KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysia on Sunday (Sep 24) said it "would like to disassociate itself" from a statement issued by the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) on the situation in Myanmar's Rakhine state.
The ASEAN Chairman's statement, which was issued on Sunday on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly in New York, had expressed ASEAN foreign ministers' concern "over the recent developments in northern Rakhine state of Myanmar".
It condemned the Aug 25 attacks against Myanmar security forces, as well as "all acts of violence which resulted in loss of civilian lives, destruction of homes and displacement of large numbers of people".
However Malaysia's Minister of Foreign Affairs Anifah Aman said in a separate statement on Sunday that the country felt that the ASEAN statement was a "misrepresentation of the reality of the situation".
"The statement also omits the Rohingyas as one of the affected communities," he said.
He added that while Malaysia condemns the Aug 25 attacks, "subsequent 'clearance operations' efforts by Myanmar authorities was disproportionate" and that these had led to the deaths of innocent civilians and had caused more than 400,000 Rohingya to be displaced.
Anifah said Malaysia had made its concerns about the ASEAN statement known but that their concerns had not been reflected. "Hence, the chairman statement was not based on consensus," he said.
He added that Malaysia urged Myanmar to "fulfil its commitment to immediately implement" recommendations made in an advisory commission's final report on the Rakhine state.
Channel NewsAsia understands that in light of Malaysia’s comments on dissociating itself from the ASEAN chairman’s statement on the humanitarian crisis in the Rakhine state, other ASEAN member states are in agreement with the chairman’s statement.
The ASEAN statement called the situation in Rakhine a "complex inter-communal issue with deep historical roots", and "strongly urged" all parties to avoid actions that could worsen the situation on the ground.
It added that the ASEAN foreign ministers "welcomed the commitment by the Myanmar authorities to ensure the safety of civilians, take immediate steps to end the violence in Rakhine, restore normal socioeconomic conditions and address the refugee problem through verification process".
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In a statement on Facebook, Singapore Foreign Minister Vivian Balakrishnan called for reconciliation in Rakhine after a meeting between ASEAN foreign ministers and UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres in New York.
"There is an urgent need to restore peace, stability, harmony and reconciliation among all the communities in Rakhine State," he said.
"As ASEAN Member States, all of us have committed to abide by the principles set out in the ASEAN Charter to enhance good governance and the rule of law. ASEAN conveyed our hope and support for a long term solution to a complex issue with deep historical roots."
He added: "While this complex issue can only be resolved among all the parties concerned in Myanmar themselves, we must prioritise urgent humanitarian access to reach all affected communities."
According to the United Nations, more than 400,000 Rohingya have fled to Bangladesh since attacks by Rohingya militants in Rakhine on Aug 25 sparked a major crackdown by Myanmar's military.