Cambodian, Malaysian PMs Call on Myanmar Junta to Implement ASEAN Consensus

By The Irrawaddy 24 February 2022

The Cambodian and Malaysian prime ministers called for the “timely and effective implementation” of ASEAN’s Five-Point Consensus on Myanmar during a meeting in Phnom Penh on Thursday, the two countries said in a joint statement.

Malaysian Prime Minister Ismail Sabri Yaakob met with his counterpart Hun Sen to cap a two-day visit to Cambodia, the current holder of the rotating chair of ASEAN, of which Malaysia and Myanmar are also members.

According to the statement, the two leaders “underscored the critical importance of ensuring the effective and timely implementation of the Five-Point Consensus,” which was reached at a summit of ASEAN leaders in April last year. The consensus calls for an immediate cessation of violence in Myanmar and the facilitation of dialogue between all parties to the conflict, mediated by the regional bloc’s special envoy, among other steps. Myanmar’s military seized power from the country’s democratically elected government on Feb. 1 last year, detaining its civilian leadership and launching a brutal crackdown on dissent that has killed more than 1,500 mostly peaceful opponents while also sparking an armed resistance movement.

Senior leaders of Myanmar’s military junta have been barred from recent ASEAN meetings over the regime’s failure to implement the consensus.

According to Thursday’s statement, at the meeting “Malaysia expressed full support for the work of the ASEAN Chair’s Special Envoy on Myanmar and looks forward to the first visit” to Myanmar by the envoy, a post currently held by Cambodian Foreign Minister Prak Sokhonn.

As ASEAN chair, Hun Sen has been criticized for unilaterally deciding to travel to Naypyitaw last month to meet with junta leader Min Aung Hlaing, a move seen by many as conferring legitimacy on the regime. Kuala Lumpur has been among those critics;  Malaysian Foreign Minister Saifuddin Abdullah said recently that the Cambodian leader should have consulted with other ASEAN leaders before traveling to Naypyitaw. According to the Associated Press, Hun Sen responded that Malaysia’s foreign minister should not be “arrogant” and disrespectful of the ASEAN chair.

At Thursday’s meeting, Ismail also raised the issue of the hundreds of thousands of people, mostly Rohingya Muslims, displaced from Myanmar’s Rakhine State by the Myanmar military’s clearance operations in 2017. Over 700,000 people fled Myanmar during the crisis and are still sheltering in neighboring Bangladesh. According to the statement, Ismail “reiterated the importance of addressing the root causes of the conflict and their repatriation in a voluntary, safe and dignified manner.”

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