KUALA LUMPUR: Muslim minority communities in the Asean region that are struggling for greater rights should not seek independence but rather meaningful autonomy, says Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak.
He said Muslim communities, such as those in the Philippines, Thailand and Myanmar, should recognise their responsibilities within their current governments and contribute to the moral and social well-being of their respective nations.
“They must forget the idea of being independent Muslim states as it is not realistic.
“There should be meaningful autonomy, not independence,” he said in a keynote address at the international symposium on Islam and the New Era of Asean Countries here yesterday.
Najib said these communities should be granted autonomy and protection with regard to their religious, linguistic and cultural identities, while enhancing their socio-economic opportunities.
He reiterated Malaysia’s commitment towards promoting a peaceful resolution in restive areas in the region.
“It is Malaysia’s honour and privilege to help broker the signing of the Framework Agreement between the Philippine government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF).
“We are also assisting the Thai government in stabilising security and improving socio-economic development through bilateral cooperation,” he said.
Last October, Malaysia helped broker a milestone peace deal between MILF and the Philippine government, ending one of Asia’s longest secessionist rebellions which began in 1969 and the establishment of the Bangsamoro autonomous region in southern Philippines.
Earlier this year, the Thai government approached Malaysia to host peace talks with rebel groups in the restive south, resulting in the signing of the General Consensus Document to pave the way for a dialogue process for peace.