ASEAN leaders’ meeting opportunity for leaders to hear first hand accounts of Myanmar crisis

ASEAN leaders’ meeting opportunity for leaders to hear first hand accounts of Myanmar crisis

KUALA LUMPUR: The special ASEAN Leaders’ Meeting on Saturday in Jakarta will enable ASEAN leaders to hear first hand accounts of the ongoing political crisis in Myanmar.

Former United Nations (UN) special envoy to Myanmar Tan Sri Razali Ismail said however, it should not be misinterpreted as the regional grouping’s recognition or granting legitimacy to the military takeover.

“Leaders have the chance to listen and ask important questions. The ASEAN meeting (is for the junta chief) to explain, but doesn’t mean they can get away with it (what is happening in Myanmar now).

“It does not mean that ASEAN will recognise and give legitimacy to the military takeover,” he told Bernama in an interview here, today.

Myanmar junta chief General Min Aung Hlaing, who led the Feb 1 coup, is also expected to attend the meeting. This would be his first official overseas trip since the military seized power.

Malaysia is one of the most vocal member states to voice concern over the military coup in Myanmar.

Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin and Indonesian President Joko Widodo had jointly called for the special meeting to be held during Muhyiddin’s working visit to Jakarta in early February.

Muhyiddin will be among the ASEAN leaders to attend this crucial meeting.

According to a joint statement issued at the end of the 23rd Annual Leaders’ Consultation at Istana Nurul Iman in Brunei on April 5, it remains in ASEAN’s greatest interest to see Myanmar resolve the crisis and regain stability.

Razali, who had served as chairman of UN Security Council and later President of the UN General Assembly, said the only way forward now is for ASEAN to engage and urge Myanmar to resolve its internal conflict through negotiation.

But he noted the process will not be easy as each of ASEAN’s ten members will have a different degree of commitment towards it.

“Some are less strong than Malaysia. I think no one in ASEAN would want this to happen,” he said.

He added that the junta must also listen to the will of the Myanmar people.

“What they (Tatmadaw or Myanmar’s armed forces) have done is totally unacceptable in this age. Now in the 21st century, you cannot kill people like that. You cannot take over (through a coup), only through constitutional means.

“Everything relies on the people. At the moment, people in Myanmar don’t want the military. The military has to listen to this (voice of the people),” he said.

Myanmar has been going through political upheaval following the coup on Feb 1, where key civilian leaders including Aung San Suu Kyi were detained under house arrest while over 700 anti-coup protesters had been killed by security forces. –Bernama