Myanmar military coup step backward in democracy, says Muhyiddin

The military coup in Myanmar was a major talking point between Malaysia Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin and Indonesia President Joko Widodo as the two leaders met in Jakarta this morning.

“Just like Indonesia, Malaysia is looking at the situation in Myanmar seriously. It is a step backward in the country’s democratic process,” Muhyiddin said during his joint press conference with Widodo after the meeting.

“There is a concern that the political uncertainty in Myanmar will affect the peace and stability in this region.

“As such, I agree to (Widodo’s) suggestion that foreign ministers of both nations are given the mandate to initiate an Asean meeting to discuss this matter in detail.”

Widodo had earlier said that Indonesia hoped the political differences in Myanmar will end and that the Asean charter – which calls for the rule of law, good governance and upholding human rights, among others – be respected.

“As a family, we have asked our foreign ministers to speak to the Asean chair. We will also speak about the Rohingya issue,” Widodo added.

Myanmar’s military staged a coup on Monday, declared a year-long state emergency and detained several elected politicians from the National League of Democary (NLD), including de facto leader Aung San Suu Kyi. Human rights activists and leaders from other nations have been critical of the military as Asean is pressured to take concrete steps to address the episode which could see a spike in Rohingyas fleeing to Bangladesh, India, Thailand, Malaysia and Indonesia.

Both leaders also touched on other matters, including the reciprocal green lane arrangements, anti-palm oil campaign by the European Union which was described as “baseless” by Muhyiddin, and deportation of undocumented Indonesians in Malaysia.

Muhyiddin and Widodo also spoke about enhancing cooperation between the respective agencies of both countries to address environmental and transborder haze issues by sharing the best available practices.

Muhyiddin also said the maritime issue in the South China Sea must be handled peacefully based on international principles that are universally acceptable. China has been flexing its muscles in the territory which also has Brunei, Vietnam, Malaysia, Taiwan and the Philippines claiming a stake in the potentially energy-rich and strategic area.

“Malaysia is committed to solving the South China Sea dispute in a constructive manner,” he added.

Muhyiddin and his delegation are scheduled to return today.