Tuesday, November 06, 2007
Reference: Only autonomy can resolve southern conflict, Bangkok Post, November 7, 2007
In one of the most scholarly articles I have ever read in the Bangkok Post, Professor Imtiyaz Yousuf presented a comprehensive theoretical and empirical argument that the southern insurgency in Thailand is not a religion issue but an ethnicity issue. Muslims in Thailand are spread out throughout the country and include ethnic Thai, Chinese, South Asian, Middle Eastern, and Burmese in addition to Malay. And yet the insurgency is only in the south. What is unique about the south is that it contains a concentration of Malays who differ from Thais in culture and language. Therefore the insurgency in the south is based on ethnicity not religion. We are dealing with Malays who happen to be Muslim not Muslims who happen to be Malay. Before one proposes a solution to a problem, one must first define the problem. The article on the autonomy solution (Only autonomy can resolve southern conflict, Bangkok Post, November 7, 2007) is quite possibly the right answer to the wrong question because it assumes that the insurgency is a holy war.