Somewhere in late January 2016 a British friend texted me a message :
"Salam, I am writing an article on the 1909 Anglo-Siamese Treaty which I plan to submit to the Online media outlet 'open democracy UK'. As a representative of the peace negotiations, I would like to ask you two questions, on the record, if that's ok.
1. Do you think the Anglo-Siamese Treaty of 1909 is still relevant today with regards to the peace process in the Patani region?
2. Because of the UK's role in drawing the border between Thailand and Malaysia, do you think the UK has a responsibility to assist in resolving the conflict in the Patani region? If so, how?
If you have anything else you would like to say on this issue, please feel free.
Thanks/ Adam "
And this was my reply :
1. The Anglo-Siam Treaty of 1909 was history. However its effect perpetuates and remains to this day. Both British Malaya and Siam made decisions disregarding the Malay rulers and people on both sides of the borders. It was being imposed by persuasion, intimidation and the use of force. The wrongful separation of the Malay ethnic and heritage lands is like cutting a single body into two halves.
What we see today the Malays in Malaysia ( then British Malaya) are much better off compared to its other half ( Southern Thailand today) in almost all aspects, and one can literally see that by just looking across the border at any point. The fact that the Malays in the Deep South are still fighting for their rights, justice and freedom to this day only confirms that the 1909 treaty was indeed a "tragedy" and a continuous nightmare for them.
2. Of course the UK (England) was responsible for that. Though the people who had their hands on that treaty were long gone but the citizens of UK today cannot just wash their hands and say, " Not our doing".
We, the people of Patani, of course, do not seek to nullify the treaty, since it was already history. What we like to see is the people in the UK ; the government, the NGOs and CSOs come to realize that : WHILE WE CANNOT CHANGE HISTORY, WE CAN STILL SHAPE THE FUTURE. They should bear the responsibility to correct the ill-doings of their ancestors by playing significant role in solving the conflicts , strongly support the peace process and help to stabilize the region.
3. Having said that, this also goes similarly to the Thai people and government , whose ancestors (Siam) had a "dirty hand " to wash by signing the treaty that had brought misery, hardship, oppression ,uprisings and bloodshed in Patani.
And that was the origin of this timely article : The Treaty - Britain's role in covering up Thailand's southern occupation -written by Adam John, commemorating the 107th anniversary of the Anglo-Siam Treaty signed on 10 March 1909.
The full article can be read at : http://prachatai.org/english/node/5922
Past mistakes could be rectified by sincere acknowledgement and the desire to compensate. The arrogant and selfish attitude of the Thai State that it could do what it sees fit for the "conquered" people is no longer relevant in this modern era. Despite the claim and propaganda by the state that Patani was never occupied and that it has always been part of the kingdom since the rule of Sukhothai and Ayuthaya, the treaty of 1909 itself was a proof that after its downfall ( in 1786 ) Patani and several northern Malay states had been gradually subjugated and manipulated to be finally incorporated as part of Thai State/Siam on 10 March 1909.
Last but not least I would like to stress here, as far as the peace process is concerned, that the future status of PATANI must neither be determined by the Thai government( party A) nor the Patani liberation movements ( party B/MARA Patani) , rather it should be decided by the people of Patani themselves. The tragedy of 1909 must never be repeated whereby the fate of the people/nation was charted by those other than its people.
The responsibility of both parties A and B is to create an atmosphere of PEACE, STABILITY and JUSTICE. A conducive platform for free political discussion must be provided by the state so that the people can freely decide their own future and destiny without fear, intimidation or suppression. That is true democracy and that is what a peace process is all about.
Abu Hafez Al - Hakim - from outside the fence of Patani.
19 March 2016 / 10 Jamadil Akhir 1437 H