Malaysia stresses Myanmar ‘endgame’ again, even as junta charges journo

Malaysia once again made its stand clear regarding Myanmar, even as a Japanese journalist was charged by the junta today.

Toru Kubota, who was detained while covering a protest in Yangon last week, was charged with breaching immigration laws and encouraging dissent against the military that took over the administration in the Southeast Asian nation following a coup d’état on Feb 1, 2021.

Malaysia’s Foreign Minister Datuk Seri Saifuddin Abdullah reiterated the government’s stand that the junta should not be allowed to send political representation to all Asean ministerial-level meetings.

He also called on Asean to strengthen the implementation of the five-point consensus by having a framework “with a clear endgame for the people of Myanmar.”

Saifuddin was in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, with his counterparts from neighbouring Asean countries for the 55th Asean Foreign Ministers’ Meeting.

“The endgame is a democratic, inclusive, just, peaceful, harmonious, and prosperous Myanmar, whose civil and political rights are guaranteed by the people’s constitution,” Saifuddin said.

“Malaysia also outlined the matters and processes required to achieve that endgame, including plans and implementing parties for ceasefire, stabilisation, and transition, a people’s constitution, and elections that are free, and agreed upon by all.”

Saifuddin added that Malaysia’s views were based on meetings with various stakeholders, and called for a “dialogue between Asean and all stakeholders to be more inclusive, to include the National Unity Government of Myanmar and the National Unity Consultative Council, and for it to be expedited and be made public.”

Unrest gripped Myanmar early last year after the military overthrew the democratically-elected government, headed by Aung San Suu Kyi’s party, the National League for Democracy.

The situation in Myanmar has somewhat strained the relationship between fellow Asean member states, as some are supportive of the junta, while others have lambasted the Myanmar military and questioned the poor response by the regional grouping in tackling the issue.

Myanmar’s Rohingya refugees continue to flee the country, with most of them entering Malaysia, Thailand, and Indonesia, without valid documents.

Asean Parliamentarians for Human Rights (APHR) chairman Charles Santiago, recently took a swipe at the regional body and labelled its five-point consensus a “joke”.

The foreign ministers also touched on the volatility in the region as China initiated large-scale combined arms military exercises around Taiwan.

China has been flexing its muscles in the Taiwan Strait since Tuesday, following United States House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s brief visit to the beleaguered island, the same day. Pelosi was in Malaysia prior to her trip to the island.

“Asean is concerned with the international and regional volatility, especially in the recent development in the area adjacent to the Asean region, which could
destabilise the area and lead to miscalculation, serious confrontation, open conflicts, and unpredictable consequences among major powers,” said the foreign ministers in a statement.

“Asean calls for maximum restraint, and for parties to refrain from provocative action, and to uphold the principles enshrined in the United Nations Charter and the Treaty of Amity and Cooperation in Southeast Asia. We reiterate Asean Member States’ support for their respective One-China policy.”

It added that the “world is in dire need of wisdom” and that it was the responsibility of leaders to uphold “multilateralism and partnership, cooperation, peaceful coexistence, and healthy competition for our shared goals of peace, stability, security and inclusive and sustainable development.”

“We should act together and Asean stands ready to play a constructive role in facilitating peaceful dialogue between all parties, including through using Asean-led mechanisms to deescalate tension, and to safeguard peace, security and development in our region,” the statement read.