Vivian Balakrishnan: Situation in Myanmar ‘an unfolding tragedy’

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Singapore—Foreign Affairs Minister Vivian Balakrishnan called the crisis in Myanmar “an unfolding tragedy” in remarks to the press on Mar 26 after he met with Indonesian leaders in Jakarta. 

“It’s not a happy topic. It’s a tragedy that is unfolding,” he said.

He also expressed the belief that the crisis will not ease any time soon. 

According to the transcript of his remarks, which was released on Monday (Mar 29), Dr Balakrishnan said, ”It is going to take quite some time to resolve. I must confess to you that I am pessimistic.”

Furthermore, he underlined the importance of Southeast Asian countries having a position for their response to the situation.

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Last week, the Foreign Affairs Minister visited Malaysia, Indonesia and Brunei, which is the current chair of Asean (Association of Southeast Asian Nations).

So far, Asean has yet to come to an agreement on how to respond to the crackdown, with Malaysia, Indonesia and the Philippines urging a high-level meeting on the crisis.

The call for a meeting has been supported by Singapore.

Dr Balakrisnan told the press, “It is essential for Asean’s credibility, centrality, and relevance to have a view, have a position and to be able to offer some constructive assistance to Myanmar. But do not expect quick solutions.”

He underlined that it is key for Asean “to consider, to contemplate, to support and to be a constructive presence inside Myanmar.” He hoped that Myanmar would seriously consider recommendations from Asean leaders, even while he said that neither Singapore nor Indonesia believes in foreign interference in domestic politics.

The Foreign Affairs Minister told the press that he and Indonesian President Joko Widodo discussed the crisis in Myanmar, as well as opportunities in the green economy, at the meeting last Friday at the presidential palace in Jakarta.

The death toll in the violence in Myanmar has surpassed 500 as of Tuesday morning (Mar 30), according to a local monitoring group. 

Different nations have expressed condemnation over the growing number of fatalities from the clashes due to the junta’s brutal crackdown on the growing protest. France condemned the ‘blind and deadly’ violence in Myanmar.

The United States announced that it was suspending a trade pact with Myanmar on Monday, after a weekend of bloody clashes.

US Trade Representative Katherine Tai said, “The United States strongly condemns the Burmese security forces’ brutal violence against civilians.” 

Until democracy is restored in Myanmar, the 2013 Trade and Investment Framework Agreement between the two countries will remain suspended.

/TISG

Read also: Anti-coup protests continue in Myanmar as UN urged to hear ‘pleas

Anti-coup protests continue in Myanmar as UN urged to hear ‘pleas’

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