Interview on Myanmar’s Stand and Cooperation in Implementation of ASEAN Five-Point Consensus by a Representative of ASEAN Affairs Department, Ministry of Foreign Affairs

Q I’d like you to explain about the origin of the ASEAN five-point consensus.

A – Sultan Haji Hassanal Bolkiah of Brunei Darussalam, alternate chair of ASEAN invited the Chairman of the State Administration Council Commander-in-Chief of Defence Services to attend the ASEAN Leaders’ Meeting that would be held at ASEAN Secretariat, Jakarta, Indonesia on 24 April 2023 because the meeting would be the first meeting of ASEAN leaders to meet in person one year after the COVID-19 outbreak. In fact, the meeting was convened under alternative name of informal meeting of ASEAN leaders so as to discuss about Myanmar affairs.

The meeting was held the meeting in three parts: (1) Building ASEAN community, (2) ASEAN and external relations and (3) Exchanging views on the regional and international issues. At the meeting, SAC Chairman Commander-in-Chief of Defence Services the Senior General elaborated Myanmar’s continued assistance in sustainable and resilient efforts for regional rehabilitation, its close cooperation with ASEAN member countries in accord with the ASEAN Charter and the provisions of Treaty of Amity and Cooperation in Southeast Asia (TAC) for the successful realization of the ASEAN objectives, political changes in Myanmar and future work programmes.

During the meeting, other ASEAN leaders made suggestions on the political development of Myanmar. Responding to the suggestions, the Senior General informed the meeting three points of Myanmar’s stance: ‘(a) it will give careful consideration, based on evolving domestic situation of the country, to constructive suggestions made by ASEAN leaders; (b) since priorities at the moment were to maintain law and order, and to restore community peace and tranquillity in Myanmar, the suggestions will seriously be considered based on the interests of the country; (c) and moreover, the suggestions will be positively considered if they would facilitate the implementation of the Five-Point Road Map laid down by the State Administration Council and based on the purposes and principles of the ASEAN Charter and ASEAN Way and ASEAN spirit.’

 In the appendix of Chairman’s Statement on the ASEAN Leaders’ Meeting which was released after the meeting, Five-Points Consensus was attached describing five points: cessation of violence; constructive dialogue among all parties concerned; appointment of a special envoy of the ASEAN Chair; providing humanitarian assistance through the AHA Centre; and visit of special envoy to Myanmar.

The five-point consensus was released as an appendix of Chairman’s Statement following the meeting without prior-consent from the member States and therefore, it is obviously not the consensus of all ASEAN member States at the meeting. However, Myanmar is cooperating in the implementation of the ASEAN give-point consensus with the stance of intent to participate in the constructive cooperation with ASEAN member States.

QWhat is the stance of Myanmar on the ASEAN five-point consensus?

A – the ASEAN Leaders’ Meeting held in Jakarta, Indonesia on 24 April 2023 was not convened as a regular ASEAN Summit but in the format of informal meeting. The ASEAN five-point consensus was not circulated in advance to the ASEAN leaders but released as an appendix of the Chairman’s Statement on the ASEAN Leaders’ Meeting. Therefore, the five-point consensus is not legally binding on Myanmar and Myanmar has assumed that it will cooperate, as much as possible, in the constructive suggestions made by the ASEAN members in family spirit based on the national interests of the country concerned. Regarding Myanmar’s participation in ASEAN leader’s meeting, the stances of Myanmar were clearly announced by issuing a press release on 26 April 2021.

