Malaysia’s strong stand against the atrocities committed in Rakhine state and the resulting humanitarian crisis appears to have borne fruit as Myanmar has finally agreed to a number of important concessions.
“Aung San Suu Kyi (Myanmar leader) said that she was working on an MoU with Bangladesh for the repatriation of Rohingya refugees back to Rakhine,” said Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak.
“And this is due to happen soon.”
Najib said he once again raised the Rohingya issue at the plenary session of the 31st ASEAN Summit.
“I stressed that this humanitarian crisis had become an international embarrassment to ASEAN and should be resolved as soon as possible.
“ASEAN cannot keep quiet while the rest of the world watches … we have to act,” he said.
He added that urgent and extensive humanitarian aid should be allowed to reach the refugees.
“I also warned Myanmar that if left unchecked, the Rohingya could turn to violent extremism and be influenced and recruited by groups like the Islamic State (IS).”
Najib said that unlike the last ASEAN Summit in April, this time, Suu Kyi took Malaysia’s suggestions positively.
“She also agreed to co-operate and allow humanitarian aid into Rakhine,” Najib said.
“She said that she was committed to achieving a long-term solution that would be based on trust and harmony, but that this could not happen overnight,” he said, adding that Myanmar also accepted former UN secretary-general Kofi Annan’s recommendations on Rakhine state.
On the South China Sea issue, Najib said China appeared to be softening its stance.
“At the ASEAN-China Summit, Chinese premier Li Keqiang said that the South China Sea must be the ‘anchor of peace and stability’ in the region. We have agreed to start negotiations with China on a Code of Conduct that will govern how the area’s disputes are handled.”
He said China agreed to co-operate on maintaining peace, stability, freedom of navigation and over-flight above the South China Sea in accordance with international law, including the 1982 UN Convention on the Law of the Sea.
Najib also revealed that Malaysia would hold an ASEAN seminar on sexual offences against children in July 2018. “This is an issue that Malaysia feels strongly about and it cuts across all ASEAN nations,” he said.
As well as the main ASEAN Summit, Najib attended nine meetings in all yesterday, and this is set to continue with a full day today, which will end with the closing ceremony of the 31st ASEAN Summit at 8pm.
Meanwhile, Bernama reported that US President Donald Trump praised Najib for what he said was an excellent job in carrying out Malaysia’s role as country coordinator for ASEAN-US dialogue relations.
In his brief remarks at the ASEAN-US 40th Anniversary Commemorative Summit in Manila, Trump said: “I appreciate it very much.”
Malaysian Foreign Minister Datuk Seri Anifah Aman told Malaysian media on Saturday that Najib, as country coordinator for dialogue relations for the period 2015-2018, would present a report on the significant progress made throughout the past 40 years and the future direction.