BANGKOK, Aug 11 — Malaysian Foreign Minister Datuk Seri Saifuddin Abdullah proposed that the Special Envoy of the ASEAN Chair to Myanmar should be given a tenure of ‘more than a year’, and the person appointed not necessarily a foreign minister.
He said this to ensure the special envoy is able to contribute effectively in ending the conflict in the junta ruled state.
The special envoy is not necessarily a foreign minister who is responsible for other diplomatic duties as well, so that he or she can really pay a lot of attention on Myanmar, he said during a press conference on Wednesday.
At present, the foreign minister of current ASEAN chair is appointed as the special envoy to build trust and confidence with full access to all parties concerned in Myanmar. Cambodian Foreign Minister Prak Sokhonn is the current Special Envoy of ASEAN Chair to Myanmar.
The appointment of a special envoy was included in a Five-Point Consensus (5PC) agreed upon at an extraordinary ASEAN meeting held in Indonesia in late April in 2021 to restore stability in Myanmar but was delayed for months.
The 5PC call for immediate cessation of violence, hold dialogues with all key stakeholders, appointment of a special envoy to facilitate mediation and for the delegation to visit and meet with stakeholders in Myanmar, and to allow ASEAN to provide humanitarian assistance to people in Myanmar.
Meanwhile, Saifuddin said ASEAN may seek support from its dialogue partners to help in ASEAN-led Myanmar’s peace process.
“Some of us brought to the table that if ASEAN is not able to do it alone, then we will probably have to engage some of our ASEAN dialogue partners…but the question that was asked is who does the junta listen to,” he said adding that the matter would be on the tabled during the ASEAN leaders meet in November.
Meanwhile, Saifuddin reiterated that ASEAN should engage with the National Unity Government (NUG) and the National Unity Consultative Council (NUCC) of Myanmar.
“Now it is one-sided as ASEAN only engaging the junta.
“That’s the basic reason Malaysia proposed many times that special envoy should engage NUG and NUCC and make the progress made public so the people of Myanmar know of the developments,” he said.
Myanmar’s military has urged ASEAN members not to meet groups that oppose the coup, which it calls “unlawful associations and terrorist groups”.
Last week, foreign ministers from nine of the ten ASEAN member states concluded a three-day 55th ASEAN Foreign Ministers’ Meeting (AMM-55) and Related Meetings in Phnom Penh said they were ‘deeply disappointed’ by the limited progress and Myanmar junta’s lack of commitment in implementing the 5PC.
ASEAN to assess the progress towards the implementation of the 5PC by junta’s State Administration Council (SAC) in the upcoming November summit to guide the decision on the next steps.
Myanmar’s military took power in a coup in Feb 1, 2021 and detained elected leader Aung San Suu Kyi and political activists. Since the coup led by Gen Hlaing, at least 2,114 people have been killed in Myanmar in the campaign to suppress the widespread opposition to military rule.