ASEAN secretariat needs to have some sense of urgency on Myanmar – Malaysian FM

The ASEAN Secretariat needs to buck up and have some sense of urgency in providing updates on the development in Myanmar, says Malaysian Foreign Minister Saifuddin Abdullah.

The minister said he and his fellow ASEAN foreign ministers were only receiving reports on the situation in Myanmar from their own contacts through international organisations and non-governmental organisations (NGOs), but not from the ASEAN secretariat itself.

“On Sept 3, I had written a letter to ASEAN secretary-general requesting, among others, to update ASEAN foreign ministers on what is actually happening in Myanmar.

“ASEAN secretariat must have a sense of urgency to look into what is actually happening in Myanmar…they (ASEAN secretariat) must have full time team working on the conflict,” he told a press conference after visiting Rabbaniyah Educare, a school for Rohingya children here Monday.

On Feb 1, 2021, Myanmar’s military seized power in a coup, hours before the newly elected parliament was due to convene for the first time. Ever since, more than 2,000 people were killed in the uprising against the junta.

The junta last July hanged four political prisoners, among them two prominent pro-democracy activists. Last week ousted leader Aung San Suu Kyi was slapped with additional three years in prison on charges of election fraud, taking her total jail term to 20 years over a dozen charges, including corruption. Also last week, it was reported that Myanmar’s junta had jailed Vicky Bowman, a former UK ambassador to the country, and her local husband for a year for breaching immigration rules.

Commenting further, Saifuddin said the Myanmar crisis is now being addressed through meetings and it should not be the way, adding that the 10-member bloc could not afford to wait until its next major summit in November to deliberate on the issue.

The minister called on ASEAN to act more urgently in its efforts to provide humanitarian assistance and spur a peace process in junta-ruled Myanmar.

He also called on ASEAN member countries to decide on whether they would continue to work with the junta in providing humanitarian assistance, and added that certain local NGOs in Myanmar were unwilling to work with the military as they do not trust them.

“ASEAN must decide, where do we stand? Do we continue with the junta? Or do we work without the junta and support the people who we know are doing good work? These are big questions and we have to decide urgently,” Saifuddin said.

He also pointed out that there was no single programme organised by ASEAN Secretariat in conjunction with the 5th anniversary of Myanmar’s Military’s Attack against Rohingya on Aug 25, adding that he only attended programmes organised by NGOs and Rohingyas themselves.

On news reports on the death of a 23-year-old Malaysian at Thailand-Malaysia border, who is believed to be the victim of a job scam syndicate, Saifuddin who expressed regret over the matter said he will get a detailed report on the incident, adding that the consulate in charge will assist in bringing back his remains to Malaysia.

Bernama reported that a Malaysian couple from Ipoh who came to Thailand to look for their missing son were left heartbroken upon finding out he had died in May at a hospital near the Myanmar border.

Goi Chee Kong, 50, and his wife, 45, were devastated when they found out that their son, Zhan Feng, 23, had fallen victim to a job scam.

He was believed to have been trafficked into Myawaddy in southeastern Myanmar and forced to work for the syndicate.

Source: NAM News Network