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ASEAN

Myanmar summit Saturday tests ASEAN’s effectiveness

Neill Fronde

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PHOTO: All eyes are on the ASEAN summit on Myanmar Saturday.

Leaders from the 10 countries of ASEAN will meet Saturday at a summit to discuss the crisis in Myanmar in what many see as a credibility test for the organisation. As the military junta in Myanmar have ramped up violence and lethal force against pro-democracy protestors, the country is descending into what the UN high commissioner for human rights referred to as a Syrian-style civil war.

With at least 739 fatalities at the hand of the Burmese military security forces since their coup on February 1, a UN envoy estimated about 250,000 people are displaced in the country.

The world is watching now, with heavy stress on the Association of Southeast Asian Nations to deliver some solutions or at least progress on the Burmese quagmire. Expectations are high with pressure on this summit to prove that ASEAN is a stable and credible diplomatic organisation, capable of resolving conflict in Southeast Asia and affecting change. ASEAN usually maintains a laissez-faire stance on their member countries’ internal conflicts and controversies, but this crisis may spurn the organisation to action.

Countries around the world have condemned Myanmar’s military coup and called for action and sanctions. The US Treasury department just declared pearl and timber exports will be sanctioned, stating that these natural resources are state-owned and helping fund the Burmese military.

Some have pushed for Myanmar to be removed from ASEAN altogether. Activists and human rights organisations have demanded leaders of the military junta be barred from participating in Saturday’s summit in Jakarta. But Min Aung Hlaing, the military chief who led the coup, say he will travel to Jakarta this weekend to attend the summit of ASEAN, his first international trip since helming the military junta. The UN’s special envoy to Myanmar will also travel from Bangkok to participate in the summit.

Whether or not the Burmese military chief will end up actually going to the meeting, or will instead appear virtually online, is still hotly debated.

The ASEAN meeting will have 2 noticeable absences so far (perhaps 3). The Burmese shadow government made up of the original democratically elected government and its appointees had petitioned for representation at this ASEAN summit, a request that so far has not been accepted. And Thai PM Prayut Chan-o-cha has also decided to skip the summit, stirring some controversy by sending his veteran Foreign Minister Don Pramudwinai as a stand-in. Some see this as a shirking of international responsibility as the coup and crisis in neighbouring Myanmar may stir the international public’s memory of Thailand’s recent coup and military leadership, as well as create the perception of being aligned with Burmese coup quasi-supporters China and Russia.

A Thai Foreign Ministry spokesman asserted that PM Prayut’s ASEAN summit absence is not political, but rather a necessity as Covid-19 has been rampaging throughout Thailand and the current third wave outbreaks require his immediate attention.

PM Prayut did speak with Indonesian president Joko Widodo this morning about the upcoming meeting. He conceded that the Burmese crisis threatens stability in Southeast Asia and is a challenge for peace amongst ASEAN countries.

SOURE: Macau Business

 

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10 Comments

10 Comments

  1. Avatar

    David Pilkington

    Thursday, April 22, 2021 at 8:42 pm

    ‘A Thai Foreign Ministry spokesman asserted that PM Prayut’s ASEAN summit absence is not political, but rather a necessity as Covid-19 has been rampaging throughout Thailand and the current third wave outbreaks require his immediate attention.’

    If proof were needed that Prayut, or his spokesman at least, can lie as easily as drawing breath, then look no further. And, as for ‘the 3rd wave outbreaks requiring his immediate attention’, this has to join the list of several ridiculous statements emanating from this circus of a government this week.

  2. Avatar

    toby andrews

    Thursday, April 22, 2021 at 9:09 pm

    A meeting of dictators.
    They will be debating whether it is cheaper to put down the peasants with tear gas or rubber bullets.
    What country in the ASEAN Club is truly democratic?

  3. Avatar

    Slugger

    Thursday, April 22, 2021 at 9:11 pm

    ‘The US Treasury department just declared pearl and timber exports will be sanctioned,’

    God, they cant keep their beak out can they?

  4. Avatar

    Comicus

    Thursday, April 22, 2021 at 10:48 pm

    This meeting is going to be a good show by ASEAN. They probably politely expressed their concern and may imply that the situation would be better without foreign interferences.

    They shall also express their concern to the Myanmar government and they shall consider an appropriate action once they got a response. In the mean time, they would ask other countries to respect the will of ASEAN.

    Of course, they would have a big banquet after a long and hard day of meeting.

  5. Avatar

    Singharacha

    Friday, April 23, 2021 at 1:06 am

    @toby andrews –
    Countries of ASEAN, without exceptions, are not dictatorship.
    But USA are one.

  6. Avatar

    Niko

    Friday, April 23, 2021 at 1:32 am

    The “shadow government” is headed by a guy called “Doctor” SASA and his role model is no other than GUAIDO! No joke he actually said that!

    So now we we are on the 3rd install of the GUAIDO style governance! First venezuela, then bielorussia and now Myanamar!

  7. Avatar

    Comicus

    Friday, April 23, 2021 at 5:24 am

    @slugger

    The West only covers 20% of the world population so it will not be any problems for Myanmar or many other countries that want to ignore US sanctions. They can trade with 65% of the world population without getting sweat using (digital) RMB or Ruble.

  8. Avatar

    richard abramson

    Friday, April 23, 2021 at 8:29 am

    Well written and informative article. Let’s hope the leaders of ASEAN realize that by supporting human rights, they are also supporting the economies of the country’s they lead..

  9. Avatar

    Craig

    Friday, April 23, 2021 at 8:36 am

    Every country in SE Asia could, would or has done the same thing as the Myanmar military. I’m not sure why ASEAN makes this an issue unless to appeal to the international community.

    • Thaiger

      Thaiger

      Friday, April 23, 2021 at 8:41 am

      Shoot dead 700 civilians in 2 months? Mmmm, no. Not a lot of SE Asian countries have done that.

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Neill is a journalist from the United States with 10 years broadcasting experience and national news and magazine publications. He graduated with a degree in journalism and communications from the University of California and has been living in Thailand since 2014.

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

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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