Asean to invite Myanmar's non-political representative to meetings until 'significant progress' made in Five-Point Consensus: PM Lee

PM Lee also said that there is a need for progress in the delivery of humanitarian assistance in Myanmar.

Faris Alfiq | January 15, 2022, 05:09 PM

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Until there is "significant progress" in implementing the Five-Point Consensus, Asean should maintain its decision reached at the 38th and 39th Asean Summits of inviting a non-political representative from Myanmar to Asean meetings, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said, according to a press statement by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) on Jan. 15.

PM Lee said as such during a video call that he received from Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen on Jan. 14.

Myanmar's junta leader, Min Aung Hlaing, was excluded from attending the 38th and 39th Asean Summit in October last year.

Instead, Asean leaders had invited Chan Aye, the permanent secretary of the junta's foreign ministry, to attend the virtual summit as the country's non-political representative.

Chan aye did not attend the summit, with Myanmar’s foreign ministry saying that they did so to "protest against Asean or to boycott Asean."

During the call, MFA said that Hun Sen briefed PM Lee on Cambodia's Asean Chairmanship priorities and agenda for 2022.

PM Lee reaffirmed Singapore's support for Cambodia's Asean Chairmanship and thanked Hun Sen for the briefing on his recent visit to Myanmar.

No significant progress made in implementing Five-Point Consensus

According to MFA, PM Lee noted that there had not been any "significant progress" in the implementation of Asean's Five-Point Consensus since its adoption on Apr. 24, 2021 at a meeting at the Asean Secretariat in Jakarta between Asean leaders and Min Aung Hlaing.

The Five-Point Consensus is an agreement reached by Asean member states in resolving the Myanmar crisis.

The consensus includes:

  • There shall be immediate cessation of violence in Myanmar and all parties shall exercise utmost restraint.
  • Constructive dialogue among all parties concerned shall commence to seek a peaceful solution in the interests of the people.
  • A special envoy of the Asean Chair shall facilitate mediation of the dialogue process, with the assistance of the Secretary-General of Asean.
  • Asean shall provide humanitarian assistance through the AHA Centre.
  • The special envoy and delegation shall visit Myanmar to meet with all parties concerned.

According to MFA, any discussion to revise the Asean leaders' decision had to be "based on new facts".

Need to engage all parties concerned: PM Lee

MFA said PM Lee also emphasised the need for the Asean Chair to engage all parties concerned, including the Tatmadaw and the National League for Democracy (NLD).

The Tatmadaw is the official name of the armed forces of Myanmar.

"The Tatmadaw had proposed a ceasefire with Ethnic Armed Organisations (EAOs) only but the call for a cessation of violence in the Five-Point Consensus referred also, and indeed primarily, to violence against the Tatmadaw's political opponents and civilians," MFA added.

PM Lee further noted that just days after Hun Sen's visit, there had been further attacks by the Tatmadaw against its political opponents, and additional prison sentences imposed on State Counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi.

Hun Sen made proposals to coordinate ceasefire

In addition to that, during the video call, MFA said Hun Sen made some proposals on how to coordinate a ceasefire in Myanmar and deliver humanitarian assistance to the Myanmar people.

In response, PM Lee said that he was "unsure" what role Asean or the Asean Chair's Special Envoy on Myanmar could play in coordinating a ceasefire since "we did not even have access to all parties", according to the statement.

However, Singapore had "no in-principle objections" to such a mechanism if it could foster an end to violence.

He also said that there was a need for progress in the delivery of humanitarian assistance with the involvement of the Asean Coordinating Centre for Humanitarian Assistance on disaster management (AHA Centre) and with the cooperation of the Tatmadaw.

PM Lee also agreed that these proposals raised by the Asean Chair should be further discussed among the Asean Foreign Ministers and Senior Officials. He hoped that Cambodia would consider his views and those of other Asean Leaders, MFA added.

He reaffirmed Singapore’s commitment to work with Cambodia and other Asean Member States on the full implementation of the Five-Point Consensus and relevant Asean decisions.

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Top images via Samdech Hun Sen/Facebook and Lee Hsien Loong/Facebook