A slew of sentences . . .
Courts in military-controlled Myanmar sentenced deposed leader Aung San Suu Kyi to five years in prison after a guilty verdict for corruption. The 1991 Nobel Peace Prize laureate still faces an additional 18 offences, including election fraud, sedition, COVID-19 restrictions violations, divulging state secrets, and other corruption charges. The military arrested Suu Kyi and her National League for Democracy (NLD) party members following the February 2021 coup. Suu Kyi remains a central leader of Myanmar’s pro-democracy movement and is widely supported in the country. The charges against Suu Kyi are likely an attempt to remove her from politics by an insecure military leadership relentlessly clutching to power.
‘Tweet-plomacy’ in action . . .
The military junta has brutally cracked down on public resistance against its rule and suspension of democratic processes. Neighbouring Southeast Asian countries have criticized the military regime’s actions to varying degrees. For instance, Malaysia’s Foreign Minister Saifuddin Abdullah has condemned Myanmar’s situation and called for more action. Via Twitter on Sunday, he admitted having a meeting with Myanmar's opposition National Unity Government (NUG). While regional players likely have had contact with the NUG, Saifuddin's tweet was the first public acknowledgment of such contact. His tweet also responded to an open letter from a human rights group urging regional support for the NUG and decrying ASEAN’s inaction on Myanmar.
No progress on ‘five-point consensus’ . . .
ASEAN adopted the ‘five-point consensus’ agreement to address the crisis last April, mainly calling for ending the violence and urging the junta to allow the delivery of humanitarian aid. The agreement made no call for the junta to respect the 2020 electoral results when the NLD won by a landslide. Nonetheless, Myanmar's junta retracted from the ‘consensus’ only two days after agreeing to it. ASEAN members' disagreement over Myanmar also continues to impede united action. Malaysia, Indonesia, the Philippines, and Singapore have denounced the military’s transgressions. Cambodia and Thailand, however, lean more toward continued engagement through high-profile leadership visits or ministerial appointments that signal Myanmar's strategic importance to both countries. As such, a year after ASEAN adopted it, there has been almost no progress in fulfilling the ‘five-point consensus.’