Sunday, June 1, 2008

Najib to Myanmar: Let Asean military help Nargis victims

Sunday June 1, 2008 MYT 7:42:43 PM

Najib to Myanmar: Let Asean military help Nargis victims


SINGAPORE: The Asean military should be allowed to play a greater role in relief efforts in Myanmar to avert a human tragedy of the highest proportion, said Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak.

He said while Asean countries respected the sovereignty of a particular nation, it was important for the group to play a bigger role as according to sources, the scale of tragedy unfolding in Myanmar could be bigger than the 2004 tsunami.

Najib reiterated that the military would be effective in terms of disaster relief, including dispatching helicopters and boats.

“We have proven our involvement is strictly of a humanitarian nature.

“We did not have any other agenda when sending our military into various disaster stricken areas in past,” he said, adding that Asean was willing to provide more assistance if permitted by the Myanmar Government.

Najib described the latest situation as an “acid test” for Asean on how member countries responded when one of its members had a real crisis or emergency.

“It is important for us to show the world that as an association, Asean has come a long way,” he said, adding that the grouping had never antagonised any government.

“No one is blaming Myanmar for the tragedy as this could have happened to any country, but Asean and the world now wants to know what you are going to do about it,” Najib added.

He said it was not just about getting aid to Yangon but also distributing aid to tiny communities that were cut off and starving.

“If you do not have good logistical support, the aid you are giving will only be lying in the warehouses,” he said at the Shangri-la Dialogue, a high level security forum, on Sunday.

The annual security summit of defence officials, now in its seventh year, saw the participation of 27 countries, including the United States, China and Myanmar.

In his speech, Najib stressed that traditional relief mechanisms involving government, and business and volunteer organisations had been found to be inefficient or ineffective when dealing with crises involving an entire nation.

He said challenges of this magnitude, like the disaster that hit Myanmar, required a more comprehensive and dynamic approach.

To address the problem, Najib suggested that the military be recognised as a critical component in humanitarian assistance and disaster relief.

He said the establishment of the Asean coordinating centre for humanitarian assistance on disaster management could also provide the leadership for regional response.

No comments: