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34th ASEAN Summit in Bangkok – preview

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South-east Asian leaders will assemble for the 34th ASEAN Summit in Bangkok this weekend to discuss a range of hot topics. Bangkok’s busy Wireless Road will be closed during the Summit. The event is being held at The Athenée Hotel.

Intersections on Wireless, Phloen Chit and Sarasin roads will be closed over the weekend to facilitate the movements and security of summit delegates.

The summit will be held under the theme “Advancing Partnership for Sustainability”. Amongst expected outcomes, policy statements about local marine debris prevention and an “Indo-Pacific Outlook”.

Thailand’s PM Prayut Chan-o-cha will chair the summit despite not yet having announced his new Cabinet. Suriya Chindawongse, director general of ASEAN affairs at the Foreign Ministry, confirmed that the leaders of all 10 member-nations would attend.

Foreign Minister Don Pramudwinai, who has served in the military-backed government since August 2015, will assist Prayut on both the substance and protocols of the gathering. He has hinted about finishing his post after the summit.

10,000 police officers and security officials will be deployed around the venue and at strategic locations around the capital.

A decade ago the ASEAN Summit was held in Pattaya when anti-government red-shirt protesters stormed into the meeting venue forcing a hasty evacuation.

“Hundreds of anti-government protesters have gathered in Pattaya as the ASEAN summit opens. The supporters of former PM Thaksin Shinawatra, deposed in a 2006 coup, say they will blockade a hotel where heads of state are to meet. The move follows three days of huge protests in the Thai capital, Bangkok, calling on PM Abhisit Vejjajiva to call new polls. Mr Abhisit declared Friday a public holiday to help cope with the protests.” – Pattaya 2009

Myanmar’s State Counsellor, Aung San Suu Kyi will also attend the event on invitation from the Thai PM, and is expected to face a barrage of criticism from member states over her mishandling of the Rohingya crisis.

The regional bloc, of which Myanmar is a member, has already worked out tentative plans for the repatriation of the Rohingya who fled violence at home and took refuge across the border in Bangladesh. So far there has been little signs of moment from the 750,000 Rohingya refugees living in make-shift accommodation. Despite encouragement and promises of safe passage, most refugees have questioned the Myanmar government, and military’s (Tatmadaw), intentions and sincerity.

ASEAN Secretary General Lim Jock Hoi led an assessment team on a visit to Rakhine late last year, resulting in a report circulating among ASEAN members.

On its Indo-Pacific strategy, ASEAN will issue its “Outlook” paper by the end of the summit, taking into account competing efforts by both China and the US to expand their influence in the region. ASEAN was striving to secure shared benefit for all stakeholders amid the shifting geopolitics straddling both the Pacific and Indian oceans.

On the economic front, ASEAN seeks to conclude negotiations over the RCEP (Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership), the world’s largest economic bloc, under Thailand’s chairmanship by the end of this year. But an economics official said the prospects for doing so are not promising.

“The Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership is a proposed free trade agreement between the ten member states of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations and the six Asia-Pacific states with which ASEAN has existing free trade agreements.”

Established in 2013, the RCEP has representation from 16 economies – all 10 ASEAN members plus Australia, New Zealand, China, India, Japan and South Korea. They have formalised 20 chapters of a pact aimed at liberalising trade and services but have found agreement on only seven at this stage.

34th ASEAN Summit in Bangkok - preview | News by Thaiger

SOURCE: The Nation

 

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ASEAN

ASEAN leaders speak about Saturday’s Myanmar summit

Neill Fronde

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PHOTO: Many leaders spoke after the ASEAN summit on Myanmar.

In Jakarta on Saturday, leaders of the ASEAN countries met to convince Burmese junta leader Min Aung Hlaing to work with them towards progress. Full cover from The Thaiger of what was discussed at the meeting can be found here. During and after the meetings, nation leaders and representatives voiced their concerns and goals regarding the crisis in Myanmar.

Tim Newton’s video assessment of what would happen at the meeting HERE.

Indonesian President Joko Widodo was vocal in his calls for the creation of an ASEAN delegation to travel to Myanmar and assess the situation. He stressed that it was imperative for this special envoy to interact with all parties involved in the Burmese crisis, and not just the military.

Malaysian PM Muhyiddin Yassin, in step with other ASEAN leaders, issued a statement strongly calling for a stop to violence against civilians, and for the release of political detainees.

“The deplorable situation in Myanmar must stop immediately. Malaysia believes the killings and violence must end. All parties must urgently restraint from any provocations and actions that will perpetuate violence and unrest.”

Singapore PM Lee Hsien Loong believes that achieving peace in Myanmar is an uphill battle but remains hopeful.

“I’m sure that in implementing this, there’s a long way forward because there’s one thing to say you’ll cease violence and release political prisoners; it’s another thing to get it done. And to have an inclusive discussion in order to reach a political resolution is even harder still, but at least there are some steps forward which we can take. But I would say overall it has been a productive meeting, and it has pointed the next steps forward for us. If ASEAN had not met or had not been able to come to a conclusion on the matter, that would have been very bad.”

Singapore has been vocal in its call for the immediate release of political prisoners and an urgent stop to violence, sentiments PM Lee reiterated during the ASEAN leaders meeting. He believes that this is the first step to a resolution that must involve both the military junta and the National League for Democracy, the Burmese party led by Aung Sun Suu Kyi. The military has had an active role in Burmese politics for years, but the NLD has the support of the public needed to bring peace to the troubled country.

