Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Indonesia criticises Asean for laxity on human rights

Indonesia criticises Asean for laxity on human rights

Indonesia criticises Asean for laxity on human rights

by Agnes Anya

JAKARTA (The Jakarta Post/ANN) - Indonesia is urging Asean’s newly appointed Secretary-General Lim Jock Hoi to be more assertive in promoting human rights in the region.

Indonesia’s lead diplomat on Asean affairs, Jose Tavares, criticised Asean’s record, saying the region has made little progress on social issues since adopting its Declaration of Human Rights in November 2012.

“Asean is supposed to be more agile and responsive in addressing social issues. The leadership is not only in the hands of Indonesia, but in all countries in the region. It must be a collective leadership,” Jose said after a seminar on Asean’s 2018 Outlook in Kemang, South Jakarta, on Thursday.

During the seminar, which was held by the Habibie Center think tank, Jose emphasised that the Asean Secretariat had become “quite bureaucratic,” making it difficult for Asean to move forward, especially in addressing human rights issues.

This situation delayed responses to various human rights violations in the area, like in Rakhine state in Myanmar and Marawi in the Philippines, as the secretariat failed to urge countries to take fast diplomatic measures.

“As we could see in the Rakhine and Marawi issues, who made the first move? It was Indonesia,” he said. “Many say Indonesia must lead, but it does not have to be that way. If another country comes up with a better idea, we must support it.”

Last year, Foreign Minister Retno LP Marsudi was the first foreign minister of any country to enter Myanmar and speak directly with the relevant authorities on the Rakhine crisis. The discussion had opened up access for Asean to distribute humanitarian aid to victims of violence and displacement in the troubled state. In the same year, Indonesia pushed for a meeting on counterterrorism between Indonesia, Malaysia and the Philippines to deal with terrorism in Marawi City.

“Indonesia is known to be very noisy on human rights by some member states,” said Dinna Wisnu, Indonesia’s representative to the Asean Intergovernmental Commission on Human Rights (AICHR), echoing Jose.

Jose called on Lim, a seasoned diplomat from Brunei Darussalam, to be more flexible in running the secretariat and in executing Asean’s priority programs this year.

Singapore, which holds the Asean chairmanship this year, has set five key priorities under the theme “resilience and innovation.” They are to develop a digital economy, to further facilitate trade, to enhance the integration of services and ease investment, to foster energy security and to strengthen ties between Asean and its external partners.

Jose acknowledged that the chair’s priority tends to be economic development. However, Indonesia would push Asean and the secretary-general to also pay attention to other sectors, particularly human rights.

“The secretary-general’s priorities must not be inflexible because he represents Asean. So, each issue suggested by the members must be taken into consideration,” he said.

MOST VIEWED

  • Ministry issues warning over coronavirus outbreak

    The Ministry of Health on Wednesday asked the public to be on “high alert” as a new virus wreaks havoc across Asia. However, no cases have been reported in the Kingdom thus far. The 2019 Novel Coronavirus (2019-nCoV) has raised the alarm for its similarity to

  • PM urges precaution amid virus outbreak

    Prime Minister Hun Sen on Sunday called on all Cambodians to bump up precautions to avoid contracting the 2019 Novel Coronavirus (2019-nCoV) that has already killed more than 50 people in China. The prime minister told the public to remain calm but alert about the possibility of

  • Gov’t slams NGO over 2019 corruption report

    The government on Thursday slammed a report that described the Kingdom as highly corrupt. Government spokesperson Phay Siphan dismissed the latest Transparency International (TI) report as “just an advertisement of NGOs to promote their own interests”. Released on Thursday, the report puts Cambodia near the

  • No power shortages next dry season, says energy minister

    Minister of Mines and Energy Suy Sem has assured the public that Cambodia will not suffer power shortages during the next dry season. Speaking on local TV on Tuesday, Sem projected a rise in power demand during 2020’s dry season – which starts in November and

  • App to connect farmers to millions

    The Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries has soft-launched a mobile app that connects farmers with potential buyers and gives them access to critical market information. The ministry’s Agriculture Marketing Office chief Meach Yady said the ‘CamAgriMarket’ app gives farmers a platform to showcase

  • Gov’t ups security to block virus

    With the new coronavirus claiming its 17th life in China, the Cambodian Ministry of Health on Thursday said it is taking measures to ensure the disease does not enter the Kingdom, including inspecting all flights from Wuhan City, the outbreak’s epicentre. Ministry secretary of