ASEAN leaders discussed Myanmar as ‘family problem’ — Locsin

Published April 24, 2021, 10:32 PM

by Raymund Antonio

The top leaders of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) spoke about the issues in Myanmar as a “family problem,” Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr. said on Saturday, April 24.

Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr. (PCOO / FILE PHOTO / MANILA BULLETIN)

The Foreign Affairs chief was in Jakarta over the weekend to attend the ASEAN special summit on Myanmar on behalf of President Duterte, who was not able to attend the summit personally because of security issues.

“Then one after another the leaders spoke with equal candor of the ASEAN family’s concern. It felt like a close family meeting about a family problem,” Locsin said in a Twitter post.

The floor was opened about ASEAN’s concern about Myanmar after Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen spoke of “his personal experience in the struggle for power in post-Pol Pot Cambodia.”

Locsin was referring to Cambodia’s dark times under Marxist leader Pol Pot who led the Khmer Rouge, the country’s most brutal regime that killed more than two million people in the Southeast Asian country.

“He (Hun Sen) put his notes aside and spoke from his life. Stunning,” the DFA chief said.

Locsin spoke of being privileged to have witnessed it.

“I spoke for President Duterte and I hope I did him proud. These are his personal friends,” he added.

The summit was held for the 10-member organization to come up with a common stand about the crisis in Myanmar, which started in early February after the military overthrew the country’s leader, Aung San Suu Kyi.

It triggered a popular revolt followed by a violent crackdown on protests and civilians that left 738 killed by junta security forces. On Tuesday, local media said some six villagers were killed in a crackdown on dissenters.

Duterte was not the only head of state who did not attend the summit, although most member-states sent representatives, mostly their foreign ministers, to keep in line with the ASEAN’s principles of consensus and non-interference that restrict the member-states from meddling in the domestic affairs of other members.

The Philippines also did not join the earlier United Nations Human Rights Council resolution that called for the release of the country’s civilian leader, Suu Kyi. The country maintained that the crisis in Myanmar should be resolved domestically.

The summit came after the European Union (EU) imposed stiff sanctions on the militarily-controlled Myanmar, also known as Burma.

Aside from Myanmar and the Philippines, ASEAN is composed of Thailand, Indonesia, Singapore, Malaysia, Cambodia, Brunei Darussalam, Laos, and Vietnam.