Malaysia PM says Myanmar crisis affecting region’s security

March 2, 2023 - 12:32 PM
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Malaysian Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim gestures as he delivers his speech during his visit at the Malacanang palace, in Manila, Philippines, March 1, 2023. (Aaron Favila/Pool via Reuters)

Malaysia’s Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim said on Wednesday the ongoing crisis in Myanmar was affecting the region’s security and welfare and new ways must be found to persuade its military rulers to work with ASEAN to achieve peace.

After meeting Philippine President Ferdinand Marcos Jr in Manila, Anwar said he appreciated his counterpart’s reiteration that a five-point peace plan agreed between the Association of Southeast Asian Nations and Myanmar’s junta must be implemented.

“…but I would certainly suggest to explore new areas how the Myanmar junta can be persuaded to work within ASEAN and resolve the outstanding issue which cannot be considered as purely internal because it is affecting the security and welfare of the region,” Anwar said.

Myanmar has been beset by social, political and economic chaos since its military overthrew an elected government in 2021.

Human rights groups and the United Nations have accused the military of carrying out atrocities as part of a crackdown on its opponents, which it says are “terrorists” seeking to destroy the country.

ASEAN, which has a long-held principle of staying out of its members’ sovereign affairs, has grown frustrated at the junta’s lack of progress on a peace plan agreed with the generals shortly after the coup.

While the 10-member bloc has barred Myanmar’s generals from attending its high-level meetings, Malaysia, a vocal critic of the junta, has called for more stringent action. The generals have reacted angrily to what it calls interference by ASEAN members.

—Reporting by Karen Lema; Editing by Kanupriya Kapoor, Martin Petty