Let NUG attend Asean summit on Myanmar, insist lawmakers

Lawmakers in the region have called on the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) to invite Myanmar’s shadow government for an upcoming special summit on the country.

The meeting, scheduled for Saturday in Jakarta, is to discuss the situation in Myanmar after its democratically elected National League for Democracy (NLD) government was overthrown by the military on February 1.

Last Friday, Myanmar’s ousted lawmakers and ethnic-minority leaders announced the establishment of a National Unity Government (NUG) as they demanded to participate in this Saturday’s meet. Myanmar’s military leader Senior General Min Aung Hlaing is expected to attend the summit – his first official trip abroad following the coup.

Asean Parliamentarians for Human Rights (APHR) chairperson Charles Santiago said Asean cannot adequately discuss the situation in Myanmar without hearing from and speaking to the NUG.

“If Asean’s purpose really is to strengthen democracy as stated in its Charter, they must give them (NUG) a seat at the table. After all, they are the embodiment of democracy in Myanmar,” Santiago, who is also the Klang MP, said in a statement today.

“The invitation to Min must be handled with extreme caution, and Asean must make it abundantly clear that he is not there as a representative of the Myanmar people, who totally reject his barbaric junta.”

Santiago said United Nations (UN) Special Envoy on Myanmar, Christine Schraner Burgener, should also be invited to the summit. Burgener is currently touring the region to help establish a coordinated and human rights-based response between Asean and the UN Security Council.

It is understood that Asean is planning to use the summit to establish its own Special Envoy on Myanmar. APHR had called on the bloc to ensure that this position comprises representatives from at least two or three member states to ensure accountability and meaningful progress.

Santiago had earlier told Twentytwo13 there had been too many statements but little progress following the military coup. He said the only way forward was for a China-Asean corporation to restore democracy in Myanmar.

Kasit Piromya, APHR board member and a former Thailand MP, said Asean’s special envoy on Myanmar must impose pre-conditions that include an immediate end to the violence and the release of all political prisoners.

NLD leader Aung San Suu Kyi was among the politicians detained by the military. Over 700 people, including healthcare workers and children, had been killed in a series of violent clashes between the military and anti-coup protesters.

“While humanitarian assistance is much needed, Asean does not have the capacity or experience of intervening in violent and complex settings. It should use its position to negotiate access for UN and humanitarian agencies rather than take the risk of putting money into the hands of the junta, or potentially conducting harmful operations,” Piromya added.

Here’s the round-up of The News Normal today.

SIBU POSTPONES COVID-19 VACCINATION DUE TO LACK OF SUPPLY

The National Covid-19 Immunisation Programme in Sibu has been postponed until further notice due to a shortage of vaccine, said Sibu division health officer Dr Teh Jo Hun.

Yesterday, the vaccination centre in Sibu saw 924 senior citizens and 140 frontliners vaccinated with the Pfizer-BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine.

Malaysia recorded 2,341 new Covid-19 cases today – the sixth consecutive day that the number of cases has been above 2,000.

This brings the nation’s total confirmed cases to 379,473.

Sarawak recorded the most number of cases today with 600 new infections.

MALAYSIA PLUNGES TO 119 IN WORLD PRESS FREEDOM INDEX

Malaysia was the country that fell the furthest, down 18 spots to 119, in the 2021 World Press Freedom Index 2021 by Reporters Without Borders (RSF) released today.

According to RSF, Malaysia was the worst hit due to various issues including “a recent anti-fake news decree allowing the government to impose its own version of the truth”.

RSF said the latest index showed that journalism, the main vaccine against disinformation, was completely or partially blocked in 73 per cent of the 180 countries ranked by the organisation.

Norway had the best rating for the fifth year running.

EARN DIVIDENDS UNTIL AGE 100 NOT 75, CLARIFIES EPF

Contributors of the Employees Provident Fund (EPF) will continue to earn dividends for the remaining portion of their savings up to 100 years old.

EPF, in a statement, clarified that an old statement – stating that its dividend payment is only up to age 75 – which is making its rounds via instant messaging services and other platforms – is “outdated” and “no longer applicable”.

“As announced in an EPF media statement dated Nov 3, 2016, effective Jan 1, 2017, members will continue to earn dividends for the remaining portion of their EPF savings up to age 100,” it said.

“This measure was introduced following the amendment to the EPF Act 1991 to ensure that members who choose to maintain a portion of their savings with the EPF after retirement will continue to benefit from the compounding effect of annual dividends until their EPF savings have been fully withdrawn.”

MORE RAYA VIDEOS PROMOTING GAMBLING SURFACE

Three locals were arrested in connection with two more Hari Raya-themed videos promoting online gambling activities.

Dang Wangi district police chief ACP Mohamad Zainal Abdullah said the two women and a man, aged 21 to 42, were detained in Kuala Lumpur.

Police urged the public not to share the videos.

COOKING VIDEO AT KLIA ‘JUST A GIMMICK’

A video that showed cooking in an open space at the KL International Airport (KLIA) was just a gimmick by food and beverage outlet Eraman Mini Cafe.

Malaysia Airports Holdings Bhd (MAHB), said in a statement no cooking is allowed within the open area of the terminal building as per safety regulations.

The airport operator said the outlet operator had merely simulated the cooking of a Malay traditional dish (gulai kawah) by placing a wok on a stove stand without the gas burner.

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