Vivian: Myanmar's military needs to cooperate for Asean to pursue Five-Point Consensus

Junta chief Min Aung Hlaing previously said the military will consider the Five-Point Consensus only if the country's "stability" is secured. 

Kayla Wong | May 11, 2021, 11:32 PM

Asean's immediate task is to implement the Five-Point Consensus, and the cooperation of the Tatmadaw (Myanmar's military) will be needed, Singapore's Foreign Affairs Minister Vivian Balakrishnan said on Tuesday, May 11.

Not an easy process

Acknowledging that it will not be "an easy process", Vivian added that there are "many details to be worked out", such as nominating an envoy or a team of Asean envoys, as well as working on how and when to disburse humanitarian assistance.

The minister was responding in a written reply to parliamentary questions raised by Workers' Party Members of Parliament (MP) Sylvia Lim and Dennis Tan on how Asean and Singapore can address the deteriorating situation in Myanmar.

Asean must speak as a collective body

Vivian continued to say that Asean will have to "speak collectively" to urge the Myanmar military to uphold the consensus, and in particular, to "exercise maximum restraint and begin meaningful dialogue with all parties concerned".

He added that Asean must continue to call for the release of all political detainees, including State Counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi and President Win Myint.

What is the Five-Point Consensus?

The Five-Point Consensus Vivian raised was an agreement that Asean leaders reached during a meeting held in Jakarta, Indonesia on Apr. 24, which Myanmar junta chief Min Aung Hlaing attended as well.

The consensus consists of the following points, as listed on the Chairman's Statement released after:

  1. An immediate cessation of violence in Myanmar, and that all parties shall exercise utmost restraint
  2. Constructive dialogue among all parties concerned to seek a peaceful solution in the people's interests
  3. Facilitation of mediation of the dialogue process by a special envoy of the Asean Chair (Brunei)
  4. Providing humanitarian assistance through the Asean Coordinating Centre for Humanitarian Assistance on disaster management (AHA Centre)
  5. A visit by the special envoy and delegation to Myanmar to meet with all parties concerned

Vivian reiterated the five points, adding that Asean's immediate priority remains the de-escalation of the situation, which he said is increasingly intractable and threatens to further disrupt regional stability.

He further said the Chairman's Statement had called for the release of all political prisoners.

Besides Singapore, Indonesia and Malaysia had also called for the immediate release of all political detainees.

Previously, Min Aung Hlaing, who orchestrated the Feb. 1 coup, said the military will consider the Five-Point Consensus only if the country's "stability" is secured.

Path to normalcy in Myanmar a long and difficult one

In addition, Vivian warned that the Asean Leaders' Meeting in Jakarta was just an "initial step", and that the path back to normalcy in Myanmar will be "a long and difficult one".

He stressed that the long-term and sustainable resolution of the crisis "ultimately lies with the Myanmar people", and that the key stakeholders in the country must negotiate, compromise and come to a durable political solution.

"Ultimately, it is their political will to do what is right for the people of Myanmar that would determine how quickly a solution can be found," the minister said, adding that Asean can only "help to facilitate this dialogue and support the process".

Singapore hopes "good sense will prevail"

Vivian further emphasised that Singapore and Asean must continue to work with the United Nations and other international bodies.

He added that countries like China, the U.S., India and Japan have important roles to play given their "considerable influence" over the various actors in the crisis.

He ended his reply by saying that Singapore hopes "wisdom and good sense will prevail", and the city-state stands ready to do its part.

The Tatmadaw had cracked down on protesters in the wake of the coup, resulting in the deaths and injuries of many unarmed civilians.

Rights group the Assistance Association for Political Prisoners has placed the death toll so far at 781, while the junta has reported a much lower death toll.

The Tatmadaw has blamed the violence on demonstrators, calling them "rioters" who engaged in "acts of terrorism".

Top image adapted Getty Images & CNA video