Faced with a growing terrorist threat posed by the Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army (ARSA), Myanmar legislators welcomed and approved the signing of a memorandum of understanding between members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and Australia to intensify cooperation to combat international terrorism.
During the Pyidaungsu Hluttaw (Union Parliament) meeting held on February 28, Home Affairs Minister Lieutenant-General Kyaw Swe explained the importance of Myanmar being part of the MoU that will be signed between the group and Australia at the ASEAN-Australia Special Summit to be held in Sydney on Saturday and Sunday.
ASEAN groups Brunei, Cambodia, Laos, Indonesia, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam.
Union parliamentary speaker U Mahn Win Khaing Than said the parliament unanimously approved the signing of the MoU following a discussion by MPs of the agreement on Monday.
The MoU aims to strengthen the ASEAN-Australia Joint Declaration of Cooperation to Combat International Terrorism that was announced in 2016.
It will also reaffirm the importance of having a framework for cooperation to prevent, disrupt and combat international terrorism through the exchange and flow of information and intelligence, and capacity-building.
“This contract will play an important role when we are dealing with issues in terms of international relations and diplomatic matters. That’s why I welcome the signing of the MoU,” said U Zarni Min, a Pyithu Hluttaw MP.
The legislators said actions that could lead to international terrorist attacks can be prevented through sharing information about how these groups survive and where the money to carry out attacks comes from.
“I strongly recommended the signing of the MOU, as it is in line with the new government policy,” said U Zarni Min.
He added that Myanmar needs to prepare by updating laws, technology and skills so that it can fully participate at the international level.
Daw Htu May, an Upper House MP for Rakhine State, expressed concern about the discussion of local issues at the international level.
“Rakhine is facing terrorist attacks because of weakness in security issues. That’s why the Rakhine people are living in fear and insecurity,” said Daw Htu May.
She said the people in Rakhine want to build a wall on the Bangladesh–Myanmar border instead of just a fence because of security concerns.
Australia has expressed grave concern about the security issues besetting Southeast Asia, especially the festering turmoil in northern Rakhine in Myanmar and niggling territorial disputes in the South China Sea, but it is prepared to boost cooperation with countries in the region.
At this weekend’s summit, Australia expects to boost regional cooperation on economic matters and counter-terrorism.
Minister for the Office of the Union Government and National Security Adviser U Thaung Tun will lead Myanmar’s delegation to the counter-terrorism conference, which will underscore the fundamental importance of regional cooperation to address the shared challenges of terrorism and violent extremism.
“We need to sign such a contract as we are faced with terrorist attacks in Shan, Rakhine and other places,” Upper House MP U Khin Maung Latt said.
“We need to have more effective laws to crush terrorist actions and to take action against those involved in such attacks,” he said.