Malaysian FM says ASEAN needs more detailed plan for Myanmar crisis

Malaysian Foreign Minister Saifuddin Abdullah
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Malaysia’s Foreign Minister Saifuddin Abdullah on Saturday (June 11) said ASEAN needs a more detailed road map for tackling the Myanmar crisis, suggesting that it sets a time frame and lists the stakeholders in efforts to end the conflict.

This comes as the regional bloc faces a lack of progress in achieving its five-point consensus that was drawn up a year ago.

The consensus calls for Myanmar to end hostilities, initiate dialogue, allow humanitarian support, grant a special envoy full access in the country and allow the envoy to facilitate mediation of the dialogue process.

Speaking at the Shangri-La Dialogue in Singapore, Datuk Seri Saifuddin cited time frame and stakeholders as two missing elements in the current consensus.

“We don’t seem to have a time frame (on) when do we get certain things done, who do we meet… The five-point consensus didn’t outline who are the stakeholders,” he said at a special session on Myanmar: Finding The Way Forward.

In a Facebook post later, Saifuddin said the stakeholders must include ousted leader Aung San Suu Kyi, former president Win Myint, Myanmar’s shadow government the National Unity Government (NUG), as well as the National Unity Consultative Council.

He added that humanitarian aid and Covid-19 vaccination must be given top priority, and there must be no hindrance or discrimination against humanitarian and cross-border aid which must include local civil society organizations.

Myanmar has been in chaos since the military seized power from the elected government of Suu Kyi last year.

This sparked widespread protests and unrest that the military has sought to crush by force.

The ousted leader has been sentenced to 11 years in prison, but faces the prospect of more than 100 years on 17 charges.

The NUG, dominated by lawmakers from her National League for Democracy, is working to overturn the coup.

At the forum, Saifuddin also suggested strengthening the role of the ASEAN special envoy, who is currently Prak Sokhonn, Cambodia’s Foreign Minister.

Saifuddin said, “I haven’t spoken to my (ASEAN) colleagues yet but we are meeting informally in Delhi for the ASEAN-India foreign ministers’ meeting on June 16 to 17, and I think in that informal meeting, I will ask my friends to seriously look into how we can strengthen the role of the ASEAN special envoy.”

Another speaker, United Nations’ special envoy on Myanmar Noeleen Heyzer, painted a grim picture of the situation there, saying that both the junta and its opponents think they can prevail through the use of violence.

She said the positions of both sides have hardened, with no desire to engage in talks or find a way out of the crisis.

As a result, people’s lives and livelihoods have been severely disrupted, with one million displaced internally, villages and civilian infrastructure destroyed and 7.8 million children out of school.

Because of the sufferings, some local leaders feel that changes must be made, said Heyzer.

“They’ve asked me to establish a platform on greater inclusive dialogue to address problems that need to be resolved such as the humanitarian situation and the need to protect women and children,” she said.

 

SOURCE: NEWS AGENCIES

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