Malaysia's Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim, center, is conferred a Doctor of Laws degree, honoris causa, led by Angelo Jimenez, right, president of the University of the Philippines during rites at the University of the Philippines in Quezon city, Philippines on Thursday March 2, 2023. (AP Photo/Aaron Favila)

Anwar Ibrahim, Prime Minister of Malaysia, said while in Manila that ASEAN needs to show it is “relevant” by contributing to a solution to the crisis in Myanmar.

Anwar made these remarks in a prerecorded interview with Philippine news channel ANC that aired on Friday. He noted that his country was taking in over 200,000 refugees from Myanmar and he said that ASEAN, which is leading diplomatic efforts to bring peace, needed to be more assertive.
I have appealed to friends in ASEAN to say, “look, we have to be tougher,” because “we can’t see this as a purely internal issue,” as Anwar put it. In cases where the military junta is unable to comprehend the civilian perspective, it may be necessary to seek assistance from the country’s armed forces.

Since the military overthrew an elected government in 2021, Myanmar has been plagued by social, political, and economic chaos.

The military of Myanmar has been accused of atrocities by human rights groups and the United Nations as part of a campaign to silence its critics. Terrorists who want to destroy the country are what the junta calls its opponents.

We cannot condone the atrocities,” Anwar said. It’s not easy, but we need to find a peaceful compromise. There is nothing left to try. ASEAN must demonstrate its usefulness and ability to solve some of the world’s most pressing issues.

A peace plan was agreed upon with the generals shortly after the coup, but the junta has failed to implement it, frustrating some ASEAN members who have traditionally adhered to the principle of staying out of the sovereign affairs of ASEAN members.

While the 10-country group has banned Myanmar’s generals from attending its top-level meetings, Malaysia has called for even more severe measures to be taken against the junta. The military junta in Myanmar has reacted angrily to what they see as interference from other ASEAN countries.