The press release highlighted some points: at the invitation of His Majesty Sultan Haji Hassanal Bolkiah, Sultan and Yang Di-Pertuan of Brunei Darussalam, as the thenASEAN Chair, Senior General Min Aung Hlaing, Chairman of the State Administration Council and Commander-in-Chief of the Defence Services of the Republic of the Union of Myanmar attended the ASEAN Leaders’ Meeting which was held at the ASEAN Secretariat, in Jakarta, Republic of Indonesia, on 24 April 2021; at the Meeting, the Chairman of the State Administration Council reiterated Myanmar’s commitment to work closely with the chair, including all ASEAN Member States, to successfully achieve chair’s deliverables aiming for a resilient and sustainable recovery from COVID-19 and for further progress toward the ASEAN Community building efforts; the Senior General also apprised the Meeting of the recent developments in Myanmar especially on the reason why the Tatmadaw had constitutionally assumed the State’s responsibilities on 1 February 2021, evolutions of protests, and the structure, future programmes and activities of the State Administration Council comprehensively; regarding the views exchanged and some suggestions made  by ASEAN Leaders on the current situation of Myanmar, the Senior General said Myanmar will give careful consideration to constructive suggestions made by ASEAN Leaders when the situation returns to stability in the country since priorities at the moment were to maintain law and order and to restore community peace and tranquillity and the suggestions would be positively considered if they would facilitate the implementation of the Five-Point Road Map laid down by the State Administration Council, and based on the purposes and principles enshrined in the ASEAN Charter, ASEAN Way and ASEAN Spirit; and Myanmar also stated that ASEAN Leaders thoroughly review the information booklet circulated at the Meeting before comments are made relating to the current political situation in Myanmar. The press released was officially described in State-run newspapers.

Like I mentioned above, Myanmar is not cooperating not only in the implementation of ASEAN five-point consensus but also in the processes of building the ASEAN Community consisting of three pillars. Therefore, the accusations, such as ‘ASEAN is no more in unity due to Myanmar issue’ and ‘ASEAN processes come to stop due to Myanmar issue’, are totally not true for Myanmar as they are obviously one-sided and groundless ones. Therefore, such accusations will not become productive solutions or approaches but rather lead to misunderstandings.

There are some ASEAN member States not willing to accept the unusual and one-sided decisions that are against the principles of ASEAN Charter such as inviting only the non-political representative from Myanmar to attend the ASEAN Summit and the ASEAN Foreign Ministers’ Meeting. Today, due to the power rivalry in geopolitics of powerful countries, the ASEAN must maintain the tradition of making decisions based on the consents and discussions of all member States.

Moreover, the local and world’s media agencies are one-sidedly describing fake news and disinformation failing to reveal the series of felonies committed by NUG, CRPH and PDF declared as terrorist groups by government such as inhumane and brutal killings of Buddhist monks, innocent civilians, civil servants, and children of students as though the media outlets are encouraging the terrorism and extremism. The ASEAN and international community are required to closely cooperate with Myanmar Government after making practical reviews on the actual situations of Myanmar and moreover, attempts are made to mount more pressures on Myanmar by issuance of 15 points of ASEAN Leaders’ Review and Decision on the Implementation of the Five-Point Consensus during the ASEAN Summit that was held in Phnom Penh, Cambodia in November 2022. Such attempts apparently derail from the ASEAN Spirit and ASEAN Way by ignoring the active participation of the State Administration Council in building the ASEAN Community and cooperation with the ASEAN. Regarding the 15 points described in the statement of ASEAN Leaders’ Review and Decision on Implementation of Five-point Consensus, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs already released a statement on 11 November 2022.

Q:      Could you please clarify Myanmar’s stand on the appointment of the Special Envoy of the ASEAN Chair?   

A:      Myanmar is cooperating in the appointment of the Special Envoy of the ASEAN Chair, the third of the Five-point ASEAN Consensus, and fulfilling the needs as much as possible in the visit of the Special Envoy, that is the fifth point of the consensus, as a gesture of cooperation with ASEAN.

In the appointment of the Special Envoy, it is important that the ASEAN should see Myanmar’s historical traditions as well as the realities of Myanmar’s internal affairs; cooperate in Five-Point Road Map of the State; and raise suggestions based on honesty and understanding.  

