The People's Foundation 
Yayasan Rakyat

Rohingya : The unsolved dilemma of ASEAN

ASEAN, also known as Association of South East Asia Nation is an entity of 9 sovereign nation with different history and background working along for one common goal which is ASEAN peace and prosperity. The recent Rohingya refugee crisis which started in Myanmar has been a sensitive issue and showed the disability of ASEAN Community to take a firm stand on this collectively. This crisis has reached its apex with the rejection of refugees by the respective governments of Thailand, Indonesian and Malaysia creates a negative perception on ASEAN. This isssue has caused more effect upon the image of Malaysia as Chairman of ASEAN 2015.

Personally I feel the act of our government to push out the Rohingnyas refugees back to the sea is not right but at the same time the act is also justifiable.  One should remember that it is not easy to maintain a group of refugees in a multiracial nation like ours. By adopting them into our country, the remaining layman jobs available to our fellow Malaysians will be taken over by them. Most layman jobs and factory workers are from Indonesia and Bangladesh which has already caused an unpleasantness in Malaysia. There are also high possibilities for rise in crimes especially robbery. This would eventually lead to a conflict between the citizens and foreign workers as how it is happening in Europe these days. The government in the other hand in its capacity as the Chairman for ASEAN should make use of its role by creating a refugee center in collaboration with other ASEAN member countries besides supporting them with essential needs. One should not only think in humanitarian aspect but at the same time evaluate from other aspects too before putting the blame.

Thailand, on its first move in solving the issue has called the officials from 15 countries to discuss the root cause of this migration issue. Shockingly, Major Zaw Htay, Director of the Office of Myanmar’s President said that no representatives will be sent if the topic is going to be about ‘Rohingyas’. As a country where the root problem is should be aggressively move in solving the issue rather than just ‘wash hands’. It is believed that the Rohingya Muslims has been migrating prosecution and others are Bangladeshis who are fleeing poverty. Major Zaw Htay’s statement blaming the neighboring countries by saying that the neighbors are pushing these people out to sea without humanity is totally unacceptable. “Indifference and neglect often do much more damage than outright dislike.” ― J.K. Rowling, Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix is an ultimate example for neglection by the Myanmar government themselves and pushing the balls around to other countries.


ASEAN on the other hand should come up with an initiative to tackle the root of the problem which is in Myanmar itself. As a country that reflects peace and stability, Malaysia can be an example for Myanmar to solve the Rohingya issue once and for all. ASEAN 2015 under the leadership of Malaysia should lead to the formation of a political framework giving the Rohingya’s and other minorities the essential autonomy needed to govern their land besides protecting their basic rights within the constitution itself. This should also include other ethnic minorities to such as the Shan and Karen people of Myanmar who for decades have opposed repression from military rule .The coming of democracy since 2010 had created a new hope for the people of Myanmar especially the minorities.

ASEAN should use this opportunity to push for greater success and transparency when it comes to dealing with the minorities which is the core of the refugee crisis. The success of this conflict will be the success of ASEAN at the same time creating a new image for ASEAN in the global stage. Malaysia also should bring forward to include protection of refuges as one of its principle enshrined in the ASEAN Charter created in 2007. At the same time we should also push for the creation of Human Rights Body as stated within the charter to which would create further recognition and protection for the rights of refugees especially.

These refugee crises have created an awareness on humanity especially within ASEAN region. One should remember humanity doesn’t need ethnicity or politics to be involved. Humanity is something basic that every human should be carrying within.


Written by,
Janagken Yohayindra Kumar
The People’s Foundation

Unknown User

10.02.2017

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