Malaysia said on Sunday that it had distanced itself from the Asean chairman’s recent statement on the Rohingya crisis in Myanmar, which was issued at the UN General Assembly in New York on Saturday.
In a surprise statement, Malaysia, one of Asean’s 10 member states, said it considered that the chairman’s comments misrepresented what had really happened in Myanmar’s Rakhine state.
“In this regard, Malaysia has made known its concerns, but they were not reflected in the chairman’s statement,” said Minister of Foreign Affairs Anifah Aman.
“Hence, the chairman’s statement was not based on consensus. The statement also omits the Rohingya as one of the affected communities.”
The Philippines is this year’s chairman of the 10member Asean group whose chairmanship rotates annually.
In the statement issued on September 24, Anifah said Kuala Lumpur condemned the attacks against Myanmar security forces launched by the Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army on August 25.
However, the subsequent “clearance operations” by Myanmar authorities were disproportionate, the Malaysian statement continued, in that it had led to the deaths of many innocent civilians and displaced more than 400,000 Rohingya.
“We express grave concerns over such atrocities which have unleashed a fullscale humanitarian crisis that the world simply cannot ignore but must be compelled to act upon,” the minister continued.
Malaysia then strongly urged the Myanmar government to end the violence, stop the destruction to lives and property, allow immediate unimpeded access for the delivery of humanitarian aid to Rohingya and all affected communities, and resolve the Rohingya refugee problem.
He also urged that viable, long-term solutions to the root causes of the conflict be found in order for Rohingya and affected communities to be able to rebuild their lives.
“We also urge Myanmar to fulfil its commitment to immediately implement the recommendations of the final report of the [UN] Advisory Commission of the Rakhine state,” he said.
Malaysia dispatched humanitarian aid to Bangladesh on September 9 and has pledged to continue to offer support.
Asean is comprised of Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Brunei, Cambodia, Laos, Indonesia, Singapore, Vietnam and Thailand.