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Malaysia PM Anwar says Asean must not be silent, show it can help resolve Myanmar crisis

Malaysia PM Anwar says Asean must not be silent, show it can help resolve Myanmar crisis
Malaysian Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim attends a wreath-laying ceremony at Rizal Park, in Manila, Philippines, on March 2, 2023.
PHOTO: Reuters

MANILA - Malaysian Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim said during a visit to the Philippines that the Association of South East Asian Nations (Asean) must prove it is relevant in helping to resolve the crisis in Myanmar.

In a pre-recorded interview with Philippine news channel ANC aired on Friday (March 3), he said that Asean, which is leading diplomatic efforts to bring peace, needed to be more assertive and noted that his country was shouldering 200,000 displaced people from Myanmar.

Decision-making by consensus continues to be the central tenet of Asean, but that does not mean the grouping should keep silent over developments in member states that affect the wider region, said Datuk Seri Anwar at a separate public lecture on Thursday (March 2).

The Prime Minister said criticisms of Asean were particularly focused on two of its principles: decision-making by consensus and non-interference.

“In all honesty, I believe that non-interference is not a licence for indifference,” he said during an address at the University of the Philippines (UP) in Manila on Thursday, Bernama reported.

The Malaysian leader, who arrived in Manila on Wednesday morning for a two-day official visit, is the first head of government to visit the Philippines since President Ferdinand Marcos Jr took office in June 2022. 


Mr Anwar added it was imperative to stay true to one key ideal of Asean in standing up for the cause of justice and rule of law with regards to the unresolved Myanmar issue.

During his meeting with Mr Marcos Jr at the Malacanang Palace on Wednesday, Mr Anwar said Myanmar was not merely an internal issue, and had adversely affected Malaysia which houses a huge number of its mostly Rohingya refugees, which exceeds 200,000 people.

“I would certainly suggest exploring new areas on how the Myanmar junta can be persuaded to work and collaborate as a team within Asean and resolve the outstanding issue which cannot be considered as purely internal because it is affecting the security and welfare of the region,” he said during a joint press briefing with the Philippine president.

The Malaysian premier was also conferred an honorary doctorate by UP for being a scholar and an internationally acclaimed expert on economics, democracy, freedom, governance, Islam and the need for accountability. 

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