Malaysia and Philippines leaders discuss Myanmar-ASEAN engagement

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malaysia and philippines leaders discuss myanmar asean engagement

Anwar bin Ibrahim, the Prime Minister of Malaysia, and Ferdinand Marcos Jr, the President of the Philippines, discussed the possibility of ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian Nations) allowing member nations to engage informally with Myanmar’s military junta “without sacrificing the issue of human rights.”

Southeast Asian governments held a meeting in Putrajaya, a city in Malaysia, south of Kuala Lumpur. During the meeting, they discussed the need to strengthen the role of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) in resolving the Myanmar conflict.

Earlier, Malaysia and the ASEAN reportedly rejected any engagement with the military junta. However, Thailand hosted an informal meeting with Myanmar to maintain dialogue. 

The Malaysian Prime Minister said in a statement, “We touched on Myanmar to strengthen the five-point consensus of ASEAN but also give some flexibility … for neighbouring countries to engage on an informal basis without sacrificing the issue of human rights, and the treatment of minorities, particularly the Rohingya.”

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The President of the Philippines did not mention Myanmar. However, he told the media that ASEAN nations should be able to use the bilateral route to resolve any crisis.

Malaysia has always been a vocal critic of the Myanmar military’s junta. Malaysia has repeatedly urged ASEAN to strongly condemn the military junta’s actions in Myanmar. 

Myanmar has reportedly been suffering with violence since the military seized power in February 2021. The coup overthrew Aung San Suu Kyi’s elected government. Violence has reportedly intensified in Myanmar, a Southeast Asian nation of more than 100 ethnic groups. The military’s crackdown on pro-democracy opponents also increased violence in the country. 

Earlier this month, the foreign minister of ASEAN held a meeting to address an intensifying conflict in Myanmar. The meeting took place in Indonesia as doubts increased over ASEAN’s effectiveness to handle the conflict in Myanmar. 

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