The Singaporean PM also expressed hope that Myanmar can return to peaceful government more quickly than the riots in 1989 which took more than 20 years to recover from, but he stressed that while Southeast Asian nations can offer support, the final resolution must be made by the Burmese themselves within the Myanmar border.

“I hope it doesn’t take as long this time, but I think it is going to be a difficult journey for them because a political reconciliation or resolution which is necessary is a very tough one to make. And we wish them well and we will do our part where we can be helpful.”

Philippines Foreign Secretary Teddy Locsin agreed, asserting that Myanmar must find peace on its own before it devolves into civil war.

“This is what Myanmar must avoid: geographical, political, social and national disintegration into warring ethnic parts. Myanmar on its own must find peace again.”

The Secretary attended as Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte, similar to Thai PM Prayut Chan-o-cha, decided against joining the ASEAN summit with other nation leaders, and sent a delegate in his place instead.

The National Unity Government, made up of deposed Myanmar lawmakers, complained of a lop-sided summit that allowed the Burmese military a seat, but no representation for the Burmese people. They issued a strongly-worded statement against their omission from talks.

“Meetings that contribute to a solution to the deepening crisis in Myanmar are welcome. Meetings that exclude the people of Myanmar but include murderer-in-chief Min Aung Hlaing … are unlikely to be helpful.”

Amnesty International released a similarly sharp statement before the meeting calling for a more forceful response to the Burmese military Junta, though the leaders at the ASEAN summit will likely be walking on eggshells to try to create open dialogue channels between Myanmar and other Southeast Asian countries.

“The crisis initiated by a murderous and unrepentant Myanmar military has engulfed the country and will cause severe aftershocks — humanitarian and more — for the entire region. The Indonesian authorities are duty-bound to investigate Senior General Min Aung Hlaing and other Myanmar military officials who may join his delegation to Jakarta.”

SOURCE: Reuters, Bangkok Post, and Channel News Asia

 

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ASEAN

Summit: Burmese military open to ASEAN delegation visits

Neill Fronde

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PHOTO: Today's ASEAN summit in Jakarta.

Today’s ASEAN summit in Jakarta has yielded progress regarding the situation in Myanmar with Burmese junta leader Min Aung Hlaing stating he’s not opposed to a special envoy being created and dispatched to Myanmar. The military leader also said he would consider several other steps proposed by the leaders of the Asian nations. With leaders or representation from most countries of the 10 members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, today’s meetings carried high expectations to work towards some sort of resolution.

Members of the coalition at the summit requested six steps they want from the Burmese military, the first of which was for Burmese authorities to allow an ASEAN delegation to visit. They also called for a cessation of violence against unarmed civilians, allowing humanitarian aid across the borders and releasing the political prisoners taken since the February 1st coup.

The Burmese general said he heard the request of the ASEAN summit and would take into consideration the ones he thought were constructive. He also said he was not opposed to involvement from the Southeast Asian coalition including a visit and humanitarian aid. The next step is to plan the visits to Myanmar figuring out who will bring the aid and inspections and when.

General Min gave the gathered leaders his perspective on the events leading to the February 1st coup and the situation in Myanmar regarding demonstrators and civil unrest until now, along with his vision of the future of Myanmar. Leaders were reported to have each given their response directly and spoke about the meeting after the summit.

The National Unity Government, a coalition of ousted Burmese lawmakers, voice opposition to the meeting that included the brutal military leader, but no representation for the people of Myanmar, stating that with their exclusion, meetings were not likely to be successful. Security forces outside the summit, held at ASEAN Secretariat headquarters in Jakarta, monitored and broke up some small protests outside of the closed-door meeting as well. Amnesty International weighed in as well with a strong statement against the Burmese military junta.

“The crisis initiated by a murderous and unrepentant Myanmar military has engulfed the country, and will cause severe aftershocks — humanitarian and more — for the entire region.”

Some have called for Myanmar to be expelled from the ASEAN coalition but sentiment within the organisation leans towards engaging Myanmar to try to bring peace to Southeast Asia rather than alienating them. Today’s ASEAN summit was a cautious first step.

SOURCE: Channel News Asia

 

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ASEAN Summit on Myanmar – will it achieve anything? | VIDEO

Tim Newton

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Today the Association of Southeast Asian Nations will hold a special summit today to discuss the crisis in Myanmar. The meeting is being held at the current secretariat for the Bloc, in Jakarta.

There will be huffing and puffing, a group photo, a few grand-standing leaders shaking their fingers at the Burmese chiefs, and then everyone will go home.

And, as usual, ASEAN would have once again achieved precisely nothing.

Missing are the President of the Philippines and the Thai PM. They are both sending underlings, in the case of Thailand, the veteran foreign minister Don Pramudwinnai. When PM Prayut spoke with the Indonesian President Joko Widodo on Thursday, he expressed “concern and worries” about the situation in Myanmar told him that he’d stay home to focus on the rise in Covid cases.

The Burmese Army chief, Min Aung Hlaing, conformed this week that he will attend… probably more about stumping up his credentials as the defect leader and getting some international recognition. How ASEAN can even provide a podium for this military thug is unconscionable.

The Thaiger’s Tim Newton has his thoughts on the Saturday Summit.

 

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