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Lawmakers of Asean want review on policy of non-interference

(Photo: Asean People Forum)

April 23, 2015

KUALA LUMPUR: Parliamentarians from Asean countries are calling for their governments to review the policy of non-interference in another member’s domestic affairs to better protect their citizens.

They said a decision to interfere should be adopted especially when it involves upholding fundamental human rights and freedoms for the Asean community.

Myanmar MP Shwe Mang said the current policy had served as an obstacle for Asean in addressing the issue of human rights, which he believed is paramount to the regional bloc’s existence.

“The current policy can be misused as a tool that prevents Asean governments from tackling human rights issues.

“That would be the worst thing in the world,” he said during a session at the Asean People’s Forum 2015 (APF 2015) in Wisma MCA, yesterday.

Singapore People’s Action Party MP Charles Chong said that issues like the Rohingya community in Myanmar was a regional problem as neighbouring countries were also affected.

“The Rohingyas are coming into our countries as refugees, so don’t say it’s only Myanmar’s problem,” he told the audience.

Pulai MP Datuk Nur Jazlan Mohamed agreed, but said Malaysia should only interfere when the issue affected them directly.

“Every government in Asean will want to protect its own national interest.

“If Myanmar’s problems are affecting us by causing their citizens to come here as refugees, then we will need to interfere.

“Otherwise, the policy of non-interference should continue,” he added.

Meanwhile former Asean leaders have called on the region’s governments to step up efforts to counter rising intolerance in Myanmar.

In a joint letter, the former leaders requested that Asean leaders increase engagement with Myanmar to implement a United Nations Human Rights Council resolution which called for a restoration of citizenship to Myanmar’s Rohingyas and compliance with international human rights standards.

The letter was initiated by former foreign minister Tan Sri Syed Hamid Albar in his capacity as president of Humaniti, a non-governmental organisation which implements humanitarian and tolerance programmes.

The letter was also signed by former Prime Minister Tun Abdullah Ahmad Badawi, former Asean Secretary-General Dr Surin Pitsuwan, and former Thai Foreign Minister Kasit Piromya.

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