ASEAN issues statement on Myanmar coup

Hakim Hayat

ASEAN issued a statement yesterday, reiterating the need for the pursuance of dialogue, reconciliation and the return to normalcy in accordance with the will and interests of the people of Myanmar, in light of the political developments unfolding in the bloc’s member state.

The statement from the ASEAN Chair comes after Myanmar’s military seized power in a coup and declared a one-year state of emergency, while detaining several Myanmar political figures, including State Counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi and other leaders of the National League for Democracy (NLD), amid escalating tensions between the country’s civilian government and the military which has cohabited political leadership in the country for years.

The statement said that ASEAN member states have been closely following the current developments in Myanmar.

Brunei Darussalam is currently taking the helm of the ASEAN Chairmanship in 2021.

“We recall the purposes and principles enshrined in the ASEAN Charter, including the adherence to the principles of democracy, the rule of law and good governance, respect for and protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms.”

Brunei as ASEAN Chair 2021 also reiterated that “the political stability in ASEAN member states is essential to achieving a peaceful, stable and prosperous ASEAN Community”.

Following the news yesterday morning, Southeast Asian governments issued varying statements on the situation. The Indonesian Foreign Ministry called on Myanmar to observe the principles of the ASEAN Charter, including adherence to the rule of law, good governance, the principles of democracy and constitutional government. It also urged restraint among all parties in the country and encouraged the use of dialogue to resolve challenges.

“Indonesia also underscores that all electoral differences be addressed in accordance with available legal mechanism,” said the statement.

Malaysia said all parties in Myanmar should resolve any electoral disputes peacefully.

“Malaysia supports the continuation of discussion among Myanmar’s leaders to avoid adverse consequences to the people and state of Myanmar, especially in the current, difficult COVID-19 pandemic situation,” the Malaysian Foreign Ministry said in a statement.

Meanwhile, Cambodia’s Prime Minister Hun Sen said the coup was Myanmar’s “internal affairs” and declined further comment.

“Cambodia does not comment on the internal affairs of any country at all, either within the ASEAN framework or any other country,” said the Cambodian leader, who himself seized full control in 1997 from his elected coalition partner and whose party has been in power since.

Thailand’s Deputy Prime Minister Prawit Wongsuwan echoed the same sentiment, saying: “It’s their internal affairs.”