Bangkok – Malaysia and Thailand have begun their first five-month joint patrol along the border between the troubled town of Narathiwat in southern Thailand andMalaysia’s Kelantan state. The border areas here are considered sensitive due to active separatist movements from Thailand.
The joint mission, which was launched on May 10, involves 36 soldiers from each side. The soldiers will be living and working together for the next five months until Sept 4. Their patrols will cover a distance of 110km, starting from Km-market 63 in Narathiwat's Sukhirin district and finishing at the Sungai Kolok river estuary.
Thai Colonel Preecha Playiyuwong, deputy commander of the 5th infantry division, said the joint patrols are aimed at curbing drug smuggling, illegal labour and movement of Thai separatist militants.
“Malaysia understands that the unrest in southern Thailand is an internal issue that Thailand can solve on her own. But along the border, bilateral cooperation will help solve the problem to a certain extent. Malaysia does not support the separatist movement,” Col Preecha said.
* Thai-Malaysian joint border patrols begin in Narathiwat (Bangkok Post, May 11)