DAP MP defends Saifuddin after Cambodian PM blasts him for 'arrogance'

·2-min read
DAP MP defends Saifuddin after Cambodian PM blasts him for 'arrogance'
DAP MP defends Saifuddin after Cambodian PM blasts him for 'arrogance'

Klang MP Charles Santiago has come to the defence of Foreign Minister Saifuddin Abdullah, saying that he was absolutely right to call out Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen's cowboy diplomacy on Myanmar.

"Not only did Hun Sen meet with coup leader Min Aung Hlaing, but also issued a joint statement and plan that was clearly designed to circumvent the consensus reached in April by all the Asean members.

"Inexplicably, Hun Sen’s visit came just days after the military's brutal Christmas Eve massacre of dozens of civilians in eastern Myanmar," said Charles in a statement, noting that the killings were reported as particularly inhumane.

He said that Asean's response to the attempted coup which toppled the democratically elected government of Myanmar had been far from perfect, but some progress has been made, which Hun Sen's visit risked undoing.

"Hun Sen's cosy trip with the coup leader risked entirely destroying this progress, and yet what did it achieve?

"Within hours of PM Hun Sen leaving, there were reports of heavy indiscriminate shelling of civilian areas on the border with Thailand; then, within days, elected leader Aung San Suu Kyi was sentenced to further jail time based on trumped-up charges," said Charles, who is also the Asean Parliamentarians for Human Rights chair.

Charles Santiago
Charles Santiago

Hun Sen himself has been running Cambodia for most of the last 40 years and has been accused of rigging elections, jailing opponents and quashing democratic expression.

On Friday, he took aim at Saifuddin for being "arrogant and impolite" after he voiced concern about the controversial meeting with Myanmar's junta.

Saifuddin last week said some Asean members had reservations about Hun Sen's Jan 7 visit to Myanmar while chairing the bloc, which risked being interpreted as Asean recognition of the generals.

Saifuddin suggested Hun Sen should have sought input from Asean counterparts beforehand.

Hun Sen, in a phone call on Friday with Indonesian President Joko Widodo, defended his Myanmar trip and rebuked Saifuddin, then published the conversation in Cambodian state media.

Hun Sen
Hun Sen

Charles pointed out that Malaysia was not alone in its view.

"As well as Malaysia, other Asean member states, including Singapore, have been critical of Hun Sen's approach, calling for the exclusion of junta leaders from meetings until progress is made on the Five-Point Consensus.

"What is needed now is for Hun Sen, as Asean chair, to stop recklessly applying strategies against the bloc's agreed position and to work closely with the member states to hold Min accountable to the agreed consensus."

The five points agreed by Asean leaders to tackle political issues in Myanmar are: an immediate cessation of violence in Myanmar; hold constructive talks among all stakeholders; for Asean to provide aid to Myanmar; a special Asean envoy appointed to conduct talks and that the envoy be allowed to visit the country.

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