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Malaysia, Philippines clash over statement on Myanmar

A conflict in Myanmar's Rakhine State has created a rift between the Philippines and Malaysia over how Asean should address the crisis.

Malaysia has disavowed a statement released by the Philippines, the Asean chair, saying it "misrepresented the reality of the situation" of the Rohingya in Myanmar.

The Philippine Foreign Ministry said in a statement yesterday that Manila held "deep respect" for Kuala Lumpur's dissent, but the Philippines "also has to respect and take into account the sentiments of the other members" of Asean.

"The Philippines, as chair, tolerates the public manifestation of dissenting voices," it said. "This demonstrates a new level of maturity on how we implement Asean's consensus principle when confronted with issues affecting national interests."

Philippine Foreign Secretary Alan Cayetano had on Sunday issued a statement that expressed concerns among Asean's ministers over the violence that began on Aug 25 when the Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army attacked police posts and an army camp, killing about 12 people.

They decried the attacks against Myanmar's security forces, as well "all acts of violence which resulted in loss of civilian lives, destruction of homes and displacement of large numbers of people".

The Philippine Foreign Ministry said Malaysia's objection was the reason why the ministers decided to issue a chairman's statement "that would reflect the general sentiments of the other foreign ministers", instead of a joint communique.

Malaysia dissociated itself from the statement, insisting it "was not based on consensus".

- THE STRAITS TIMES

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