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Thaksin denies courting separatists…Abhisit feared king Thaksin’ reach

Bangkokpost 8 April 2012

HONG KONG : Ousted prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra has vehemently denied the Democrat Party’s accusation that he held secret talks with southern rebel leaders.

“I have never talked with [rebel leaders]. I don’t have the status to do so. I’m just an unemployed man,” Thaksin said in an exclusive interview with Bangkok Post yesterday.

Democrat MP for Songkhla Thaworn Senneam said in parliament on Thursday that Thaksin met 18 rebel representatives in a neighbouring country recently.

Another Democrat MP, Prasert Pongsuwansiri, claimed that Thaksin was seen hugging a leader of the Pattani United Liberation Organisation (Pulo) in a picture posted on the group’s website.

Thaksin yesterday dismissed the claims as groundless, saying it was impossible for him to contact rebel leaders. He also denied taking photos with any Pulo leaders.

“What I have done was only to seek help from our neighbouring countries to prevent [insurgents] from using their countries as hide-outs,” said Thaksin, who is in Hong Kong until Wednesday.

Thaksin said his sister, Prime Minister Yingluck, visited Kuala Lumpur on Feb 20 seeking help from Malaysian authorities in eliminating insurgent hide-outs.

Thaksin said he agreed with the negotiation approach, but that talks must be in accordance with a set protocol.

“If you ask me if the authorities should hold talks with them [the rebels], I would say yes. A war can end only on the negotiation table, not in a battleground,” he said. “However, the government can’t talk with them directly.”

Meanwhile, Deputy Prime Minister Yutthasak Sasiprapa yesterday insisted Bangkok would always sticks to a policy of not engaging in negotiations with insurgent groups at the government level, though he could vouch for whether there are talks at the “operational level.”

Pol Col Thawee Sodsong, secretary-general of the Southern Border Provinces Administration Centre denied he held any negotiations with separatist leaders. However, Interior Minister Yongyuth Wichaidit admitted Pol Col Thawee had informal talks with them.

Pol Col Thawee has landed in hot water over a photo circulating among the media purporting to show him with key Pulo leader Shamsudin Khan in a restaurant in Malaysia.

Earlier, army chief Prayuth Chan-ocha said he suspected talks with one insurgent group might displease other groups and be a reason behind the large-scale bomb attacks in Songkhla’s Hat Yai district and Yala on March 31.

Pol Col Thawee yesterday responded to the photo controversy saying he was talking with Wan Shamsuddin Bin Wan Husen, a Yala resident representing the Tom Yam Kung (spicy prawn soup) club, which is made up of Thai-Muslims running restaurants in Malaysia.

They were discussing the possibility of asking Kuala Lumpur to reduce the fee of issuing work permits for running businesses in Malaysia, he said.

Mr Prasert insisted a Yala villager, whose relative runs a restaurant under the Tom Yam Kung club, confirmed Thaksin did visit Malaysia to talk with militant leaders. He is preparing to contact a person who showed him Thaksin’s photo.

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Written by Kham

08/04/2012 at 6:55 pm

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