The ASEAN proposed a list of candidates to the Myanmar government for the appointment of the first Special Envoy of the ASEAN Chair on Myanmar in 2021, and the list included the former Deputy Minister for Foreign Affairs of Thailand, the former Indonesian foreign minister Hasan Wirayuda and the former Thai vice foreign minister Virasak Futrakul and Razali Ismail from Malaysia. Of them, Myanmar officially informed Brunei, the ASEAN Chair, on 6 July 2021 about the acceptance of the former Thai vice foreign minister Virasak Futrakul as the Special Envoy of the ASEAN Chair. However, Brunei, the ASEAN Chair, changed its proposal and named Brunei's Second Minister of Foreign Affairs Dato Erywan Pehin Yusof for the appointment of the Special Envoy.  As the ASEAN proposed Brunei's Second Minister of Foreign Affairs as the Special Envoy in addition to the previous list of three candidates, the issue on the appointment of the Special Envoy could not pursue. Myanmar’s stand on the appointment of the Special Envoy is that a government official of the ASEAN Chair should not be appointed as the Special Envoy, and the independent person who is free from political influence can only fulfil the Special Envoy’s duties. Accordingly, Myanmar informed the ASEAN Chair that Myanmar could not accept the change of plan by the ASEAN which again proposed Brunei's Second Minister of Foreign Affairs as the Special Envoy.

However, at the 54th ASEAN Foreign Ministers’ Meeting held on 2 August 2021, the previous proposed candidates as the Special Envoy of the ASEAN Chair were withdrawn and Brunei's Second Minister of Foreign Affairs Dato Erywan Pehin Yusof was proposed again to be appointed as the Special Envoy. As a gesture of cooperation with ASEAN on Five-point Consensus, Myanmar accepted the appointment of Brunei's Second Minister of Foreign Affairs Dato Erywan Pehin Yusof as the Special Envoy of the ASEAN Chair in the Foreign Ministers’ Meeting held on     4 August 2021. The Union Minister for Foreign Affairs of Myanmar expressed three points of Myanmar’s stand on the appointment of the Special Envoy at the meeting that the Special Envoy is to hold official talks with the Government of Myanmar closely, and fulfil his duties in accordance with Five-point Consensus; Myanmar will not accept any further proposals in addition to Five-point Consensus. He added that the Special Envoy is to respect independence, sovereignty, equality and territorial integrity of a country; not to interfere in the country’s internal affairs; and have respect for the right to create its own fortune for the country without any external interference, persuasion and coercion. He then urged to record his speech in the minutes of the meeting.

Q:      How Myanmar is implementing the ASEAN Five-Point Consensus?    

A:      With the implementation of Five-Point Road Map for peace and stability in the country, the Government of Myanmar closely cooperated with the previous Special Envoys of the ASEAN Chair in a constructive manner in the implementation of the ASEAN Five-Point Consensus. Myanmar’s Five-Point Road Map had been adopted to restore democratic system in Myanmar since the ASEAN Five-Point Consensus did not come out yet. The Five-Point programmes in the Road Map, including endeavours of the Chairman of the State Administration Council for the restoration of perpetual peace covering all over the country, are being implemented in harmony.

Peacemaking efforts are the Government’s implementation of the first point urged by the ASEAN for an immediate end to violence in the country.

Myanmar also accepted Mr. Prak Sokhonn, Cambodian Deputy Prime Minister, and Minister for Foreign Affairs and for International Cooperation, as the Special Envoy of the ASEAN Chair in 2022 when Cambodia served as the rotating chair of ASEAN. Myanmar carried out necessary cooperation processes in the first visit of Mr. Prak Sokhonn to Myanmar from 21 to 23 March 2022, and in his second visit to Myanmar from 30 June to 2 July 2022. Myanmar arranged the meetings between Mr. Prak Sokhonn and the available groups to be organized among officials, political parties and Ethnic Armed Organizations (EAOs) in his visits. It also made arrangements for the visits of Dr. KUNG Phoak, Head of Office of Special Envoy of ASEAN Chair for two times.

Witnessing Myanmar’s acceptance to Special Envoys, the government’s cooperation processes and its peace efforts in the country, it can be found that the Government of Myanmar is implementing key points of Five-Point Consensus in cooperation with the ASEAN. Another obvious progress in implementing Five-Point Consensus is that the Government of Myanmar has been making full cooperation in providing humanitarian assistance at the regions/states level through ASEAN Coordination Centre for Humanitarian Assistance on Disaster Management AHA Centre.            

