Malaysia's PM Calls for ASEAN Approach Change to Solve Myanmar Conflict
TEMPO.CO, Labuan Bajo - Prime Minister of Malaysia Anwar Ibrahim, in an exclusive interview with Tempo on May 9, reasoned that ASEAN’s non-intervention principle can be seen as a barrier to solving the crisis in conflict-stricken Myanmar. The Southeast Asian bloc needs to adjust its approach as the impact of the conflict affects countries in the region.
During the interview before the ASEAN Summit commenced, Anwar revealed that the Myanmar crisis has also affected Malaysia as roughly 200,000 refugees coming from Rohingya had fled to the country he leads.
As he agrees with the principle, he called for a progressive solution, which was stated in his video Tweet on May 10th: “But we will have to then have a new vision that would give us some flexibility in order to navigate and maneuver the way forward.”
In the Tuesday interview, the prime minister said this is no longer exclusively a Myanmar domestic issue but has started to affect the stability of Malaysia’s socio-economic problems. In terms of alternative solutions, Anwar said he personally prefers a firmer approach against the military Junta but not entirely cutting communication with them.
ASEAN's non-interference principle has allowed member states to concentrate on nation-building and regime stability while maintaining cooperative relations with other countries.
Myanmar has been plagued by violence and economic turmoil since the military seized power in a 2021 coup. The Tatmadaw launched a crackdown on opponents, some of whom fled abroad to form the National Unity Government (NUG).
Others joined the National Armed Resistance Group, which is allied with the NUG and some ethnic minority armies in fighting the junta.
ASEAN has been frustrated by the Myanmar junta's reluctance to implement the peace deal proposed by the bloc. The peaceful solution, known as the Five Point Consensus, includes constructive dialogue, cessation of violence, mediation between various parties, provision of humanitarian aid, and sending a special envoy to Myanmar.
Myanmar leaders are absent from the 42nd ASEAN Summit as a direct result of the ongoing conflict in the country.
Just days before the summit began, gunfire broke out as a group of ASEAN humanitarian aid agencies (AHA-Center) passed through Hseng township in northern Myanmar's Shan State on May 7.
President Jokowi, during a press conference on Monday, regretted the incident against the convoy carrying Indonesian and Singaporean diplomats. So far no organization has claimed responsibility for the incident.
Civilians have openly blamed the military junta for the incident while countries such as Indonesia and Singapore strongly urged to put an end to the violence that has constantly emerged in the country.
DANIEL A. FAJRI
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