Asean has failed Myanmar


EARLIER in April 2021, representatives from 10 Asean member states including Myanmar junta leader Min Aung Hlaing convened in Jakarta to address the crisis in Myanmar.

The leaders established five points of consensus, which are the cessation of violence, constructive dialogue between the various parties, the appointment of an Asean special envoy, the facilitation of humanitarian aid, and the deployment of the special envoy to Myanmar to meet with the various contending parties.

It is now September and we have seen little to no progress on all five fronts that Asean has committed itself to.

The junta is still ruling the nation with an iron fist, killing and terrorising protestors, disrupting Internet and broadcasting services, and spreading military propaganda.

It took Asean five months to appoint and send its special envoy to Myanmar and we doubt that they will be able to communicate with Aung San Suu Kyi and other arrested National League for Democracy (NLD) MPs, let alone hold constructive discussions with all parties.

The situation in Myanmar has turned into a security and humanitarian crisis at an alarming pace, and Asean doesn’t seem to be doing much to de-escalate the situation.

If there is no significant improvement to the situation, it will probably lead to a civil war as clashes between the military and anti-junta resistance continue to heighten with increasing number of casualties.

Asean is failing Myanmar day after day. Collectively, Asean’s voice in this crisis is fragmented.

Apart from Indonesia who is spearheading an Asean initiative on Myanmar, and Singapore, the biggest foreign investor in Myanmar issuing strong statements against the coup, other member states not only refuse to criticise the coup but also have not taken their own voluntary initiative to engage with the situation in Myanmar.

The people of Myanmar are also getting tired and have lost their trust in Asean, and understandably why. Asean invited representatives from the junta to the special summit in April but excluded any representative from the democratically elected NLD.

This is not the only time it happened as earlier in August, Asean invited junta representatives to the regional body’s inter-parliamentary assembly (AIPA) and left out Myanmar’s democratic representatives yet again.

How could a regional body will all of its member states being a democratic nation hold summits to resolve the situation consciously leaving out the democratically elected representative?

The Committee Representing Pyidaungsu Hluttaw (CRPH) and the shadow National Unity Government (NUG) have called out AIPA president and Asean  delegates for ignoring their calls to include Myanmar’s democratic representatives.

As a regional organisation grounded with international norms and values, Asean’s behaviour is contrary to its core values and at the same time giving legitimacy to the military government.

Whatever Asean is doing contradicts their commitment to building an Asean  Security Community.

Asean must remember the very foundation of its organisation when it was established back in 1967.

The primary mandate was to ensure the political security of the region so that each member states are able to prosper together.

Right now, Myanmar is in a humanitarian and political security crisis that requires the intervention of Asean. 

The non-interference policy of Asean should be given an exception in the case of Myanmar. As of now, Asean has not lived up to its mandate as a regional cooperation in many ways.

Article contributed by Dr Abdul Razak Ahmad (founding director of Bait Al-Amanah) and Amirun Hamman Azram (policy and advocacy associate at Bait Al-Amanah). Bait Al-Amanah is an independent research institute.

* This is the opinion of the writer or publication and does not necessarily represent the views of The Malaysian Insight.


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