Singapore has not recognised Myanmar's military leaders as the country's government, Foreign Affairs Minister Vivian Balakrishnan said on Tuesday, Mar. 2, The Straits Times (ST) reported.
Call for dialogue among internal stakeholders in Myanmar
Nevertheless, he said that under the country's 2008 constitution, the military has "a special role as an institution" in Myanmar's politics.
Such a view is consistent with Vivian's public statements thus far -- he has been referring to Myanmar's de facto leader Aung San Suu Kyi as State Counsellor, Win Myint as President, and the military-appointed foreign minister Wunna Maung Lwin as the army representative.
Speaking to the media after Asean foreign ministers met in an informal online meeting, which was attended by Wunna Maung Lwin as well, Vivian said that while Asean wants to "continue to engage and to be helpful and to be constructive wherever possible", the solution ultimately "lies within Myanmar itself".
The joint statement released also called on "all parties to refrain from instigating further violence, and for all sides to exercise utmost restraint as well as flexibility".
Previously, in his Committee of Supply speech in Parliament on Mar. 1, Vivian had called for the military to release detained National League for Democracy (NLD) leaders, saying: "We believe this can only begin if President Win Myint, State Counsellor and Foreign Minister Aung San Suu Kyi, and the other political detainees are immediately released."
Myanmar civilians continue to take to the streets
Myanmar protesters continue to take to the streets even as the army are still firing live rounds at unarmed civilians in an attempt to disperse them and deter further protests.
The United Nations special representative for Myanmar said at least 38 people had been killed in the country on Wednesday, Mar. 3, in the bloodiest crackdown since the coup took place.
Protesters and activists have called for foreign governments and entities to help pressure the junta to cease its actions, with limited success.
Both Vivian and Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong had cast doubt on the efficacy of sweeping sanctions, saying such a move will only hurt the ordinary people.
While PM Lee had condemned the lethal force used by the military on the protesters as "not acceptable", he had also questioned the call of protesters for foreign intervention, saying outsiders have "very little influence" on Myanmar's path towards a peaceful political resolution.
Analysts opined that Asean member states will be hard-pressed to do anything further than calling for dialogue between the military and the civilian leaders, mainly due to the principles of non-interference and consensus.
With any member state having the power to veto a move, Asean could be stymied by internal disagreements, and risk losing its credibility in the eyes of outside observers, especially since it has long asserted its centrality in Asian diplomacy.