SINGAPORE — Singapore’s foreign minister said the city-state and current ASEAN chair would continue to support Myanmar’s economic development and peace process through its many challenges.
Speaking with journalists from across the regional bloc on Monday, Vivian Balakrishnan said Singapore stood with Myanmar as it tackled economic challenges, civil war and the Rohingya crisis.
Balakrishnan has met Myanmar State Counselor Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, who also serves as the country’s foreign minister, several times in the past two years, both in Myanmar and Singapore.
Balakrishnan acknowledged that Myanmar’s de facto leader was facing many hurdles, including unmet expectations about the pace of economic reform.
“I think she is facing enormous challenges,” he said. “And you have to deal with all the historical challenges and ethnic problems, including armed conflicts in other parts of the country, and not just in Rakhine State. That’s why ASEAN stands with [the] Myanmar government, and Daw Aung San Sui Kyi deserves the support.”
He said the state counselor was trying “very hard” for end Myanmar’s decades-long civil war through meetings of the 21st Century Panglong Peace Conference and to gain the trust of the country’s many ethnic armed groups.
Balakrishnan said ASEAN would continue to fully support Myanmar with humanitarian aid as well.
The crisis in Rakhine State was discussed last week during an ASEAN meeting in Singapore. ASEAN “encouraged” the Myanmar government to continue implementing the recommendations of the Kofi Annan-led Advisory Commission on Rakhine State and welcomed its efforts to date.
Myanmar recently said it would accept an offer of help from the ASEAN Coordination Center for Humanitarian Assistance following recent severe flooding in several parts of the country.
At the 19th ASEAN Plus Three foreign ministers meeting on Saturday, the ministers welcomed an agreement to establish a regional catastrophe risk insurance pool for Laos and Myanmar as the first program of the Southeast Asia Disaster Risk Insurance Facility, supported by Japan, Singapore and the World Bank. The program, to be run out of Singapore, aims to provide climate and disaster risk management insurance solutions to ASEAN member states to narrow the natural catastrophe protection gap.