Myanmar’s Crisis & the World

Indonesian Minister Says Myanmar Regime Not Qualified to Run Country

By The Irrawaddy 19 January 2023

Indonesia’s investment minister said Myanmar’s military regime should give up power and let someone qualified run the country, which has been mired in social and political chaos since a military coup in 2021, as Indonesia did in 1998.

Indonesian Coordinating Minister for Maritime Affairs and Investment Luhut Panjaitan, a former general, said while participating in a panel at the World Economic Forum that while there were many examples of militaries taking charge of governments, someone shouldn’t try to rule a country if they are not qualified.

His remark was a clear reference to Myanmar military chief Min Aung Hlaing, who seized power in the Southeast Asian country via a coup. He still does not have control over the country due to a widespread popular armed resistance that some UN experts characterize as a civil war against his rule.

“Let someone else who is qualified manage this country like what happened in Indonesia,” the minister said, according to Bloomberg.

Indonesia has become a democracy since the 1998 ouster of former General Suharto, who seized power from the country’s first president in 1966.

The minister’s message is especially significant as Indonesia is the 2023 chair of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), of which Myanmar is a member.

In an effort to resolve the Myanmar crisis, shortly after the coup the bloc adopted a five-point peace plan calling for, among other things, the immediate cessation of violence in the country.

However, as of December last year, when Indonesia assumed the rotating ASEAN chair from Cambodia, the plan had made no progress as the junta has refused to implement any of its provisions. So far, the regime has killed more than 2,700 people, mainly anti-regime activists, in a brutal response to the resistance that has included air strikes against civilians.

Last year, Indonesian President Joko Widodo proposed to the bloc’s leaders that regime representatives be banned from all ASEAN meetings, not only its major summits.

Indonesian Foreign Minister Retno Marsudi announced last week that she will lead a newly set-up office of the ASEAN special envoy on Myanmar to engage with all stakeholders to address the Myanmar crisis.

She said that as ASEAN chair, and in accordance with the mandate of the Five-Point Consensus adopted by ASEAN in 2021, Indonesia will make every effort to help Myanmar out of its political crisis and won’t allow the Myanmar issue to hold the bloc’s development hostage.