Malaysia to propose for informal engagement between Asean and Myanmar’s NUG, says foreign minister

Foreign Minister Datuk Saifuddin Abdullah speaks to the media after the Asean-China Special Summit held via video conferencing in Kuala Lumpur, November 22, 2021. — Bernama pic
Foreign Minister Datuk Saifuddin Abdullah speaks to the media after the Asean-China Special Summit held via video conferencing in Kuala Lumpur, November 22, 2021. — Bernama pic

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KUANTAN, May 1 — Malaysia will propose for Asean to establish an informal engagement with the National Unity Government (NUG) elected by the people of Myanmar prior to the coup.

Foreign Minister Datuk Seri Saifuddin Abdullah said the proposal was made as there has been no progress for the past year on the implementation of the Asean Five-Point Consensus (5PC) to find a solution to the political stalemate in the country.

“We are not proposing for Asean to recognise other governments, but such informal engagement may be conceivable, especially on how humanitarian aid to the people of Myanmar who are still in their country can be delivered,” he said.

It is one of three proposals that Malaysia will bring to the Asean Foreign Ministers’ Meeting on May 5 which will be held via video conference, with the other two being to double humanitarian aid for Myanmar, and strengthen the position and function of the Asean special envoy to Myanmar.

Saifuddin, who is also the Member of Parliament for Indera Mahkota, said this at a press conference after reviewing the implementation of the Indera Mahkota Parliament’s ‘Myrakyat Sentuhan Kasih Aidilfitri’ Sales Programme at the Wisma Belia compound, here, yesterday.

Malaysia lamented that ‘no progress could be seen’ on the implementation of the 5PC despite the hard work of two Asean special envoys, largely due to the junta’s lack of cooperation, he said.

The two are Brunei’s Second Minister of Foreign Affairs Erywan Mohd Yusof, who was the first envoy; and current envoy, Cambodian Foreign Minister Prak Sokhonn.

The 5PCs are: end violence; hold constructive discussions with stakeholders; Asean provides humanitarian aid to Myanmar; the appointment of a special Asean ambassador to carry out negotiations; and for the special envoy to be allowed to visit the country.

On the second proposal to double humanitarian aid in Myanmar, he said it will include the involvement of international organisations that may be guided by the United Nations (UN).

Mercy Malaysia, said Saifuddin, is the only foreign non-governmental organisation (NGO) that can still operate in Myanmar, and therefore Malaysia will propose that the NGO be recognised as one of the NGOs from Asean countries.

“We also suggest if possible, for every Asean country to have their NGOs there to help because I believe each country has its own capabilities. This is to ensure transparency of aid so that it reaches all parties who need the aid.

“There are Asean dialogue partner countries that I think are ready with funds (to help) but they wait and see how systematic the aid delivery work is, because their concern is that the aid will not reach its target if it only goes through the Myanmar government now,” he said.

On the third proposal, he said Asean need to find ways to strengthen the position and function of its envoy, especially to Myanmar, based on the experience of the two envoys who faced many constraints from the country’s military regime.

According to human rights organisation Assistance Association for Political Prisoners (Burma), at least 1,780 civilians have been killed while more than 10,000 people have been arrested and nearly 1,000 imprisoned since the coup of Feb 1, 2021.

In another development, Saifuddin said diplomatic relations between Malaysia and Singapore is not disrupted by the execution of Malaysian Nagaenthran Dharmalingam in the republic on April 27.

“We respect the rule of law in Singapore and diplomatic relations are not compromised because we understand each other in terms of the need for each government and country to uphold the rule of law,” he said. — Bernama

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