Future of ASEAN on the line as Myanmar junta chief fronts summit



Chris Barrett | The Sydney Morning Herald

Singapore: South-east Asia’s regional bloc faces a defining test of its legitimacy as junta chief Min Aung Hlaing appears at an emergency summit in Jakarta where the Association of South-east Asian Nations must address the bloodshed in Myanmar.

That is the view of Charles Santiago, a Malaysian MP who is chair of the ASEAN Parliamentarians for Human Rights and fears the 10-member grouping can not resolve the crisis on its own and needs a partner such as China.

Sanctions and statements of condemnation have failed so far to have any impact in Myanmar, where 737 people are reported to have been killed in the 10 weeks since the military coup and at least 24,000 have been displaced, so it has been left to regional leaders such as Indonesia, Malaysia and Singapore to conjure a solution.

While Myanmar’s most senior general is on the guest list for the special summit on Saturday, ASEAN is hamstrung by its long-standing non-interference policy and consensus-based approach and – according to Santiago – is threatening to fade into irrelevance.

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