by Supalak Ganjanakhundee, Singapore
South East Asia’s leaders have been meeting in Singapore this week in the lead up to the next ASEAN Summit. The Rohingya crisis has been the main talking point.
Thailand says it wants to take on a greater ASEAN role in resolving the Rakhine crisis, as the group grapples with the plight of 700,000 Rohingya Muslims facing repatriation, amid grave concerns about their future.
The Rohingya issue has been discussed in almost every forum of leaders of ASEAN and their partners from the Asia Pacific during the summit this week in Singapore.
Thai PM Prayut Chan-o-cha told his ASEAN colleagues that Thailand, which will chair the regional grouping in 2019, viewed ASEAN as capable of playing an important role in addressing the situation in Rakhine state in a constructive, tangible and sustainable manner.
The group should enhance the Asean Coordinating Centre for Humanitarian Assistance on Disaster Management (AHA Centre) in providing humanitarian assistance to affected people, support the commencement of credible repatriation on a meaningful scale and the improvement of the quality of life for all communities in Rakhine state, a source quoted Prayut as telling the meeting.
Malaysian PM Mahathir Mohamad said that he was upset with the situation in Rakhine and urged the group to make collective efforts to help Myanmar end the humanitarian crisis. The Malaysian senior leader slammed Myanmar’s de facto leader Aung San Suu Kyi as trying to defend the indefensible.
“They are actually oppressing these people to the point of killing them, mass killings,” he said on the sidelines of the official ASEAN meetings.
More than 700,000 people have taken refuge in Bangladesh since violence broke out in August last year when a militant group attacked security outposts prompting a harsh reaction from military’s clearance operation.
Myanmar’s Suu Kyi said during a meeting with her ASEAN colleagues that her government understood the international concerns over the situation in Rakhine state and she had tried to fix the problem through peaceful ways for reconciliation and unity within her country, according to a source at the meeting.
While many ASEAN leaders such as Mahathir used strong words in discussing the Rohingya crisis, most of them expressed their support to and provided a comfort level to the Nay Pyi Taw government to resolve the problem, the source said.
ASEAN has considered dispatching representatives to Myanmar to oversee the repatriation and resettlement of the refugees after Myanmar and Bangladesh reached an agreement at the end of October to send thousands of them back beginning today. But the team to be dispatched has not yet been settled, a source said.
In a meeting with Suu Kyi on the sidelines of the ASEAN Summit, US Vice President Mike Pence said the violence committed by the Tatmadaw (Myanmar army) was inexcusable.
STORY: The Nation
Nearly 300 Thais stranded at the southern border, paperwork issues
Around 300 Thais trying to return to Thailand are stranded at the Wang Kelian immigration checkpoint in northern Malaysia’s Perlis State. On the other side is Thailand’s Wang Prachan checkpoint in Satun’s Khuan Don district. They’ve been denied entry after failing to comply with the strict new regulations set by the Thai authorities.
Thailand and Malaysia have closed their checkpoints along the southern border. The two countries do not allow entry by foreigners via these checkpoints except their own citizens.
Thai nationals are meant to be permitted to return to Thailand via the Wang Prachan immigration checkpoint in Satun. But to be eligible, the Thai nationals are required to contact the Thai embassy in KL or a Thai consulate in Malaysia to get a formal letter of their residential status in Thailand. The Thais are also required to obtain a health certificate which are issued not longer than 72 hours previously.
250-300 Thais, most of them who worked as crew on Malaysian fishing boats, but live in Satun, as well as some Thai tourists, converged on the Wang Kelian checkpoint from around 9am yesterday. But they were denied entry by the Thai immigration police because they failed to produce all the requisite paperwork.
By 2pm a meeting was held between Thai and Malaysian authorities on the Thai side of the border. All the talking wasn’t able to resolve the situation and the Thais were told they could not cross into Thailand.
Eventually, after hours of negotiations, the Satun Governor Veeranan informed the throng that the Thai consulate in Penang, would speed up procedures so that the stranded Thais would be able to return home.Keep in contact with The Thaiger by following our Facebook page.
King and Queen of Malaysia under quarantine after palace staff test positive for coronavirus
Malaysia has the highest number of Covid-19 coronavirus cases in Southeast Asia (2031 at time of publication), and now its King and Queen are under quarantine after 7 staff members of the royal palace tested positive for the virus. National news agency Bernama made the announcement yesterday.
Sultan Abdullah Ri’ayatuddin and his wife Tuanku Azizah Aminah Maimunah Iskandariah have tested negative for the virus, according to the Comptroller of the Royal Household. However, they decided self-quarantine for 14 days, beginning Wednesday.
The seven workers are reported to be in stable condition. News portal Malaysiakini reports that the health ministry is investigating how the seven become infected.
Malaysia reported 235 new coronavirus cases yesterday in its biggest daily jump. The number of deaths from rose to 23, the health ministry said.
Front-line medical workers in Malaysia say they’re being put in danger by a lack of protective equipment and uncooperative patients as the country struggles to prevent another wave of infections by extending a nationwide lockdown.Facebook page.
Thais in Malaysia may return home, but only by air
Today a statement was issued by the Thai Embassy in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia and has officially announced that Thais’ who wish to return home can do so by air. And only by air, if they get a flight.
Thai citizens in Malaysia can request a certificate from the Embassy via e-mail, if they want to return to Thailand. Provided that they obtain a ‘fit to fly’ certificate from any hospital or clinic in Malaysia or at the two airports in Kuala Lumpur. The certificate must certify that they have proven negative for a Covid-19 test.
The Thai embassy has also opened three hotline numbers – 017 709822, 011 11721963 and 011 11608379 – for Thais seeking advice on the matter.
SOURCE: Thai PBS World
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