Kuala Lumpur, Jan 23 — Klang MP Charles Santiago today agreed with Foreign Minister Saifuddin Abdullah for leveling criticism against Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen for visiting Myanmar.
Commenting on the issue in a series of Tweets, Mr. Charles, speaking in his capacity as Chair of the ASEAN Parliamentarians for Human Rights (APHR) said that “Saifuddin was absolutely right to call out Prime Minister Hun Sen’s cowboy diplomacy on Myanmar.”
“Not only did Hun Sen meet with coup leader Min Aung Hlaing, but also issued a joint statement, a plan that was clearly designed to circumvent the consensus reached in April 2021 by all the ASEAN members.”
Saifuddin had recently chided the Cambodian PM for not consulting ASEAN members before his trip to the crisis-hit nation, saying that some Southeast Asian countries had reservations about Hun Sen’s visit to Myanmar, with concerns that it could be seen as regional recognition of its ruling junta.
Saifuddin also said the visit had achieved nothing despite Min Aung Hlaing pledging to extend a ceasefire with armed ethnic groups.
Charles explained that “inexplicably, Hun Sen’s visit came just days after the military’s brutal Christmas Eve massacre of dozens of civilians in eastern Myanmar, who were killed in the most inhumane manner I have seen in my life, according to a doctor who conducted the autopsies.“
He further added that although ASEAN’s response to the attempted coup has been far from perfect, Hun Sen’s unilateral trip as ASEAN Chair to meet with the coup leader risked entirely destroying any progress that had been made.
According to Charles, within hours of Hun Sen leaving Myanmar, there were reports of heavy and indiscriminate shelling of civilian areas on the border with Thailand, followed by the sentencing of Aung San Suu Kyi to jail time based on trumped-up charges.
All ASEAN Member States, including Singapore, have been critical of Hun Sen’s approach, calling for the exclusion of junta leaders from meetings until progress is made on the Five-Point Consensus.
“What is needed now is for Hun Sen, as ASEAN Chair, to stop recklessly applying strategies against the bloc’s agreed position, and to work closely with the Member States to hold Min Aung Hlaing accountable to the agreed consensus,” said Charles.