Prime Minister Hun Sen is scheduled to continue discussions with Myanmar leader General Min Aung Hlaing on January 26, with the former stating in advance that Myanmar would only be invited to send political representation to this year’s ASEAN summit if it has made progress on the implementation of the bloc’s five-point consensus (5PC).
Hun Sen made the remarks on January 25 during a telephone conversation with his Malaysian counterpart Ismail Sabri Yaakob on bilateral ties and ASEAN issues including the prolonged Myanmar crisis.
“[Hun Sen] will have a discussion with [Ming Aung Hlaing on January 26] to get a better understanding of these issues. [Hun Sen] said the situation in Myanmar today is very complicated because there are two governments – the military government and the shadow government,” said a Facebook post on Hun Sen’s official page following the meeting.
The premier noted that after meeting with Ming Aung Hlaing, chairman of the ruling State Administration Council (SAC), in Myanmar on January 7-8, the situation had not significantly improved, with air strikes continuing in some regions.
“[Hun Sen] said he will invite [Myanmar] to the ASEAN summit if there is progress on the implementation of the five-point consensus that was unanimously agreed upon. However, if there is no progress made, then Myanmar can only send non-political representatives to attend the meeting,” said the Facebook post.
Hun Sen’s statement is in line with recommendations given by Indonesian president Joko “Jokowi” Widodo, who spoke with him last week about the crisis.
Jokowi stated during the conversation that if there is no “significant progress” in the implementation of the 5PC, “it is imperative for ASEAN to maintain its decision that Myanmar shall only be represented at the non-political level at any ASEAN meetings”.
During his conversation with Hun Sen, Malaysian Prime Minister Yaakob called for the release of all “political prisoners” in Myanmar, including Aung San Suu Kyi.
Yaakob said he supports and acknowledges the path forward that Hun Sen outlined earlier, such as the ASEAN troika and the provision of assistance to Myanmar as well as the meeting among ASEAN foreign ministers.
Yaakob also urged that Cambodian Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation Prak Sokhonn – in his role as the ASEAN chair’s special envoy to Myanmar – ensure that the 5PC is implemented.
The two leaders also spoke about bilateral relations on various topics. Hun Sen noted that though there are currently just 296 Malaysian nationals working and living in Cambodia, all of them were fully vaccinated free of charge.
Both sides committed to increasing bilateral trade as the two countries approached their 55th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations this year.
Kin Phea, director of the Royal Academy of Cambodia’s International Relations Institute, said that as the rotating chair of the regional bloc, Cambodia wants to see a unified ASEAN that has the solidarity to maintain the policy of centrality, but at the same time Cambodia’s efforts on Myanmar must be guided by the ASEAN Charter and the 5PC.
“The position to invite only non-political representative to ASEAN meeting should there be no progress on the five-point consensus is the correct one to follow.
“If [Ming Aung Hlaing ] has not made significant progress implementing the consensus that he himself signed, then there can be no invitation – even though Cambodia would like to restore ASEAN to a 10 member bloc – because of the strong positions taken on the matter by some ASEAN member states, including the largest ASEAN member Indonesia, whose opinion cannot just be ignored. So therefore the ball is now in Myanmar’s court,” he said.
ASEAN agreed to the 5PC during a virtual meeting on April 24 last year.
“There shall be immediate cessation of violence in Myanmar and all sides to the conflict must exercise the utmost restraint; constructive dialogue must take place among all parties concerned to seek peaceful solutions; the special envoy of the ASEAN chair will facilitate mediation with assistance from the ASEAN secretary general; humanitarian assistance will be provided by ASEAN and the ASEAN chair’s special envoy and a delegation from ASEAN member states shall visit Myanmar and be allowed to meet with representatives of all parties concerned,” reads the document outlining the 5PC.