Attacks on Political Opponents Followed Hun Sen’s Visit to Myanmar: Singapore

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Junta chief Min Aung Hlaing met with Prime Minister Hun Sen on January 7, 2021, in Myanmar. (Hun Sen’s Facebook page)

According to government news agency AKP on Monday, the “ASEAN Secretariat Fully Supports Cambodia’s Initiatives.”

The headline followed a visit by the bloc’s secretary general, Dato Lim Jock Hoi, and a meeting with Prime Minister Hun Sen. They discussed a number of key issues, AKP said.

“For the Myanmar crisis, Samdech Techo Hun Sen raised about the three main purposes of his recent visit to Myanmar — ceasefire, humanitarian assistance, and opening way for the special envoy of the ASEAN Chair on Myanmar to do his work,” the news agency said.

Hun Sen also told the secretary-general of a new Asean committee to mediate regarding Myanmar and humanitarian assistance.

“For his part, H.E. Dato Lim Jock Hoi supported the initiative,” AKP said, adding that the meeting touched on several other regional issues, and that Cambodia was organizing an Asean dialogue on post-Covid-19 recovery.

The Asean Secretariat has not responded to questions on Monday.

Hun Sen visited Myanmar on January 7 and 8 amid controversy: accusing the premier of breaking Asean’s consensus on Myanmar’s 2021 coup and showing support for the military regime, protesters in Myanmar burned Hun Sen’s portraits and flooded his Facebook page with comments.

The following week saw Asean’s first meeting for the year postponed, while pointed comments from regional leaders appeared online.

“Prime Minister Lee noted that just days after Prime Minister Hun Sen’s visit, there had been further attacks by the Tatmadaw against its political opponents, and additional prison sentences imposed on State Counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi,” said a statement from the Singaporean Foreign Affairs Ministry about a video call Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong had with Hun Sen on Friday. It referred to Myanmar’s military, the Tatmadaw, and ousted civilian leader Aung San Suu Kyi.

“Prime Minister Lee said that he was unsure what role ASEAN or the ASEAN Chair’s Special Envoy on Myanmar could play in coordinating a ceasefire since we did not even have access to all parties,” the statement added. Hun Sen did not meet Suu Kyi during his visit.

“The Tatmadaw had proposed a ceasefire with Ethnic Armed Organisations (EAOs) only but the call for a cessation of violence in the Five-Point Consensus referred also, and indeed primarily, to violence against the Tatmadaw’s political opponents and civilians,” it added.

Suu Kyi was sentenced to four more years in jail last Monday and was handed five new corruption charges on Friday.

According to Reuters, Malaysian Foreign Affairs Minister Saifuddin Abdullah on Thursday also said Hun Sen should have consulted other Asean leaders before his visit.

“Malaysia is of the opinion that he has the right to visit Myanmar as the head of government of Cambodia. However, we also feel that because he has already assumed the chair of ASEAN, he could have probably consulted the other ASEAN leaders and sought our views as to what he should do if he were to go to Myanmar,” he said, according to the news agency.

Asked if he thought Hun Sen’s visit achieved anything, Saifuddin said: “No.”

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