Mon. Jan 24th, 2022

Malaysian Foreign Minister says Hun Sen as current chairman of ASEAN should have consulted other member states.

Malaysia’s foreign minister said some Southeast Asian countries had reservations about last week’s visit to Myanmar by Cambodia’s leader, with concerns that the trip could be seen as local recognition of military rule amid continuing opposition to the coup.

Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen, the new chairman of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) met military ruler Min Aung Hlaing last week in the first visit by a head of government to Myanmar since last February’s coup.

Saifuddin Abdullah spoke to reporters late Thursday, saying there are differing opinions within ASEAN about Hun Sen’s visit, with some of its 10 members worried that the trip could be seen as legitimizing the coup plotters.

“There are people who think he should not have taken the visit because his visit was interpreted or interpreted as a recognition by the military in Myanmar,” he said.

“Malaysia is of the opinion that it has the right to visit Myanmar as the head of government of Cambodia. However, we also feel that because he has already held the chair of ASEAN, he could probably have consulted the other ASEAN leaders and asked our views on what he should do if he were to go to Myanmar. ”

Asked if he thought Hun Sen’s visit had achieved anything, Saifuddin said: “No”.

Myanmar has been in turmoil since the February 1 coup, with the military using force to stop protests and facing armed resistance on several fronts from opponents calling it “terrorists”.

Thousands were arrested and civilian leader Aung San Suu Kyi, who was detained when the generals took power, was found guilty of crimes, including incitement and violation of coronavirus rules.

There were also reports of the army carrying out airstrikes in different parts of the country, forcing thousands of civilians to flee. There were reports Thursday of more airstrikes in Chin and Karen states.

Despite the threat of violence, anti-coup protesters also challenged the military by holding blitzkrieg in several cities and towns, including the commercial capital, Yangon. Social media posts also showed images of protests in Shwebo township and Yinmabin district, both in the Sagaing region on Thursday.

Isolate Min Aung Hlaing

ASEAN late last year the unprecedented step from the sidelines of Min Aung Hlaing of his leadership summit over his failure to implement the five-point peace plan to end hostilities and start inclusive dialogue agreed with ASEAN in April.

Saifuddin said it was unclear whether Cambodia, as ASEAN chairman, would continue to exclude Myanmar’s military government from ASEAN meetings until it showed progress, a position favored by former President Brunei, who supported Malaysia. .

Cambodia’s foreign minister, Prak Sokhonn, said on Saturday that his country as ASEAN chairman would follow “different approaches” to the Myanmar crisis.

According to Myanmar’s state media, Min Aung thanked Hlaing Hun Sen for “standing with Myanmar”.

Meanwhile, the United Nations special envoy on Thursday urged ASEAN to involve all sides in the crisis.

Noeleen Heyzer, the Secretary-General’s Special Envoy for Myanmar, held virtual talks with Hun Sen and sought a co-operation effort in humanitarian aid while advancing in the stuck five-point peace plan.

“The special envoy has called for trust-building measures involving all stakeholders, in addition to ethnic armed organizations,” the statement said of Heyzer’s talks with Hun Sen.

An envoy of the previous chairman, Brunei, made a meeting with all stakeholders a condition for visitation, which the government rejected. But Cambodia’s incoming Myanmar envoy, Prak Sokhonn, said the approach was not productive.

Heyzer encouraged Prak Sakhonn to work with her and the international community on “a coordinated strategy to create an empowering environment for inclusive dialogue”.

“She emphasized solutions needed to engage directly with everyone and to listen attentively to everyone affected,” it said.

Hun Sen did not meet Aung San Suu Kyi while in Myanmar and made no mention of her in the joint statement he subsequently released with Min Aung Hlaing.

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