Malaysian PM: Sad to see no serious Security Council action on Myanmar

Shailaja Neelakantan
Malaysian PM: Sad to see no serious Security Council action on Myanmar Malaysian Prime Minister Ismail Sabri Yaakob (bottom center) addresses the 77th session of the United Nations General Assembly at the U.N. headquarters in New York, Sept. 23, 2022.
[Jason DeCrow/AP]

The U.N. Security Council has not taken serious action to remedy the situation in post-coup Myanmar, Prime Minister Ismail Sabri Yaakob said Friday, adding that the elite body’s five permanent members make it impossible to resolve conflicts by often misusing their veto power.

Speaking at the United Nations General Assembly in New York, Ismail Sabri also said that the Southeast Asian bloc ASEAN needed to scrap an agreement it made with Myanmar to return that country to democracy because the junta has done nothing to implement the accord.

But the Malaysian PM reserved the most scathing criticism in his 22-minute speech for the U.N. Security Council, which he called the world body’s “biggest problem.”

“It is very saddening when the Security Council does not take any serious action in dealing with this situation. Some even see the Security Council as having washed its hands off and handing the matter over to ASEAN,” he said.

“The power of veto is often misused to favor the world powers that have it. It is not democratic and violates the principles of human rights. This makes it impossible for conflicts to be resolved by any of the permanent members of the Council.”

For any Security Council resolution to be adopted none of its permanent members – Russia, Britain, China, France, and the United States – can veto it. And China and Russia, analysts say, will prevent any strong action, such as broad, binding sanctions, being taken against the violent Burmese junta.

The junta’s security forces have killed more than 2,300 people since the generals seized power by toppling an elected government on Feb. 1, 2021. Just last week, junta forces had fired on a village school in Myanmar’s Sagaing region, killing at least seven children, in what appeared to be the deadliest incident involving children since last year’s military coup.

Meanwhile, the Burmese junta has also willfully ignored a five-point agreement it reached with the Association of Southeast Asian Nations in April last year. The agreement was seen as a roadmap to return Myanmar to democracy, but junta chief Senior Gen. Min Aung Hlaing has not implemented a single point of that agreement, known as the five-point consensus, analysts say.

The Malaysian prime minister, too, said the consensus had gone nowhere.

“Malaysia is disappointed that there is no meaningful progress in the implementation of the ASEAN ‘Five Point Consensus’ especially by the Myanmar junta. In its current form, the ASEAN ‘Five Point Consensus’ cannot continue any longer,” Ismail Sabri said.

“Therefore, this consensus needs to be given a new lease of life and refined based on a clearer framework, timeframe and end goal.”

Earlier this week Malaysian Foreign Minister Saifuddin Abdullah said that Kuala Lumpur was planning to press the Southeast Asian bloc into deciding the fate of its five-point consensus on Myanmar before the ASEAN summit in November.

“If it is not working we have to decide what’s next. We cannot go in November and then start talking about it. We have to do the groundwork now,” he had told reporters after a meeting with Burmese opposition members in New York.

Meanwhile, Ismail Sabri also said that the political situation Myanmar had made the situation worse for millions of Myanmar refugees, including the stateless Rohingya, hundreds of thousands of whom fled from a brutal military offensive in Rakhine state in 2017 that the United States has since labeled a genocide.

“Although Malaysia is not a signatory to the 1951 Convention on the Status of Refugees and the 1967 Protocol, Malaysia, on humanitarian grounds, accepted nearly 200,000 Rohingya refugees,” the Malaysian PM said.

“Therefore, it is the responsibility of all countries, including the countries participating in the convention, to take in more refugees to be resettled in their respective countries.”

Ismail Sabri said it was important for the world to address the root cause of the Rohingya crisis.

He said: “I believe that this issue will not be resolved as long as the crisis in the country continues.”


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