Dr M: Asean ‘indirectly critical’ of Suu Kyi, but she’s ‘not head of govt’

Zurairi Ar
Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad and Myanmar’s leader Aung San Suu Kyi look for their positions during a group photo at the Asean-China Summit in Singapore November 14, 2018. — Reuters pic

SINGAPORE, Nov 15 — Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad has revealed that most Asean leaders have rebuked Aung San Suu Kyi over the Myanmar regime’s treatment of the Rohingyas, but in an indirect manner.

The prime minister said he was not quite satisfied with Suu Kyi’s justification over the matter, but conceded that she is allegedly not the actual head of government.

“They all were indirectly critical and they were concerned. They hope this return of the Rohingyas will be safe,” he told the media after the 33rd Asean Summit, referring to the repatriation of the Rohingyas to Myanmar.

“They are quite restrained in the way [the issues] are mentioned. They didn’t really condemn her or Myanmar,” he added.

When asked earlier whether Malaysia is confident with Myanmar’s commitment on the matter, Dr Mahathir replied: “We have to understand the distribution of power in Myanmar. Suu Kyi is not the head of government.

“We hope she’ll be able to influence the government on the opinions expressed in the conference,” he added.

Suu Kyi is officially the Myanmar state counsellor, a post created for her following her party’s victory in the 2015 general election, since she is constitutionally barred from being the president.

She is considered the de facto head of government, with the post carrying powers similar to a prime minister.

Myanmar president Win Myint is the official head of state and head of government, but Suu Kyi had represented the country in the Asean Summit.

Dr Mahathir explained that all the Asean members “felt very bad” about the Rohingya crisis, and had urged Suu Kyi to allow the repatriation of the Rohingyas and ensure protection and acceptance of the minority.

A brutal military campaign drove more than 700,000 Rohingya Muslims from Myanmar into neighbouring Bangladesh, where they now live in cramped refugee camps.

A United Nations fact-finding mission on Myanmar found “crimes against humanity have been committed against the Rohingya” and that these acts were sanctioned by top Myanmar military commanders.

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