BANGKOK, Nov 22 — Defence Minister Mohamad Sabu dismissed as baseless a claim that Malaysia is providing protection to wanted criminals from southern Thailand.

He said security agencies were constantly monitoring the entry of foreign elements into the country, especially at the Malaysia-Thailand borders.

“Security agencies of the two countries, especially those serving at the border, are exchanging operational and intelligence information periodically through the General Border Committee Malaysia-Thailand platform.

“Therefore, the allegation that Malaysia is providing protection to criminals fleeing to the country is baseless and not true,” he told Bernama recently.

Mohamad said Malaysia was ready to cooperate with Thailand to track down the criminals wanted by its authorities.

Following the violent attacks in Yala, southern Thailand, which killed 15 people on November 5, some claimed that the criminals involved in the attack had fled to Malaysia.

Meanwhile, Mohamad said Malaysia, as a facilitator of the southern Thai peace process, would continue to assist the Thai government in holding formal negotiations.

He said Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad in a meeting with his counterpart General Prayuth Chan o-cha earlier this month had pledged commitment to help Thailand find a comprehensive, fair and lasting solution to the conflict.

“The peace talks are expected to be held again early next month,” he said.

Over the past several years, Mara Patani had held peace negotiations with the Thai government to find a solution to the conflict which had dragged since 2004.

However, the peace process was disrupted since February following disappointments (of Mara Patani) with the action of the Thai government negotiating panel chief Gen Udomchai Thammasarorath who refused to meet the negotiating panel of Mara Patani in Kuala Lumpur.

Malaysia’s former Inspector-General of Police Tan Sri Abdul Rahim Noor was appointed in August last year as the facilitator for the southern Thailand peace talks between the Thai government and Majlis Syura Patani (Mara Patani).

Thailand appointed former National Security Council (NSC) secretary-general Gen Wanlop Rugsanaoh as the new head for the southern Thai peace talks, effective October 1. Gen Wanlop replaced Gen Udomchai.

Violence in four provinces in southern Thailand — Pattani, Narathiwat, Yala and Songkhla — has claimed more than 7,000 lives to date.

— Bernama