Deputy Foreign Minister Dismayed Over Malaysian PM’s Remarks

By The Irrawaddy 7 December 2016

RANGOON— Burma’s deputy foreign minister expressed dismay to the Malaysian ambassador over remarks made by the Malaysian Prime Minister at a rally in support of the Rohingya Muslim minority.

Deputy foreign minister U Kyaw Tin said Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak made strong remarks against the government of a fellow Asean member state based on unverified and unsubstantiated allegations, according to a ministry press release.

“The Malaysian Ambassador was also informed of Myanmar’s desire to maintain and strengthen friendly relations with Asean family members and of the need not to be misled by the disinformation campaigns waged by certain groups,” it stated, warning that Malaysia’s response could cause problems and not bring about solutions.

Najib Razak staged the protest against what he called a “genocide” of the Rohingya Muslims in western Burma. He called for neighboring Asian countries and the world to step up pressure to halt the violence in Arakan State.

Najib said the rally in Kuala Lumpur on Sunday would send a message to Daw Aung San Suu Kyi’s government that “enough is enough.”

Burma’s deputy foreign minister rejected accusations of “ethnic cleansing” and “genocide,” saying those terms were far from the reality on the ground.

“The deputy minister also stressed the need for the the international community to assist the country’s efforts in resolving the Arakan issues and to avoid making calls based on the unverified allegations,” the press release stated.

A coalition of Muslim civil society organizations (CSOs) in Burma objected to the rally saying that the groups do not accept Malaysia’s intervention in domestic affairs through labeling the Arakan conflict as a religious one.

“Our situation is very complex, therefore we do not want another country’s intervention, as it might lead to further difficulties and a move away from peace,” Myat Noe Oo, the spokesperson for the Coalition of Myanmar Muslim CSOs, told The Irrawaddy.

U Aye Lwin, a member of the Kofi Annan-led Advisory Commission on Arakan State, said the prime minister should use diplomatic channels despite his right to freedom of speech, at a press conference on Tuesday.

Burma’s Ministry of Labor, Immigration and Population also released an announcement that overseas employment agencies would suspend sending Burmese workers to Malaysia on Tuesday because of the protests in support of the Rohingya.