Malaysian MP says Deep South Islamic schools face intimidation

A member of the Malaysian Parliament has urged the Malaysian government to acknowledge the recent confiscation of the land of an Islamic school in the Deep South by the Thai authorities while questioning Malaysia’s role in the peace process.  

The Facebook page of a civil society group called InSouth : Intellectual Of Patani “Agent Of Change” on Thursday, 17 March 2016, posted a video clip of a debate in the Malaysian Parliament showing Ustaz Ahmad Marzuk Shaary, an MP of the Pan-Malaysian Islamic Party (PAS) from Bachok constituency, discussing the Deep South peace process.

The Facebook page says that on Wednesday the MP raised the confiscation of the land of an Islamic religious school called Jihad Pondok in Talo-Kapo Village, Yaring District, Pattani Province.

The Civil Court in December 2015 ruled to confiscate the land under the 1999 Anti-Money Laundering Act after an 11-year legal battle because the school was allegedly used by armed insurgent groups as a training ground.

In the video, the Malaysian MP tells parliament “If we look at what has been done by the Thai government to the Malay Muslim society (in their country), it is clear that the pondok schools are intimidated, closed, cordoned off and shot at with bullets. Many pondok teachers have been killed. The latest issue is the confiscation of the land belonging to Pondok Jihad School in Yaring District, Pattani Province by the government. It has caused tension in local society.”

The MP then asked “I would like ask here whether or not the Malaysian government has realized the issue, and has already provided help in peace building in accordance with the real need of the local people there.”

Tomorrow, 19 March 2016, from 9 am to 9 pm, civil society groups in the Deep South will hold a fundraising activity to assist the Waemanor family who had been running the now confiscated pondok.

Earlier, Don Pathan, a former reporter of The Nation who is an expert on the Deep South conflict, wrote on Patani Forum that many local activists think that the closure of Jihad Pondok might deepen distrust between Muslim communities in the region and the Thai state.

“The forced closure of Jihad Pondok gives a perfect advantage to the separatist movement because it will deepen the distrust between the Thai state and the local people in Pattani, who the Thai state has been trying to win over for a long time,” Don wrote.

Ustaz Ahmad Marzuk Shaary