Malaysia calls for dialogue, release of Aung San Suu Kyi and others by Myanmar military

PUTRAJAYA: Malaysia has called for the release of detained political leaders including Aung San Suu Kyi, President U Win Myint and their associates by the Myanmar military and for dialogue to take place between the parties involved.

The matter was raised at the Asean Informal Ministers Meeting by Foreign Minister Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Hussein (pic), who also called on all parties to continue exercising restraint especially regarding the use of violence against unarmed civilians.

“We are deeply concerned over the loss of innocent lives and injuries during the ongoing situation in Myanmar.

"It is our sincere hope that Myanmar will provide the necessary space for peaceful assemblies as well as freedom of speech and expression to be exercised by its citizens, ” he said at the meeting on Tuesday (March 2).

Hishammuddin said Malaysia was among the first to recognise Myanmar’s potential to be part of Asean and pointed out that the country's stability is integral to Asean’s regional integration and economic success.

“If the situation in Myanmar worsens, Asean will need to consider that this recurring situation in the country is a setback towards regional peace, stability and prosperity.

"Myanmar needs to also continue cooperating with Asean member states to avoid being a fault line that could lead to possible instability in this region.

“Hence, we urge Myanmar to consider returning to the negotiating table and remedy the political crisis to avoid further escalation of tensions, which may invite intrusive foreign interventions in the Asean region, ” he said.

A state of emergency for one year was declared in Myanmar on Feb 1 after Suu Kyi and other senior figures from the ruling National League for Democracy party were detained in an early morning raid.

The move came after days of escalating tension between the civilian government and the powerful military that stirred fears of a coup in the aftermath of an election which the army said was fraudulent.

At the meeting on Tuesday, Malaysia also presented proposals on the way forward for Myanmar, including for the member state to consider allowing the Asean Chair and secretary-general to visit the country.

“Asean may, at Myanmar’s invitation, provide democratic support through the establishment of a group of eminent persons or experts in electoral matters, to help bridge the discrepancies found in the last general election.

“Malaysia is agreeable for Asean to continue engaging with its international partners collectively, or through the establishment of an Asean Troika, on the situation in Myanmar. All recommendations made through these engagements will be shared with Myanmar for its practical implementation in its national context, ” he said.

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