KUALA LUMPUR, Aug 30 — Datuk Seri Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail said she has expressed her reservations to the Prime Minister about Tan Sri Abdul Rahim Noor’s appointment as the southern Thailand peace process facilitator.
In a pre-recorded interview with BFM aired this morning, the deputy prime minister said Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad had asked her opinion about Abdul Rahim’s appointment.
“I was not very pleased,” she said.
“When he (Dr Mahathir) asked me, I did tell him (I was not pleased), but I said it was his prerogative (as PM),” the Pandan MP added.
Dr Wan Azizah explained that Dr Mahathir chose the former inspector-general of police because of his experience in dealing with communist insurgents.
“Whoever is chosen, they have to deliver,” she said.
Pakatan Harapan leaders have demanded the government explain why it chose the former police chief who assaulted Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim in 1998 as the new facilitator for southern Thai peace talks.
MPs like Nurul Izzah Anwar and Datuk Abdullah Sani Abdul Hamid have said the government’s selection of Abdul Rahim was perplexing given his part in Anwar’s infamous “black eye” incident, for which the former inspector-general of police was convicted.
Abdul Rahim was fined and sentenced to two months’ imprisonment over the incident.
Anwar has also commented on the matter, telling Astro Awani in his weekly talk show segment last night that he did not wish Abdul Rahim’s appointment to be made a prolonged issue.
Abdul Rahim, 75, replaced Datuk Seri Ahmad Zamzamin Hashim, who was appointed by the Barisan Nasional-led previous government, to facilitate the peace talks between the Thailand and MARA Patani, an umbrella body representing militant groups in southern Thailand.
Kuala Lumpur has been hosting several rounds of peace talks between these representatives to seek a peaceful resolution to years of armed conflict in southern Thailand.
About 7,000 people have died as a result of armed conflict in southern Thailand since 2004.