Singapore on Monday stressed the need for restoring peace and stability in Rakhine State and said that all parties, including the Myanmar government and the international communities, need to work together to foster a long-term solution to Rohingya crisis so that the affected communities could rebuild their lives.
A special envoy of Myanmar is due in Dhaka today amid protracted tension between the two countries caused by ousting religious minority Muslims from its Rakhine state and their subsequent influx into Bangladesh.
Singapore’s position is that every government must ensure the safety and protection of its entire people regardless of race or religion, Singapore foreign minister Vivian Balakrishnan said in response to questions in the Singapore parliament on Monday, reported The Straits Times.
‘These issues are not going to be resolved easily or quickly in the short term. Patience, restraint and time will be required to build trust among the different stakeholders and communities, foster racial harmony, and to restore peace and stability,’ he said as two lawmakers asked about Singapore’s response to the plight of Rohingya Muslims fleeing the military crackdown in Myanmar’s Rakhine state.
At the same time, it is also the right and the responsibility of every state to secure its borders and to maintain internal security, Balakrishnan said.
He noted that issues of race, language and religion in every country, including Singapore, were sensitive and complex.
Balakrishnan also updated the parliament on the ASEAN foreign ministers’ informal meeting he attended in Myanmar in December 2016 when Myanmar leader Aung San Suu Kyi briefed her counterparts on the Rakhine situation.
Myanmar’s minister of state for foreign affairs, Kyaw Tin, is set to arrive Dhaka this afternoon on a three-day official visit.
He is set to hold meetings with prime minister Sheikh Hasina, foreign minister AH Mahmood Ali and foreign secretary M Shahidul Haque on Wednesday.
The envoy might give importance to improving bilateral relations as well as keeping bilateral matters low-key in international forums, officials said.
Bangladesh would, however, hold the meetings with the envoy ‘with an open mind’ for ensuring repatriation of Myanmar nationals to home in Rakhine state.
In a diplomatic memorandum handed over to Myanmar ambassador in Dhaka, Myo Myint, on December 29, 2016, Bangladesh demanded repatriation of about 50,000 Myanmar citizens who had entered in the country since October 9, 2016.
Myanmar is also constantly told to take back about 3,00,000 undocumented Myanmar nationals and about 33,000 registered refugees staying in Bangladesh for years.
Officials believe that there is significant uncertainty about willingness of the Myanmar authorities to create an environment so that the Rohingya refugees could go back.
Myanmar has a plan to take back only 2,415 Myanmar citizens in 2017, said Kyaw Zaya, director general of Myanmar’s foreign affairs ministry, Reuters reported on December 30, 2016.
Bangladesh officials said that Myanmar was yet to formally convey its willingness to take back 2,415 Myanmar citizens.
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