PUTRAJAYA, May 8 — Malaysia will continue to engage with all stakeholders in Myanmar including the National Unity Government (NUG) and the National Unity Consultative Council (NUCC) in efforts to resolve the political stalemate in the country, as it is also in line with the ASEAN Five-Point Consensus (5PC).
Foreign Minister Datuk Seri Saifuddin Abdullah said under the current situation there is a need to engage with all stakeholders to show moral support and solidarity.
“We are not choosing sides, we have no business choosing sides. We are not stopping ASEAN to engage with Nawpidaw, no problem engaging. Engage all stakeholders and that is what Malaysia is doing,” he told a news conference at his office in Wisma Putra.
The 5PCs on Myanmar adopted by ASEAN leaders at the ASEAN Leaders Meeting in Jakarta on April 24, last year is to 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.
Saifuddin said he will also reiterate Malaysia’s proposal for ASEAN to have informal engagements with NUG and NUCC during the ASEAN foreign ministers meeting on May 11, to be held ahead of the ASEAN-US Summit in Washington on May 12 and 13.
He said he would also propose to ASEAN to find a way to empower the ASEAN Special Envoy to Myanmar and how the 5-point consensus could be best implemented.
“They are trying their best, (but) Myanmar has many constraints and conditions, we must find a way. There must be a way for us to help the special envoys to carry out their duties.”
Asked whether the proposal of ASEAN engaging with NUG and NUCC will further push the country’s junta to isolate themselves, he said the junta has been isolating itself for the past year since the 5PC was adopted.
“They don’t seem very cooperative for the past year. Almost no progress despite both special envoys (former special envoy, Brunei’s Second Foreign Minister Erywan Yusof, and the current special envoy, Cambodian foreign minister Prak Sokhonn) trying their level best to work overtime to get at least some of the consensus to be implemented,” he added.
He said despite one of the 5PC clearly calling for the end of violence, statistics showed otherwise. According to Saifuddin, a total of 10,786 armed clashes and attacks on civilians were reported from Feb 1, 2021, to last April 15. In the same period, some 2,146 people have been killed while 13,282 people, including parliamentarians, journalists, and civilians were detained.
On another proposal by Malaysia to double humanitarian aid to Myanmar, he said it should include the involvement of the ASEAN Coordinating Centre for Humanitarian Assistance on disaster management (AHA Centre) and international organizations guided by the United Nations (UN).
He said this was because the international organizations have the experience in rendering humanitarian assistance in war-torn and conflict areas, while the AHA center’s experience is more to rendering humanitarian assistance during disasters like floods and earthquakes.
The minister said the involvement of AHA Centre and international organisations guided by the United Nations will ensure humanitarian assistance gets distributed efficiently to the targetted groups.
“In addition, we want ASEAN countries to have ‘ownership’ of this humanitarian assistance so that they can voluntarily bargain with their respective NGOs to help,” he said.
Mercy Malaysia is the only foreign non-governmental organization (NGO) that can still operate in Myanmar, and therefore Malaysia will propose that it be recognized as one of the NGOs from ASEAN, said Saifuddin.