KL: Crisis in Rakhine a regional concern

Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak speaking at a protest condemning Myanmar's government violence on Rohingya people in Rakhine State.
Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak speaking at a protest condemning Myanmar's government violence on Rohingya people in Rakhine State.PHOTO: EPA

KUALA LUMPER • Malaysia yesterday dismissed claims that it is being "un-Asean-like" by speaking out on human rights violations in Myanmar's Rakhine state, saying the issue is no longer a domestic affair but one of regional concern.

"Malaysia is concerned that if the crisis in northern Rakhine state is not addressed urgently by the Myanmar government, it will impact the security and stability of the region, including Malaysia," Malaysia's Ministry of Foreign Affairs said in a statement.

"The exodus of more refugees to neighbouring countries, including Malaysia, would witness a repeat of last year's boat people crisis."

The ministry issued the statement in response to an article in Free Malaysia Today on Monday titled Myanmar's Snub To Malaysia's Megaphone Diplomacy.

The report said Malaysia lost much diplomatic clout and regional respect after its leaders, including Prime Minister Najib Razak, participated in a rally earlier this month protesting against persecution of the Rohingya Muslims in Myanmar.

At the closing session of the recent Umno assembly, Datuk Seri Najib slammed Myanmar's treatment of its Muslim Rohingya minority. He said there was no way Malaysia could keep quiet when there were people being burned alive and women being raped.

Mr Najib insisted that Malaysia was not meddling in Myanmar's internal affairs, but "defending humanitarian and universal values".

More than 20,000 Rohingya Muslims have flooded into Bangladesh over the past two months, fleeing a military campaign in Myanmar's Rakhine state, Reuters reported.

Asean foreign ministers are meeting in Yangon on Monday to discuss the issue of oppression and violence towards the Rohingya ethnic minority group in Myanmar.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on December 16, 2016, with the headline 'KL: Crisis in Rakhine a regional concern'. Print Edition | Subscribe