State Palace Speaks of Sending Top General to Myanmar Plan

3 February 2023 13:16 WIB

TEMPO.CO, Jakarta - The Presidential Staff Office (KSP) main expert on human rights and foreign affairs Siti Ruhaini Dzuhayatin said that the plan to send a top general to Myanmar, as mentioned by President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo, was still in discussion. The figure of the envoy has yet to be revealed.

On Wednesday, February 1, Jokowi said that the Indonesian government plans to delegate a high-ranking general to Myanmar in hopes of opening communication with the country’s military junta on the possibility of transitioning back to democracy. 

"This is a matter of approach. We have the experience, here in Indonesia, the situation was the same," the President told Reuters in an interview in his offices in Jakarta. "This experience can be addressed, how Indonesia began its democracy."

Contacted by Tempo on Thursday, February 2, Siti Ruhaini said that the Presidential Staff Office views Indonesia's chairmanship as capable of accelerating the implementation of the consensus agreed upon by ASEAN leaders regarding Myanmar.

"The appointment of the general in question is part of the mandate of Indonesia's chairmanship in implementing the consensus," she said.

The consensus she referred to was initiated by the leaders of member countries of the Southeast Asian bloc in April 2021, which produced five points namely constructive dialogue, ending the violence, mediation, provision of humanitarian assistance, and sending a special envoy to Myanmar.

Civilian groups in Myanmar and analysts see this approach as a failing matter considering the Tatmadaw is still perpetuating violence. Observers consider the Myanmar issue to be one of the challenges for Indonesia's presidency in ASEAN this year.

Siti said the KSP is not technically involved in the plan to send the top general, which was still being coordinated with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. However, Siti said this agenda is considered highly important for Indonesia, which has a reputation for solving problems in the region. At the same time, it also maintains the legitimacy and credibility of ASEAN's presence in dealing with the bloc's internal issues.

The Foreign Affairs Ministry’s spokesperson Teuku Faizasyah did not answer when asked about the top general’s identity and in what way would this plan be enacted. "It will be conveyed by the Palace," he told Tempo, Friday, February 3.

The Southeast Asian foreign affairs ministers are gathering in a two-day dialogue at the ASEAN Foreign Ministers’ (AMM) Retreat held in Indonesia’s capital of Jakarta, which also marks the inaugural event under Indonesia’s chairmanship. Friday's AMM Retreat began with the 32nd ASEAN Coordinating Council.

Several topics will be discussed in the meeting at the ASEAN Secretariat in South Jakarta, including the priorities of Indonesia's chairmanship and follow-up on the results of the 40th and 41st ASEAN Summits in 2022. 

Experts consider the Myanmar situation as one of the challenges under Indonesia’s chairmanship, as the country’s democratically elected Aung San Suu Kyi was overthrown by its military junta back in February of 2021. 

DANIEL A. FAJRI | REUTERS

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