations of the Prime Minister's Department, H.E. Dato' Raja Nazrin Aznam, Deputy Director General of MOFA, H.E. Aminahtun Hj Karim, Deputy Director General of IDFR and Piyapathu Ruktanonchai, Second Secretary of the Royal Thai Embassy.
The seminar commenced with welcoming remarks from the GMMF CEO Khalek Awang.Moderated by the GMMF Research Manager Asrul Daniel Ahmed, the three invited speakers who have extensive research interest and experience in the Southern Thailand conflict presented their papers prior to a Q&A session.
According to Khalek, this seminar which took on the perspective of moderation and its practical application relating to peaceful co-existence would give the Global Movement of Moderates the regional and global thrust that it needs. The discussion would be further enriched through the participation of strategic decision makers and opinion leaders.
The first presenter was Dr. Tim Rackett who provided a succinct overview of religious nationalism, contemporary ethical and cultural challenges in this region in his paper "Buddhist Nationalism in South East Asia".
The second paper "Settlement Dilemmas for Thailand's Malay-Muslim South" was presented by Jason Johnson who is an American visiting scholar to Thailand since 1998. He shared with the participants his own experience in dealing with Muslim separatists and Thai security officers. He commented that at the moment there is still no end in sight for the conflict.
Dr. Mala Rajo Sathian who is the Senior Lecturer from the Department of South East Asian Studies, Universiti Malaya, presented the third paper "The Conflict in South Thailand and the Rise of Muslim Women Political Activists in the Region". She highlighted the significant role of women in civil society despite being the real victims of the conflict. In addition, she suggested that non-state players such as NGOs must also be taken into account in dealing with the conflict in the region.
The presentations triggered a fruitful debate among the participants during the Q&A session. The outcome of the deliberations would be published and disseminated, providing an intellectual basis for GMMF as the leading centre for the dissemination of the concept of moderation.