SINGAPORE: After extensive discussions among regional and ASEAN countries on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly, there was a clear consensus that the violence taking place in Rakhine state “has to stop now”, Singapore’s Foreign Affairs Minister Vivian Balakrishnan said.
“First, the violence has to stop. And it has to stop now. There has been too much loss of life, damage to property, destruction of homes, displacement of refugees,” Dr Balakrishnan said in an interview with Singapore media at the conclusion of his trip to New York on Tuesday (Sep 26).
He added that there was also a consensus that humanitarian assistance needs to be delivered to all affected communities – those who have been displaced to the Bangladesh side of the border as well as the affected communities within Rakhine state.
“On the ASEAN side, we have activated the ASEAN Humanitarian Assistance Centre and this will enable ASEAN to also play a role in delivering assistance to the affected communities, to all affected communities.
“Here I want to emphasise, without discrimination – everyone in need should receive assistance,” he said.
The third area of consensus was the need for a long-term political solution, and this can only occur through reconciliation, as well as constructive and positive dialogue, Dr Balakrishnan said.
“If that situation (in Rakhine) is allowed to fester or to get worse – the anxiety is that it would become another potential sanctuary or breeding site for extremism and for terrorism,” he said.
Dr Balakrishnan also commented on the crisis in the Korean peninsula, saying he hoped that “cool heads will prevail”.
“From our perspective, we believe that all of us need to fully comply with the United Nations Security Council resolutions and we hope that North Korea will do so,” he said. “We hope ultimately that cool heads will prevail, because that's the only way you can get a peaceful resolution to this very long 70-year-old conflict.”
IMPORTANCE OF RULES-BASED, MULTILATERAL WORLD ORDER
Dr Balakrishnan emphasised three key points in his speech at the UN General Assembly – the importance of multilateralism, an open global architecture and inclusive economic growth.
A rules-based, multilateral world order was essential for small states to have a sense of predictability and security, he said.
He also called for an open global architecture where all states would have a chance to cooperate, collaborate and pursue issues of common interest in a win-win collaboration.
“The world will be safer, more prosperous and more peaceful if we had an open global architecture where we looked for opportunities to do things together and achieve win-win outcomes,” Dr Balakrishnan said.
On the need for inclusive economic growth, he said this is to ensure that no segment of society feels left behind by the process of globalisation and technological revolution.
“If you don’t give people that assurance, then you will find that individual countries can’t make the commitment for globalisation, for economic integration, for free trade and all the other things which we believe are essential for a stable and peaceful world order,” he said.