Rohingya refugee issue now for Asean to solve, says Malaysia foreign minister

KUALA LUMPUR: Myanmar's Rohingya refugee problem should be resolved within ASEAN, said Foreign Minister Datuk Seri Anifah Aman.

He said that since refugees had fled to Malaysia, Thailand and Indonesia, this issue could no longer be considered as Myanmar's internal issue.

"While we continue to respect the sovereignty of our member states, this issue should be addressed within ASEAN and through engagement.

"We hope Myanmar will look for the best way possible so that the issue will not be internationalised," he told a media conference in the run-up to the 26th ASEAN Summit.

Anifah said ASEAN appreciated the democratisation process that Myanmar had undertaken and was aware that it took time for things to change.

"Myanmar has assured us that they are taking every step possible to solve the problem," he added.

The 10 ASEAN leaders are expected to raise their concerns during their retreat in Langkawi.

Anifah said Myanmar President Thein Sein, who visited Malaysia recently, had assured Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak that the issue of Rohingya refugees would be looked into.

According to records, there are more than 140,000 asylum seekers and refugees from Myanmar living in Malaysia temporarily under United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees.

The ASEAN Parliamentarians for Human Rights grouping had recently said the bloc must abandon its policy of not interfering in each others' affairs which has been used as a reason to not hold discussions on Myanmar refugees.