MINISTRY’S RESPONSE TO
“MYANMAR’S SNUB TO MALAYSIA’S MEGAPHONE DIPLOMACY”
The article “Myanmar’s Snub to Malaysia’s Megaphone Diplomacy” (Free Malaysia Today, 12 Dec 2016) refers.
As a member of ASEAN, Malaysia has always followed developments in the region including Myanmar. In this regard, Malaysia is gravely concerned with the recent developments in the northern Rakhine State, which has resulted in the loss of innocent lives and the displacement of people.
Malaysia is concerned that if the crisis in northern Rakhine State is not addressed urgently by the Myanmar Government, it will impact the security and stability of region, including Malaysia. The exodus of more refugees to neighbouring countries, including Malaysia, would witness a repeat of the 2015 boat people crisis.
In fact, during the 2015 boat people crisis, Malaysia played an instrumental role by swiftly convening a tripartite meeting with Indonesia and Thailand which was held at Wisma Putra and led by Malaysia’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, YB Dato’ Sri Anifah Haji Aman in May 2015 to discuss and resolve the issue. The outcome of the meeting saw Malaysia and Indonesia agree to provide humanitarian assistance and temporary shelter to the 7000 boat people stranded along the three countries' maritime borders while awaiting resettlement or repatriation. Malaysia’s leading role in this instance led to a resolution of the crisis and saved innocent lives.
That is why Malaysia views the current situation in the northern Rakhine State as no longer an ‘internal affair’ but one of regional consequence. ASEAN Member States as a community of nations has a responsibility to promote and protect human rights and fundamental freedoms of peoples in accordance with the ASEAN Charter and the Charter of the United Nations, as well as the ASEAN Human Rights Declaration. It is in this context that Malaysia, as an ASEAN Member State, is taking a strong position on the issue. Malaysia needs to speak out on issues regarding gross violations of human rights and fundamental freedoms as it is the right thing to do.
On the claim that Malaysia’s recent actions are “un-ASEAN-like” and may jeopardise any further possibility of Malaysia playing a credible role towards a long term solution in Rakhine State, the Ministry believes that it is due to Malaysia’s vocal position on the issue that Myanmar will host an ASEAN Foreign Ministers’ Retreat on 19 December 2016 to discuss the situation in the northern Rakhine State.
Myanmar’s willingness to address the criticism head-on is a change of tact for the country, as was the change in Malaysia's tone in dealing with Myanmar. We welcome this positive development and YB Dato’ Sri Anifah Aman is prepared to discuss with his Myanmar counterpart, Aung San Suu Kyi on how Malaysia can assist Myanmar in finding a just, expeditious and durable solution to the protracted issue in the northern Rakhine State.
15 DECEMBER 2016