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Friday, February 27, 2009

Malaysia and Indonesia to voice out Rohingyas issue

Hua Hin, BANGKOK (ANTARA News/Bernama-OANA) - Malaysia and Indonesia will raise the issue of stateless Rohingyas Myanmar at the Asean Summit, said Foreign Minister Dr Rais Yatim Thursday.

He said Myanmar must understand that the issue was not only their problem, but also that of the other Asean member countries who were at the receiving end.

"I am myself will be very inclined to discuss this matter when we have the discussion on matters pertaining to Asean. Having said that, the difficulty is immense as no specific authority is in charge of this exodus," Rais told Malaysian reporters at a press conference here, Thursday. He is here for the 14th Asean Summit.

Rais said there were not less than 14,000 registered Rohingyas in Malaysia and expected the actual number to be more.

"We are made to understand that this people are encouraged to leave the shores within a situation that is questionable," he said.

Hence, the issue needed to be raised, especially at the foreign ministers level discussion and "perhaps at a later date we will resume other forms of cooperation (on the matter)," said Rais.

He said it would be better for Myanmar to be open about it, especially on how the matter could be dealt since these people were coming from Myanmar.

Rais said some form of assistance also needed to be set up by the United Nations to handle the issue, especially if Myanmar did not own up to the community which would than become a worldwide problem.

"So, it is pertinent for us to engage with the UN in this matter," he said.

Rais also said Malaysia, which will be represented by Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi at the Asean Summit, wanted the human rights issue to be discussed in the spirit of Asean.

He said Malaysia felt that the human rights aspect in the Asean region should be slightly different from the universal aspect which was currently being structured according to the United Nations schedule.

Malaysia was also endeavouring to raise the Palestinian issue at the Summit although it was not related to Asean, he said.

Rais said the Prime Minister was expected to play an active role in discussions on the world economic and financial crisis, and the Asean leaders were also expected to sign several important documents at the Summit.

The documents included the Blueprint On Asean Security Community, Socio-Cultural Community Blueprint, and the Asean Integrating Workplan.

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