EXTRADITION ROW: KL: Let’s not get into public war of words


Says 1911 treaty not applicable to Chae Kumae; urges use of diplomacy

Malaysian Foreign Minister Syed Hamid Albar said his government does not want to enter into a public row with Thailand, which wants a suspected Muslim insurgent leader extradited, a news report said yesterday.

Malaysian Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi has indicated the government may not turn over Chae Kumae Kuteh, the alleged leader of the New Pulo, one of several separatist groups linked to violence in Thailand’s predominantly Muslim South.

Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra said on Tuesday that Chae Kumae is a Thai citizen who should stand trial in Thailand, while Foreign Minister Surakiart Sathirathai said a 1911 repatriation treaty between Britain – then Malaysia’s colonial ruler – and Thailand could be applied.

But Syed Hamid said the treaty was not signed by Malaysia, and that the government does not want “to get involved in a public debate on treaties”, the New Straits Times reported.

“Whether or not he is proven to hold Thai citizenship, there is an existing mechanism for this sort of thing and Thailand can use it,” Syed Hamid was quoted as saying, without elaborating.

The case has soured bilateral relations, already frayed over claims by Thailand that its neighbour was harbouring Muslim rebels who have waged a bloody campaign in the deep South over the past year.

Malaysian officials said Chae Kumae, who is on a Thai list of 46 suspected Muslim insurgent leaders wanted in the Kingdom, is a Malaysian citizen who is being detained under the Internal Security Act which allows for indefinite imprisonment without trial.

Intelligence reports from Thai security agencies claim that Chae Kumae lived in Pattani’s Yarang district before moving to Kuala Terengganu district in Malaysia’s Terengganu state. After finishing his secondary education at Thammawithya Foundation School in Yala in 1973 he got a bachelor’s degree from a college in Indonesia, the intelligence reports said.

In Malaysia, he helped formed an organisation known as the Gerakan Mujahideen Islam Pattani, which is largely made up of a new generation of separatists, after having conflicts with the New Pulo.

Thai Defence Minister Samphan Boonyanant, trying to defuse the situation, said he was informed that Malaysian authorities have helped by tracing suspected militants requested by the Thai side.

“I also learned from Malaysia that some of the wanted militants will surrender,” Samphan said.

The extradition request for Chae Kumae will not affect relations despite the current exchange of words on the issue, he added.

Published on February 03, 2005

The Nation, Associated Press

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