Feb 22, 2021
Myanmar People's Wishes Must Be Respected: Indonesian Foreign Minister
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By Tom Allard
JAKARTA (Reuters) - Indonesian Foreign Minister Retno Marsudi said on Tuesday that Myanmar's transition to democracy after this month's coup should follow the wishes of its people.
Her remarks came after anger from anti-coup protesters to a Reuters report that Indonesia is pushing a plan for the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) to send monitors to ensure the junta holds fair elections, as it has promised.
Protesters want the elected government to be restored immediately. Some called on social media for demonstrations at Indonesia's embassy in Myanmar.
"The inclusive democratic transition should be pursued according to the wishes of the Myanmar people. Any way forward is the means to this end," Retno said in a message sent to Reuters by her office.
"Indonesia is very concerned about the situation in Myanmar and supports the Myanmar people. The well-being and security of the Myanmar people is the number one priority," Retno said.
She called for all parties to "deploy maximum restraint to avoid bloodshed".
Indonesia's foreign ministry declined to comment on whether it wanted the outcome of the Nov. 8 election to be respected, but a spokesman noted that Indonesian president Joko Widodo had congratulated Aung San Suu Kyi on her victory at the time.
It also declined to comment on the Reuters report of its plan, which calls for ASEAN to mediate between the junta and protesters.
Myanmar's military seized power on Feb. 1 after the election commission dismissed its accusations of fraud, after Suu Kyi's party swept the voting. The junta has promised a new election, but without setting a precise timetable.
The coup has prompted daily mass protests for nearly three weeks and strikes by many government workers.
Senior regional officials familiar with Indonesia's proposal for Myanmar said that holding the ruling generals to their promised election was the most realistic way of getting Myanmar on track to representative government.
Indonesia is the largest of the 10 countries in the ASEAN bloc, which also includes Myanmar.
(Editing by Matthew Tostevin and Gerry Doyle)
Copyright 2021 Thomson Reuters.
Tags: Myanmar, Indonesia
News Source: usnews.com
Japan Minister Apologises for Bureaucrat's Dinners With NTT Executives
TOKYO (Reuters) - Japan's internal affairs minister removed a senior bureaucrat from his post and apologised on Monday for what he said could be a breach of the law after an inquiry showed the official attended meals with officials of Nippon Telegraph and Telephone (NTT).
Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga's administration has faced public criticism after the Shukan Bunshun magazine said internal affairs officials wined and dined with NTT, as well as Suga's son, an executive at a company that produces television programmes for satellite broadcasters.
Yasuhiko Taniwaki, the vice-minister for policy coordination, was transferred to another section after an investigation by the internal affairs ministry confirmed he had attended the dinners, with NTT president Jun Sawada, among others.
"It's regrettable that something that seriously undermines trust in public affairs has occurred," said Ryota Takeda, the minister for internal affairs and communications.
Japan's National Civil Service Ethics Law forbids government employees from receiving gifts or entertainment from individuals or firms that could be seen to curry favour.
However, a Yomiuri daily poll published on Monday showed support for Suga's administration outstripping the non-support rate for the first time since December as new coronavirus cases declined.
Support for Suga's administration rose to 48% in the survey conducted between March 5 and 7, for an increase of nine percentage points from the previous month's poll.
A spokesman for NTT, which was previously state-owned, declined to comment on the case, saying only that it was considering setting up a third-party panel to investigate.
The internal affairs ministry oversees the telecom and broadcasting industries.
Suga apologised last week after a key government spokeswoman, who hailed from the internal affairs ministry and attended the dinners hosted by Suga's son along with other officials, resigned.
Lowering cellphone service charges has been a key policy goal for Suga.
(Reporting by Daniel Leussink and Chang-ran Kim; Editing by Clarence Fernandez)
Copyright 2021 Thomson Reuters.