'Constructive engagement' needed to help resolve Rakhine crisis: Indonesia FM

'Constructive engagement' needed to help resolve Rakhine crisis: Indonesia FM

Speaking in an exclusive interview with Channel NewsAsia on Friday (Jan 20), Ms Retno said that naming and shaming the country over the ongoing Rakhine crisis would not help the situation.

YANGON: Constructive engagement with Myanmar would be more productive than adopting a "megaphone diplomacy" approach towards helping resolve the Rakhine crisis, said Indonesia's Foreign Minister Retno Marsudi.

Speaking in an exclusive interview with Channel NewsAsia on Friday (Jan 20), Ms Retno said that naming and shaming the country over the ongoing Rakhine crisis would not help the situation.

"What I’m trying to do is really to help Myanmar in addressing the situation," she said. "Sometimes, unintentionally, we’re trapped (in) the naming and shaming exercise. It won’t help addressing the situation, it won’t help find the doable solution.

"Constructive engagement will be more productive than when we adopt megaphone diplomacy," she said, stressing the need to work together with the Myanmar government.

Ms Retno visited Myanmar a day after the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) held an extraordinary meeting called by Malaysia in Kuala Lumpur on the Rohingya situation, a move which Myanmar's government said was "regrettable".

Said Ms Retno about the meeting: "The expression of concern as to what’s going on in Rakhine state was there. I think everybody knows about the situation in Rakhine state and we expressed concern. But there’s a good thing - that almost every delegation mentioned the need to work together with the Myanmar government to help the Myanmar government to address the issue.

"The way I see it is that the spirit of having the constructive engagement is bolder than before. So while addressing the issue, while expressing our concern, at the same time, we express also our readiness to engage constructively with Myanmar government."

Ms Retno added that Indonesia wanted to play a bridging role between Myanmar and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) because the country had encountered similar challenges in the past and wanted to share its experience of transitioning to democracy.

"If we cannot address the issue from a comprehensive perspective, we are worried that radicalism will emerge from that situation," she said. "And in OIC, we also understand that potential so that’s why again, the key word is inclusiveness ... If no one feels left behind, insha'Allah, we can also prevent the potential of radicalism in the community."

Ms Retno added that Indonesia would continue to offer humanitarian assistance in Rakhine.

"Indonesia has six schools across Rakhine state and we will also build a hospital," she said, adding that all facilities would be open to all regardless of religion.

"We will not differentiate whether you are Muslim community or you are Buddhist," she said.

"It means that we try to send the spirit of tolerance, harmony ... at the grassroots level. That is very important for the people to understand - there’s nothing wrong to be different." She stressed the need to "work together with the Myanmar government", and said that Indonesia would continue to offer humanitarian assistance in Rakhine.

The foreign minister will visit Sittwe, the capital of Rakhine state on Saturday with humanitarian assistance. She will be the first ASEAN foreign minister to visit Rakhine after attacks on Oct 9, 2016, when three border posts were attacked and nine officers were killed.

Since the attacks, troops have poured into the Muslim-majority state and the government has been accused of a crackdown on the ethnic Muslim Rohingya population, with critics saying that the government's actions amount to genocide.

Source: CNA/nc