Asean should re-look its non-interference policy and set limits to what constitutes an ‘internal affair’, former prime minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad said.
By AINA NASA – 12 June 2015 @ 4:03 PM
KUALA LUMPUR: Asean should re-look its non-interference policy and set limits to what constitutes an ‘internal affair’, former prime minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad said.
Speaking at an international conference entitled ‘Plight of the Rohingya Part II- Crime against Humanity’ at the Islamic Arts Museum here today, Dr Mahathir said the non-inteference policy had proven to be a hindrance in finding a solution to the plight of the minority ethnic group in Myanmar.
“Asean has decided that it will not interfere in ‘internal affairs’ of member states. In Cambodia, back in the 1970s, when two million of its people were killed for no reason, what did Asean do? “We said it was not our business, we stood by and did nothing. Now it is happening in Myanmar and we are still quiet,” he said in his keynote address.
The idea of non-interference, Dr Mahathir stressed, should have its limitations.
“We should not interfere in matters of politics and internal affairs of the such but there should be a limit to what constitutes ‘internal affairs’. Killing people is not something we should tolerate.
“The problem may be internal in a sense but no country has the right to treat their own people like that, what with their tortures, burning of houses and merciless killings,” he said adding that the issue was not an issue of ‘boat people’ but one that was stemmed by the Myanmar government.
Strongly comdeming Myanmar’s indifference and refusal to address the Rohingyas, Dr Mahathir said Myanmar should be expelled from the Asean if it continued to commit such attrocities.
“Myanmar must be told to stop the killings or if it wants, it can leave Asean. In fact, it is better for them to leave (Asean).
“Countries like Myanmar give Asean a bad name. We are a group of countries that believe in cooperation, not genocide,” he said, reiterating that Myanmar had no right to be recognised as a part of Asean.
Dr Mahathir, who is also president of the event’s organiser, the Perdana Global Peace Foundation, said he had previously written to Myanmar president Aung Suu Kyi asking her to stop the killings, but no reply was received. “The fate of the Rohingyas must now come from outside, as it is evident that no reply is coming from inside (Myanmar).”