Jokowi Regrets Myanmar’s Rejection of ASEAN Assistance

President Joko Widodo regretted Myanmar’s attitude in refusing ASEAN assistance to get out of the political crisis in the country. The statement was made by Jokowi while attending the virtual 39th ASEAN Summit at the Bogor Presidential Palace, Tuesday (26/10).

Minister of Foreign Affairs Retno LP Marsudi said the President also regretted the denial of access requested by the ASEAN special envoy to meet with all relevant parties ahead of the final moments of holding the summit.

Indonesian Foreign Minister Retno Marsudi met with US Foreign Minister Antony Blinken during a meeting with ASEAN Foreign Ministers on Thursday, September 23, 2021. (Photo: AP)

Indonesian Foreign Minister Retno Marsudi met with US Foreign Minister Antony Blinken during a meeting with ASEAN Foreign Ministers on Thursday, September 23, 2021. (Photo: AP)

“ASEAN’s decision to invite Myanmar’s representatives at the non-political level to the summit is a tough decision, but it must be done. The President reminded us that it is important for us to maintain respect for the principles non interference, but on the other hand we are also obliged to uphold other principles in the ASEAN charter, such as democracy, good governance, respect for human rights, and a constitutional government,” said Retno.

Retno said Jokowi also emphasized that the decision also provided space for ASEAN to continue to carry out the progress as promised to the people of ASEAN. Even so, the President said that ASEAN’s helping hand should still be offered to Myanmar, including humanitarian assistance.

“The people of Myanmar have the right to live in peace and prosperity, and Indonesia consistently hopes that democracy through an inclusive process can be restored soon in Myanmar,” he said.

An activist holds up a portrait of Myanmar's Supreme Commander General Min Aung Hlaing during an action against the military coup in Jakarta, Saturday, April 24, 2021. (Photo: AP)

An activist holds up a portrait of Myanmar’s Supreme Commander General Min Aung Hlaing during an action against the military coup in Jakarta, Saturday, April 24, 2021. (Photo: AP)

As is known, Myanmar did not attend the summit after ASEAN decided not to invite Myanmar’s junta leader General Min Aung Hlaing and other military officials. The decision was taken because the Myanmar military was deemed to have failed to implement the five consensus points reached at the ASEAN leaders’ meeting in Jakarta in April 2021.

“The 38th and 39th ASEAN Summits are led directly by Sultan Hasaanal Bolkiah as the Head of ASEAN. The summit was attended by nine ASEAN leaders and the ASEAN Secretary General. In accordance with the results emergency meeting ASEAN Foreign Ministers, Myanmar have been invited at the non-political level, but until the implementation of the Summit, Myanmar did not present representatives at the non-political level. Screen for Myanmar, it is still prepared, Myanmar is a member of ASEAN,” said Retno.

No offense

Acting spokesperson for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Teuku Faizasyah.  (Photo: Ministry of Foreign Affairs)

Acting spokesperson for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Teuku Faizasyah. (Photo: Ministry of Foreign Affairs)

Spokesman for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Teuku Faizasyah, said that actually the decisions made at the ASEAN Summit were binding on all members present. These countries, he added, have an obligation to follow through on the resulting agreement.

Faizasyah denied not inviting the Myanmar junta leader to the ASEAN Summit this time as a violation of the principle of non-intervention as stated in the ASEAN Charter.

The decision, he said, was taken because of the disappointment of ASEAN countries towards the Myanmar Junta which was deemed not to have fully implemented the five points of consensus regarding Myanmar agreed at the ASEAN Summit in Jakarta last April.

“Indeed, there is disappointment from ASEAN member countries that there is no progressive progress from the five consensus points agreed by the leaders,” said Faizasyah.

The Dialogue Forum Must Keep Open

ASEAN researcher from the Indonesian Institute of Sciences (LIPI) Pandu Prayoga said the move not to invite the Myanmar junta leader to the ASEAN Summit this time was the right move. Moreover, he said, this kind of attitude is also not only in the interests of ASEAN, but as a message to the world that ASEAN does not support or protect the Myanmar junta.

The commander of the Myanmar junta, Senior General Min Aung Hlaing (left) arrives at Soekarno Hatta International Airport in Tangerang, April 24, 2021. (Photo: Reuters)

The commander of the Myanmar junta, Senior General Min Aung Hlaing (left) arrives at Soekarno Hatta International Airport in Tangerang, April 24, 2021. (Photo: Reuters)

“All ASEAN leaders have provided input but why were they rejected? This is actually a signal so that Myanmar can have a dialogue about its domestic problems,” said Pandu

According to him, ASEAN countries must continue to have a dialogue with Myanmar. Myanmar, he added, is highly dependent on China. Therefore, according to Pandu, ASEAN must approach China to persuade the Myanmar junta to accept the ASEAN special envoy as well as implement the five points of consensus.

Pandu emphasized that the non-invitation of the Myanmar junta to the ASEAN Summit does not mean that it violates the principle of non-intervention, considering that ASEAN has asked for permission to help find a solution to Myanmar’s political crisis through dialogue and negotiation.

Pandu said Indonesia and Brunei Darussalam must immediately follow up on the results of the ASEAN Summit this time so that Myanmar is willing to open the door for dialogue. The political crisis in Myanmar occurred after the military carried out a coup against the civilian government led by Aung San Suu Kyi. [gi/ab]

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