Nsd Chief Details Security Duties, Thai Visit, Disaster Management

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¶1. (C) The head of Malaysia’s National Security Division
(NSD), Ahmad Fuad, discussed NSD’s broad duties, including
its disaster management role, and inquired about U.S.
technical assistance during a November 29 meeting with the
DCM. Fuad said that Thai General Sonthi had used his visit
to Kuala Lumpur to request Malaysia’s help in preventing the
movements of ethnic Malay militants out of southern Thailand.
The DCM raised the issue of the GOM moratorium on U.S.
training for the Marine Police (RMMP). End Summary.

Fuad Describes NSD, MEIO Background

¶2. (C) The DCM and polchief met November 29 with National
Security Division (NSD) Director General Ahmad Fuad bin Abdul
Aziz and NSD Principal Assistant Director Hasnan Zahedi bin
Ahmad Zakaria. Fuad also serves as Secretary of the National
Security Council, a senior grouping headed by the Prime
Minister that meets infrequently. Fuad explained that he had
taken up his current position in May 2006, after some 31
years in the Malaysian External Intelligence Organization
(MEIO). Fuad described NSD as a body, comparable in some
respects to other countries’ national security councils, that
coordinates a broad range of national security issues across
multiple agencies. These range from natural disaster
management to maritime and border control to cyber security.
(Note: An NSD organization chart available on the internet
lists 11 NSD directorates. End Note.)

Sonthi’s Visit

¶3. (S) Fuad told us that he had joined in meetings with Thai
Army Chief General Sonthi Boonyaratglin, who visited Malaysia
November 28-30. Sonthi had asked Malaysia to assist in
ending the violence in Thailand’s ethnic Malay/Muslim south
by strengthening controls along their common border and
preventing the movements of Thai insurgents. Sonthi did not
offer Malaysia any role in brokering peace. Fuad described
Sonthi as “sincere” in the desire to end the violence in
southern Thailand by meeting the population’s legitimate
grievances. Neither Malaysian nor Thailand, however, really
knew who to deal with in the south, and Fuad raised reports
that ousted Thai Prime Minister Thaksin might be fanning the
flames. The NSD Chief reaffirmed that Malaysia would not
forcibly repatriate the 131 Thai Malay refugees, and that
none had agreed to return at this time. He noted Sonthi’s
frank public admission that Thai forces had killed some
previously returned refugees. He added that one reason that
the GOM kept the 131 refugees in a camp (paid for by the NSD)
was to protect them from possible assassination by Thai
agents. Fuad said Malaysia had offered to send Muslim
religious teachers to southern Thailand and to accept ethnic
Malay students in an effort to teach the southern Thai how to
live in a multi-ethnic society like Malaysia. (Comment:
Fuad’s comments on Thailand were generally consistent with
those of the Foreign Ministry, ref A. End Comment.)

¶4. (C) Fuad explained that the NSD budget paid for
Malaysia’s deployment to the International Monitoring Team in
Mindanao. NSD, however, had no role in facilitating the
peace talks between the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF)
and Manila. Othman Abdul Razak, Fuad’s former boss, handled
the talks out of a separate office.

¶5. (C) The DCM thanked Fuad for Malaysia’s cooperation with
the DS/ATA-led Border Control Assessment Initiative (BCAI)
and NSD coordination of the January 2007 BCAI mission to
Sabah. Fuad expressed his satisfaction with the U.S.
approach. In response to Hasnan’s question as to why we
focused on Sabah, the DCM noted the U.S. interest in
assisting Malaysia and its neighbors to stop criminals,
including terrorists, operating in the tri-border area.

¶6. (C) The DCM raised the issue of the Royal Malaysian
Marine Police (RMMP) and its October announcement of a
postponement of all U.S. training. Fuad said the

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postponement resulted from concerns over coordination among
the various maritime agencies and a GOM desire that foreign
governments not approach individual agencies to propose
training. He indicated that the NSD-led maritime security
policy meetings had taken up the subject. Fuad initially
recommended the U.S. formally approach the GOM through the
Foreign Ministry; later he said he would pursue the issue in
a coordination meeting the following week. On a separate
issue, Fuad indicated he did not have knowledge of any
decision restricting bilateral military training to
peninsular Malaysia.

Disaster Management

¶7. (SBU) Fuad focused much of the conversation on NSD’s role
in natural disaster management. NSD coordinated annual
preparations for Malaysia’s flood season (normally November
to January) and dispersed the budget to state-level agencies
that carried out disaster relief activities. Malaysia had
the capacity to house temporarily about 1 million persons
displaced by flooding, which normally hits hardest along the
eastern coast of peninsular Malaysia. NSD also coordinated
Malaysia’s response to unhealthy haze resulting from burning
forests primarily in Indonesia. Fuad commented that recent
discussion with Indonesia on the subject of haze had produced
no results, and he appeared pessimistic on progress. He
stated that Malaysia was prepared to help Indonesia with
forest fires, if asked, but would do so on a bilateral basis,
not through an ASEAN coordination mechanism.

¶8. (U) Fuad and Hasnan raised a number of areas for possible
U.S. technical assistance, including training on natural
disaster management; search and rescue techniques;
fire-fighting to reduce haze; and CBRN response training.
The GOM intended to construct a search/rescue team training
center, which would feature an advanced simulation area.
Hasnan noted that cooperation on disaster management
represented one element of the U.S.-ASEAN Enhanced
Partnership, and he asked about U.S. programming. The DCM
said that we would inquire with Washington and respond.

¶9. (SBU) In other areas, Fuad expressed interest in the U.S.
providing capacity building support for the NSD’s new
cyber-security office. Fuad expressed thanks for past
opportunities for NSD staff to join in APCSS and hoped these
opportunities would continue or increase in the future.