PUTRAJAYA: An unofficial meeting involving all foreign ministers of the Asean member countries will be held on Wednesday to ensure the Five-Point Consensus (5PC) aimed at addressing the instability in Myanmar can be implemented properly, says Datuk Seri Saifuddin Abdullah.
The Foreign Minister said the unofficial meeting was called after the tepid progress of the 5PC in the past year following the Myanmar government’s uncooperative conduct.
Citing an example, he said Myanmar had yet to recognise the United Nations secretary-general’s special envoy on Myanmar Dr Noeleen Heyzer, who was appointed in December.
“We are concerned that this would hinder the implementation of the 5PC,” he said in an interview here yesterday.
The 5PC was adopted by Asean leaders, including the Myanmar junta leader, in an attempt to bring an end to the violence and instability in the country since its army ousted the elected government of Aung San Suu Kyi in February 2021.
One of the focuses of the 5PC is on constructive dialogue among all parties concerned and the appointment of a special envoy of the Asean Chair to facilitate mediation of the dialogue process.
Saifuddin also noted that Dr Heyzer was not invited to the Consultative Meeting on Asean Humanitarian Assistance to Myanmar on May 6 in Phnom Penh, which was attended by the Asean secretary-general and all Asean countries’ representatives.
“Dr Noeleen, as UN secretary-general’s special envoy, was not invited to the meeting because she wasn’t recognised by the military junta government yet.
“This is one example where Myanmar is not cooperating with the implementation of 5PC, which has been mooted a year now with no positive progress.
“So on May 11, before the Asean-US Special Summit at Washington DC, there will be an unofficial meeting involving all Asean foreign ministers.
“We will put forward several views on how we can ensure the 5PC is implemented properly,” he said.
Another focus of the 5PC is to stop all clashes in Myanmar as records show heightened incidents of armed clashes and attacks on civilians.
He said that between Feb 1 last year and April 15 this year, 10,786 incidents were reported, where 2,146 people died and 13,282 were arrested.
“Among those who were killed and arrested were elected MPs in the last general election, journalists, humanitarian workers, civil society members and university students.
“What happened in Myanmar was worse and (higher in numbers) compared with Syria, Yemen, Afghanistan and Iraq,” he said.
Syria recorded 9,919 incidents of armed clashes and attacks on civilians, Yemen (8,246), Afghanistan (7,294) and Iraq (4,606).
Saifuddin said he would reiterate his call for the special envoy of the Asean Chair to unofficially engage with the National Unity Government (NUG) and National Unity Consultative Council (NUCC).
“It’s okay for us to show impartiality but we should engage because according to the 5PC, we need to engage with all stakeholders,” he said, adding that showing Malaysia’s moral support by engaging does not mean the country is taking sides.
“We have no business in choosing sides. We have to take into consideration that the NUG was a government that was formed through an election, and the NUCC is the grouping of all kinds of organisations, parliamentarians, civil society organisations, ethnic groups and regional groups.
“You need to give them that recognition. Engage them, no problem. That is the beauty of the 5PC, which is to engage with all stakeholders,” he said, adding that it is exactly what Malaysia is doing.
Asked if such calls for engagements would further push the junta into isolation and away from the 5PC, Saifuddin said the junta has been uncooperative since its power grab.
“They have been isolating themselves and they don’t seem to be very cooperative in the past year.
“We didn’t say this last year. This is something we (are saying) after a year of almost no progress of the 5PC despite both special envoys trying their level best and working overtime to get some, if not all, of it to work,” he said, referring to Dr Heyzer and Asean special envoy on Myanmar Prak Sokhonn, who is also Cambodian Foreign Minister.