MANILA, Nov 14 — Myanmar has announced its initial commitment and the efforts being taken to resolve the Rohingya crisis in Rakhine State at the 31st Asean Summit here yesterday, according to Datuk Seri Najib Razak.
The prime minister said Myanmar State Counselor Aung San Suu Kyi, who led the country’s delegation to the summit, said this in her response when he raised the issue at the plenary session.
“When I raised the issue of Rohingya in Rakhine State, Aung San Suu Kyi in her response announced that several efforts are being done in Myanmar... this is important because she did not say anything about this at the last Asean Summit in Manila last April,” he told the Malaysian media covering the Summit.
Najib said Myanmar was currently in talks with Bangladesh, which has received more than 600,000 Rohingya refugees since the violence erupted in Rakhine in August, to have a memorandum of understanding (MoU) on the deportation of the refugees from the border of both countries.
“She said the MoU will be signed soon and I accepted her response, but we want to see the MoU and the conditions for the deportation, to see whether it is reasonable or too strict,” he said.
Najib said if the conditions were too strict and did not actually allow the refugees to return to Rakhine, it might not give the solution to the crisis as expected by Malaysia and other Asean member countries.
Apart from voicing out the issue of Rohingya crisis at international level and sending humanitarian aid, Malaysia would also provide a field hospital for the Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh.
Najib said during the plenary session, Suu Kyi had also expressed her government’s willingness to cooperate with humanitarian aid missions for the Rohingyas who were still in Rakhine.
He said the Nobel Prize winner also stated that there was a need to have a long-term solution based on trust and harmony, but stressed that it could not happen overnight.
It will take into account and will be based on former United Nations secretary-general Kofi Annan’s final report on Rakhine State, where Rohingya Muslims faced widespread abuses, which he had submitted to the Myanmar government.
“This is indeed a very significant development...she gives a commitment, as well as a clear and positive assurance here compared to the previous Asean forum,” he said.
Najib said he also told other Asean leaders that Malaysia and Asean, as an organisation, could no longer keep silent on the crisis as it had humiliated the regional bloc and had become an international issue to the extent of seeing the UN Security Council issued a presidential statement.
“I say that as an organisation, we cannot keep silent, we should not keep silent. What is Asean’s response to the crisis involving the Rohingyas in Rakhine,” he reiterated.
He said the crisis was not just Myanmar’s problem because the affected residents had been seeking refuge in other countries, including in Malaysia and Bangladesh.
What was more dangerous, he said, those who were disappointed might end up being recruited by terrorist groups such as IS and Daesh. — Bernama