PM Lee to attend Asean Leaders' Meeting in Jakarta on Saturday

SINGAPORE – Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong will be in Jakarta on Saturday (April 24) to attend an Asean leaders’ meeting on the situation in Myanmar.

The meeting, organised by Brunei – this year’s Asean chair – will mark the first time leaders are gathering in person since the Covid-19 pandemic began last year.

Eight of the 10 Asean leaders will be present. Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte will be represented by Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr, while Thailand’s Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha is sending Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Don Pramudwinai as his representative.

Myanmar junta chief Min Aung Hlaing will also attend the summit. It will be his first known foreign trip since the military coup on Feb 1, which has resulted in hundreds of deaths and caused thousands to be taken prisoner.

Singapore’s Prime Minister’s Office said in a statement on Friday: “The Asean leaders will discuss the situation in Myanmar, which has had a serious impact on the peace and stability of Asean and the region.”

The decision to invite Senior General Min Aung Hlaing to the summit caused an outcry, with Myanmar nationals interpreting the decision as conferring legitimacy on the junta chief. In particular, the National Unity Government formed by pro-democracy politicians from elected leader Aung San Suu Kyi’s party has called for international recognition and an invitation to the summit in place of the general.

Asean, which takes decisions by consensus, has not officially condemned the coup although individual member states such as Singapore, Malaysia and Indonesia have denounced the violence.

Foreign Minister Vivian Balakrishnan has previously called on the junta to exercise restraint and stop the use of lethal force on civilians, as well as to immediately release Ms Suu Kyi, who has been in detention since the coup.

Speaking to reporters following a visit to Jakarta last month, he added: “We still do not believe in foreign interference in domestic politics but as fellow Asean member states, we hope they will take into consideration the views of our leaders. Particularly, when our leaders have had the chance to quietly, confidentially and openly among themselves, arrive at a set of conclusions.”

Dr Balakrishnan, as well as officials from his ministry, will accompany PM Lee on the trip. Senior Minister and Coordinating Minister for National Security Teo Chee Hean will be Acting Prime Minister in the Prime Minister’s absence.

More on this topic

Join ST’s Telegram channel here and get the latest breaking news delivered to you.

Source: Read Full Article