The Philippine foreign minister said on Sunday that Myanmar’s deposed civilian leader Aung San Suu Kyi was ‘indispensable’ for restoring democracy in the country.
Aung San Suu Kyi’s civilian government was ousted in a military coup on February 1 last year. She was sentenced to four years in prison after having been convicted on January 10. The junta court has since hit Suu Kyi, 76, with five new corruption charges — adding to a slew of cases against her.
While several Western countries, including the United States and Norway, have slammed the latest sentencing, Southeast Asian leaders have been largely silent.
Philippines Foreign Minister Teodoro Locsin broke ranks Sunday, tweeting he had adopted “as my own” a statement by his Norwegian counterpart Anniken Huitfeldt that condemned the sentencing.
“Suu Kyi is indispensable in a democratic restoration that will pose no threat of anarchy, dissolution, and civil conflict,” Locsin said, adding Myanmar’s armed forces “have nothing to fear”.
Locsin also backed the recent visit to Myanmar by Cambodia’s strongman ruler Hun Sen — the first by a foreign leader since the coup — highlighting regional tensions over how to deal with the crisis-hit nation.
Critics said the visit by Hun Sen, whose country holds the rotating chair of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), risked legitimising the junta and undermining efforts to isolate the generals.