SINGAPORE: Myanmar’s de facto leader Aung San Suu Kyi continued to be under the spotlight over the mistreatment of the Rohingya Muslims as Asean leaders met their counterparts in a series of meetings held here.
Malaysian Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad said most of them wanted Suu Kyi to do something to allow for the safe return of the Rohingya and that US vice-president Mike Pence also made a strong statement on the issue.
“Most leaders felt bad about it and most are not quite satisfied with the explanation given by her.
“We have to understand the distribution of power in Myanmar. Suu Kyi is not the head of government. We hope she will be able to influence her government on the opinions expressed during the summit because almost everyone raised this matter,” Dr Mahathir told the media on the last day of the 33rd Asean Summit.
Asked whether he would continue to criticise Myanmar on the issue, the Prime Minister said Suu Kyi was aware of his views.
On Malaysia’s stand on the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership trade deal which is still being negotiated after five years, Dr Mahathir said the government would continue to examine it.
“This is still not completed. We will continue to examine it.”
During an earlier session with the media when asked on reports that Malaysia will not sign the FTA, Dr Mahathir said Malaysia could not just accept something that may sound reasonable for other countries but not to Malaysia. Dr Mahathir also said during a meeting between Asean leaders and three dialogue partners – China, Japan and South Korea, that he revived his proposal for an East Asian currency.
“It is an old idea of mine; a currency only for trading, not for domestic use. This is something that would enable even poorer countries to handle problems of not having a foreign exchange.”
When asked about International Monetary Fund executive director Christine Lagarde’s proposal that central governments use bitcoins, he replied it was only her suggestion.
“More interesting is cashless society in India and I had a long discussion with (Prime Minister Narendra) Modi. They hardly used any money, they produced small phones that are cheap and can be used to pay taxes, do purchases.
“Money is not used and when money is not used, corruption is less possible.”
On the disputed South China Sea maritime claims, Dr Mahathir reiterated that the area should be free of warships so as to avoid any conflicts.