Aung San Suu Kyi sentenced to 3 more years in prison, Myanmar military govt drags feet on Asean plan

On Oct. 12, Myanmar politician Aung San Suu Kyi was sentenced to an additional three years of imprisonment by a court controlled by Myanmar's military government.

Tan Min-Wei | October 13, 2022, 03:51 PM

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On Oct. 12, Myanmar politician Aung San Suu Kyi was sentenced to an additional three years of imprisonment by a court controlled by Myanmar's military government.

Sentencing a 77 year old to 26 years in jail

Aung San Suu Kyi, whose elected government was ousted by a coup in February 2021 by Myanmar's military, the Tatmadaw, has been charged with three counts of accepting bribes, according to Reuters.

She has been so far convicted on 14 charges, amounting to a total of 26 years of imprisonment, with Reuters saying that she faces a total of 18 charges and potentially 190 years in jail.

According to The Irrawaddy, an independent Myanmar news outlet, Aung San Suu Kyi was accused of accepting a series of bribes disguised as donations to a charity opened in Suu Kyi's mother's name. Suu Kyi has denied all wrongdoing.

The Irrawaddy said that the 77 year old Nobel Laurette, who has not been seen in public since the coup, appeared to be in good health, and that she planned to appeal.

Progress on Five-point Consensus has been slow

The Myanmar coup has led Asean to take measures against the State Administrative Council, as the Tatmadaw government prefers to call itself.

Asean, which has always upheld a strict policy of non-interference in members' domestic affairs, called a special meeting in April 2021 where it implemented the Five-point Consensus (5PC).

The 5PC has called for the end of violence in Myanmar, dialogue towards a peaceful solution, mediation by a Asean appointed special envoy, and that the special envoy be allowed to meet with all parties; as well humanitarian assistance provided by Asean.

Encourage, cajole, facilitate

During this September's parliament session, Singapore's Foreign Minister Vivian Balakrishnan answered questions about the effectiveness of the Asean's 5PC.

He said the Tatmadaw is primarily responsible for the ongoing crisis, and expressed disappointment for the junta's intransigence, rather than faulting Asean.

Vivian said that instead of carrying out the terms of the 5PC, to which it had agreed, the Tatmadaw has conducted aerial bombings of opposition-controlled areas, and executed opposition activists, underscoring the Tatmadaw's "disregard for both Asean and the Five Point Consensus".

In a later doorstop interview during the the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA), Vivian also emphasised that Asean "was never set out to interfere in internal matters", but what the grouping could do was "to encourage, to cajole, to facilitate" talks.

An intransigent power

The Tatmadaw's intransigence is despite direct interventions from Cambodia during its time as Asean chair.

Cambodia's Prime Minister Hun Sen had initially sought for Asean to engage with the Tatmadaw, even going so far as being one of the first foreign leaders to visit the country in an official capacity in January 2022.

But in what was seen as snub to Cambodia, the junta executed four opposition activists a week before the Cambodian chaired 55th Asean Ministerial meeting. Hun Sen, as the Asean chairman, had appealed to the junta to reconsider their sentences.

The military government accused the four men of committing acts of terror.

Cambodia is not the only relatively friendly country whose entreaties Myanmar has rejected, with requests to visit Aung San Suu Kyi by China's envoy Sun Guoxiang allegedly being rejected.

Asean may do more

Other Asean countries have begun to consider alternative solutions to dealing with Myanmar. Recently elected Filipino president Fidel "Bongbong" Marcos Jr, as quoted by Reuters, said that Asean should look at concrete measures that would at least bring Tatmadaw officials to the table.

Malaysian Foreign Minister Saifuddin Abdullah, speaking on the side-lines of the UNGA, also questioned the 5PC.

Quoted by The Diplomat, Saifuddin said that Asean needed to "seriously review if the Five-point Consensus is still relevant, and if it should be replaced with something better", especially before November's Asean Summit.

Cambodia has invited the Tatmadaw to nominate a non-political representative to represent the country for the summit, as it has for all other Asean events it has chaired in 2022, but the Tatmadaw has declined to do so.

As a result, Myanmar has gone unrepresented at Asean events since the coup.

In 2023, the Asean chair will be held by Indonesia, who has also signalled its concern at the coup by hosting the 2021 meeting where the 5PC was devised.

Meanwhile in Myanmar, the anti-government resistance continues, with multiple groups in combat with military forces.

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Top photo via Saw Wunna/ Unsplash