PM Hun Sen Dismisses Myanmar Meeting Criticism

Prime Minister Hun Sen said former Thai foreign minister Kasit Piromya misinterpreted Cambodia's aims for a planned meeting between him and the Myanmar junta leader.

Ex-minister says trip squanders efforts to end crisis

PHNOM PENH--Former Thai foreign minister Kasit Piromya misinterpreted Cambodia's aims for a planned meeting between Hun Sen and the Myanmar junta leader, the Prime Minister said.

Piromya, now a board member of ASEAN Parliamentarians for Human Rights (APHR), criticized Hun Sen's intention to talk with Myanmar’s Foreign Minister Wunna Maung Lwin and junta leader Min Aung Hlaing on Jan. 7 and 8.

He said the visit was not in accordance with ASEAN’s five-point consensus on Myanmar’s political crisis and was squandering ASEAN’s efforts to resolve the political conflict in Myanmar. 

However, Hun Sen said on Thursday that Piromya, who is a former Thai ambassador to Russia, Indonesia, Germany, Japan and the US, had drawn a false conclusion about the meetings.

Speaking at the construction site of Phnom Penh’s new International Airport in Kandal province, Hun Sen said Piromya had never seen a positive side of the Cambodian government.

Citing the Cambodian–Thai border dispute and conflict in Preah Vihear in 2009, Hun Sen said Piromya always criticized the Cambodian government and especially him.

Hun Sen refused to attend the ASEAN summit in 2009, hosted by Thailand, due to the argument. However, the decision was changed after Piromya wrote a letter of apology to Hun Sen for the criticism and his attacks on Cambodia.

Hun Sen said he saw Piromya as a critic of Cambodia and someone who contradicted Cambodia’s principles. The Prime Minister said he would still visit Myanmar despite the criticism. He would discuss the relationship between the countries, bilateral cooperation and ASEAN. 

On Dec. 6, Hun Sen said, “It’s time to bind ASEAN together, from ASEAN 9 to ASEAN 10 again.”

Hun Sen said Myanmar cannot leave ASEAN and the ASEAN charter does not have the right to remove Myanmar. Therefore, it remains a member state of ASEAN, which should be working together and paying attention to resolving Myanmar’s political issues.

During 38th and 39th ASEAN summits on Oct. 26, hosted by Brunei Darussalam, Myanmar’s Foreign Ministry insisted on not sending a non-political representative to the meeting, saying this was because ASEAN had invited Chan Aye, Permanent Secretary for Foreign Affairs, instead of, Min Aung Hlaing, the head of the military junta.

The ministry said demoting Myanmar's representation and role in the discussions and decisions was contrary to ASEAN principles and procedures.

The absence was not to protest against ASEAN or to boycott the event, but an exercise of the rights of membership in according to the principles in the ASEAN charter.

Nevertheless, ASEAN leaders consider Myanmar as a member of the ASEAN family, the ministry said.

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