Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - SAC leader promises a meet with Suu Kyi: FM

SAC leader promises a meet with Suu Kyi: FM

Content image - Phnom Penh Post
Foreign minister Prak Sokhonn attends a July 21 videoconference ‘Special Discussion: An Update on ASEAN’s Efforts in Myanmar’. MFAIC

SAC leader promises a meet with Suu Kyi: FM

Senior General Min Aung Hlaing, chairman of Myanmar’s ruling State Administration Council (SAC), promised Cambodian foreign minister and ASEAN special envoy Prak Sokhonn that there is a strong possibility that he will have the opportunity to meet former civilian leader Aung San Suu Kyi in the future, the minister said.

According to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, Sokhonn paid his second visit to Myanmar from June 29 to July 3, when he met the military leader to follow up on progress on the ASEAN Five-Point Consensus (5PC), which was adopted last year to seek a resolution to the ongoing crisis in the predominantly Buddhist country.

Sokhonn asked to meet with Suu Kyi, as in his view she is one of the most important political actors in Myanmar and her inclusion would advance inclusive dialogue.

Despite consistent requests, Sokhonn was unable to meet with her.

“There are some legal procedures that we must respect, but I received a promise from [Min Aung Hlaing] himself that I will likely meet with [Suu Kyi] in the future,” Sokhonn said.

The special envoy made the statement at a July 21 videoconference event “Special Discussion: An Update on ASEAN’s Efforts in Myanmar”. The event was hosted by the ASEAN Studies Centre at the ISEAS – Yusof Ishak Institute.

Sokhonn said one part of his mandate is that he must meet with all parties concerned to enable the start of political dialogue. Since his first visit to Myanmar, he has searched for ways and means to advance that goal.

He recalled that his first visit in March gave him a better understanding of the situation on the ground and a chance to address many operational challenges with regards to the delivery of humanitarian assistance.

He said his second mission enabled him to take appropriate steps to advance progress in three priority areas of the implementation of the 5PC, among them cessation of violence, delivery of humanitarian assistance to people in need, and the creation of a conducive environment for inclusive dialogue with political trust among all parties concerned.

In terms of humanitarian assistance, Sokhonn said more common ground was found to push forward its delivery.

“This is an area where I see possible progress, because humanitarian assistance work is by nature not a political issue and has little or no political implications,” he said.

On the cessation of violence, Sokhonn reiterated calls from Prime Minister Hun Sen to the SAC to exercise the utmost restraint and to avoid disproportionate responses. He also urged the Ethnic Armed Organisations (EAO) and other parties to adhere to principles of non-violence.

Sokhonn said that based on discussions with Senior General Min Aung Hlaing, other armed groups must take their share of responsibility for the violence. However, all of the parties he met with assured him that they were against violence in any form and called for an end to the killing of civilians.

On his latest visit, Sokhonn met with seven EAOs, and seven parties that won seats in the 2020 election.

“They called on me to seek a political solution,” he said.

Sokhonn admitted that this would be an overexpectation, as he is a mediator and not a direct participant.

“What we can do is help put the brakes on the violence and urge all stakeholders to not push the country into a full-blown civil war that may trigger region-wide instability,” he added.

He urged the SAC to explore ways to work with UN secretary-general special envoy on Myanmar Noeleen Heyzer to enhance synergy between ASEAN and the UN, as was agreed by the ASEAN foreign ministers last February.

Choi Shing Kwok, director and chief executive officer of the ISEAS – Yusof Ishak Institute, said that as ASEAN chair, Cambodia has been in the hot seat, receiving both solicited and unsolicited advice as well as critique from many quarters as it plays a critical role in engaging with all stakeholders in Myanmar and tries to achieve consensus on an ASEAN response to the humanitarian crisis that “we all know is happening now in Myanmar”.


  • Angkor lifetime pass, special Siem Reap travel offers planned

    The Ministry of Tourism plans to introduce a convenient, single lifetime pass for foreign travellers to visit Angkor Archaeological Park and potentially other areas. The move is designed to stimulate tourism to the culturally rich province of Siem Reap as the start of the “Visit

  • Ice cream, noodles flagged over carcinogen

    The General Department of Customs and Excise of Cambodia (GDCE) has identified three types of instant noodles and ice cream trademarks originating from Thailand, Vietnam and France that are suspected to contain ethylene oxide, which poses a cancer risk to consumers. The general department has

  • Exclusive interview with Josep Borrell Fontelles, High Representative of the EU

    CAMBODIA is hosting the 55th ASEAN Foreign Ministers’ Meeting (AMM) and Related Meetings this week with top officials from the US, China, and Russia and other countries in the region slated to attend and to meet with face-to-face with their counterparts on the sidelines. In

  • Rise in Thai air routes to Siem Reap fuels travel hopes

    Local tourism industry players are eager for regional airline Bangkok Airways Pcl’s resumption of direct flight services between the Thai capital and Siem Reap town on August 1 – home of Cambodia’s awe-inspiring Angkor Archaeological Park – which is expected to boost the growth rate of

  • ASEAN Foreign Ministers’ meet commences, Taiwan issue possibly on table

    The 55th ASEAN Foreign Ministers’ Meeting (AMM) and related meetings hosted by Cambodia kicks off in Phnom Penh on August 3, with progress, challenges, and the way forward for the ASEAN Community-building on the table. Issues on Taiwan, sparked by the visit of US House Speaker

  • Recap of this year’s ASEAN FM meet and look ahead

    This year’s edition of the ASEAN Foreign Ministers’ Meeting (AMM) hosted by Cambodia comes against the backdrop of heightened global tensions and increasing rivalry between major powers that have been compared to the animosity of the Cold War era. The following is The Post’