The Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) has provided humanitarian assistance for the Myanmar people, especially during the pandemic. The first batch of assistance was delivered on September 15, aimed at supporting the larger COVID-19 response to Myanmar. Subsequently, there will be more assistance to be delivered by the end of November.
The assistance from ASEAN to Myanmar, which was the fourth point under the five-point consensus agreed in April by ASEAN leaders, was highlighted by Secretary-General of ASEAN Dato Paduka Lim Jock Hoi during the panel discussion on ASEAN under the virtual ASEAN Business and Investment Summit (ABIS) yesterday.
“ASEAN has been closely following the development of Myanmar, which will have a spillover effect on the region. ASEAN in April agreed on a five-point consensus by the leaders that iterated its readiness to assist Myanmar in a positive and peaceful constructive manner. For the benefit of the Myanmar people, this is very important for ASEAN,” said the secretary-general.
He added, “ASEAN will continue to work constructively with Myanmar to fully implement the five points of consensus. In the meantime, we have point 4, in which ASEAN has responsibly and collectively provided humanitarian assistance for Myanmar people, especially during the pandemic.”
The five-point consensus calls for the immediate cessation of violence in Myanmar; constructive dialogue among all parties concerned to seek a peaceful solution in the interests of the people; mediation to be facilitated by an envoy of ASEAN’s chair, with the assistance of the secretary-general; humanitarian assistance provided by ASEAN’s AHA Centre; and a visit by the special envoy and delegation to Myanmar to meet all parties concerned.
The secretary-general continued, “The humanitarian assistance to be delivered by the end of November will be with the help of ASEAN member states and dialogue partners. We have a lot of response and we will work closely with Myanmar authority to deliver the assistance to the needy in Myanmar as a whole.”
Dato Paduka Lim iterated, “It is very important that we stabilise the situation in Myanmar and work closely with every stakeholder in Myanmar as part of the five-point consensus.
“I think it is important for the Myanmar people and ASEAN as a whole to see Myanmar become more prosperous and stable so that the impact of the situation will not affect the whole region. What is the most important is that we would like to work closely with them to make sure the region is stable and peaceful in such a way that it will not hold up work programmes that we have. We are hopeful that we can work together with the Myanmar people, especially to implement the five-point consensus agreed by the leaders.”
Meanwhile, a question was raised, “If the Myanmar economy fails, would it impact ASEAN as a whole?”
Minister at the Prime Minister’s Office and Minister of Finance and Economy II and Chairman of Bank Islam Brunei Darussalam (BIBD) and its Group of Companies Dato Seri Setia Dr Awang Haji Mohd Amin Liew bin Abdullah said, “Myanmar is an important partner of ASEAN as a whole. We do not wish to leave Myanmar behind, so we will continue maintaining our ASEAN centrality and encouraging them to commit to the five-point consensus as mentioned by the secretary-general, to bring stability back to ASEAN and continue to trade like normal. The pressure on ASEAN and many of our dialogue partners continues to mount if Myanmar does not commit to it.
“As far as economy is concerned, we will still continue our trade with Myanmar. As for how long we can continue to do this without further pressure from outside ASEAN, it is hard to tell.
“We hope Myanmar will commit to the five-point consensus and come back into ASEAN centrality so we can continue working together again.
“Overall, Myanmar economy was doing quite well prior to the current issue. In the bigger picture, we have larger economy in ASEAN among the member states, so it will affect us just like how COVID-19 affect us. But we do have other initiatives to further our economy despite whatever political situation is in Myanmar.
“In the recovery agenda under Brunei Darussalam chairmanship and ASEAN comprehensive recovery framework endorsed by leaders at the end of last year, this has set the scene for our economy to move forward despite whatever challenges we are facing with Myanmar.”