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ASEAN chair calls for stay of Myanmar ‘executions’

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Prime Minister Hun Sen meets with Senior General Min Aung Hlaing in Myanmar on January 7. SPM

ASEAN chair calls for stay of Myanmar ‘executions’

Prime Minister Hun Sen, in his capacity as ASEAN chair, called on Senior General Min Aung Hlaing – head of Myanmar’s ruling State Administration Council (SAC) – to reconsider plans to execute members of opposition groups as he expressed a desire to help the country achieve peace and national reconciliation.

In his June 10 letter, Hun Sen said that the death sentences and reported planned execution of a number of anti-SAC individuals have created great concern among the ASEAN member states, as well as the bloc’s external partners.

The premier said Cambodia strongly believed that the planned capital punishments, if indeed carried out, will trigger very strong and widespread negative reactions from the international community. This, he said, will have a devastating effect on ASEAN – and Cambodia’s effort as the chair of the bloc – to support Myanmar to return to normalcy and find a peaceful solution to the current crisis through inclusive process of dialogue, in line with the ASEAN’s Five Point Consensus (5PC).

“Therefore, with deep concern and a sincere desire to help Myanmar achieve peace and national reconciliation, I earnestly request that you and the SAC reconsider and refrain from carrying out the death sentences given to these anti-SAC individuals,” the letter said.

“I sincerely hope that Your Excellency will favourably consider my appeal in this regard. I would like to take this opportunity to once again express the commitment of Cambodia to assisting Myanmar with a return to normalcy and full participation in the ASEAN community building process,” it added.

Hun Sen noted that he was pleased that Min Aung Hlaing had maintained close communications and exchanged views on issues deemed important to Myanmar and Cambodia, as well as ASEAN.

“Our dialogue allows us to reach common understanding on various issues that have great bearing on the peace, stability, security and socio-economic development of our countries and of ASEAN as a whole,” he said.

“I have no doubt you are very well aware that today our region is at the centre of major powers’ geopolitical strategies, while the competition and rivalries among them are escalating,” he added.

The prime minister added that in light of this development, a lot of attention was now focused on ASEAN development and its credibility and effectiveness as a people-centred regional family. The development in Myanmar was under the spotlight and much observed by many around the globe.

Kin Phea, director of the Royal Academy of Cambodia’s International Relations Institute, said Hun Sen’s request was sensible. If the Myanmar leadership continued to adopt their hard-line attitude – especially with regards to carrying out the death penalty and charging opposition groups – a path to reconciliation and a solution to its political crisis would not be possible.

Myanmar, he said, could easily plunge into a civil war which might not be recoverable, leaving the nation isolated from the ASEAN community and the international community as a whole.

“The only way I see for Myanmar to achieve peace is for it to follow Cambodia’s lead. The win-win policy of national unification of Prime Minister Hun Sen should serve as a model. It is clear that Cambodia, as the chair of ASEAN, has the goodwill needed to help Myanmar reunite itself. It is up to Myanmar’s military leaders to find the will and the honesty to implement the 5PC. So far we have still seen little progress,” he told The Post on June 12.

Kung Phoak, secretary of state at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, led a Cambodian delegation for a five-day visit to Myanmar from June 7-11.

During the visit, Phoak had fruitful discussions with high-level members of the SAC, according to the ministry.

“The discussions focused on engendering further progress of the 5PC and following up on the frameworks reached at the Consultative Meeting on ASEAN Humanitarian Assistance to Myanmar on May 6,” it said in a June 11 social media post.

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