Anwar Urges ASEAN to Take Bold Action in Carving Out Myanmar Amid Crisis
The ASEAN bloc should carve Myanmar out temporarily, in order to avoid hindrance to the bloc due to the country's ongoing crisis and send a strong message to the regime - PM Anwar Ibrahim
Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim has called for ASEAN to “carve” Myanmar out for the time being to prevent the country’s crisis from hindering the 10-nation bloc.
During his first official visit to Thailand since becoming Prime Minister, Anwar stated that the Myanmar issue should not frustrate the moves of ASEAN, and it would be ideal if the bloc could reach a strong consensus to send a strong message to the Myanmar regime.
Currently, Myanmar is not represented at top-level ASEAN summits because the bloc only invites a non-political representative from Myanmar, which the junta argues amounts to interference in the country’s domestic affairs.
The remaining nine members of ASEAN have different views on Myanmar, with Thailand more openly engaging with the military regime, while Malaysia has spoken out against the junta.
In his keynote speech at an event organized by the Malaysian-Thai Chamber of Commerce, Anwar remains optimistic about the future of ASEAN but stresses that the Myanmar junta must end the “atrocities” committed against its people.
“We don’t want outsiders to interfere. We don’t want the United States and Europe to tell us what to do. But we have to do something. We have to be courageous enough to try and resolve this.”
Malaysia PM Anwar Ibrahim On Resolving The Myanmar Issue
Anwar revealed that he has been talking about the Myanmar issue with Indonesian President Joko Widodo, Thailand's Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha, Singapore’s Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, and Brunei’s Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah, and will soon reach out to Philippine President Ferdinand Marcos Jr.
He stresses the need to go beyond current efforts and resolve the issue, but also emphasizes the need to avoid outside interference. Anwar also urged Thailand to play a bigger role in addressing Myanmar’s crisis and highlighted that Malaysia hosts 200,000 refugees, mostly ethnic Rohingya from Myanmar.
It is unclear what Anwar meant by “carving” Myanmar out of ASEAN. As an opposition politician in March 2021, Anwar co-signed a statement with five other ASEAN counterparts calling for the suspension of Myanmar from the bloc if the junta did not free all political prisoners and reinstate the country’s civilian government.
However, Myanmar’s military junta has so far paid little heed to the resolution roadmap drawn up by ASEAN in 2021. Indonesia, as the rotating chair of ASEAN in 2023, has yet to announce who it will appoint as the ASEAN special envoy on Myanmar tasked with handling the crisis.
Indonesian Foreign Minister Retno Marsudi has stated that ASEAN’s development must not be held hostage by the Myanmar crisis.