AIPA Steers Clear of South China Sea, Rohingya
Senggigi, West Nusa Tenggara. Legislators from across Southeast Asia meeting in Lombok have agreed not to go into detail on the South China Sea disputes, after the issue prompted heated debate earlier at the meeting.
Marzuki Alie, president of the Asean Inter-Parliamentary Assembly (AIPA) and the speaker of Indonesia’s House of Representatives, said at the close of the group’s 33rd general assembly on Friday that the agreement was reached in order not to escalate tensions on the issue.
“This decision has been approved by all parliamentarians from AIPA countries, in light of the dynamics that we witnessed earlier when the issue was discussed more specifically,” he said.
He added that tensions had run high during the meeting earlier in the day, but that the participants had recognized the sensitivity of the issue and agreed for the sake of regional unity to leave it up to their respective governments to address in greater detail.
“The role of the parliaments will simply be to push for resolutions to the various disputes and not to bring them up at the AIPA forum,” Marzuki said.
“There’s a concern that if we discuss the issue in too much detail, the negative effects will outweigh any positive outcome.”
The delegations from Cambodia and Myanmar had earlier pushed against discussing the territorial spats in depth, on the grounds that most of them did not involve Asean countries.
The AIPA conference’s resolution on the issue was to support a solution with the wider view of regional stability and security in mind, Marzuki said.
Another issue that was expected to be high on the agenda at the conference was the plight of the ethnic Rohingya community in Myanmar. However, the matter was not raised or included in the conference’s list of resolutions.
Marzuki said the issue was not brought up because earlier an meeting of the AIPA fact-finding committee had concluded that it should not be brought before the conference as a special topic.
Rio Budi Santoso, the deputy head of the Indonesian delegation, said the fact that Marzuki had even mentioned the issue in his speech was sufficient for it to be considered already discussed.
“We’ve already gone over it, even though it wasn’t a specific topic in our agenda,” he said.
Marzuki played down criticism that the delegates did not consider the problems facing the Rohingya an important subject, saying that the Myanmar delegation’s mention of the issue and the ongoing communication between the Indonesian and Myanmar legislatures showed that it was getting the recognition it needed from countries in the region.
A subject that did feature high on the agenda was regional economics, including the impact of the global economic crisis on Southeast Asia and the need for increased cooperation to tackle transnational financial crimes such as money laundering.
The AIPA delegates also supported the concept of building a “green” economy to achieve sustainable economic growth while improving stewardship of the region’s environmental resources. They also called for increased cooperation on low-carbon and environmentally friendly technology, as well as energy diversification to reduce dependence on fossil fuels.
The next AIPA general assembly will be held in Brunei.