MANILA – Malaysia Thursday strongly questioned the manner in which Myanmar addressed the Rohingya issue, saying that country had denied permission for the international community to provide humanitarian aid to the ethnic group and, more disappointingly, killed Rohingya women and children as well.
Malaysian Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi said Malaysia had no intention to meddle in Myanmar´s domestic affairs but it could not accept the Myanmar crackdown on the Rohingya and wanted the issue to be resolved in a democratic way and in accordance with international standards.
“The question of security is their domestic matter, and Malaysia has no intention to interfere. However, as a country progressing towards democracy, it should implement the democratic system, ” he said to Malaysian journalists here at the conclusion of the 11th ASEAN Ministerial Meeting on Transnational Crime (AMMTC) here from Tuesday to Thursday.
Ahmad Zahid, who is also Home Minister, said his spontaneous statement reflected the official view of the Malaysian government and people.
The Myanmar representatives to the meeting had spoken justifying the military action against the Rohingya whom they branded as Islamic terrorists and militants.
“I cannot accept that situation. I asked (at the meeting) whether women and children are also classified as militants.
“Is humanitarian aid denied access to Myanmar, so much so that we and the international community are forced to use neighbouring countries, especially Bangladesh, to channel the humanitarian aid? ” he asked.
Ahmad Zahid made the statement on the sidelines of the Second Special ASEAN Ministerial Meeting on the Rise of Radicalisation and Violent Extremism (SAMMRRVE) in conjunction with the 11th AMMTC here.
He said he hoped that Myanmar would be able to better address the issue and treat the ethnic Rohingya, particularly their women and children, “as human beings and not as animals “.
“This is to express the firm concern of the Malaysian government and people on the conduct against the Rohingya, ” he said.
Asked about Myanmar´s reaction to his statement, Ahmad Zahid said he did not see any sign of remorse in the Myanmar leaders but the statement drew positive reaction from the other ASEAN countries.
“Although they (the other ASEAN countries) did not issue any statement after I delivered my statement, they contacted me personally and expressed their support, ” he said, adding that his statement reflected the unannounced views of the other ASEAN leaders.