Malaysia calls for ‘strong’ measures on Myanmar as ASEAN meets | ASEAN News


The 10-member Southeast Asian grouping has been strained to the limit over the crisis caused by the 2021 military coup.

Malaysia has called for “strong” measures against Myanmar’s generals, saying “obstacles” they created have blocked the implementation of a plan to restore peace more than two years since the military seized power in a coup.

The unusually blunt message from Malaysia came as members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) began meeting in Jakarta for their annual summit, with tensions over Myanmar as well as the situation in the disputed South China Sea straining the 10-member alliance.

“Malaysia and other member countries gave their views that we cannot allow this to continue without strong and effective measures imposed on the junta,” Malaysian Foreign Minister Zambry Abdul Kadir told reporters after the group’s foreign ministers held talks in the Indonesian capital.

Zambry did not name the other ASEAN members that shared Malaysia’s view.

Senior General Min Aung Hlaing, who led the February 2021 coup against Myanmar’s elected government of Aung San Suu Kyi, agreed to the so-called five-point consensus to end the crisis in Myanmar at a special ASEAN summit two months later.

The military has made little effort to implement the plan and violence has only increased, with the military battling armed civilian groups opposed to its power grab. It has been accused of war crimes for its attacks on civilian populations.

Zambry said the lack of progress on the implementation was because of “obstacles created by the junta”.

Myanmar joined ASEAN under a previous military regime in 1997 but the removal of Aung San Suu Kyi’s government after a period of reform has proved a major challenge for the organisation, highlighting divisions between its more authoritarian countries and those more democratic.

ASEAN leaders will start their summit on Tuesday.

They will be joined later in the week by leaders and top officials from partner countries including China, Japan and the United States.

The presidents of the US and China will not be attending.

Vice President Kamala Harris will replace US President Joe Biden while Chinese Premier Li Qiang is taking part instead of Chinese President Xi Jinping.

China is a key player in the dispute over the South China Sea and has been accused of deploying aggressive and dangerous manoeuvres to stake its claim. A new Chinese map of the region has also created upset in Southeast Asia by showing almost the entire South China Sea to be Chinese territory.

ASEAN members Brunei, Malaysia, the Philippines and Vietnam also claim parts of the sea.

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