‘Cambodian PM’s rogue diplomacy a threat to ASEAN, Myanmar’
Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen's official visit to Myanmar, his meeting with the self-declared State Administration Council leader Min Aung Hlaing, and their joint press statement, are a "brazen and dangerous" attempt to seize the initiative away from the Association of Southeast Asian Nations' (ASEAN's) collective approach to the crisis in Myanmar, says a rights body today.
"It is a brazen attempt by these two coup leaders to hijack ASEAN for their own authoritarian purposes, undermining the Myanmar peoples' fight for democracy and human rights," said Charles Santiago, Chair of ASEAN Parliamentarians for Human Rights (APHR) and a Malaysian Member of Parliament (MP).
Santiago said the joint statement released by the Cambodian Prime Minister with the leader of the illegal junta, Senior General Min Aung Hlaing, is a misguided and dangerous attempt to deceptively portray a breakthrough, when in fact his unilateral actions have dramatically weakened ASEAN's collective leverage to solve the Myanmar crisis.
ASEAN Parliamentarians for Human Rights and Progressive Voice called on the other eight members of ASEAN to jointly demand that Cambodia, as ASEAN Chair, adheres to the five-point consensus and works within the collective framework that has been maintained since its founding 55 years ago.
If no urgent actions are taken, they said, the other members risk colluding with Hun Sen in furthering the destruction of the unity, integrity, and credibility of ASEAN, while the junta continues its terror campaign against the people of Myanmar.
"We call on ASEAN leaders to reiterate their commitment to support the Myanmar people's aspirations to achieve peace, freedom, democracy, and respect for human rights in their country," APHR said.
It is clear that Myanmar's military has displayed a flagrant lack of respect for ASEAN, and in fact since its coup attempt on February 1, 2021, it appears to have used the bloc to try to gain legitimacy while at the same time intensifying brutal reprisals against the people of Myanmar, APHR said.
PM Hun Sen has chosen to be complicit in their strategy by recklessly attempting to legitimise the junta against the collective will of ASEAN leadership, it said.
"Hun Sen should know better, having lived through the Khmer Rouge genocide, than to act as an accomplice to the Myanmar junta that is accused of genocide, crimes against humanity, and war crimes. Hun Sen and the junta's attempt to deceive the world that they are making progress to resolve the situation is blatantly dishonest, and Myanmar people are not fooled by it," said Khin Omar, founder of Progressive Voice.
Omar also said the last thing they need is another dictator supporting Min Aung Hlaing's campaign of terror.
"Has Hun Sen forgotten the millions of Cambodian people who suffered through their own genocide? Hun Sen's hijacking of ASEAN through its Chairmanship should not facilitate continuation of the junta's own killing fields against the people of Myanmar. This is unacceptable and ASEAN leaders have the responsibility to stop this."
The other eight members of ASEAN must jointly demand that Cambodia adheres to the five-point consensus and works within the collective framework of ASEAN to tackle the multiple urgent crises in Myanmar, APHR said.