President Joko 'Jokowi' Widodo meets with Myanmar State Counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi on the sidelines of the Asean Summit in Bangkok on Saturday. (Antara Photo/Puspa Perwitasari)

Myanmar Vows to Improve Situation in Rakhine State After Pressed by Jokowi


JUNE 24, 2019

Bangkok. Myanmar has promised to improve the security situation in Rakhine State and continue cooperation with fellow Association of Southeast Asian Nations member states to resolve the Rohingya issue.

Myanmar State Counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi made this commitment during an Asean leaders retreat in Bangkok on Sunday.

President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo used the occasion to raise the importance of improving security in Rakhine State before voluntary repatriation of Muslim Rohingya refugees can commence. He raised similar concerns during a plenary session of Asean leaders and his bilateral meeting with Suu Kyi on Saturday, Foreign Minister Retno Marsudi said in Bangkok on Saturday.

"The president conveyed two things. Firstly, the importance of improving security in Rakhine State because repatriation will be difficult without proper security… Then, the president expressed [Indonesia's] commitment to continue its contributions in implementing a report by the AHA Center and the Asean Secretariat," Retno said, referring to the regional bloc's humanitarian agency.

She said Asean foreign ministers agreed on Friday night to follow up an initial recommendation by AHA Center and Asean Secretariat observers in the middle of June.

The preliminary needs assessment identified matters such as an in-country capacity building program for an Asean emergency response and assessment team based in Myanmar to support the repatriation process when it commences, according to a statement issued by the Asean Secretariat.

The three main recommendations involve capacity building; the dissemination of information; and support for the provision of basic services in Rakhine State.

President Jokowi only raised one issue during the Asean leaders retreat on Sunday, reiterating what he had said in the plenary session about the importance of improving security in Rakhine State.

Responding Jokowi's concern, Suu Kyi said her government also recognized the problem.

"And Myanmar will try hard to fix the security situation in Rakhine State because it is not only problem… She said there are complex problems, with many things happening at the same time," Retno said, quoting Suu Kyi.

The Indonesian foreign minister said other Asean leaders also expressed concerns over the situation in Rakhine State. She did not elaborate.

In the Asean Chairman's Statement, the leaders reaffirmed their support "for a more visible and enhanced role of Asean to support Myanmar in providing humanitarian assistance, facilitating the repatriation process with regard to the situation in Rakhine State and promoting sustainable development."