KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysia has taken a principled position in its stand to dissociate itself with Asean chairman’s statement on the humanitarian situation in the Rakhine state.

Organisation of Islamic Cooperation’s special envoy to Myanmar, Tan Sri Syed Hamid Albar said it was unusual for Asean chairman to issue such statement that was not based on consensus.

“The statement which was issued, absolved Myanmar from any responsibility which is not right at all.

“There are crystal-clear evidence of attack against the Rohingya and this had also affected other civilian population.

“The statement not only brushed through the atrocities happening there, but also taking position of Myanmar who is a new member of the Asean. This is a worst form of collectivism,” said Syed Hamid when contacted by the New Straits Times.

He lauded Malaysia for taking a strong stance under such difficult position.

The Philippines is the chair of Asean for 2017.

Syed Hamid also called on other Asean countries with Muslim minorities to speak up to ensure actions to be taken against all form of atrocities.

Deputy Foreign Minister Datuk Seri Reezal Merican Naina Merican said the statement by Asean chairman not only failed to mention the Rohingya, but also failed to acknowledge the non-recognition of their ethnic identity.

“It also made no mention of the additional 400,000 refugees that had fled to Bangladesh.”

He said when United Nation’s Secretary-General Antonio Guterres met with Asean Foreign Ministers in New York on Sept 23 for the annual UN-Asean Ministerial Meeting, he called for three immediate actions, which were suspension of military and security operations, unfettered access for humanitarian agencies to affected communities and for those who fled should be able to exercise their right of safe return.

“Therefore, it is regrettable that the Asean chairman’s statement only touched on one of the three issues, despite being issued the same day after Asean Foreign Ministers met with Gutterres,” he said.

Reezal said the statement was an inadequate reflection of the views of all 10 Asean members and that Malaysia’s position on the disassociation was thoroughly and comprehensively considered.

“The statement should be read not on what it had explicitly stated, but instead on what it had deliberately omitted.

“In other words, by issuing this statement, Asean is only highlighting its silence on the plight of the Rohingya,” he said, adding that Malaysia will continue to advocate the issue to international community and are committed on the four main objectives which are ending the violence; stopping the destruction to lives and properties, allowing immediate unimpeded humanitarian access, and resolving the Rohingya refugee issue.

The Permanent Peoples’ Tribunal (PPT) Malaysian Chairman, Dr Chandra Muzaffar doubts that there will be any diplomatic implications following the statement.

“Instead, I hope that this will persuade Asean countries as a whole in approaching crisis like this. We should be committed in addressing the fundamental question of justice and dignity especially when it comes to issues concerning the Rohingyas.

He said Foreign Minister Datuk Seri Anifah Aman’s strong statement was possibly because Asean did not really pinpoint the underlying course of the crisis in Rakhine.

“This reflects the underlying problem within Asean, which seeks to operate under consensus but in this situation we can obviously see that Malaysia disagreed and if Asean stayed true to consensus they would not release a lukewarm statement in the first place ” he said in a phone interview with the New Straits Times.

Source : https://www.nst.com.my/news