October 5, 2022
PHNOM PENH – Cambodia has not invited Senior General Min Aung Hlaing, chairman of Myanmar’s ruling State Administration Council (SAC), to the 40th and 41st ASEAN Summit and related meetings scheduled for next month in Phnom Penh.
The government will instead invite a non-political representative from Myanmar to attend.
The move comes as Myanmar has shown a lack of real progress in implementing the ASEAN five-point consensus (5PC) and its pursuit of openly provocative policies such as the execution of pro-democracy activists.
Chum Sunry, a spokesman for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, confirmed the exclusion of the Myanmar military leader from the summit.
“We have sent out invitations to all ASEAN member states but Myanmar … and to the ASEAN General Secretariat, our ASEAN Dialogue Partners and some regional and international organisations. We have suggested that Myanmar send only a non-political representative,” he told The Post.
Thong Mengdavid, a research fellow at the Mekong Centre for Strategic Studies at the Asian Vision Institute, opined that Cambodia as the chair of ASEAN may not want to appear to support Myanmar’s military leaders or abandon civil society and opposition movement. He said non-interference in Myanmar’s internal political affairs is in line with the ASEAN Central Principles.
“Despite the slowness in resolving Myanmar’s political crisis, Cambodia and other ASEAN members have focused their attention and stepped up their efforts to provide humanitarian assistance, such as Covid-19 vaccines, food and medicines, and to seek greater protection and safety for the people of Myanmar.
“Myanmar’s military leaders and the ethnic armed organisations or militias should stop attacking each other and return to the negotiating table to find a win-win political solution, such as military or political concessions to ensure the safety of the people and a return to democratic elections,” he told The Post on October 3.
When hosting the ASEAN Defence Ministers’ Meeting (ADMM) retreat back in February, Cambodia did not invite Myanmar Foreign Minister Wunna Maung Lwin due to the lack of progress in implementing the 5PC.
At that time, Cambodia also suggested that Myanmar send a non-political representative instead.
Separately, Cambodia is hosting the 33rd Meeting of ASEAN Senior Officials on Environment from October 3-7 in Siem Reap province to discuss action plans on ecological issues and climate change.
According to the Ministry of Environment, three meetings were held on the first day in preparation for the major events: the 8th programme steering committee meeting on ASEAN-Germany cooperation on biodiversity; the 5th programme steering committee meeting on ASEAN-EU cooperation on Biodiversity Conservation and Management of Protected Areas in ASEAN (BCAMP); and the 24th meeting of the governing board of the ASEAN Centre for Biodiversity (ACB).
October 5 will be the opening ceremony for these events, which will be attended by leaders and senior environmental officials from the ASEAN member states, plus officials and diplomats from Japan, Korea, China, the US and EU.
And regarding the upcoming November 8-13 ASEAN Summit and related meeting, the Ministry of Information is registering both Cambodian and international journalists who wish to cover the events. The registration will run until October 31.