No solution in Myanmar without Aung San Suu Kyi's participation: Vivian Balakrishnan at Asean Foreign Ministers' Meeting

The Five-Point Consensus remains salient.

Sulaiman Daud | July 15, 2023, 04:11 AM

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Asean's Five-Point Consensus (5PC) remains salient, despite the recent solo meeting of Thailand's Foreign Minister with Aung San Suu Kyi, Myanmar's deposed leader.

According to Foreign Minister Vivian Balakrishnan, speaking in Jakarta, Indonesia on Jul. 14, the 5PC remains one of the factors in the consideration of the military junta that currently controls Myanmar.

Five-Point Consensus remains important

Vivian, who was attending the annual Asean foreign ministers' meeting, was responding to a question from Mothership about whether Don Pramudwinai's meeting with Suu Kyi changes anything about Asean's position or approach to Myanmar.

He said the meeting, which Don took on his own and not on the behalf on Asean, indicates a few "sub-conclusions":

"Number one, the Five-Point Consensus remains salient, remains reaffirmed by Asean, and is a consideration when the military authorities in Myanmar are trying to decide how to handle this. I think it is one of the factors in their calculus.

Number two, Daw Aung San Suu Kyi still remains the key pivot for any solution. You cannot have any solution without her participation."

He also expressed relief that Don said Suu Kyi appeared to be in good health, with the caveat that Don is not a professional doctor. However, Vivian added that this one visit and one interaction is not sufficient.

No progress without Aung San Suu Kyi's involvement

Vivian cited the 5PC, which calls for the Asean Special Envoy to be allowed to visit Myanmar and meet with all stakeholders, including Suu Kyi.

He repeated another point previously made by Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, which is that both Suu Kyi and Myanmar President Win Myint have to be released from detention.

"Because if you are going to have real heart-to-heart negotiations between Daw Aung San Suu Kyi and the military authorities, it cannot be conducted while she is detained in a prison facility," Vivian said.

He also made the points that while there is a "diversity of concerns" within Asean about Myanmar, Asean was united in reaffirming the importance of the 5PC.

Asean centrality

Vivian made a number of other points during his doorstop interview with the media, including on Asean's relevance and convening ability.

Representatives from significant nations and regions like the U.S., China, the Europeans and Saudi Arabia were also in Jakarta for the meeting.

"Asean’s ability to convene, bring people around the table remains as salient as ever before," he said.

Vivian also added that in all of Asean's engagements, both internally and with external partners, it emphasises that it is not choosing sides or forming blocs. Instead, Asean looks for open and inclusive "strategic architecture."

"We want everyone to have a stake in peace, stability (and) development in Asean. We want more investments, we want more trade, we want more interoperability. That kind of open, inclusive architecture is one which we believe will create a more peaceful, more stable, and a safer world. "

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Top image from Vivian Balakrishnan's Facebook page.