Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Indonesia criticises Asean for laxity on human rights

Indonesia criticises Asean for laxity on human rights

Indonesia criticises Asean for laxity on human rights

by Agnes Anya

JAKARTA (The Jakarta Post/ANN) - Indonesia is urging Asean’s newly appointed Secretary-General Lim Jock Hoi to be more assertive in promoting human rights in the region.

Indonesia’s lead diplomat on Asean affairs, Jose Tavares, criticised Asean’s record, saying the region has made little progress on social issues since adopting its Declaration of Human Rights in November 2012.

“Asean is supposed to be more agile and responsive in addressing social issues. The leadership is not only in the hands of Indonesia, but in all countries in the region. It must be a collective leadership,” Jose said after a seminar on Asean’s 2018 Outlook in Kemang, South Jakarta, on Thursday.

During the seminar, which was held by the Habibie Center think tank, Jose emphasised that the Asean Secretariat had become “quite bureaucratic,” making it difficult for Asean to move forward, especially in addressing human rights issues.

This situation delayed responses to various human rights violations in the area, like in Rakhine state in Myanmar and Marawi in the Philippines, as the secretariat failed to urge countries to take fast diplomatic measures.

“As we could see in the Rakhine and Marawi issues, who made the first move? It was Indonesia,” he said. “Many say Indonesia must lead, but it does not have to be that way. If another country comes up with a better idea, we must support it.”

Last year, Foreign Minister Retno LP Marsudi was the first foreign minister of any country to enter Myanmar and speak directly with the relevant authorities on the Rakhine crisis. The discussion had opened up access for Asean to distribute humanitarian aid to victims of violence and displacement in the troubled state. In the same year, Indonesia pushed for a meeting on counterterrorism between Indonesia, Malaysia and the Philippines to deal with terrorism in Marawi City.

“Indonesia is known to be very noisy on human rights by some member states,” said Dinna Wisnu, Indonesia’s representative to the Asean Intergovernmental Commission on Human Rights (AICHR), echoing Jose.

Jose called on Lim, a seasoned diplomat from Brunei Darussalam, to be more flexible in running the secretariat and in executing Asean’s priority programs this year.

Singapore, which holds the Asean chairmanship this year, has set five key priorities under the theme “resilience and innovation.” They are to develop a digital economy, to further facilitate trade, to enhance the integration of services and ease investment, to foster energy security and to strengthen ties between Asean and its external partners.

Jose acknowledged that the chair’s priority tends to be economic development. However, Indonesia would push Asean and the secretary-general to also pay attention to other sectors, particularly human rights.

“The secretary-general’s priorities must not be inflexible because he represents Asean. So, each issue suggested by the members must be taken into consideration,” he said.

MOST VIEWED

  • Chinese ‘prank’ threat video is no joke for Cambodia

    ‘Preah Sihanouk province, in the next three years, whether safe or chaotic, will be under my control,” declared a Chinese man in a white T-shirt, as another 19 men stood behind him shirtless, in a video that went viral on social media last month. After the

  • Woman detained for murder of hairdresser over unpaid $1K debt

    A woman has been held in connection with the murder of a 40-year-old widow. The victim’s daughter claims the motive was the suspect’s unpaid four million riel ($1,000) debt to her mother. The 17-year-old girl, Pich Sievmey, said her mother, Koem Yaneang, a hairdresser

  • ABA reports $71.8M net profit

    ABA Bank, a member of the National Bank of Canada group, recorded a net profit of $71.8 million last year, up 55 per cent from $46.2 million in 2017, its annual report released on Monday stated. A rise in the bank’s loan portfolio and the expansion of stated

  • Cambodia, Singapore to ‘move on’ from Lee remarks storm

    Cambodia, Singapore and Vietnam have agreed to move on from the controversy caused by remarks from Singapore’s Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong and follow the path of cooperation, dialogue and friendship. The foreign ministers of the three countries had separate telephone conversations on Friday