The Foreign Affairs Ministry said today that the recent meeting between ambassador Zahairi Baharim and a Myanmar official was not a symbol of recognition of that country’s military junta.
The ministry was addressing reactions to photos of the meeting that had been circulating online and prompting concerns that Malaysia was officially recognizing and accepting Myanmar’s military as the country’s leaders. Zahairi met with Electricity and Energy Minister Aung Than Oo at the capital of Nay Pyi Taw yesterday to discuss an offshore project involving a subsidiary of Malaysia-owned Petronas.
“The meeting does not construe a recognition or otherwise of the State Administration Council (SAC),” the ministry said. “Malaysia’s position on Myanmar is clear and consistent.”
It added: “We have persistently called for an immediate end to violence, unconditional and immediate release of political detainees, and resumption of an inclusive dialogue involving all concerned parties for a political transition and peaceful settlement of the ongoing crisis in the interest of Myanmar and her people.”
Hundreds have died in Myanmar amid a crackdown on pro-democracy protesters against the military coup. Zahairi, who has been Malaysia’s ambassador to Myanmar since 2018, was perceived to be the first ASEAN minister to have an official meeting with a member of Myanmar’s military ever since they seized power in February.
The ministry said the meeting was to discuss the temporary suspension of the US$700 million Yetagun gas project in the Andaman Sea.
First Ambo from ASEAN met with Myanmar military junta's minister
see photos – Malaysian Ambo to Myanmar, Zahairi Baharim went to Naypyidaw & met junta's Minister of Electricity and Energy Aung Than Oo.
— Ro Nay San Lwin (@nslwin) April 7, 2021
Muhyiddin Yassin, 73, had in March called for the junta to release political leaders State Counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi and President U Win Myint from detention, and also urged the military leadership to find a “peaceful solution.”
Democracy activists from Milk Tea Alliance Malaysia today expressed their disappointment over the meeting.
“Come on, why would you do this, or were you all under duress. On one hand PM @MuhyiddinYassin is calling for discussion on the violence in Myanmar amongst ASEAN but now someone is legitimising the junta,” they wrote.
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