Malaysia's foreign minister told Thailand not to interfere in his country's foreign policy and vowed to continue commenting on the Muslim insurgency in Thailand's southern provinces, a news report said Tuesday. The comments by Foreign Minister Syed Hamid Albar are likely to fuel a growing diplomatic spat between the two countries over Buddhist-dominated Thailand's handling of the insurgency near its border with Malaysia.
On Monday, Thai Foreign Minister Kantathi Supamongkhon said predominantly Muslim Malaysia was making unhelpful comments and was trying to "teach us things that there is no need to teach."
Syed Hamid said he was "very disappointed" with Kantathi's views and would continue speaking out on the insurgency because it affected Malaysia's interests, the New Straits Times reported.
"If they don't like to be told how to conduct their foreign affairs, which we have no intention of doing, then they should not tell us how to conduct ours," it quoted Syed Hamid as saying Monday. "How can they stop us from saying what we feel?"
Syed Hamid said he had been "very chivalrous and gentlemanly" with Kantathi on many occasions, and his Thai counterpart "should not make an allegation and expect us to seal our lips," the newspaper reported.
"I think they are getting a bit confused in this situation," it quoted Syed Hamid as saying. "I do not want a confrontation but we have a different view and a different approach."
Relations between the neighbors have been strained since the insurgency flared early last year. More than 1,000 people have died in the violence, reports the AP. I.L.