Thai-Malay Summit

Thailand-Malaysia Summit:

The prime minister of Malaysia, his coup-appointed counterpart from Thailand, met to talk about the Islamic insurgency on their shared border. China's Xinhua news service has a brief account, while Germany's DPA has a better one.

Malaysia and China both belong to the "high government" school -- I borrow the metaphor from Christian denominations, which tend to be either "high church" or "low church." Both of these nations try to play up the glory and majesty of government in general and the ruling party in particular, resolving sticky disputes behind closed doors. In the open, their discussions and press portray the government as a worthy vessel for popular confidence, boldly attacking and solving the problems of the day. It is normally necessary to resort to open censorship to maintain even the illusion that this is true.

"Low government" nations, like Thailand or our own, are structured so that a lot of the petty infighting and political ugliness is out in the open. As a result, the public tends to despise politicians, and that large part of the citizenry that is willing to be led like sheep. Such nations normally enjoy some measure of freedom of the press.

In any event, it is always interesting to watch a HG and LG nation interact. Thailand's deposed Prime Minister, Thaksin Shinawatra, used to get into open brawls with the Malaysian government by telling the press that he knew there were insurgent camps on the Malay side of the border. This was embarrassing for Malaysia, who wanted any such information to be conveyed privately rather than through the press where everyone could see it. (It was also embarrassing for Thaksin, when he proved on at least two occasions to be flat wrong... but hey, intelligence is a gamble).

The coup government in Thailand seems to be playing by Malaysia's rules, as the news articles about their meeting are very structured and depend on official sources. But the German article shows that they made one momentous decision:

Badawi added that his government would cooperate with Thailand in ending dual citizenship among the Thais living in the kingdom's three southernmost provinces of Narathiwat, Pattani and Yala along the border with Malaysia.

"They must choose," Badawi told a press conference. Widespread dual citizenship in the border area has allowed many militants wanted by Thai authorities for terror or criminal acts to flee to Malaysia.
The execution will be at least as important as the decision, but this points to an interest between the governments to start controlling that border. It also suggests that they are likely to adopt some method of verifying your choice -- once you've chosen, you are apt to be issued papers and expected to carry them.

I find that an interesting turn of events. Apparently the new Thai government is moving slowly but purposefully on the insurgency, and they've managed to get an assist out of Malaysia.

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