There is a clear consensus that the violence taking place in Rakhine state of Myanmar should stop now, said Singapore’s Foreign Affairs Minister Dr Vivian Balakrishnan in an interview with Singapore’s media at the conclusion of his trip to New York.
He said, “First, the violence has to stop. And it has to stop now. There has been too much loss of life, damage to property, destruction of homes, displacement of refugees.”
The Foreign Affairs Minister added that there was also a consensus that humanitarian assistance needs to be delivered to all affected communities – those who have been displaced to the Bangladesh side of the border as well as the affected communities within Rakhine state.
A consensus has emerged among regional and ASEAN countries on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly recently.
Dr Balakrishnan said, “On the ASEAN side, we have activated the ASEAN Humanitarian Assistance Centre and this will enable ASEAN to also play a role in delivering assistance to the affected communities, to all affected communities. Here I want to emphasise, without discrimination – everyone in need should receive assistance.”
The Foreign Minister also emphasised the third area of consensus about the need for a long-term political solution to this problem.
“This can only occur through reconciliation, as well as constructive and positive dialogue,”
He said, “If that situation (in Rakhine) is allowed to fester or to get worse – the anxiety is that it would become another potential sanctuary or breeding site for extremism and for terrorism.”
Commenting on the crisis in the Korean peninsula, Dr Balakrishnan, said, “From our perspective, we believe that all of us need to fully comply with the United Nations Security Council resolutions and we hope that North Korea will do so. We hope ultimately that cool heads will prevail, because that's the only way you can get a peaceful resolution to this very long 70-year-old conflict.”
Rakhine state in Myanmar is in the limelight due to unprecedented violence against the Rohingya Muslims and the emerging refugee crisis in Bangladesh.