Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation Prak Sokhonn, in his capacity as the ASEAN chair’s special envoy on Myanmar, said the ASEAN five-point consensus (5PC) should be made operational and be fully implemented in order to resolve the crisis.
In his 20-page report to the ASEAN Summit held last week in Phnom Penh, which was released in full on November 17 by the foreign ministry, Sokhonn made several recommendations for ASEAN member states to consider.
Sokhonn recommended that ASEAN supplement the 5PC rather than revise it, with the additions consisting of an implementation plan that contains clear objectives, practical activities, appropriate indicators of progress and a specific timeline for achieving these steps.
He also recommended that all parties in Myanmar be held accountable for the implementation of the 5PC, including the “ethnic armed organisations” and the opposition’s National Unity Government of Myanmar, in addition to the Myanmar military’s State Administration Council (SAC).
He said what is lacking now in Myanmar is a dialogue process among the country’s conflicting parties because at the moment all sides are rejecting each other’s preconditions for negotiations.
“ASEAN should play a role to bridge these divides instead of pushing one side to make excessive compromises just to get the buy-in from the other side or to be politically correct in the face of public pressure,” he said.
Sokhonn said that restoring normal and full engagement with Myanmar should be based on the progress of the implementation of the 5PC and no other factors outside of this framework should be considered.
Sokhonn also noted that the 5PC only outlined the role of the ASEAN chair’s special envoy such as visiting Myanmar and meeting all concerned parties, but his actual work had been much more than that and it should be properly acknowledged so as to inform and benefit the next envoy.
In closing, he suggested that the secretary-general of ASEAN be empowered with an appropriate degree of autonomy on this issue for a specified period of time to give them sufficient flexibility to engage with a wider range of stakeholders.