Mr Dennis Tan Lip Fong asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs (a) to what extent has the ongoing crisis in Myanmar affected the credibility of ASEAN in promoting peace and stability in the region; and (b) whether ASEAN is considering a joint effort to engage the Myanmar leadership at the highest levels.
Mr Gerald Giam Yean Song asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs in view of the Myanmar military government’s failure to implement the Five-Point Consensus on Myanmar reached with ASEAN in 2021, whether Singapore plans to work with ASEAN to (i) implement targeted sanctions on Myanmar’s military, including an arms embargo and imposing travel restrictions on members of the military and (ii) establish contact with, and provide assistance, to the National Unity Government.
Dr Vivian Balakrishnan: The coup in Myanmar was launched by the Myanmar military or the Tatmadaw on 1 February 2021. Since then, the tragic consequences arising from the coup, which include large scale civilian deaths and injuries, have continued with no sign of abatement. The situation remains dire. The primary responsibility for the ongoing crisis in Myanmar lies with the Tatmadaw.
The Five-Point Consensus was formulated by the ASEAN Leaders and accepted by Senior General Min Aung Hlaing at their meeting on 24 April 2021 in Jakarta. However, Singapore and ASEAN are deeply disappointed that there has been little progress in its implementation. This is despite efforts by successive Special Envoys of the ASEAN Chair – Brunei and Cambodia – and direct entreaties by current ASEAN Chair, Cambodia. Instead, aerial bombings of opposition-controlled areas and the execution of opposition activists have occurred. The timings of these actions by the Tatmadaw underscore their disregard for both ASEAN and the Five-Point Consensus.
Myanmar’s peace, security and stability is not only in its own interest but also for the whole region. However, without political reconciliation and dialogue in good faith by all stakeholders, the necessary political solution cannot be found. The setbacks to ASEAN’s efforts are not a matter of ASEAN credibility, but rather of the Tatmadaw’s intransigence. The ASEAN Leaders will have to assess the progress in the Five-Point Consensus’ implementation at the ASEAN Summits this November. Depending on how the situation evolves, they will have to make some difficult decisions to guide ASEAN’s next steps.
Singapore voted in favour of UN General Assembly Resolution A/RES/75/287 “The Situation in Myanmar” in June 2021, which calls on UN Member States to “prevent the flow of arms into Myanmar”. Since April 2022, Singapore has not authorised the transfer of items assessed to have potential military application to Myanmar, where there is a serious risk that the item may be used to inflict violence against unarmed civilians. This is in line with our firm commitment to measures that will facilitate the de-escalation of violence in Myanmar and support efforts by ASEAN and the UN to achieve a negotiated political solution.
Ministry of Foreign Affairs
13 September 2022