by NURUL HIKMAH & FAYYADH JAFFAR / pic MUHD AMIN NAHARUL
MALAYSIA condemns the recent execution of four pro-democracy activists in Myanmar, said Foreign Minister Datuk Seri Saifuddin Abdullah (picture).
However, Saifuddin said the executions would not affect Malaysia’s efforts to push Myanmar to implement the Five-Point Consensus, which was agreed upon by all the Asean foreign ministers last year.
“We condemn the action by the junta to execute the four activists,” he said. “We feel that this is a crime against humanity.”
He also questioned the timing of the executions, which came a week before a meeting of the Asean.
The 10-member bloc, which has also expressed condemnation of the executions, had been pushing for Myanmar to adhere to a five-point peace plan it agreed to last year.
“We looked at (the executions) as if the junta was making a mockery of the five-point consensus, and I think we really have to look at this very, very seriously,” Saifuddin added.
Expanding on Malaysia’s earlier proposal to ban junta officials from attending Asean summits until progress is achieved on the peace plan, the minister further said that Myanmar should not be permitted to send political delegates to any international ministerial level gatherings.
“We hope we have seen the last of the executions and we will try to use whatever channel that we can to try and ensure that this will not happen again,” Saifuddin said, adding that Malaysia would seek to present a framework for the implementation of the peace plan at the Asean meeting.
In addition, he stated, Asean should strive to work with the National Unity Government and the National Unity Consultative Council, a covert organisation that the military junta of Myanmar has banned.
Saifuddin added that the foreign ministers of Asean countries would meet in Cambodia later in August to discuss the matter further, and the Five-Point Consensus would be among the issues on the agenda.
“Whatever it is, it has to be Myanmar and we are acting as facilitators from outside, but as far as I understand it from the meetings that I have had, I think the end game that they want for the people of Myanmar is a Myanmar that is democratic, inclusive, fair, peaceful and harmonious. They want an election that is free and that is accepted by all first and foremost, not a unilateral announcement of the election.”
She commended Malaysia’s role in hosting the largest Rohingya refugee population in Asean.
“My discussion with Datuk Seri (Saifuddin) touched on the setback of this execution of the Asean efforts, including the one expressed in the statement of the Asean chair. We focused on concrete areas of cooperation with the UN special envoy, as requested by the Asean head of state and foreign ministers.”
Moving forward, she stressed the urgency of inclusive engagement for inclusive engagement in order to work towards the will of the people. With regards to discussions on the Rohingya people, she focused on education to prevent a lost generation of Rohingya refugees and other displaced persons from Myanmar, and the importance of legal employment and protection for Myanmar migrant workers and refugees in Malaysia.
“Nearly five years after the mass forced displacement of Rohingya and other communities from Rakhine State in Myanmar, I highlighted the need for innovative thinking to break the impasse and to strengthen the support for the Rohingya and the host communities from countries in the region and across the international community.”
“I stressed that ultimately, it was Myanmar’s responsibility to address the underlying issues affecting the Rohingya and to establish durable solutions for the voluntary, safe, dignified and sustainable return of all refugees, as well as possibly displaced persons,” Dr Heyzer said.
She highlighted Malaysia’s major role within Asean as a member of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation contact group on the Rohingya crisis and in the vice presidency of the 77th session of the UN General Assembly, as well as the issue of education, which was one of her key areas of focus.
“The desperate situation continues to drive Rohingya people to undertake dangerous sea and land journeys. There is, therefore, an urgent need for innovative strategies and concrete pathways that align with the needs and will of the Rohingya people. So, my message is very clear. We must not allow the Rohingya people’s sense of being forgotten and abandoned to take root.”
“Their right to live in dignity as human beings must be supported and safeguarded by all, including the international community,” she said.