14 January 2018
Since August last year, more than 650,000 minority Rohingya Muslims have fled Myanmar amid violence and a military campaign in Rakhine.
Experts say it will be difficult for ASEAN to come to a consensus on the Rohingya issue.
Despite the competing interests among ASEAN countries, Singapore as chairman is likely to go all out to get a statement of consensus, Ambassador-at-Large Ong Keng Yong tells Insight.
The former secretary-general of ASEAN from 2003 to 2007 says of Malaysia’s dissociation from the statement: “In the history of ASEAN, there were only a few times it has happened… In the past few years, we all tried to avoid this.
“As chairman, Singapore will always like to make sure that everybody comes together and agrees on something.”
ASEAN has also long been criticised for not taking a tougher stance on human rights issues, but Associate Professor Alan Chong of the S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies argues that this non-confrontational style is needed to stop the grouping from breaking up.
“Everyone has skeletons in his closet. We can’t go into that level of openness. History is a living ghost haunting ASEAN,” says Dr Chong.
RSIS / Online / Print
Last updated on 23/01/2018