Is Myanmar a ‘common challenge’ for Vietnamese Prime Ministers and ASEAN?

The new prime minister of Vietnam, Mr. Pham Minh Chinh for the first time, attended the ASEAN summit on April 23-24, 2021 in Indonesia.

Whether the Myanmar political crisis has been frankly discussed, in what form, the attitudes of the parties … questioned by observers.

There are many converging opinions that this is a “common test” with both the new Vietnamese PM and ASEAN.

On April 23, 2021, Ph.D. Ha Hoang Hop, a senior researcher at the Institute for Southeast Asian Studies (Iseas – Singapore), said that this trip was “not part of” the original plan.

This is an unplanned trip, it is a trip in response to the call of Indonesian President Joko Widodo to hold an emergency meeting on Myanmar.

But the meeting is also the story of the new Vietnamese PM presenting leaders in the ASEAN bloc. Formally, this is to show the priority in Vietnam’s foreign policy towards ASEAN.”

Before the question, what might PM Chinh say about Myanmar, Ph.D Ha, Hoang Hop said:

Mainly, it is only possible to speak directly based on the ASEAN Charter.

As is well known, the ASEAN Charter does not regulate nor allow interventions of one member country in the internal situation of another member country.

So based on that, it is difficult to have statements or actions that interfere with the internal situation of Myanmar.

However, the recent time has seen quite clearly that Vietnam has also agreed with the UN Security Council and agreed with many ASEAN countries condemning the military coup in Myanmar for killing civilians.

And based on this spirit, ask the coup government in Myanmar to end the killing of civilians, and restore order as before the coup. Specifically, that is to release those arrested, including detained politicians, then meet the old National Assembly rather than elect a new National Assembly according to the organization of the military coup, and respond other specific conditions.”

The people of Myanmar on April 23, 2021, continued to go to the streets to protest the military government and the coup

Also on Friday, from the Institute of Policy, Law, and Development, Ph.D. Dinh Hoang Thang, former Vietnamese ambassador to the Netherlands, who has many years of experience in the diplomatic service of the Government of Vietnam commented:

I think in this ASEAN Summit, as it is said from the beginning that it is called for Myanmar and find a solution to the Myanmar problem.

I think this is a challenge not only for ASEAN but also for Vietnam. With ASEAN, I think this block cannot easily find a solution right away, because this bloc is being divided and schizophrenic in this problem.

Therefore, the challenge of ASEAN is also that of Prime Minister Pham Minh Chinh, especially since this is his first overseas trip.

Here, he has to deal with a high-level issue this time not only to deal with ASEAN diplomacy, major ASEAN, but they focus on whether ASEA  can come up with a solution to this conundrum of Myanmar.”

Earlier, on April 22, at a discussion of the Fifth Round Table of BBC News Vietnamese, a number of activists and dissidents from Vietnam and abroad also made comments:

I think the current Myanmar issue is not just an ordinary challenge, but a huge one for ASEAN,” said Hanoi-based freelance journalist and blogger Nguyen Huu Vinh.

The challenge outside the South China Sea shows very clearly that this bloc is very weak, the fact that the member countries of the bloc set themselves the principle that everything must reach unity, that is a weakness. Now, when the coup problem hits Myanmar, this continues to be another weakness.

I think that if ASEAN does not take a more determined move sooner, they will surely lose a lot of points in front of the international community and each member country in it will lose a lot of points.”

Myanmar people protested on April 23, 2021, in Yangon

From Berlin, Germany, writer Vo Thi Hao stated:

Mr. Pham Minh Chinh attended the conference, in general, in my opinion, he would not say anything strongly about the case of Myanmar killing such civilians. And the ASEAN bloc is really a weak bloc, in which the level of democracy is also weak as the economic power of these countries is still very weak …

I think that Vietnamese leaders in Myanmar must speak up because it is a completely inhuman issue, contrary to international commitments and Myanmar’s military government has violated a lot.

It is like a small “Tiananmen Square” case before that Vietnam did not speak up, so it is very disrespectful in the international arena, as with the ASEAN bloc, it is necessary to speak up strongly for the military government not to do that.”

From Hanoi, Doctor of Science Nguyen Quang A, comments:

First, I think the new Prime Minister of Vietnam attending this ASEAN summit is a huge challenge, as Vietnam is also the rotating Chairman of the UN Security Council this April. …

I don’t think ASEAN will dare speak up, but really Vietnam needs to speak up strongly to oppose the current regime in Myanmar. This is a military dictatorship that works against the government of the people who have elected.

I have not mentioned that they persecute and kill people throughout Myanmar and on a very large scale, the number of victims being killed has now reached nearly a thousand, then this is really not the ‘Little Tiananmen.’

The Tiananmen persecution took place more than three decades ago, and now the persecution takes place in Myanmar, speaking out against the Myanmar military conglomerate that suppressed the government by the votes of the people of Myanmar.

And ASEAN did not voice and exert very strong pressure to restore peace, democracy, so that the government elected by the people of Myanmar, which has been overturned by the military forces in this country, will be back. Well, I think ASEAN must revise its rules.

That so-called consensus rule can deadlock everything, all activities, of course, ASEAN is still a very important organization, but should not let the consensus rule deadlock all ASEAN activities.

That means abolishing the rule, in such a case a majority decision may be made and there may be a need to punish criminal organizations such as the Myanmar army, then it can be re-established the government elected by the people of Myanmar,” according to Mr. Nguyen Quang A. (Translated)


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