The process of providing humanitarian assistance to Myanmar is being operated by two phases through AHA Centre. Myanmar Task Force led by Union Minister for international Cooperation has been set up for successful implementation of AHA Centre’s objectives and smooth policy-related coordination. So far, the first phase, provisions of life-saving assistance, had been accomplished successfully. The second phase, provisions of life-sustaining assistance, is being closely carried out in a cooperative manner. It can be witnessed that the allegations claiming Myanmar achieves no progress on implementation of Five-Point Consensus are totally groundless.   

Q I’d like to know Myanmar’s plans to cooperate with ASEAN in the future.

A – As a good member State of ASEAN, Myanmar is firmly standing in accord with the ASEAN Charter, the provisions of Treaty of Amity and Cooperation in Southeast Asia (TAC) and the ASEAN norms, values, programmes described in the Roadmap of ASEAN Community Vision, and dutifully performing the financial and working tasks that are assigned to every member State.

At present, some ASEAN member States acting beyond the norms and principles of the ASEAN to mount one-sided pressures on Myanmar on the pretext of its political situations. It should be aware that such acts might damage the credibility of the ASEAN on the way to the realization of a rule-based community and harm the ASEAN centrality and unity as well. Therefore, it is the important time to heed the implications of the rivalry of power countries in the region and to maintain the friendships and unity of member States as well as the good practices and traditions of ASEAN by putting asides the individual interests and political desires.

In 55 years since the inception of the ASEAN, members States managed to enhance the political harmony, and economic, social and cultural developments in the region through the effective and friendly cooperation among the member States in the region. Despite the diversities in political system and economic gaps, all member States have to be resilient and tackle the upcoming challenges and difficulties through ASEAN Way, ASEAN Unity and ASEAN Spirit while enjoying the benefits of integrated ASEAN Community. Myanmar will enhance its national interests and continue cooperating in friendly manner with all ASEAN member States and partner countries in order to contribute to the ASEAN’s common goal of “A People-Oriented, People-Centred and Rules-Based ASEAN Community.”

Source: Myawady Daily Newspaper (10-2-2023)

 

  • The five-point consensus was released as an appendix of Chairman’s Statement following the meeting without prior-consent from the member States and therefore, it is obviously not the consensus of all ASEAN member States at the meeting.
  • Myanmar is cooperating in the implementation of the ASEAN give-point consensus with the stance of intent to participate in the constructive cooperation with ASEAN member States.
  • The five-point consensus is not legally binding on Myanmar and Myanmar has assumed that it will cooperate, as much as possible, in the constructive suggestions made by the ASEAN members in family spirit based on the national interests of the country concerned.
  • In the appointment of the Special Envoy, it is important that the ASEAN should see Myanmar’s historical traditions as well as the realities of Myanmar’s internal affairs; cooperate in Five-Point Road Map of the State; and raise suggestions based on honesty and understanding.  
  • The Special Envoy is required to respect independence, sovereignty, equality and territorial integrity of a country; not to interfere in the country’s internal affairs; and have respect for the right to create its own fortune for the country without any external interference, persuasion and coercion.
  • Myanmar’s Five-Point Road Map had already been adopted to restore democratic system in Myanmar since the ASEAN Five-Point Consensus did not come out yet. The Five-Point programmes in the Road Map, including endeavours of the Chairman of the State Administration Council for the restoration of perpetual peace across the country, are being implemented in harmony.
  • Peacemaking efforts are the Government’s implementation of the first point of the Consensus urged by the ASEAN for an immediate end to violence in the country.
  • Witnessing Myanmar’s acceptance to Special Envoys, the government’s cooperation processes and its peace efforts in the country, it can be found that the Government of Myanmar is implementing key points of Five-Point Consensus in cooperation with the ASEAN.
  • The process of providing humanitarian assistance to Myanmar is being operated by two phases through AHA Centre. And the first phase of provisions of life-saving assistance had been accomplished successfully.
  • Myanmar will enhance its national interests and continue cooperating in friendly manner with all ASEAN member States and partner countries in order to contribute to the ASEAN’s common goal of “A People-Oriented, People-Centred and Rules-Based ASEAN Community.”
engdate: 
Monday, February 13, 2023 - 17:30
month: 
February, 2023