Myanmar only country in ASEAN that supports Russia's invasion of Ukraine

Feb 27, 2022 | 🚀 Fathership
Myanmar's military junta expressed Thursday (Feb 24) its support for Russia's invasion of Ukraine, placing itself at odds with most of the world community which has condemned the military action and moved to introduce crushing sanctions on Moscow.

In an interview with VOA Burmese, General Zaw Min Tun, a spokesperson for Myanmar's military council, cited the reasons for the military government’s support of the action by Russian President Vladimir Putin.

"No. 1 is that Russia has worked to consolidate its sovereignty," he said. "I think this is the right thing to do. No. 2 is to show the world that Russia is a world power."

Coup leader Min Aung Hlaing visited Russia in June last year and there are strong ties between the Burmese and Russian militaries. Russia is one of the few countries to have defended the military council that seized power in a Feb. 1, 2021, coup, overthrowing the civilian government and detaining de facto leader Aung San Suu Kyi and other high-ranking officials.

Singapore and Indonesian - the only ASEAN nations that publicly condemned the Russian invasion

Singapore and Indonesia has so far publicly condemned Russia’s assault.

Singapore said the city-state was “gravely concerned” by Russia’s announcement of what it called a “special military operation” in Ukraine’s Donbas region.

“Singapore strongly condemns any unprovoked invasion of a sovereign country under any pretext. We reiterate that the sovereignty, independence and territorial integrity of Ukraine must be respected,” the ministry said in a statement.

“We hope military actions will cease immediately; and urge a peaceful settlement of the dispute, in accordance with the UN Charter and international law.”

Indonesia’s foreign ministry said in a statement that Jakarta was concerned about “the escalation of the armed conflict in Ukraine” because it endangers the people and peace in the Asian region.

“Affirming that international law and the United Nations charter regarding the territorial integrity of a country must be adhered to, and condemning any action that clearly constitutes a violation of the territory and sovereignty of a country,” ministry spokesman Teuku Faizasyah read out from the statement.

Indonesian President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo posted on Twitter – without referring to Russia or Ukraine: “Stop the war. War brings misery to mankind and puts the whole world at risk.”

Other ASEAN nations: "We do not get involved"

Meanwhile, other members of the Association for Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) delivered tamer reactions, perhaps because the credo of the regional bloc is non-interference in the internal affairs of other nations.

Malaysian Prime Minister Ismail Sabri Yaakob told a press conference Thursday that he regretted the “the latest developments in Ukraine.”

“ASEAN, as an organization of free countries, agrees that we do not get involved in the issues of foreign countries,” he said at a press conference in Cambodia, which he was visiting.

“[Cambodian] PM Hun San also agrees that we will not be making any statements unless ASEAN countries discuss the matter and come to a consensus.”

The Philippines said its main concern was the safety of Filipinos in Ukraine, while Thailand said it was following the developments in Ukraine “with deep concern.”

ASEAN member Vietnam, Moscow’s closest partner in Southeast Asia, has remained passive, giving no substantive comment besides a formulaic call for restraint, reported Radio Free Asia (RFA), a BenarNews sister entity.

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This commentator thinks MCI ad should not have featured poor Malays

May 12, 2022 | 🚀 Fathership
A Hari Raya advertisement by the Ministry of Communications and Information (MCI) was 'cancelled' by certain netizens online for depicting lower income Malays according to reality.

"Message for Syawal", a two-and-a-half-minute video published last month (Apr 30) captures moments in the life of a low-income Malay family living in a rental flat.


Pictured: Screenshot from MCI video "Message for Syawal"

The video, which is peppered with Malay proverbs, shows the family moving out of their rental flat to a new home several years later where they celebrate Hari Raya.

The father of the family works as a mover while the mother is a housewife.

Their young son, Syawal, skips school to earn extra income for his family before a teacher flags his absence from school to his parents.

The mother in the video later decides to return to work to alleviate her family’s financial difficulties while the father gets a new job.

Pictured: Screenshot from MCI video "Message for Syawal"

Why some netizens are outraged

The video sparked backlash online, with some viewers saying that it contained stereotypes about the Malay community.

The stereotypes:
  • The father works as a mover - commonly perceived to be a low-income job
  • The mother is jobless
  • The son plays truant
  • The family lives in a rental flat for low-income earners

Commentator implied that poor Malays shouldn't be portrayed in public to prevent stereotypes

Pictured: Screenshot from Homeground Asia video

A video commentary by The Homeground Asia went further by criticizing how the video propagates the narrative that Malays are poor and lazy, and that the ministry should have created a video that is more relatable to both the less fortunate and the more affluent Malays.

Adi Rahman, one of the interviewees in the video went further by making sweeping assumptions that the ministry lacked cultural intelligence and did not consult the community on the narrative.

Ironically, in talking about inclusivity, Adi implied that the realities of poor Malays should not be shown in public.

For example, his rationale suggested that the video contained characters (the mover, jobless mother and the son who skips school) that contribute to the problem of other races seeing the Malays in a stereotypical and reductive light.

In other words, show the good stuff but not the reality.

Adi even accused the ministry for not consulting the Malays in the vetting of the video narrative.

His accusations were without merit, however, when the Ministry said in a statement (Apr 30) that Malay-Muslim viewers - presumably a focus group - had seen the video prior to its release, and perceived the story to be heart-warming, although some expressed reservations.

Pictured: Adi Rahman - one of the commentators in Homeground Asia video

Stereotyping or masking reality?

The ministry said last month (Apr 30) the video was meant to show "a family’s journey of resilience in facing challenging circumstances and how mutual support and encouragement could nurture the process”.

Other netizens felt it was an overreaction and that low-income families shouldn't be dehumanized in a way that they are removed from the conversation. They felt that the video was a call-to-action for those from the underprivileged to strive for a better life through hard work and seeking help that's already available.

The only missed opportunity in the MCI video was perhaps the suggestion that Malays in low income families living in a rental flat could not celebrate Hari Raya unless they get a flat on their own.

But of course, like Homeground Asia, that is also a sweeping assumption.