US joins calls for ASEAN to appoint special envoy to Myanmar – Radio Free Asia
The United States added its voice on Wednesday to international calls for ASEAN to appoint a special envoy to Myanmar, Secretary of State Antony Blinken saying the regional bloc must act urgently to resolve the post-coup crisis. State there.
Blinken’s appeal and a similar appeal launched by the UN human rights chief last week came amid an almost three-month delay in the nomination of an envoy by the bloc of Southeast Asia, indicating that ASEAN’s role in resolving the crisis has been rendered ineffective, an analyst told BenarNews. , an online information service affiliated with RFA.
In Blinken’s first meeting with his counterparts from the 10 member states of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, the secretary “called on ASEAN to take joint action to demand an end to the violence, restoring the democratic transition in Burma and the release of all those unjustly detained, ”State Department spokesman Ned Price said in a statement.
“The secretary said the ASEAN five-point consensus is an important step forward and urged ASEAN to take immediate action to hold the Burmese regime accountable for the consensus and appoint a special envoy.”
Blinken also said that “the United States supports Southeast Asian asylum seekers” in the face of China’s “coercion” and “illegal maritime claims” in the South China Sea.
At a special summit in Jakarta on April 24, ASEAN members adopted a five-point consensus on Myanmar, which included a call for the appointment of a special envoy to Myanmar and an immediate end to the violence.
Of the statements or transcripts of speeches released Wednesday by the foreign offices of ASEAN members the Philippines, Indonesia, Malaysia and Singapore, only that of the Philippines directly declared Manila’s support for the nomination. of a special envoy to Myanmar. However, he did not ask for faster action on the nomination.
Malaysian Foreign Minister Hishammuddin Hussein said at the meeting: “Malaysia remains gravely concerned about the situation that has unfolded in recent months.
“Malaysia reiterates its call for the de-escalation of the situation in Myanmar as a priority. We urge all parties to contribute to an environment conducive to national dialogue and reconciliation, ”he said.
ASEAN has been widely criticized for failing to appoint a special envoy amid reports of dissension within the bloc’s ranks, even as nearly 900 people have been killed in anti-junta protests by security forces Burmese women since the military overthrew the elected government of Aung San Suu Kyi in a coup. February 1.
Blinken’s comments were a strong message not only to ASEAN but also to Myanmar, as the junta-appointed foreign minister was present at Wednesday’s video meeting, said Hunter Marston, Asia researcher. South East at Australian National University.
“Blinken’s comments regarding Myanmar are important because junta-appointed Foreign Minister Wunna Maung Lwin was also present at the meeting,” Marston told BenarNews.
“The statement was therefore a direct message from the United States to the junta and their ASEAN counterparts that the United States supports stronger action by ASEAN to restore democracy in Myanmar.”
ASEAN’s failure to fully implement the consensus shows that members were hesitant in their commitment to democracy in Myanmar, said Dinna Prapto Raharja, international relations analyst at Synergy Policies, a Jakarta-based think tank.
“In my opinion, ASEAN has lost momentum by appointing a special envoy. This ship has passed, ”Dinna told BenarNews.
The ASEAN “Democrat-Authoritarian Split”
ASEAN’s failure to appoint an envoy was likely caused by an internal division over the name of the candidate from the country that would get the post, Marston said.
“In my opinion, the hold-up reflects the divisions between the democratic bloc of ASEAN – Indonesia, the Philippines and Singapore – and countries more authoritarian and ruled by the army, namely Thailand”, a- he declared.
Marston was referring to how Thai Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-o-cha, a former army chief who staged his own coup in 2014, would be close to the Burmese military.
Marston said the two main candidates for the envoy position were Hassan Wirajuda, a former Indonesian foreign minister and Virasakdi Futrakul, a former Thai deputy foreign minister. A former head of the Malaysian human rights commission, Razali Ismail, is seen as an alternative.
“The first two essentially reflect this democratic-authoritarian divide, so indecision apparently revolves around whether to adopt gloves to deal with Myanmar’s military junta or take a more ambitious, values-based approach under the form of the Indonesian candidate for the post, ”says Marston.
Syed Hamid Albar, chairman of the Malaysian Myanmar Advisory Group and former foreign minister, believes Indonesia’s Wirajuda should be ASEAN’s envoy to Myanmar.
“When Myanmar was in transition to democracy [previously] he was trying to emulate the earlier Indonesian democratic model, and Hassan attended a number of Myanmar democracy workshops and seminars, ”Hamid told BenarNews.
“He has access and is a very good diplomat and negotiator. “
Dinna of Synergy Policies said Indonesia should, on its own, take a bigger role in resolving the Myanmar crisis as it is a founding member of ASEAN and the largest country in the region.
“Basically, you can no longer count on ASEAN in the case of Myanmar. Indonesia should play a more daring role because other ASEAN countries will certainly not take this position, hence the stalemate, ”she said.
South china sea
Meanwhile, the Philippines hailed Blinken’s rejection of China’s vast maritime claims in the contested South China Sea.
Philippine Foreign Minister Teodoro Locsin Jr. said he welcomed US support for the 2016 verdict of the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague which ruled in favor of the Philippines and against the broad claims of the China on the waterway.
“This is the binding international law and the most authoritative application of UNCLOS on the maritime rights of the elements of the South China Sea,” he said, referring to the United Nations Convention on the law of the sea.
“As such, it contributes to the rules-based order in ASEAN and benefits all countries that use the vital artery that is the South China Sea. The rest is boastfulness. “
Beijing claims almost all of the South China Sea, while the Philippines, Brunei, Malaysia, Vietnam – members of ASEAN – and Taiwan have their own territorial claims.
Indonesia does not see itself as a party to the territorial disputes over the South China Sea, but Beijing is claiming historic rights to parts of the maritime region that straddle Indonesia’s exclusive economic zone.
Reported by BenarNews, an online news service affiliated with RFA.