The customary cordiality of Southeast Asian summits may be missing when the region’s leaders meet next week due to sharp differences over Myanmar, whose military has been accused of genocide against the country’s Rohingya Muslim minority.
Myanmar leader Aung San Suu Kyi is due to attend the Nov. 11-15 Singapore meeting, and Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad, a doyen of the group, has served notice he has lost faith in the Nobel peace laureate because of the Rohingya issue.
“We have made it quite clear we don’t really support her any more,” Mahathir said in an interview with Turkish news channel TRT World just over a month ago.
“Our policy in ASEAN is non-interference in the internal affairs of the countries, but this is … grossly unjust,” he said, referring to the 10-member Association of Southeast Asian Nations.
The Rohingya crisis is one of the biggest man-made disasters involving a member since ASEAN was founded in 1967, and it is one of the thorniest issues yet faced by a group that traditionally works by consensus.