BANDAR SERI BEGAWAN – ASEAN foreign ministers will meet virtually on Monday to finalise selection of a special envoy to Myanmar, Brunei’s second minister of foreign affairs said Thursday.

When asked to comment on unconfirmed reports that he will be named ASEAN’s envoy, YB Dato Hj Erywan PDPJ Hj Md Yusof said he is one of four potential candidates nominated for the role, with Indonesia, Thailand and Malaysia also putting forward nominees.

“There is no final decision yet on who the envoy to Myanmar will be, there still needs to be consensus among all ASEAN countries, including Myanmar,” he told The Scoop on the sidelines of a documentary screening.

Kyodo News previously reported that the other candidates are Hassan Wirajuda, a former Indonesian foreign minister; Virasakdi Futrakul, a veteran Thai diplomat and former deputy foreign minister; and Razali Ismail, a Malaysian who was a UN special envoy for Myanmar in the 2000s.

ASEAN sources have suggested that disagreements over who the envoy should be have delayed the selection process.

YB Dato Hj Erywan said Brunei has no desire to drag out the selection any longer.

We hope a decision can be reached at the ASEAN foreign ministers meeting on Monday, he said.

“Without the envoy leading the way, it is very difficult [to move forward].”

He added: “The sooner ASEAN comes to an agreement on the envoy and accepts whoever it is, the sooner we can implement the five-point plan.”

Brunei’s second minister of foreign affairs YB Dato Hj Erywan PDPJ Hj Md Yusof speaks to media after the virtual ASEAN Foreign Ministers’ Retreat on Jan 21, 2021. Photo: Ain Bandial/The Scoop

ASEAN announced a five-point plan back in April that was meant to pave the way for dialogue and an end to hostilities in Myanmar, but the junta has shown little sign of following through on this, despite a visit by Brunei’s foreign minister and the ASEAN secretary-general to Naypyidaw.

Brunei, the ASEAN chair, has faced criticism for making slow progress on Myanmar, which has been in chaos since the military ousted an elected government led by Aung San Suu Kyi on February 1.

According to the UN, at least 931 people have been killed by security forces since the coup.

When asked for his response to the criticism, YB Dato Hj Erywan said he was unfazed: “The notion that we can magically solve the problem would be stretching it.”

“What’s important is that we work with Myanmar to get the five-point consensus done.”

The foreign minister added that ASEAN should not be “stuck” while it tries to make progress with the Tatmadaw.

He said the bloc needs to continue to work on the issue while also working towards ASEAN’s other priorities.