ASEAN President Cambodia set to renew current Myanmar Special Envoy – Radio Free Asia


Malaysia urges the new ASEAN president to retain the bloc’s current envoy to Myanmar, after Phnom Penh has indicated it wants to appoint someone else as envoy to deal with Myanmar’s post-humanitarian crisis. Rebellion.

Last week, Cambodia succeeded Brunei as president of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations at the bloc’s summit, which ASEAN banned Burmese junta leader Min Aung Hlaing from ‘attend because he refused to give the envoy access to all Burmese parties.

Malaysian Foreign Minister Saifuddin Abdullah said on Monday that he hoped the current ASEAN envoy to Myanmar, Erywan Yusof, would be reappointed.

“If you ask me, I would rather we stick to the same envoy. After all, Erywan is the special envoy of the president of ASEAN, ”Saifuddin told reporters in Putrajaya.

“For the sake of continuity, let it remain [as envoy]. “

Erywan, he said, could keep the momentum going on some of the foundations he had already laid to deal with the crisis caused by the February 1 military coup in Myanmar.

Malaysia had previously requested Cambodia to convene a meeting of senior ASEAN officials to discuss next steps vis-à-vis Myanmar and put the issue of the special envoy high on the agenda.

However, the Cambodian foreign minister told Reuters news agency last week that as the new president the country would appoint a new ASEAN envoy to Myanmar to start work at the start of the year. next.

Erywan, who is Brunei’s second foreign minister, was appointed in August, after months of heated negotiations between members of the bloc and with Myanmar’s military government.

Having settled in Erywan, the Burmese junta reneged on its word and did not allow it to meet with all parties concerned, including senior officials of the National League for Democracy, the party that won the parliamentary elections in last year and whose leaders were thrown in jail after the coup.

In April, Min Aung Hlaing agreed to authorize such a meeting as part of a five-point consensus that he and other ASEAN leaders had reached at an emergency meeting in Jakarta.

The coup leader also reneged on his promise to end the violence. On Monday, around 1,230 people – most of them pro-democracy protesters – have been killed by Burmese security forces since February 1.

This flashback led ASEAN to take the unprecedented decision to exclude Min Aung Hlaing from last week’s summit.

However, the junta did not stop its violent campaign.

On Friday, more than 160 houses in the town of Thantlang, in western Chin, were destroyed in fires sparked by army shelling, in a further escalation of fighting between the junta and local resistance groups, the media reported.

Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen speaks at a groundbreaking ceremony for the flood protection project, donated by Japan, in Phnom Penh, March 4, 2019. [Reuters]

Criticism of ASEAN envoy to Myanmar

Not everyone may agree with the Malaysian Foreign Minister that the envoy to Myanmar should remain the same.

Some Southeast Asian analysts have criticized Erywan for managing ASEAN’s response to the Myanmar crisis.

Because Erywan is from undemocratic Brunei, he should not have been appointed an envoy to a country where the military overthrew a democratically elected government, analysts said.

On the other hand, Cambodia is a one-party state – some call it a dictatorship – with a poor human rights record, leaving other analysts to wonder if its envoy to Myanmar would do better than Erywan.

Moreover, few can forget that Cambodia was accused in 2012 of siding with China and preventing ASEAN from reaching a South China Sea deal. It was the first time in the bloc’s 45-year history that ASEAN had failed to issue a joint statement.

As with Cambodia, China has close ties to Myanmar and extensive investments in the country, and has refrained from overly criticizing the military coup.

At first glance, however, Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen wants to keep ASEAN’s pressure on Myanmar. He had harsh words for the Burmese junta last week before being handed the ceremonial hammer from the ASEAN president of Brunei.

ASEAN, Hun Sen said, had not expelled Myanmar from its summit, but the Naypyidaw junta had “given up its rights,” according to Reuters.

“Now we are in the situation of ASEAN minus one. It is not because of ASEAN, but because of Myanmar, ”said the strong man who has ruled Cambodia since 1985.

Cambodian Foreign Minister Prak Sokhonn backed his prime minister, saying on the sidelines of the summit that Myanmar was “on the brink of civil war”.

“Although we all respect the principle of non-interference in the internal affairs of member states, the situation in Myanmar continues to be a matter of grave concern,” Sokhonn told Reuters.

He was referring to a core principle of ASEAN that long critics have argued allows the bloc to turn a blind eye to abuses by its member states.

Malaysian academic Md. Mahbubul Haque is not so sure about Cambodia’s intention or capabilities.

“Human rights and internal issues in Cambodia are the same as in Myanmar … they will certainly not take concrete steps towards Myanmar,” the senior lecturer in international studies at Sultan University told BenarNews. Zainal Abidin.

“So now other ASEAN countries must take action and resolve the issues in Myanmar.”

Reported by BenarNews, an online news service affiliated with RFA.

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