PETALING JAYA: Klang MP Charles Santiago today praised Foreign Minister Anifah Aman for disassociating Malaysia from the statement issued on the situation in Myanmar’s Rakhine state by Asean chairman Alan Peter Cayetano.
Calling Anifah’s stance “bold” and “commendable”, Santiago said the minister was “clearly breaking ranks with Asean’s pride of working on consensus”.
“While Cayetano condemns the attacks against the Myanmar security forces and all acts of violence that resulted in civilian loss of lives, Anifah observed that he failed to mention that the Rohingya were one of the affected minorities.
“We can certainly take pride in the continuous efforts by the Malaysian government to highlight the massacre of the Rohingya people through targeted persecution by the Myanmar military,” he said in a statement.
Cayetano’s statement, issued yesterday on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly in New York, had expressed the collective concern of Asean’s foreign ministers over the recent developments in Rakhine state.
The statement condemned the attacks against Myanmar’s security forces on Aug 25, as well as all acts of violence which resulted in the loss of civilian lives, destruction of homes and displacement of large numbers of people.
However, Anifah said Cayetano’s statement was a “misrepresentation of the reality of the situation”.
Pointing out that it had omitted the Rohingya as one of the affected minorities, he said Malaysia had made known its concerns which, however, were not reflected in the statement.
He also urged the government of Myanmar to end the violence and allow immediate access for the delivery of humanitarian aid to the Rohingya, along with all affected communities, and to resolve the Rohingya refugee problem.
Santiago said some 500,000 Rohingya had fled Myanmar over the last few weeks, while thousands had been killed and tens of thousands displaced.
“Asean cannot continue pussyfooting about the targeted violence against the Rohingya.
“Vague statements that reflect total disregard to the large humanitarian disaster cannot be dismissed by member states.
“Asean countries, including the Philippines, cannot keep pandering to the Myanmar generals or fear incurring their wrath,” he said.
Adding that Asean could not continue being a “mere talk shop” in the face of such adversity, Santiago said member countries that opted for diplomacy were equally guilty of the crimes against humanity unleashed against the Rohingya community.